Tag Archives: Point-And-Click

Plot of the Druid Header

Q&A With Adventure4Life Studios

Some months back, I had discovered a promising title set for unveiling on Kickstarter rooted in wonder,  conspiracy, and British humor; this week, I’m happy to say I’m able to bring it to the attention of the wider audience it deserves. Plot of the Druid is a medieval fantasy point-and-click adventure game featuring humor inspired by the likes of Monty Python and other classic examples of British comedy. Developed by Adventure4Life Studios, it tells the story of a disgraced druid’s apprentice who sets out to restore the natural order of the world as we know it. What will make this point-and-click stand out on paper (depending on how funding goes) is the fact that it is potentially set to be open-ended, as players can choose to deal with different situations in however way they choose as opposed to it having one pre-determined path. The player must also use spells learned in order to solve puzzles, interact with NPCs, and progress through the game.

Eager to know more about this prospect-filled title amidst its current Kickstarter campaign, I got in touch with Adventure4Life’s CEO Yakir Israel and asked him a few questions in regards to the game, and what kind of weird and wonderful things players can expect going into it, and how it may stand among some of the very best games in the genre, such as Monkey Island, Broken Sword or Grim Fandango. Here’s what Yakir Israel of Adventure4Life Studios had to say about Plot of the Druid.

 

Plot of the Druid 1

What were the influences behind your game? 

I’m a big fan of everything related to fantasy and comedy. I also grew up on point-and-click adventure games such as Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Simon the Sorcerer, and Monkey Island, which shape the main course of my game. When I played Book of Unwritten Tales ten years ago, I realized that the PnC genre hadn’t died, and it inspired me to make my own game with a similar fantasy setting.

King’s Quest, Harry Potter, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz all had an impact on the setting as well. More than that, Plot of the Druid has a big mixture of influencers: The whole focus on druids comes from the Asterix comics and Radagast from Lord of the Rings, the shapeshifting mechanic comes from Visionaries – Knights of the Magical Light, the art style was inspired by the 2D beautiful hand-painted Broken Sword series, and all the wacky characters in the game took inspiration from Simon the Sorcerer, Discworld, and Monkey Island.

 

What has the developmental process been like?

I’ve been working on this game for almost six years, and there were many ups and downs. I worked full-time in hi-tech and saved some money each month to pay expert freelancers for aspects of the game that I can’t do myself, but it was a very tight budget. Some of the team members lost motivation when the budget ran out. And each time someone leaves, it causes delays to find a replacement.
Luckily, since this game is my dream, I keep moving on even so and never stop making it. Now, in the last year, I can say the team has become more stable, and I’ve also gotten small investments from people who believe in the project. These helped me release the prologue, and I came to the conclusion I have to go as soon as possible to crowdfunding if I want the full game to happen.

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product? 

My goal is to finish it by the beginning of 2023. Right now only twenty percent of the game is done, but if the game will get funded that can boost the development process. And I can reach that goal.

 

Plot of the Druid 2

What has been the most exciting aspect of development? 

After the prologue was released I got a lot of feedback, and with the experience, I gained during the years I decided to rewrite some of the story elements. It was very exciting to spot parts that weren’t working very well and improve them. I was very proud of the final result.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?  

Doing optimization – I had to decrease the build size and manage the memory more efficiently. The animations are frame-by-frame, so I had to put a lot of effort into making the loading time shorter. Each load took more than 15 seconds. After optimization, it took less than 2 seconds and the build size decreased by 70 percent!

  

How well has the game been received so far? 

I would say pretty good. It’s listed as Very Positive on Steam and often I get positive messages from around the world. It’s really encouraging me to keep moving, knowing that things are going in the right direction!

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

PC is my main priority, which I think is the main audience for point-and-click games. But if I get lucky and reach certain stretch goals, I will be happy to port to mobile and consoles as well. 

 

Are there any stretch goals planned for the Kickstarter campaign?

Yes, besides the typical goals such as localization, adding voice and mobile versions, I would like to add multiple paths, two different endings, more shapeshifting abilities, CGI cutscenes, and a comic book.

 

What examples of British humor influenced this game?

In addition to the British point and click games I mentioned, Monty Python and Blackadder. 

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that have since been scrapped or reworked?

When I rewrote the story elements, some of the concepts had to be removed or adapted to fit the new ideas. I kept the polished parts, which had taken lots of time and effort, and applied them in a different context. It’s funny since people that tried the first rough versions back in 2017-2018 won’t recognize the new version especially in terms of story and puzzles.

 

How instrumental has player feedback in terms of shaping the course of the project been? 

