So I announced that I was going to start work on a game and then I’ve said nothing since and it has been over a month! Apart from the wedding stuff and my life generally be all over the place at the moment there is a reason why I haven’t posted anything until now: I went back to the drawing board.
I got around two thirds of the way through working out the concept for an adventure game set in and around a boarding school and in particular drawing from my experience as a student at Stonyhurst College to come up with the story for the game and its gameplay. It was a good idea but I think because I was drawing heavily from my own life I got a bit too ambitious with it. It quickly turned from a small adventure game into an indie epic. So rather than dumbing down I decided to shelve the work I have done on that idea so far and save it for later on when I am better equipped to realise that idea to its full potential. The idea for this project after all was to make an adventure game that would aid towards improving my game design skills in a relatively short timeframe.
So I spent a good couple of week bouncing around ideas in my head and a few on paper but I have finally come up with something that fits what I am trying to do perfectly.
The idea came from my love for older Japanese anime. You see I have a complicated relationship with anime. I used to love it. Like more than comic books love it (if you know me that is a big deal!). So before I go into the basics of the game idea it is time for a little history lesson.
I discovered anime in my early teens at 13-14 by way of Dragonball Z as most people my age in the UK did. It was on Cartoon Network and it was awesome. Eventually I wanted more than DBZ and the UK TV networks obliged by providing a surprisingly broad mix of styles and genres. Fox Kids (remember that channel?) had Escaflowne and Technoman (god I used to love Technoman!) and the Sci-Fi Channel back when it was still spelt correctly used to show anime movies and mini series late at night once or twice a week so I started setting up my VCR to record them and then watch them over the weekend. The films and mini-series on Sci-Fi blew my mind. Through them I saw some horrifically violent animation and sexual content well beyond my years (blame The Legend of the Overfiend!) I was also exposed to greats like Akira and Ghost in the Shell. Eventually my brother also wanting more found a guy through ebay who was selling CDs full of dubbed and subbed anime (this was before we had broadband so downloading anything was time intensive and expensive on a 56k modem!) so he bought a load. And by that I mean a metric shit tonne of anime. From retro classics to the contemporary hits of the time. I spent the next year or so watching the majority of these anime CDs.
While doing this my tastes in anime developed and solidified into what they are today. I was fond of the more stylish anime that harkend back to past animes or those past animes that inspired these modern twists. I did enjoy a lot of more modern stuff too like Naruto, Bleach and such but eventually they just got to long in the tooth for me to follow anymore. My favourites like I said were rooted firmly in the past. Lots of 60s-80s animation and design or shows that had a sense of style and “coolness” to them. Stuff like Cowboy Bebop which wears its inspirations on its sleeve proudly.
Cowboy Bebop is one of those shows that you watch that changes your outlook and tastes in everything. It oozed cool effortlessly and pretty much ruined anime for me because few could match up to it in my view. The Cowboy Bebop creator’s follow-up anime, Samurai Champloo, comes close though. So with contemporary anime ruined for me I turned back to the past even more and watch a lot of older animes eventually though that well dried up and I stopped watching anime altogether apart from one or two movies or series every year or so. Even then they have to be highly recommended and suitable to my niche tastes within the medium.
So while I was coming up with ideas for my adventure game I turned to things that I love outside of games. One of the first things I turned to was Mad Men which as everyone knows is the current best TV show ever made. While the idea of an adventure game set in the world of advertising in the early 60s is appealing I starting thinking about stuff from the 60s and the decades either side of it that I could draw from. You had pulp adventure stories, cowboys & aliens. Loads of stuff going on in post-war popculture. All stuff that has been fed down to us today. I started thinking about how crazy the early James Bond films were and why they are still considered cool. They were these huge grand adventures. The bread and butter of things like Uncharted that see Drake and co. globe trotting and quiping to the end credits.
So I decided I wanted to do something set in the mid to late 50s or early 60s. I think the 50s will do best because it will give me distance from things like Mad Men and it hasn’t really been explored in games before and I can still fit a lot of that 60s style in there without red flags popping up saying it doesn’t belong. More importantly I can entrench the game in post-war history and play off that fact that the world was in recovery mode and everything to a certain extent was up for grabs. I couldn’t do spys though because they have been done to death, but I wanted the gadgets and cool factor spys can bring. I couldn’t do the brilliant idea of an archeologist or treasure hunter because those ideas seem really familiar for some reason (*wink* *wink*) but I wanted a reason to send my characters globe trotting and traveling to dangerous and exotic locations.
It was then I remembered all of many hours of anime watching in my teens and in particular one of the main influences on Cowboy Bebop, Lupin The 3rd. Lupin is one of my all time favourite animes and I found it because of my love for Cowboy Bebop. It follows the escapades of a master thief as he globe trotts with his companions and generally getting into trouble. It is just the kind of thing I was looking for! You can read more about Lupin here. The idea then basically leaped out of my head fully formed: A serialised adventure game that riffs on classic James Bond and spy stories but focusing on a thief and his adventures just like Lupin! As for the art style I want to go for something along the sharp angular lines of 50s and 60s animation, go have a play around with Mad Men Yourself and you’ll get the gist of the style I am talking about.
So that’s it. That’s my basic idea: An adventure game about a thief in the 1950s/60s.
While I’m coming up with my main gameplay ideas and the pitch for the game as it were I will be watching a lot of original Lupin The 3rd and its new series The Woman Called Fujiko Mine to get myself re-acquainted with the style and trappings of the format along with a healthy dose of classic Bond and 50s/60s history and popculture.
It’s going to be colourful and cool!