Posted by Rampant Coyote on February 25, 2013
A long time ago, I interviewed Mike Rubin about his “3D Interactive Fiction” project, Vespers 3D. In fact, it was the first time I interviewed another game developer. You can check out the interview here – Part 1 and Part 2.
While it has had a development period that almost makes Frayed Knights look like a quickie game jam project, it has still been an active (if slow) project. Fortunately, as he’s a local here in Utah, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to continue chatting with him about the project at Indie Nights over the years. It’s progressed in fits and starts, and has gone through a seemingly endless number of animators, but it’s never been abandoned.
It seems that Mike has crossed a threshold for at least getting the first act out at a level of completion good enough for an IndieCade submission. This thing may see the light of day after all! Sadly, Indiecade suffers the same problem as many other indie gaming competitions, in that games with extensive narrative content tend to get the short shrift in favor of games that can be played and evaluated very quickly. But we can hope!
The “Adventure Game” genre is looking a lot healthier today than it did several years ago when I first talked to Mike about this project. And, truth be told, even then it was a bit healthier than I gave it credit for. But Vespers 3D is more than just a first-person-perspective adventure game. It’s got the full-on text parser and everything – the full “Interactive Fiction” treatment. This has caused a number of challenges as a game developer, some of which he discussed in the interview, and some I’ve talked to him about later.
On the simplest surface of things, he suffers some of the same challenges I faced making a turn-based RPG: the ‘atomic’ actions are on a much smaller scale. In the text adventure, for example, the command to go “North” can count as a single action, and the game can respond properly. But in a 3D, first-person perspective, the player may wander around for several minutes in a generally northward direction without crossing the threshold into a new area that would have constituted a north movement in the original version.
Then there’s always the question of how content is represented. A “cluttered kitchen” can be described in two words in a text adventure, but when represented in full 3D, interactive glory it can be a ton of work. All those bits of clutter need to be modeled, textured, possibly animated, converted, tested, and placed inside the game. It’s a big chore.
Hopefully, the subsequent Acts – taking place with largely the same characters and setting – will have far less new content requirements and can come together quickly once Act 1 is reasonably complete. It’s just cool to me to see a few projects – including this one – which have been in development for such a long time finally hitting some level of completion.
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