Odysseus Kosmos – dev.diaries #3

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Hey there, friends! Welcome back on board of “San Francisco”, a huge spacecraft travelling far, far way from planet Earth.
Some times ago I promised to tell you what character I was using as a placeholder for the main character in the very first demo version of the game. And it was… Cleveland Brown from the cast of “Family Guy”! The animation in the cartoon is clear and sharp, so I had no trouble cutting the character from required sequences and created a sprite that could stand, walk around, collect items and so on.

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All right, and now let us continue our tale of the project development.
Every story starts with a character. My Odysseus is a kind, smart and funny African-American, a flight engineer of the “San Francisco” research vessel. His features: average height, dark hair, A bit on the tubby side, but physical enough, not a wimp.
He loves some sound sleep and a nice meal, is smart and has a great sense of humor.
Odysseus is such a fun guy, you may think, but it’s not that simple. It’s true, Oddy has found his ways to enjoy life and tries to find benefits in any situation, but don’t forget that he’s been alone for seven years now, and that fact also had an impact on him… He became too lazy and is loosing his motivation. He tends to give up even on the simplest tasks. That’s why Barton worries so much.
Yes, Barton! What about our robot? Oh, I’ve had so many references for Odysseus’s robotic companion: from paranoid robot Marvin to TARS the service robot from “Interstellar” and a dozen other vivid characters from the golden age of sci-fi. And even though many of those had an impact on the character development, still Barton’s personality is unique and deeply connected to the personality of the main character.
Barton features a highly-developed AI and a bit of annoying personality, but also enjoys a good joke. Sometimes with a great portion of sarcasm. He is committed to setting various tasks for the engineer and reminding him on the errands on a regular basis.
But still he is a robot and must obey the commands of the crew members.
Odysseus understands that Barton is usually right, but based on his experience and intuition, he believes that not any problem can be solved using a formal approach. Barton sees his duty to constantly coerce the flight engineer to do his job, but also does his best to support Oddy, seeing how hard it is for him. He worries very much about the engineer’s state of mind.
By the beginning of the game’s story, these two seem to have found a delicate balance. Unfortunately it involves Barton pretending to set tasks for Oddy and forcing him to performing these, and Odysseus pretending to do so. Surely, some chores and some minor repairs are still being done, but this won’t be enough to overcome a difficult situation. Somebody will have to change his ways. The ship is in danger.
I suppose, next time we will talk about the ship that has become a home for Barton and Oddy in the last few years.

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Odysseus Kosmos – dev.diaries #2

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Hi there, friends! Welcome back on board of “San Francisco”, a huge spacecraft travelling far, far way from planet Earth.

Let’s continue our story. Last time we’ve talked about a famous game that encouraged me to launch the development of my own game.

Without further ado let me say that it was Life is Strange =)

Yes, perhaps the game has a wonderful atmosphere and storyline, but… And there are quite a few “buts”.

Before I go into detail, let me explain my first expressions. As I already mentioned, by that time I had been thinking about developing my own quest and evaluated some new games.

So here I am, launching the first Life is Strange episode with a faltering hope. By the way, the game’s genre is stated as Adventure anywhere you look. I remember the character sitting behind a school desk and me realizing that I can use the items in front of her. Wow! Be still my pacing heart. I examine the first location and see new actions, dialogs, storyline progression.

Could it be?!

Could it be a real quest with location examination, atmosphere and smart logical solutions? I looked forward to many hours of wonderful game play and could not believe my own luck…

You all know what happened next. In the next ten minutes my hopes were shattered. I was deeply hurt. It felt like I was tricked and my present was taken away.

No, I’m not criticizing the game. Life is Strange is a solid project with a wonderful atmosphere. It has a lot of fans and deserves some praise.

But it’s not an adventure game. It’s not a game at all, honestly speaking. It’s an interactive movie pretending to be a game. You won’t feel the satisfaction of finding a slick solution. And I could not forgive this.

I remember the same evolution of Tell Tale Games projects (obviously, LiS is created based on Tell Tale projects pattern). Their first series – Sam&Max, Tales of Monkey Island, Hector – were similar to logical games, especially Sam&Max, but what followed … Later there was less and less “game” in the game play and more and more interactive movies, where the player makes no decisions. I understand that they had their reasons to change the direction (probably due to marketing reasons). But it was sad, and Life is Strange яwas the result of this sad path of changes. By the way, do you agree? I’m not saying there are no decent games, but in my opinion Tell Tale and LiS have chosen a wrong direction…

That was the point when I realized that Odysseus Kosmos must be created. I knew I was not alone. There must be more people craving for smart and deep game play with logical puzzles and location examining. I knew right away what my goal was.

I started by describing character concepts. It’s a rather long story, so let us take a break for now.

Thank you for paying attention, we will continue next time. Sign up for updates to follow if you’d like to read more!

Odysseus Kosmos – dev.diaries #1

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Hey there, friends! I’m glad to see you on board of “San Francisco”, a huge spacecraft travelling far, far way from planet Earth.
Where do I start?
The folks at HeroCraft (our publisher) asked me to tell you a little bit about the project “ Odysseus Kosmos and his Robot Quest”, how the idea behind the game was born and how the development is progressing. I’ll give it a shot, please don’t judge too harshly.

Most people probably won’t understand the way I feel about this, but… I should start way way back from wonderful classical adventures from the golden age of quests, such as Monkey Island, Full Throttle or Space Quest. If you are one of the few connoisseurs of the genre, you’ll know right away what masterpieces I’m talking about. If not, just take my word for it: these are wonderful (and rather complicated) games with great atmosphere that were practically super hits back in the day.
I am a fan of adventure games myself, and I’ve played almost all significant games in the genre and find some of them truly great. And naturally I have always dreamed about creating my own quest at least a bit similar to those marvelous games. So let’s just give each other an understanding nod (maybe you are a fan of adventure games just like me) and carry on.

Let’s start in the year 2014, when I’ve watched the movie “Interstellar” and was completely blown away by it. Once I got back from the movie theater, I jumped to reddit and other forums and started reading through user comments. Of course I wasn’t the only one who has taken the movie so close to heart. One of the most commented storylines was the story of Romilly played by David Gyasi, who had spent 23 years in orbit waiting for his crew. This has happened due to extreme time dilation.
This idea captured me. What would he do during these 23 years? How would he make the time pass: ship repairs, conducting experiments? It was then, when I thought it would be great to create a quest based on this idea, since the story fits into classical genre nicely: a handful of characters, a complicated plot, and a lot of issues with the spaceship, which have to be solved by the lone hero.
As time went on, I grew more and more fond of this idea. It was clear that I couldn’t copy the story from “Interstellar”. Furthermore, it was such a serious movie, whereas I always wanted to develop a fun game that would spread good mood and cheer and make people smile. I figured that Odysseus couldn’t be alone in orbit and so the robot Barton appeared. This patient and just a bit boring working unit keeps bothering Odysseus, whereas he prefers to laugh it off to make the robot go away. Later other details were added, so the storyline of Odysseus Kosmos is a lot different from the movie.
So I was thinking about the game for a lot time, but couldn’t get myself to start development. I was exploring Unity engine at that time and was proficient enough to launch a project (“Odysseus Kosmos” is not my first Unity-based indie title, I did a small arcade “16-bit Tank” before that). But I lacked that final resolution, a sign that would push me to start developing. I was just passing time waiting for this “sign”. Until finally a new game gave it to me.
I must note that the game is really popular and has a lot of fans. But I was so disappointed by it that I finally decided to build my own game.
Thank you for paying attention, we will continue next time. Sign up for updates to follow if you’d like to read more!