Usually, I trust my gut feeling, but of course, making a game isn’t just about the creator. The phase where the player’s feedback has the most impact is beta testing. I listen carefully to what they have to say and decide if their suggestion is practical and if it enhances the game experience, like if something isn’t clear or additional hints are needed. After the release, I tend to work mostly on major bug fixes to avoid unnecessary ripple effects.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or for any franchise, which would it be, and why?

I would like to make an alternate sequel to Simon the Sorcerer 2! My idea is to keep the game in the same 2D pixel style, but with a different story that starts immediately after the cliffhanger at the end, when Simon and Sordid switched bodies. So you can play as Simon in Sordid’s body at the start of the game, while you see cutscenes of Sordid in Simon’s body in the real world, trying to be menacing but no one really cares. How funny would that be?!

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

  1. Work on something you would like to play yourself. 
  2. Start with a small project – you can learn a lot from the dev process… you will improve later.
  3. Break your work into small milestones – each milestone achieved can boost your motivation, you will have something to show, and you can get feedback from it.
  4. Don’t wait to finish your game and then start to promote it – you need to build a community around it as soon as possible. Building a fan base takes time and effort. Spreading the word is more than 70% of a project’s success, BUT make sure the contents you send to the press are high quality!

Where on the Internet can people find you?

The best place to start is the website – www.plotofthedruid.com, from there you can subscribe to newsletters to get updates and reach our social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Discord.

 

Do you have anything else to add?

We released a free prologue last year, you can play it here:

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1544570/Plot_of_the_Druid_Nightwatch/
And like I already mentioned, being funded is crucial for making the full game, please consider

backing it: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/plot-of-the-druid/plot-of-the-druid
There are cool rewards, such as an original big box version like the old school game used to have, the backers can make contributions and even appear in the game itself!

 

I’d like to thank Yakir for taking the time out to answer my questions on Plot of the Druid. Alongside names such as Lucy Dreaming, there seems to be an incoming influx of indie point-and-click adventure games, and Plot of the Druid, at first glance, looks like a game that is sure to deliver an extremely memorable experience to both fans of the genre and newcomers. If you’d like to back the game on Kickstarter, you can do so via the link provided, but in the meantime, I hope you guys enjoyed this one because I certainly did.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Lucy Dreaming Header

Q&A With Tall Story Games

Whilst once again scouring Kickstarter for more new video game prospects. I came across a couple of games in a genre that generally speaking, I don’t spend enough time covering, but this game captured my attention in a way that few that others do. Lucy Dreaming is a point-and-click adventure game made as a love letter to the works of LucasArts, including Day of the Tentacle, the Monkey Island series, and Full Throttle. Developed by Tall Story Games based in the English West Midlands, it centers around a young girl named Lucy, who must travel between dreams and reality to discover a disturbing truth about Lucy’s sub-conscience. Eager to know more, I contacted the game’s lead developer Ton Hardwidge to pose some questions in regards to not only the game but also in regards to the point-and-click adventure genre itself, as I was curious to get an indie developer’s perspective in regards to how well the genre is represented compared to the likes of the 2D Sidescroller, Metroidvania or 3D platforming genres. So that being said, here’s what Tom Hardwidge of Tall Story games had to say about Lucy Dreaming:

 

Lucy Dreaming 1

What were the influences behind your game?

It’s fairly obvious to anyone looking at the pixel-artwork or user interface of Lucy Dreaming that the LucasArts adventure classics from the 1990s are a huge inspiration for the game. I’ve made no effort to hide this fact, and I am proud to call it a love letter to all of the titles that gave me so much joy growing up. Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle made a huge impression on me and I never, even in my wildest dreams, thought it would be possible to create my own point & click adventure games.

The initial concept for the game came from the fact that our house is littered with children’s books. We have a six-year-old son who loves reading and often dreams about characters and scenarios in his books. I was already trying to think of a concept that would provide flexibility in terms of scenes, characters, and artwork, and dreams were the perfect candidate. I won’t divulge too much about the mechanics of the full game, but books play an important part.

 

What has the developmental process been like?

This is our first full-length title, so we knew it was going to need a bit more planning than some of our previous, shorter games. That said, a lot of the puzzle development in the game is organic. I have a narrative plan mapped out which contains all of the important milestones and plot points along the way, but in terms of the puzzles themselves, a lot of them are created in situ. I will design a scene and start cramming it with random objects. I hate large areas of empty space, so I always want to put a picture on the wall, or stuff the shelves to help add interest to the scene and support the wider story of the game. Once I have filled up a scene with bits of random crap, I then look at the task in hand and think to myself “If I were in this scene, what would I do next?” or “I wonder what’s in that cupboard over there.” As I oversee the story, artwork, and development I can change anything on a whim if I think I can make it work better, or there’s an opportunity for a gag.

