Thursday, November 22, 2012

Making ASA

Today I wanted to summarize and share my experience on making ASA, even if it’s still in development. As I’m a single developer, it's quite hard to compare with what a team could have done on a similar project.

First thing I made was the short film 2011: A Space Adventure (see tuesday's article), which received good criticisms, and it encouraged me to make the game a few months later.

Having this film done was a very big help because :
- I knew what people liked/disliked
- I can use it as an opening movie for the game
- It gives me a strong background and a beginning for a scenario

Of course, when I made the film, I just didn't imagine that the project would go so far ! 2011ASA (the short film) released in november 2011, where the production of ASA (the game) only started in july 2012 ! And between them two, I had no project of making this game... The idea went suddenly in june, when I thought of the best way to use the original scenario.

Speaking of scenario, this short film was based on a small book I had written in self-publishing. I don’t say it was a qualitative novel, but I had a strong idea, at least.
Then I developped the game scenario from this point, and didn’t start the 3D production before I had finished the writing ! I know it’s hard to resist to the temptation of going into 3D modeling, but the writing step is very important.

When my scenario was complete, before starting the real prod, I thought for a long time of the best software for programming. I have to be honnest, I’m not good in programming, that’s why I chose to make a slideshow game and that’s why I chose Adventure Maker. That’s probably not the soft everyone would choose nowadays, you know ! But the author and the community are very nice people, and they really helped.

From this point I just made some rough sketches of the world of ASA (the main ship, the planet). And when I say rough, I mean rough ! I didn't draw some great artworks : just made plans in top view, and started placing my main puzzles. The aim was to precise the main idea, and start knowing where the puzzles/enigmas would bring the player when he solves them. That’s how I built ASA. I have drawn it into sketches, from the starting point to the end (or almost… ). Easy when you have your scenario ! Of course, this step was not accurate, and the final game changed a lot compared to my sketches, but I don’t imagine how you can create an adventure game without this step.

That's how I finished the most important and could conclude the "pre-production process" by designing the characters and environments once and for all. Personally I started the real 3D process/programming at this point, and I met no real problem then. I just imagined the final puzzles gradually, depending on what I had made in the environments, in order to integrate them well. The biggest thing was to stay motivated until the end !!!

To make long things short, here is how ASA has been produced, chronologically :
- writing main ideas, searching for references
- scenario
- sketches of the world (top view map) including the place of the main puzzles/steps
- choice of softwares/tools
- pre-production 1 (drawings : characters/environments)
- pre-production 2 (3D : chara modeling, setup, etc…)
- production, including puzzles, 3D and programming
- finalisation (sound, music, videos…)
- beta-testing

If things go well, you just have a few short weeks to wait before the official release !