In the previous article, I told you the most important details about the development of all the episodes of “A Matter of Caos” and the great results that we obtained with the release of the fourth episode. In this article I’ll talk about the birth of Terribilia Van Quinn, a.k.a. Terry, and the development of “A Tale of Caos: Prelude“!
After the completion of the last chapter of ‘A Matter of Caos’, we wanted to make a step forward towards the making of a really old-style point and click game. Moreover, Eli was really exhausted for the commitment in the intricated and beautiful AMOC story, so he wanted to try something less serious, with a more humoristic setting.
We also wanted to show more about the Caos, so we decided to show the surreal and delirious part of it. This time we chose to use a weirder, non-sense humor, getting closer to the Monkey Island style. As always, we wanted to fill the game with all kind of appropriate references, without showing them directly just to “make a reference”, but hiding them in the most unexpected places.
To do this we needed an exuberant, impulsive, vibrant and full of life main character: in a couple of days Eli created Terry and her mechanical owl Heimlich (Terry needed an external consciousness, like the Talking Cricket, to limit her impulsiveness, and the idea of Heimlich was perfect!).
Unfortunately, we still had a problem for the creation of the game graphics (yes, we searched A LOT for someone who wanted to help us, but the researches has been inconclusive). First thing first, Eli tried to draw some high resolution graphics, but the result wasn’t very good, so he experimented to make some pixel graphics: the result wasn’t really professional, but was absolutely nice and good for us in that moment! So, the first pixelated version of Terry and Heimlich were born! Eli will talk about them in more details in another article!
While Eli was preparing the story, the mechanics and the graphics for this new funny adventure, I started to make a complete refactoring of the adventure framework code, adding the new functionalities needed for the new adventure. During this period a friend of us (Mirko Argenzio) joined the team for a month: he helped me to refactor the code and implement some new important functionality in the framework. After the release of the game, he left the team for personal reasons.
In the prelude, we started to implement the typical interface of point and click games: the text positioned on the talking character, with a different color for everyone, and the main character visible in scene (not the first person like view of AMOC). We divided the inventory in two parts: the Terry’s “toolbox” and the “normal inventory”. Terry is an inventress and she built her own useful tools for every need; she built Heimlich, the Meta-matic™ (a powerful tool, that gives to Terry the possibility to save the current space-time moment), the Portable Alchemy Set™ (to create powerful alchemic substances), the Multitool™ (useful and very versatile) and the Eco-Engine™ (a powerful engine that can motorize almost everything, and which is also very ecological).
The graphics were simple, in pixel art and without any animation (Eli still wasn’t able to make the animations). The inventory and other UI elements were an exception: we decided to make them in full resolution (it was just an attempt, we then realized that it would have been better to make everything in pixel art, for artistic coherence). To avoid the pixel hunting, we tried to highlight the interactive elements with a white outline: this kind of worked, exept for the fact that the final graphics looked a little bit confused, with the interactive elements that seemed like stickers pasted on the background.
The gameplay was quite normal for a point and click game: the main difference was in the interactions between Terry and Heimlich. Hemilich it’s sort of an assistant in the game: you can talk to him to have some suggestions on what to do next, you can use your items on him to have a detailed description and you need his help to solve some puzzles during the game. Also, we inserted a simple minigame at the end of the episode.
The story was quite funny and delirious and there were a couple of scenes that were absolutely hilarious (like the catapult and the bear scene) and we were absolutely certain that the game would have been a hit on Kongregate: we released it the 9th of July, 2015.
The feedback of the players were good, and the game won a weekly prize, but it didn’t received the same acclamation as ‘A Matter of Caos’: it was nice and funny to play, but it wasn’t addictive enough.
After the tremendous success of ‘A Matter of Caos’, we were a little bit disappointed that ‘A Tale Of Caos’, even if technically better, had a less warm welcome. We tried to understand the reasons, from the feedback of our players, and the only answers we got was about the story: ‘A Matter of Caos’ have a more immersive and deep story, more fascinating characters, and an inusual and great main character (we really love Terry and Hemlich, but Mr. Gilbert it’s undoubtedly a more charming and deep character and the players really loved him).
Even if the game wasn’t bad, we suffered the blow: after ‘A Matter of Caos’ we wanted to immediatly make another big hit and the fact that it didn’t happen was a little bit demoralizing. We decided to try to make other type of games to digest the disappointment: this choice was a very bad one for us, because interrupted the positive trend that we were building. I’ll talk about it in the next article.
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