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

We’re aiming to have a finished game within 12 months of the Kickstarter campaign ends. I have a tendency to get carried away and over-deliver, so although we have proposed 8-10 hours of playtime, it may well be a bit over that. The version of the demo available to play on Steam and Itch.io is actually the second one that we’ve produced. The first one was finished at the end of 2020 but, when tested, had an average playtime of over two hours. We felt this gave away a bit too much of the full game’s mechanics and story, so made the decision to “bank” it as the first two hours of the full game instead and create an entirely new demo prequel that had unique puzzles not found in the full game.

For anyone backing the game on Kickstarter, we will be involving them in discussions about the game on our VIP Discord channel too, so they can help to shape the game they have supported.

 

Lucy Dreaming 2

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

As I’m doing the whole lot, it’s very hard to separate them into different aspects. It’s all a single, intertwined process. If I had to pick one element, it would probably be the puzzle design itself as it involves a little bit of everything. Sometimes a puzzle will be purely visual,

sometimes it relies heavily on the dialogue and other little clues. Honing a puzzle so that it’s just the right level of difficulty is so much fun, I’ll watch testers and streamers play through a puzzle and try to spot where they get frustrated, bored, or delighted – I can then tweak the whole experience to make it as smooth as possible without handing them the answer on a plate.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?

Without a doubt, it’s been the publishing of the game to the various app platforms (namely Steam and the Google Play Store). As a first-timer to the process, I can honestly say that it’s been one of the most confusing and frustrating things I’ve had to deal with. It’s like a badly designed adventure game puzzle in itself. The clues poorly signposted and the dialogue is unhelpful but, as an adventure game puzzle, there is immense satisfaction in finally figuring it out on your own.

 

How well has the game been received so far?

So far it’s been received really well, and anything that has been picked up in terms of bugs or potential improvements to the puzzles has been sorted in subsequent releases. I’ve watched a lot of gamers playing the demo since it launched, and so far it seems to have been universally enjoyed. A few people apparently find a northern British accent inherently annoying, but they are vastly outweighed by the number of players who love Lucy and the voice actor’s sassy northern lilt (which is just as well, because it’s my wife and business partner, Emma!)

There’s nothing more satisfying than watching people laugh out loud at the jokes, and there are hundreds in there if you like exploring. The demo alone contains over 1,100 unique responses and dialogue, if you really want to suffer an onslaught of bad puns and “dad jokes” try talking to all the objects in each scene, you might discover a few hidden references and Easter eggs too.

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

The game engine that I’m using is called Visionaire Studio, it’s purpose-built for point & click adventure games and supports a huge number of platforms. For the basic level of funding on Kickstarter, I am promising releases for Windows, macOS, and Linux, but there’s also a stretch goal for iOS and Android (the demo is already available to download from the Google Play Store). Point & click games with a traditional SCUMM-style interface really lend themselves to touchscreens. I would absolutely love to release Lucy Dreaming on Nintendo Switch too, but publishing a game for Nintendo is a bit of an unknown for me, even though the game engine supports it from a technical point of view.

 

Can you tell us anything about the pending stretch goals planned for the Kickstarter campaign?

Since the campaign launched, a lot of people have reached out to me to ask about support for different platforms and languages, so in the name of transparency, I have actually taken the decision to publish the initial plan for stretch goals. At the time of writing we haven’t fully funded, although we did manage to reach 50% of our goal in the first 11 hours of the campaign, and were handpicked as a Kickstarter “Project We Love”, so we’re hopeful!

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that has since been scrapped or reworked?

Probably more than I think! If I got back and check my original notes there will undoubtedly be things that I’ve forgotten or moved away from since I started this project 12 months ago. The main thing that has changed is the name of the game itself. We originally called the game “Lucid Adventure”, which we subsequently had to scrap a couple of months into the project. I had failed to do my research properly and completely missed the fact that there was already a game with the same name. After a quick brainstorming session with other indie developers and game industry professionals, we settled on “Lucy Dreaming” which is a play on “Lucid Dreaming”, the key concept behind the full game.

 

Do you believe the point-and-click adventure genre has been adequately represented throughout the indie community?

Absolutely, the indie game community is keeping the genre alive, and there are some spectacular new titles being produced all the time.

I am relatively new to the whole indie game dev scene. I started by making a browser-based point-and-click adventure for The Roman Baths in 2019, programming the whole thing from scratch in HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Then, a year later I used the same “engine” to build another game to raise money for charity Women’s Aid during the first UK lockdown. After this was well-received by adventure game fans online, I looked into game development in more detail and discovered a whole world of professional game engines, and the most welcoming, creative, and supportive community it’s ever been my pleasure to be a part of. A year later, here I am, constantly rubbing my eyes in disbelief and immensely proud to call them my friends.

 

How instrumental has player feedback in terms of shaping the course of the project been?

