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April 30 - Best Milkshake
I thought I'd take a few minutes of our time to carefully go over what is to be a prominent maneuver. Through this incredible experience and learning curve into the depths of game development, there are emotional triumphs and logical shortcomings. It has been brought to my attention for the past few months that Anomaly 1921 has more than a stack of cards fanned out in my hands.
Before there are any indications of suspense that the game is going under, I'm stopping you HERE. Anomaly 1921, project wise, is NOT being canceled or shunned in any way, shape, or form. But it is in my best interest and most logical next step to take that project and give it a proper execution when I have more room to work with.
Anomaly 1921 is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a walk in the park to make. These types of games take time, dedication, passion over that time, critical thinking, etc. And that needs to be done from a technical aspect that I have yet to fully grasp.
What this means is this: A new project has been in the works and is being crafted with as much but separate passions, and with much less complexity and a cleaner pallet than Anomaly 1921. That means that it will give me not just technical knowledge, but room to work with when the right time comes with dealing that hand for A1921. And if I were to be downright honest with all of you, this is the absolute best chance that A1921 will be given an even fairer shot. Three years and counting is a long time to stay under the radar for a project like this. A1921 is also constantly being constructed but at minor intervals at this time.
That all being said, I will announce this new project in the near future. I believe you will be pleasantly surprised at what it may possibly bring to the table.
Thank you all for being awesome, We'll be sure to speak again very soon.
March 24 - Best Milkshake
Indie games are wonderful things. They often reflect who the developer is, what they think, how they feel, etc. Or maybe not. They sometimes have no reflection and just tell a story. Through extensive research as a gamer I've revealed to myself that more often than not there are no bad games, just games made for the right kind of people. But criticism will always come from both parties, opposing, stating why or why not these games are either great or good. Something I'd like to briefly share today is about why I chose to refuse creating a simple game.
Some games work out as well executed, simple ideas. And I'm no pseudo, all knowing being who has any right as a developer to tell others how they should or shouldn't execute these things. But I chose this path because I live in this world to tell stories. I've written a number of books, drawn many concepts, had my fair share of incorporating several mediums that valued these stories. But a game is a medium that both the developer and the gamer have to come to an equal respect of that work. For example, I have no desire to release this game publicly for Early Access, beta testing, etc. As much as I need criticism, it's not going to be handled in a way that ends with me handing you an unfinished product. I can't let that happen.
I have nothing against Early Access or linearly executed games, but for the story I'm writing, that can't happen. I'd rather have you start the game, put your headphones on at 4AM and jump into a single-player game that feels solid, complete and exciting. I want you to have the ability to hold a discussion on its content. And I have fully realized that this will be a difficult task to preform, but achieving this is as important to me as it is to the consumer who will be purchasing a product.
Thanks for sticking with the project and reading if you have been. Until next time...
December 11, 2013 - Best Milkshake
Creating a working, living, breathing city is the most difficult task I've ever done. It requires many key ingredients to bake seamlessly together. Of course there are many of these ingredients to properly flesh out a game, but I've narrowed it down to the 5 that stand out the most and are critically important.
Why is your city there? Who were the people responsible for the outcome? What political stance did they charge in order to gather the ideologies of making such project? What inspired them? You have to ask yourself these questions and answer every single one of them. You can't just pull these things out of thin air and expect some sort of gratifying output.
The environments have to make sense. By no means should you skip on architectural balance and properly constructed atmosphere. Each building along with every asset in the game has an architectural purpose. Unless the strict design of your idea calls for something else, these rules really have to apply. Every building was influenced by actual 1900's era structures. Having robust pillars and support beams in the right placed make it look that much more complete and realistic. Even if the city doesn't apply to being as “real” as possible, creating content such as assets that are developed for certain structures within the game's art design makes that much more sense.
Each section of New Manhattan is very different from the last. However, creating 100% new models and assets for each level would of not been the best idea. Why? Consistency. Even though these levels are different, there's a familiarity between all of them. The player knows not only they are in the same city, but the same game. They can admire the new structures and city sites that each section inhabits, but they have to also feel comfortable with the progression. Where's the Transporters? Where's the health station? Where's this, where's that? Of course all the important gameplay assets are cleverly integrated, but it doesn't mean I should break that pattern because of some “cool idea”. If New Manhattan was just a “cool idea”, it would completely fail, because it has before. One of the most difficult things to do was open multiple routes for multiple perspectives of gameplay and not just my own. This world isn't going to survive only carrying your vision.
