This week I'm going to talk about a game 16 years in the making...and no I'm not talking about that PC shooter... It's about what you think you know, how you're probably wrong, and not giving up on that one thing you've always wanted to do...
Our latest internal project, Dragon Fantasy, was recently submitted to Apple. This brings with it a lot of joy here because for a couple of us, this game has been around for over half our lives. And here we are, 16 years and 14 revisions later, our RPG has finally shipped.
Once upon time myself and one of the other people here @mutekicorp, Adam, met in an IRC channel dedicated to emulation. There we found our love of classic RPGs, and the mutual desire to make one of our own. Now there was a problem - namely that neither of us REALLY knew how to make a game, but that didn't stop us. And so, with him in Montana and myself in California we decided to team up and make a game. How hard could it be?
Keep in mind, at the time we were both high school students with no real programming education. So how hard was it? Very.
We started over and over again, always on the same game, always with the same characters and same basic story, and always we'd get a little farther than the time before. The game existed as a DOS 2D game, as a Windows 2D game, as a Gameboy Color game and even as a combo Windows and SGI 3D game to eventually put on the Gamecube. And time and time again it got put down.
That Gameboy Color version landed Adam (and later myself) our first jobs in the game industry. At that point we actually began learning what it took to make a game, but then suddenly didn't have the time to do it anymore. Later on between jobs we picked it back up and started on the 3D version, even to the point of a small demo where you could travel between towns, fighting little monsters in 3D, and we showed it to a few friendly publishers at E3. Needless to say it didn't go anywhere, and the game was again shelved.
At this point we "knew" well enough that an RPG was simply out of reach for us to do and we continued on in our careers. 5 years ago Muteki Corporation was born, and a couple years later Adam joined the group here. We both knew at some point the idea of making this RPG would creep back up but time and time again we shot it down, because again we "knew" we simply couldn't do it right. RPGs are too epic and too long of projects, right? After all, if it was too hard so many times before, it's because it's simply too hard, not because we didn't know how to do it, right? That's the funny thing about when you "know" something...a lot of times what you know is really just what you assume.
And then one day the game came back up. It wasn't a pitch, or a hey we should do this. No, it was actually a test of our cross-platform UI system. We decided that single columned table views wouldn't cut it so we needed multi column table views. Well to create those we needed a test, and Adam being Adam, he decided he'll test a table view full of images...which looked shockingly like a tile map that we'd use back in the olden days of making these RPGs. So Adam decided let's make a tile map, using our UI system and see what happens.
As soon as I saw it I told him we had to make the game... It was just time. Everything we thought we knew about how difficult it would be had been wrong. It turns out when you take a game idea...and add over a decade of game development experience to it, that idea gets a lot easier. The game quickly came together and we all enjoyed getting to finally make the game we had spent over half our lives wanting to make.
Then beta time came. I'll be honest we were scared. We loved it...but would others?
Well I'm SO happy to say the feedback has been TREMENDOUSLY positive. Apparently we're not the only people loving this game.
And so after the majority of our lives, we've finally done that thing we started doing as young, dumb teenagers in high school.
An RPG is born.