Welcome to the first Developer Diary. It is really great to be able to update you on the game. Please forgive me for the delay in writing this - but at least that means there's a lot to report back on…
We were absolutely delighted by the way that the Kickstarter campaign went – on so many levels. Of course the funding is crucial. For many years the business model has made it impossible for indie developer to write original games – which is why so many have turned to ‘work for hire’, doing conversion and porting work, rather than producing original games. Publishing our own games on Apple / PC / Mac, and then Android allowed us to fund the first part of this new Broken Sword game, but then we needed to find a way to pay for the balance. Being able to do it with you, rather than through traditional routes has benefitted us enormously, and will help us deliver a better game.
But what I hadn’t anticipated was how the campaign would excite and pull together all the fans. Our message that we would be working together with you clearly struck a chord. And your comments were incredibly valuable in so many ways. From your feedback we realised that we hadn’t quite got George’s face shape right so we changed it. We responded to your concerns at the way that the characters looked against the background by writing some additional technology. We also added options to display the UI in a ‘classic’ mode so the game can be tuned to look and feel just like it did in Broken Sword I and II.
The thirty days of the campaign were exhilarating, humbling, exhausting. Thank you, once again, for your support.
One of the many initiatives that we loved seeing was the ‘Order of the Goat’. A particular thanks to Sara Patrick and Adam Legge for making and sending me an OOTG mug!
We were fortunate enough not only to reach our target, but also to achieve a number of stretch goals. These stretch goals promised that we would add new characters, new locations, and enhance the design to deliver a richer gameplay experience.
The new characters were announced in advance – Pearl and Duane, and the goat. We also promised that two characters that would bear the likeness of backers (see earlier updated for details - congratulations to Kat and Adam by the way!) These characters add new, richer gameplay, though they obviously also required a bit of a design rethink!
Another of our pledges was to create a new section in the Middle East / North Africa. This has actually inspired us to write a much more epic ending. I had been worried that the previous ending wouldn’t feel quite ‘large’ enough and I'm pleased that we've now considerably redesigned the final sections of the game.
In promising that the game would feel richer, we also decided to hold a full review and add characters / locations where we felt that they would be beneficial. For example we added an exterior street scene to the opening Gallery – with a café run by its surly owner. Plus, and I don't want to give a spoiler, we've also added a popular character from a previous Broken Sword game (not Duane, nor a goat before you start speculating!). Adding this location, and associated gameplay was valuable because it expanded that section, and made it feel more alive. Wherever possible, exterior locations should be used to complement interior locations to create visual as well as gameplay contrast.
So we went through the whole game, undertaking a full review. This has had knock on effects on the story and therefore the gameplay. We have rescheduled this and unfortunately the extra content will add to the development time. We are currently honing the last elements of the design and, until we've done that, we can't be more specific – but the delay is likely to be a few months. Several people did post that they were worried that delivering the expanded game in the specified time would compromise quality – they were wise words. But we promise that it will be worth it.
We thought you might like to see how a game screen progresses from concept to complete layout. Having mentioned the street outside the gallery, here are the stages that it went through –
Once the design is nailed, the designers create a very rough thumbnail to use as a basis for communicating the core gameplay requirements. Much discussion follows – at this stage it is easy to create many new variations. This thumbnail was drawn by Nigel – you can see why he is a designer / scripter and not an artist!
One of our layout artists (in this case Tori) then creates a guide. Once approved, this is then scanned and the scripter implements it in the game and checks all the required functionality. Again this can take quite some time – we need to be totally confident that it is right before we move on, because it becomes expensive to make changes after this stage.
Once the guide is checked and approved, the layout is then drawn in full detail. If an area is going to require a zoom then this section of the layout is drawn at a higher resolution.
Once the layout is completed, individual animations can be specified and then animated (it is only at this point that we can confidently specify exactly what is required). At the same time, the screen can be digitally painted. The artist creates multiple layers - anything that a character can walk behind needs to be drawn as a layer so that it will mask that character. Where there are parallaxing layers, they need to be drawn larger than what is immediately seen because they will obviously scroll one way or the other. How much is added to each side determines the relative speed at which they will scroll.
