This would be our general category for posting.
Well well well. Monday morning.
While we may not be big, or at E3…we have some announcements to make nonetheless.
First up on the agenda. V-Shift has now been upgraded to version 1.0, and is ready to receive your input. Some of the fun features which you can now count on:
- Integrated with Emerald Kingdom.
- Single Sign On.
- Community (Forum) access.
- Bug Tracker Access for play testers.
- More to come, such as Twitter Integration, etc.
You should head on over now, and get registered if you have not already. If you’re already a tester, you’re in the system already. Go log in now!
V-Shift 1.0 has been designed by us, from the ground up. It’s designed from the get go to work with Emerald Kingdom, hand in glove. On the techie side of things: off the shelf solutions that other games use, just don’t cut it for us. You can’t innovate if you’re unwilling to get your feet wet, or your hands dirty. We’ve done both here, and have developed a really awesome foundation for the game, and it’s future. As it’s been designed by us to be a part of of the game itself, you can bet that it’s development will be hand in hand with the game itself going forward. We look forward to seeing you there!
Next up: A Story Release from Emerald Kingdom!
Just because we finally finished coding up our community software from scratch, and our fans have been patient…we decided to reward you all with some story. This entry is billed, “The Best Around”…
This entry comes from our new writing super hero duo, Umabel and Macaria. They went full tilt. Just for you. Head on over, check it out. Probe the source for secrets. Then head on over to V-Shift to discuss it!
Last Item: Go Hawks.
We have decked out our blog with Paranoia and Confusia, in their full Hockey regalia. As a Chicago company, we wish our Chicago Blackhawks a speedy victory. Bring the cup home to Chicago guys. Do it quick! You’re only 4 games away!
It’s a big enough umbrella, but it’s always me that ends up getting wet — Sting
We said some time ago, we do not consider ourselves here at Double Cluepon to be an indie studio. We gave a great many reasons, but it dawns on me after giving it more thought over the years…that we missed the most important reason.
“Indie” has become an identity label. It’s become so rigidly defined in some ways, I am amazed at the days that go by where it’s not recognized as an ISO Standard. I’ll go one further; the shared “indie” identity is a detriment to some of the very people who identify with it.
Yes, it’s true as a shared identity indies have a greater voice. The problem most of the time though, is who has the microphone. I see this more and more as a blemish which has, and will continue to grow over time.
More than ever, it’s important to realize one thing, and one thing only: be yourself. Make what you want. Create according to your standard, and timetable. Don’t let any group (indie, AAA, etc) dictate tastes. Reject the dictates of taste and create new flavors instead.
Do this, and the umbrellas you could stand under wont matter anymore, because you will have built something with a foundation and a roof instead.
Howdy! Macaria here. I’m taking a break from working on the first story arc, which, as it turns out, is super complicated! Last night, Umabel and I sat down on the floor with a bunch of post-its and sharpie pens, and, all analog-style, started fitting together the various quest arcs we’ve created for Emerald Kingdom, once and for all.
It seemed so simple. It seemed so rational. Surely, we thought, post-its would solve everything. Armed with our trusty sharpies, we set to work, and three hours later, we had… well, a poster board with a big mess of pastel-colored post-its all over it. This doesn’t sound very impressive, but to anyone who’s involved with the narrative-in-progress of Emerald Kingdom, it’s a pretty exciting accomplishment.
We’re like the proud parents of an ugly baby that everyone winces at and says “oh, how cute,” to our faces. The difference is that we know our brainchild, though hideous and malformed for now, will grow up to be a beautiful and well-adjusted plot. And who will be laughing then? Us. Well, and you, because you’ll be so happy playing our game you’ll be unable to contain yourself.
Here’s the thing: we want there to be something for everyone in this game, and that’s how we’re writing it. At any given time, there will be multiple major quests available to play, and that’s not including the side quests that are whole crazy mini-stories in themselves. The more we write, the more complex the characters get, the deeper the backstory goes, and the more detailed the world becomes.
Like all children who grow beyond your control, this is exciting and terrifying all at once. I almost want to pinch that poster board’s cheeks and say “quit getting taller or I’m going to tie a boulder to your head!” like a crazy grandpa. Only, poster boards don’t have cheeks. Or heads to tie boulders to.
But the game must go on. And weaving these interlocking plots together, tedious and headache-inducing though it may be, will result in a game that you can get obsessed with no matter who you are. Want to go on raids and fight battles? We got that. Into solving puzzles? No big. Interested in making friends and living out your junior high fantasy of being the most popular kid in the lunch room and pounding those lesser gamers into the ground? Hey, I’m not judging.
I’m just here to write. She says, from a pile of crumpled up post-its.
Umabel chiming in here. It is, indeed, an exciting accomplishment to finally feel like everything story-wise is laid out and starting to come together, like the way individual strands of pull and peel Twizzlers form a sugary delicious unit. You can eat the strands one at a time, or you can eat them all at once in a huge bite. Its up to you.
