Monday, June 15, 2009

Islands in the Sky: The Evolution, Part III

In this third and hopefully final installment, I'll try to bring the story around full circle. Hang on a second, I need to go read where I left off last...hmmm, okay. Yeah, so Keno's Space Shooter was essentially a large scale space battle simulation. There was another major aspect of the game but I'm not going to reveal it at this time. From KSS, I conceived of an OGRE-like game in which there were basically two OGRE's in the desert and the goal for each side was to destroy the opposing giant battle tank. This was basically identical to KSS in every way except the space ships were replaced with land vehicles. The idea itself was pretty shortlived and it evolved quickly into Exodus.

Among the games that KSS evolved into, Exodus was unique insomuch that it was a single player game directed at consoles (whereas all other games I intended to be on PC). Exodus also had a better developed story, again...because it was a singleplayer game as opposed to a multiplayer game. Anyway, around the time that I was in Sherman Oaks, CA (in the summer of 2004) helping out Spark Unlimited with Call of Duty: Finest Hour, I hatched an idea (again, with my friend Frenton) for a game that was basically Miyazaki meets Codename Eagle. Basically, I wanted to marry the concept of floating islands with gliders and airships like Miyazaki had in Nausicaa with the frenetic gameplay of Codename Eagle. I nicknamed the the game...Islands in the Sky.

At the time, I wasn't really thinking of a story. In my mind, the setting, as far as games went, was pretty original. The gameplay was to be like Codename Eagle in spirit but not just taking a vehicles based game and setting it in a different environment. To be honest, I came up with the single paragraph for the pitch, came up with the project nickname, and pitched it to about four friends on the same day. Nothing ever came of it for a very long time and no one other than Frenton expressed any real interest. It was a longshot, to be able to form your own game company from nothing with zero cash, but we both felt that we had to start someplace.

Over the years, I quietly developed the idea on paper and in my own head and got feedback from Frenton when I could. The idea evolved over time and many games that I played, including Monster Hunter and Shadow of the Colossus, turned out to be significant influences on the game. I decided that I wanted the world to be persistent and that every player would have their own "home island" which they decorate and add gameplay enhancing expansions to. I had a real problem with MMO's during this time. I hated them. I loved the idea of them but hated the gameplay. Hated that each one was essentially a copy of Everquest. Hated that very few people were exploring grand scale MMO's in any other form other than World of Warcraft. It boggles the mind. As a developer, you got to ask yourself..."Is my MMO better than WoW?" If the answer is "No,"? Stop. Blizzard is working on another MMO. I don't know what it is but I can guarantee you, it's not going to be like WoW. Why the hell would they compete with themselves? They are going to explore the other possibilities the MMO space can offer and they're going to make gangbusters once again and then every developer out there still working on their "WoW-Killer" is going to be like..."Ohhhhh...that was clever." /end rant

Where was I? I was seeing red for a moment there. Oh yeah, I wanted IITS to explore the MMO space in a different way and all of the previous games I had been developing ideas for in my own time resulted in the current vision for IITS. Still, despite all the time I spent thinking about this game, I never really developed characters or a story for it. That is, until I met Genevieve...

P.S. I lied. There will be another installment and it will bring us up to date...basically two years ago till the present.

- Joseph

No comments:

Post a Comment