Development Diaries, Volume 17

Posted by Alex Jordan on

Where we're going, we don't need roads:

Wrong '80s movie franchise, but no Indiana Jones quotes came immediately to mind.

Development on Around The World is mercifully coming to a close, and I'm busy rummaging around on the checklist I made for myself, tackling final tasks and generally polishing things up. In this video, I show off the completed Options and Screen Saver menus. I still have to do the Credits menu and the How To Play menu, and once those are done, Around The World will be feature-complete.

The other major thing that required tackling (and still does!) is art direction. Lots of the artwork in previous test renders were placeholders. Even as recently as the previous Development Diary, the game was making do with dark blue, eerily cold backgrounds and bright white text. That worked fine while I was focusing on gameplay and content, but once I had to think long and hard about bringing an aesthetic vision to life and, oh, I dunno... advertising my Goddamn game, I needed to make it look pretty. I needed graphics that I'd put some thought into.

Which, let's face it, is not my strong suit. Over the years, while working on various Half-Life modifications, I picked up extensive knowledge on mapping, 3D modeling, rigging, animating, and the ins and outs of Photoshop. All those skills were acquired to serve my overall goals, which were almost always related to working on new maps. I was almost never left with the task of making 2D artwork in Photoshop for its own sake. I've never been good at designing HUDs, posters, advertisements, or things like that, and I always left it up to others. As a result, one of the agonizing parts of being an indie game designer was having to put on my big boy pants and do this for myself.

As you can see, I'm still not an expert. Nowhere near close. But after a bit of mumbling, I forced myself to sit down in front of Photoshop and think about exactly what kind of aesthetic I wanted and how I would bring it to life. After all, I know what those Photoshop filters do! Eventually, I settled on a thinly-disguised Indiana Jones theme, to capture the feel of adventure and wanderlust, which I believe serve the whole geography quiz game genre quite well. After some toil over a hot mouse and keyboard, I was surprised to learn that I could actually do a decent job in realizing this imagery. What followed was converting the rest of the Around The World menus to make the presentation complete.

And that brings us within spitting distance of the phrase, "And there you have it!" Around The World needs a finished How To Play and Credits menu, a few bug fixes, a bit more idiot-proofing, and just a smidge of adjustment. Then, surprisingly, I will have a finished game. The artwork I've just been blathering on about needs also to be converted into box art, an Xbox Dashboard thumbnail (or game icon), promotional screenshots, and a trailer video with which to advertise the game.

And then the fun begins. Stay tuned!