Feedback from players, other devs, publishers, friends, and everyone around me is a huge factor when producing a game like this. There’s no room for arrogance, if players falter and don’t have a smooth, enjoyable experience, it’s my fault.

At the beginning of the project I went back and forth for a long time just working out which verbs to include in my SCUMM UI, there are strong opinions in both the “I want all of Ron Gilbert’s original verbs” and “No verbs, just a left, and right-click!” camps and I wanted to strike a balance between the two. It seemed like a huge deal in the early stages of the development, but not that the demo has been honed and polished, no one playing the game has had any cause to complain or even mention the UI. That for me is the greatest compliment, as it means it is doing its job perfectly. I still welcome feedback on all platforms and on all subjects. I am new to this industry, and if I don’t listen to my peers and my audience, I’m going to fall at the first hurdle.

 

Do you find that taking such a self-reflective approach to make this game through your own blog posts has improved your personal developmental skills?

I think it’s helped me retain my humility. I don’t plan my blog posts, I just open up a blank screen and let my brain spew out all over it. It’s hugely cathartic and the blogging process has helped me to understand how I feel at each stage in the process. If I’m happy, frustrated, or confused, I let it all out and it somehow solidifies into something I can reflect on. I’ll read them back and think “Oh, so THAT’s why I’m so annoyed.” Or “Tom, you’re being a nob, just listen to your critics.” It’s also great to have a record of all my transient thoughts and feelings throughout the project. I’m sure if I read some of my early posts now I would have forgotten nearly everything I wrote at the time.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or for any franchise, which would it be, and why?

Ooh, that’s a tricky one. I’ve been running my own design agency for over a decade, and I’m not used to being told what to do. I’m also not very good at managing other people, so if I was going to develop something for another company, it would probably have to be a client/agency relationship as opposed to working within a larger games studio. Under these circumstances, I think I’d probably like to work on a point & click adventure for a book like Luke Pearson’s Hilda. The characters and settings are an absolute wonder, and if I had similar freedom to expand and build on the world he’s created – as Netflix has done – then that would be truly magical. Of course, it would need to be a pixel-art interpretation, which is probably sacrilege but, hey, this is my fantasy!

 

It’s also mentioned on the Kickstarter page that your young son Robin has made unintentional contributions to the game too. Do you see a lot of your own creative side in your son from his early age, and would you like him to possibly follow in your footsteps as a developer?

I will be delighted with whatever he decides to do as long as he’s happy. At the moment I am loving collaborating with him as we walk over a mile to school every morning. We play a game called “puzzles” where we take it in turns to make up a puzzle that needs solving, then look around us and solve it with whatever comes to hand. This has created some incredible ideas that I would have never thought of, and I write them all down. From a penny-farthing skateboard to a woodpecker-on-a-stick for digging holes. The little chap is a veritable goldmine!

He also draws, and writes, a lot! I have a whole stack of Lucy Dreaming “fan-art” on my desk created by Robin, and I hope that his delight in creativity stays with him.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Get involved in the indie dev community. Anything and everything can be learned from the best, and nicest people in the industry. Don’t be daunted by the prospect either, you’ll assume that everyone knows more than you do, but your thoughts and feelings are valid too. Have confidence in your own ability and don’t forget to have fun. I mean, that’s why you’re doing it, right? Getting involved in a wider community gives you a sounding board for ideas, collaborators for the future, constructive criticism when you don’t think you need it, and tremendous support when you do.

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?

I’m on Twitter mainly, but we also have spots in all the usual haunts. Facebook, Discord, Instagram, Steam, YouTube, Itch.io, our website … take your pick!

https://twitter.com/tallstorygames

https://www.facebook.com/tallstorygames

https://www.instagram.com/tallstorygames/

https://lucy-dreaming.com/

https://discord.gg/aExm5ZhtdE

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCByVD7k0-JiLw5Cv80mS8kA

https://store.steampowered.com/search/?publisher=Tall%20Story%20Games

https://tallstorygames.itch.io/

 

Do you have anything else to add?

I love what I am doing and am always happy to talk (at length) about it, so if anyone has any questions, or just wants to say “hello” you know where to find me!

Oh, and back Lucy Dreaming on Kickstarter now!

 

I’d just lastly like to thank Tom for taking the time out of development to answer my questions in regards to this exciting title. It was quite interesting to get his take on this game, as well as the point-and-click- adventure game in general. It looks like the genre has a brighter future than what I’d realized and I’m looking forward to this title, as well as any more upcoming games within it that may be coming out soon in addition. If you like the look of Lucy Dreaming and want to see the project brought to life, you can back the Kickstarter campaign via this link:

Kickstarter Page

But in the meantime, I hope you’re looking forward to this game and enjoyed learning more about it from Tom as much as I did.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88