So, over the last month I have worked hard with the design team to re-work the story and review the design while, at the same time, they move forward with scripting. I should explain that an adventure, uniquely, requires the story and the gameplay to run in parallel since they are so intertwined. We write the outline of the story, then think about the puzzles, then update the story to work within the confines of those puzzles, then write new puzzles, then review it all over again to ensure that everything is logical.
We believe that one of the strengths of the Broken Sword games is that the puzzles are logical with the context of the character motivation at that time, and within real world constraints (although sewer keys going into pockets may be a bit far fetched).
We constantly strive to write adventure games which feel innovative in a good way, but also feel familiar. Clearly point-and-click / slide-and-tap works really well – but how can we ensure that we deliver what people love from adventure games while making them feel fresh? Amongst other things, we have started work on a camera zoom functionality. Scripters can choose, always subtly, to zoom the camera into and out of the location. This will allow us to enhance the cinematography of both cut scenes and in-game scenes.
In January I will talk more about the story, whilst avoiding giving away any major spoilers. We are also working towards a vertical slice – a small section of game that is close to complete in terms of graphics and functionality. Once we hit that we will release screenshots.
By the way - a huge apology to people who have had to wait for issues relating to the Backer Panel. We are a small team and most people have multiple jobs: Peter is the author of the Backer Panel, but he's also our Android expert. He is about to come free and will work tirelessly over the next few days to catch up. He will then complete the Backer Website which will allow you to view all updates, your panel, Tony's Blog and some other things that we aren't quite yet ready to announce. Everyone has been remarkably patient and we thank you.
We were delighted that Kelly Willoughby joined the team as our Producer just after the Kickstarter Appeal ended. She will ensure that we work efficiently, and in particular that we can work on different projects in parallel: for example we were able to complete Broken Sword II – Remastered on Android without affecting development of Broken Sword – the Serpent’s Cure. She takes on full responsibility for ensuring that things happen on time.
We are just finishing off the first digital reward – it will be sent to you before Christmas. We are pretty pleased with it – and we hope you will be too. So expect to hear back from us shortly...
In the meantime, please let us know if you have any thoughts. We value your feedback enormously. Thank you for being a part of this fantastic adventure.
Charles Cecil, Director
Sorry for the delay since the last update – we will be announcing lot of exciting things over the next couple of weeks. But this update is all about the backer likeness draw!
We previously mentioned that we were about to select two backers whose likeness would be used for characters in the game. Well, a few days ago we huddled around Nina's computer screen, watched this much anticipated moment. With bated breath we watched the random selector sort through the full list of 15,000 backers... and the results are in...
We are delighted to introduce you to Kat and Adam, both of whom were kind enough to answer some pretty random questions.
Kat is a web designer and songwriter. She loves singing, dancing, and photography.
When did you first play Broken Sword?
I first played Broken Sword when it came out in 1996 at the bonny age of 15, and was hooked straight away with the puzzles and the visual look! I loved the cartoon style as it was very similar to the type of drawing that I used to do. My dream was to actually be a designer for computer games when I was a child.
What is your favourite part of Broken Sword?
Favourite part was the opening sequence in the first game, as well as the telephone conversations between George and Nico and Todryk.
What's it like to have your likeness featured in the game?
I have to say I am really excited. It's not unlike telling a Star Wars fan that they won a cameo in one of the films! I literally jumped up and down when I got the email from Nina! A close friend of mine, who knows of my love of the games was at my house when the email came in and got super excited with me.
What is on your Broken Sword - the Serpent's Curse wishlist?
The same amazing storytelling, puzzles and beautiful visual style. On top of that, would love to see the goat and Duane and Pearl again.
Adam's just moved to the US but worked at schools back in England. He's into English history (especially involving the Royal lineage), collecting old coins, pining after pugs, collecting films, watching musicals and listening to his music collection. He also enjoys discovering new restaurants but his wallet doesn't thank him too much for it. He's quite useless at sports and can't whistle, both of which eternally sadden him.
When did you first play Broken Sword?
I first played Broken Sword on my PC back when it was released in the nineties... In fact I still have my original copy! I was a mid-teen back then and had grown up with a Commodore 64, primarily. I always loved text adventures - or 'Interactive Fiction' - but was never very good at them, mostly due to the obvious constraints and limitations. Point and click adventures were very much a natural progression of those so I instantly fell into the genre, and what began with Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island moved through to Beneath a Steel Sky and Broken Sword. I'm still not very good at them, mind!