Now you have to give the city its purpose. Writing characters can be fun, especially when you can finally execute on that concrete story you “supposedly” have. Nothing puts more holes in your story more than your own characters, especially when there's over 40 of them... What makes this character special? What are their thoughts on this subject or another? What are their goals and aspirations? What's vital to story-telling is an interesting and well written narrative. But just because you know how to write a half descent story, doesn't necessarily mean you can write a game narrative. A story to game narrative is like going from a tricycle to rocket-ship. The jump from one to another is astronomical and shouldn't really be pursued unless you've done some studying on scripting for a few years. Not saying it can't be done, but the result can be somewhere between slightly refined and utterly abysmal. It's also important and very difficult to write the game only as deep as the player wants to go. Having the advantage of skipping insightful audio logs but still managing to deliver the full narrative is a talent not everyone has.
5: Self Awareness
Self Awareness is like the icing on the cake. At first it can be very odd having your own characters be effected by your own story, but that passes with time. Filling the world with propaganda, audible characters, etc, really fills all the last remaining cracks and makes everything seem complete. Having them talk about the city's various side stories or small but interesting pockets of personal emotion towards a subject or another settles quite nicely.
There is plenty more I can delve into, but I'd rather keep this developer note to one subject. But I'll just chime in on a small update... Anomaly 1921 is moving along very quickly and safely thus far. A working 10 to 15 minute in-game gameplay video is slated for Spring of 2014 but not set in stone. Some new screenshots have been posted here on the page as well. Like I've mentioned before, there was going to be some time where things were just quiet for a while. This only happens when things are cooking, so being patient is the only thing I can ask for.
Stay tuned and Happy Holidays.
September 29, 2013 - Best Milkshake
Anomaly 1921 has come a long way. Within the last 2 years it's gone through many stages. And that's what I'm going to share briefly today...
New Manhattan used to be a lot like a suburban New York City. Vivid in color, diverse in shapes and design. Running fountains, birds chirping, public parks with finely cut hedges and smiling faces. I began to build this city going right into that vision of the early 1900's, but little did I know what I was going into. This certain vision of the city was short lived with only a few months of actual visual construction. Simply putting it, it was much too simple of a world, very one dimensional and ordinary. And by then, the game itself was also much different. So when rewrites reworked the environments, so did the story.
The second construction of New Manhattan was a very basic, darker, noir environment. This you can vaguely see in the older screenshots in the comparisons between the alpha and beta on the Facebook page. This version I was sure was going to be it, but sadly, lived as just about as short as the initial version.
The third construction of the city is what you see today. An even blend of art-deco, steampunk, suburban New York City and a neo-noir landscape. It had to be reworked from the ground up entirely. New buildings, new assets, new story, new narrative, etc. This installment took a TON of effort to give into. As I've mentioned before, it was responsible for all the stress, anxiety and giving up. But as you can see, the storm calmed down and the clouds parted for you to see what you see today. But I'm extremely glad that those terrible things happened, because it changed things for the better, for the WAY better. Even though the game isn't finished, the city in its entirety is complete, and may I say, glowing with pride.
I will admit that I had initially bit off way more than I could chew. But as a writer, it was a story that had to exist and not just in my head forever waiting to be told on paper. It needed to be explored, exploited, seen from more than one linear dimension. So I think back to where I was and how far it has come and it just amazes me. New Manhattan is a city that has to be explored by other people when finally out of my hands. And there's no other direction to go now but forward.
Thanks to everyone who support this project. Like I mentioned before, expect little updates for a little while longer until I can debut something big and worth the wait. Thanks for being patient and reading these developer notes if you do, it means a lot. Also feel free to check out my website for a handful of my other works if you're interested. See you in a little while and happy early holidays.
September 1, 2013 - Best Milkshake
Anomaly 1921 is full of music and armed to the teeth in ambient sounds. I've worked on an entirely original soundtrack excluding the many wonderful songs that filled the early nineteen hundreds era.
I wrote out many of the gameplay action to the sounds of dramatic music scores featured in films like Road to Perdition, Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption, etc. But I couldn't see myself replicating that emotion without trying to capture what was special about it.
The soundtrack is done in-house using a wide array of synthesizers consisting of various instruments. A few of these instruments include Pianos, Violins, Bells, and so on. And that's just the classical side of New Manhattan. There's much more surprising synth music to hear inspired primarily from Vangelis and his incredible work preformed for the film Blade Runner.
It may seem like a strange blend at first, but I only hope you can trust me that they fit perfectly together in harmony. What Anomaly 1921 offers in its music alone I think will come across as a pleasant surprise to some and a tasteful expectation to others.
I believe when finally matched up with the game, the music itself will give the player the feeling that no matter how beautiful the city, there's always a dark corner. And whatever resides in that dark corner can be illuminated or left forgotten.