OK, MarsTopians. It's been quite a while. You've been thinking... Hey, what the heck's up with Sam? He never calls. He never writes...
I know. I know. Somehow, I've morphed into that guy sitting with eyes glued to his screen day and night, lost in making LAST LIFE, and I sometimes need to be yanked out of production mode and reminded to come back up for air, get a snack already, and say hi.
So how about some updates?
THE SHORT AND SWEET
Some exciting news: in our finalized script/production, there is more content, more locations, and longer playtime than originally promised. We're super stoked about what we have been able to accomplish in this amount of time as we push for even more.
THE LONG VERSION
For me, the most valuable part of creating games is the exploration phase of what-ifs, the time of brainstorming a lot of wild ideas, directions and options. We keep a wide open-creative environment when it comes to developing our world / story / characters / game mechanics ideas / visual design in order to question the traditional approaches and nurture something more daring. We tried out as many options and iterations as possible to stretch beyond the predictable and established formats, and push for fresher ways to show and interact with a really twisty plotted adventure. Staying open to where the story can take us has been an integral step in order for us to bring the very best version of our story to production. But there is a time for open-sky development and a time to set a plan in motion and produce it. Here is where we landed.
World - The world of 2084, where life on earth has been destroyed and colonies, like the one on Mars, hold the remnants of humanity is a big one--large enough to hold dozens of stories and adventures, in fact. I've really loved creating this complex world of the near future in all of its technological, social, political and visual detail, setting the stage for our future episodes.
Story - Within that large dystopian universe, my writer (mom) Jerrilyn and I have explored the most dynamic way to bring Jack Parker into the fascinating world of noir detective stories. I'm really glad we took this approach, and I'm also excited that we now have a completed script for Episode 1.
Gameplay - We have an Alpha version of the entire game that can be played-through.
Visual Design - Establishing the visual style of our game, and the architectural environment, have been a top priority. I've recently switched over to Unity 5, and I'm excited about the speed at which I can now switch around different lighting effects and bake the lighting.
Animation - This is really fun. I use Mixamo for Mo-cap animation and the life it brings to the low-poly characters is amazing. The Mixamo crew have been unbelievably generous to LAST LIFE and they are creating custom motions for our game. Huge thanks to them.
Gratitude – Look, when I decided to hire my own mother, Jerrilyn Farmer, to co-write my script, it might have seemed crazy. But how many indie game-makers have moms who have written 8 award-winning mystery best-sellers and also teach Writing Detective Fiction at UCLA Extension Writers Program? She’s been co-writing our story and script full time for all these months and I want to say a public thanks to her for adding her expertise and dynamic dialogue while clearly serving the dark, sometimes eccentric vision I’m going for. Shout outs to Double Fine, as well, for being supportive through and through. Thanks also to Jake Elliott, Tamas Kemenczy, and Ben Babbitt of Kentucky Route Zero fame, who visited us at Glitch City this month and had a lot of wise words to share on their own development process. And, again, I have had amazing support from my friends at Glitch City. Speaking of whom...
Shameless Plug - My LA indie collective, Glitch City, just launched a Patreon campaign! For those who would like to support indie gamemakers and think this group looks promising, I appreciate you giving it a look: https://www.patreon.com/GlitchCityLA
We put out our first podcast as well: https://www.patreon.com/creation?hid=1712525&rf=479508
And even more gratitude - Our backer community has been our most valuable partner along our path. Not only do you have my thanks, but I have listened to your feedback and made a lot of careful adjustments to better fulfill your dreams for LAST LIFE.
The Big Hush - We're now at that point where our entire production is one giant spoiler alert. But if there is something you'd like to know or want to see, please ask in the comments section. If I can answer specifics--I will. But from now on, due to our aim to surprise you with twists and counter twists, story and character details must be held a close secret. In fact, forget what you thought you knew. And prepare for some fun.
Are you coming to GDC? On the immediate horizon, I was invited to present LAST LIFE at The MIX and if that wasn't cool enough GameSpot.com asked to feature us on a special indie game live stream. BUT, due to my need to keep all plot reveals hidden, I'm doubting if I'll be able to present any aspect of the game at this point, while prevent important spoilers. I've also been invited to speak about my process for an hour at the Mixamo booth on Wednesday at 1pm--and that I can happily do.
If you see me at GDC, please come up and introduce yourself! And how awesome it would be if I saw someone sporting a LAST LIFE tee!
I have not slept.
I have not seen my girlfriend (much).
But…I have never felt better or more enthusiastic about what we are making for you.