What was your favourite memory of Broken Sword?
My favourite memory of Broken Sword was/is the iconic beginning of the first game, really. I just thought those opening titles were a fantastic introduction (and also to George himself), as they had action, they had intrigue and they had clowns! Not much more you can ask for, although getting George drunk in Ireland takes some beating. Special mention to Rolf Saxon - I just can't imagine anybody else voicing George and he really made the part his own - when I think of BS I primarily think of that rich voice.
What's it like to have your likeness featured in the game?
It's extremely flattering to be picked for the new game! I definitely should have bought a lottery ticket the same week. I'm a die-hard BS fan and would have supported the series no matter what (I'm sure many people here feel the same way) but this news has made me even more invested in the game. I can only apologise in advance for not being able to rival George's appearance, although I wouldn't want to show him up ;)! Only a day or so before I got the e-mail from Nina I was actually informed my US green card application was successful so it was a double celebration. I'm not sure which I was happier about!
If you met George, what would you say?
Regardless of context, if I could meet George I'd have only one thing to say to him - "Thanks for nothing, Todryk", and then I'd run off like a giggling schoolboy. Oh dear.
We are really looking forward to creating the characters with Adam and Kat’s likeness for the game. Sorry to those who didn’t get picked.
We really are very close to finishing the next phase of the Backer Website which will include forums – once they are up, we would love to hear your thoughts on the game and give everyone more opportunities to be part of the game development process. More to be announced next week.
As always, thank you for your loyal support. We are truly blessed with a wonderful community.
A lot has been happening behind the scenes since our last post. Here are the headlines:
All $25 (and above) backers should have received an email inviting them to redeem their GoG codes. The games appears to have been warmly received – thank you for your messages. If your email went missing, please select ‘Rewards’ on the Navigation menu and you should find the code waiting for you.
Many thanks to the vast majority of people have now registered themselves on the Backer Panel. So this is a gentle appeal to the 2,000 or so slackers who haven’t gotten around to it yet…
A French and German version of the Backer Panel will be released in the next few days – we are just ironing out some last bugs.
Developer Diary / Code Jam
We will be starting regularly monthly Developer Diaries soon, and monthly Code Jams for $250 (and above) backers. We have been a bit quiet because the additions promised for the Stretch Goals have had quite an impact on the design (all for the better) and we wanted to report back once the dust had settled.
We are about to start working on a backer-only area website. Until this is complete, we will post updates through Kickstarter and email our PayPal backers with a link.
More news soon.
Competition to appear as a character in the game
Now that most people have registered, we are in a position to pull two backer names from the electronic-equivalent of a top hat. Winners to be announced shortly.
Charles on Gamespot Podcast
Charles popped into the hallowed home of Gamespot to chat with the wonderful Guy Cocker and Mark Walton about Broken Sword - the Serpent's Curse and anything else that came up in conversation. He swore on the last padcast and they had to add a parental warning - so he was determined to behave better this time around. Check out the banter as well as his triumph in their general knowledge competition here.
Tony returns from a week's vacation in the beautiful Lake District. For more about his time away plus other developments, check out his blog here.
Happy Birthday to Tim (for last Friday)
Tori gave Tim an iPad and a Darth Vader bathrobe which he proudly wore all day. Which Star Wars character do you think he most looks like?
pledged of $400,000 goal
seconds to go
Aug 23, 2012 - Sep 22, 2012 (30 days)
Pledge $15 or more
BROKEN SWORD SUPPORTER: • Download of 'Broken Sword - the Serpent's Curse' - PC & Mac • Regular Developer Diaries, Ideas Exchange Forum & Video Updates • Access to Exclusive Digital Content: Game Artwork (inc. posters and wallpaper); and Director's commentary on previous Broken Sword games & Archive VideosEstimated delivery: Apr 2013
Pledge $25 or more
BROKEN SWORD MEMBER: All above rewards plus: • High Resolution digital Comic Books of 'Broken Sword - the Serpent's Curse', 'Broken Sword: Director's Cut', and 'Broken Sword - the Smoking Mirror: Remastered' • History of Broken Sword eBook • 'Broken Sword - the Serpent's Curse' digital Concept Art - character sheets, layouts etc. • Game's digital Soundtrack • Copy of any one previous Revolution game on GOG.com (Broken Sword or otherwise - PC only)Estimated delivery: Apr 2013
Pledge $50 or more
BROKEN SWORD SILVER MEMBER: All above rewards plus: • Exclusive digital game design content: Scripts of 'Broken Sword:Director's Cut', 'Broken Sword - the Smoking Mirror: Remastered', and 'Broken Sword - the Serpent's Curse' • Game Design Document for 'Broken Sword - the Serpent's Curse' • Archive of Game Design Documents for previous games • All Revolution Games titles on GOG.com: 'Broken Sword 1 - 4', 'In Cold Blood', 'Lure of the Temptress' & 'Beneath a Steel Sky' (PC only) • ‘Broken Sword Silver Member’ Credit in the game!Estimated delivery: Apr 2013
Pledge $100 or more
BROKEN SWORD GOLD MEMBER - All above rewards plus: • Boxed Kickstarter special edition of the Game, includes: CD / DVD game with full packaging; printed Comic of 'Broken Sword - the Serpent's Curse', 'Broken Sword: Director's Cut' & 'Broken Sword - the Smoking Mirror: Remastered'; Large game Poster; CD of soundtrack; & Kickstarter Backer T-Shirt (shipping in US, EU and UK included) • Early access to digital Music Soundtrack • ‘Broken Sword Gold Member’ Credit in the game!Estimated delivery: Apr 2013
Pledge $175 or more
BROKEN SWORD PLATINUM MEMBER - All above rewards plus: • Your box signed by key team members and Rolf Saxon • Printed copy of the Game Design Document • ‘Broken Sword Platinum Member’ Credit in the game!Estimated delivery: Apr 2013
Pledge $250 or more
BROKEN SWORD KNIGHT - All above rewards plus: • Printed copy of Game Design Document signed by the Director • Signed 'History of Broken Sword' color Book • Templar Keyring Pendant • Signed Comic Book of 'Broken Sword: the Serpent’s Curse' • Private invite to Code Jam once per month – ask questions and get live answers! • 'Knight of the Broken Sword' credit in the game!Estimated delivery: Apr 2013
Pledge $500 or more
137 backers Limited (863 of 1000 left)
BROKEN SWORD KNIGHT COMMANDER - All above rewards plus: • Signed limited edition Kickstarter Backer Certificate • Signed Poster • Nico's "La Liberte" Reporter's Notebook! • Signed limited edition George and Nico Print • 'Broken Sword: Knight Commander' Credit in the game!Estimated delivery: Apr 2013
Pledge $1,000 or more
26 backers Limited (974 of 1000 left)
BROKEN SWORD KNIGHT SENESCHAL - All above rewards plus: • Personal written message from Charles Cecil • Early backers' access to game assets • Special Kickstarter Broken Sword Hoodie – wrap around color, fantastic! • Broken Sword baseball cap • ‘Broken Sword: Knight Seneschal’ Credit in the game!Estimated delivery: Apr 2013
Pledge $5,000 or more
2 backers Limited (48 of 50 left)
BROKEN SWORD KNIGHT MASTER - All above rewards plus: • Personal Voicemail Message from George or Nico • Invitation to Launch Party in UK (excludes travel and accommodation) • A unique Drawing of you, in a suitable pose, with either George or Nico (your choice) • Broken Sword Knight Master Jacket – wrap around color, ultra high quality! • 'Broken Sword: Knight Master' Credit in the game!Estimated delivery: Apr 2013
Pledge $10,000 or more
0 backers Limited (8 of 8 left)
BROKEN SWORD GRAND MASTER - All above rewards plus: • Broken Sword Grandmaster Jacket (replaces 'Knight Master' jacket) – wrap around color as above, best quality – the ultimate! • Original pencil Storyboard Sheets (option to be signed) • Exclusive high quality Aluminum-printed Poster • Lunch and Studio Tour plus hands-on sneak peek of game in development (includes accommodation but not travel) • Invitation to the Wrap Party in exotic game location with key team members (includes accommodation but not travel) • All Broken Sword Grandmasters are drawn into the game in a group photo, that George and Nico can get a close up of and comment on! • 'Broken Sword: Grand Master' Credit in the game!Estimated delivery: Apr 2013