The hard part now in my mind is getting the stick, the swirly goodness, getting everything to balance so that you, our beloved player, don’t have dozens of demands on you at once no matter how many strands you’re chewing. We don’t want you to leave the game after playing for an hour or two (or six…just saying…) feeling like you’ve made no progress…but we also don’t want you to stay away too long.
And we certainly don’t want that “progress” to be in name only, like in other MMO’s. Going from level 20 to level 22 by mindlessly fighting monsters isn’t how we want you to spend your time. I assume, if you’re reading this, it might not be how you want to spend your own time.Or maybe it is, and if it is, well, we have a place for you.
But you shouldn’t have to worry about meaningless incentives like levels at all. And if you’re not into combat, that precious hour can be spent instead solving challenging puzzles, learning more about other players (and NPCs) and generally becoming more immersed in this world that Macaria and I are trying to perfect.
Do you know what we realized, once all the post its were lined up and color coded? We still can’t account for you. What you’ll think, what you’ll do, what quests you’ll obsess over and what ones will fall flat. And, of course, what secrets we’ll try to hide that you’ll uncover too early, leaving us pulling our hair out.
So as much as everything is organized for now, it’s a fleeting kind of grace.
Hey–bring us that tasty chaos. It’s what we thrive on.
So you’ve probably been hearing a lot about Double Cluepon’s new writers (No? Nothing? Well thank god you’re here). Umabel and Macaria joined the team at the beginning of the year and have been busy beavers crafting story, dialogue, quests, puzzles, and mini-games for Emerald Kingdom. They are terribly enthusiastic about this endeavor, and it appears their gentle spirits have yet to be broken by the long nights of creative solitude, writing with quill pens in fervent hunch, cursing the muses with fists raised to the sky, whale-oil ink under their nails, balking at the incredible responsibility of CREATING A WHOLE UNIVERSE.
We’re pretty sure they can handle it.
We sat these two ladies down for an interview and picked their brains about gaming, Emerald Kingdom, life, the universe, and everything. And without further ado (because their debutante dresses are really uncomfortable), we’d like to present Umabel and Macaria at their official “coming out” ball/blog post.
What’s your favorite video game?
Umabel: This is a very difficult question for me to answer! In terms of storyline I would have to say Final Fantasy 8. I love that you think you know what’s going on and then plot twists just keep coming. The epic love story, surrounded by a colorful supporting cast. However, the magic system and other mechanics were… not the best. In terms of gameplay, I really loved Knights of the Old Republic for XBox. I also like Vandal Hearts for PS One, it’s a turn based tactical game that has a kickass story and customizable class paths for each character. Oh–and Elder Scrolls 2: Daggerfall. I was obsessed with that game. So I just answered with 4 games. Yeah…
Macaria: I know this response is totally played (PUN INTENDED), but I love Ocarina of Time. I played it for the first time when I was twelve or thirteen, I think, over the course of a summer, and I think that’s a good age to play a game and become entirely immersed in it. I was always fighting my older brother for the controller to the N64, but this was the first game that we cooperated on. We got so caught up in the story, in the adventure of it, that we were too busy to fight. Instead we traded tips and worked on the hard parts together. He was better at beating the bosses, but I was better at solving the puzzles that were built into the various temples. At the time, that game had everything. When we finally beat it, I remember feeling totally adrift and even kind of depressed, like “What am I supposed to do now?” Like when you finish a really good book and you wish it wasn’t over. That’s what’s exciting about Emerald Kingdom. Umabel and I are writing a progressive storyline, so there will always be new plot and new quests, because nobody likes that post-game existential emptiness. Hooray!
How did you get into gaming?
Umabel: Honestly, it was my dad! He worked nights, so I rarely got to see him. When he was home, one of the ways he liked to unwind was by playing video games. I used to spend hours watching him play, telling him when to heal his party, or giving tips from strategy guides. It was an interesting way to be introduced to gaming because from my perspective, it was more like watching a movie than playing. So the story and characters were really vivid to me. As I got older I began to play games on my own, and then I got a job at EB Games, so I could take games home for 48 hours and play them. My years from age 14-18 were really the years when I played the most games.
Macaria: It’s hard to say, because I’ve been gaming since I was a really little kid. My older brother and his friends played a lot of games and I got into it because of that. But also, my family moved around a lot, and I was always the new kid, so I think I played games because I didn’t have friends, and then later I made friends who played games. You befriend people you have something in common with, and gamers always create a community wherever they are. That was the case even before the internet. I definitely feel like I have a lot in common with the folks at Double Cluepon (i.e., we’re nerds).
What is your inspiration for writing the game?
Umabel: I just think of what kinds of games I love to play, what elements I am always excited to find, and how I can bring those to the table in an even fresher way. My imagination tends toward the visual, so I’m picturing what the game should look like. I listen to lots of violent electro and dubstep type music when I’m writing to keep myself pumped up and always focused on creating action. Also, I get excited when I eavesdrop on conversations on public transit about video games. I can’t wait to hear people talking about Emerald Kingdom!
Macaria: We’re writing EK to be a game with really rich, extensive mythology behind it. So I’ve been very inspired by various kinds of mythology, including Greek, Norse, Celtic, African, Australian Aborigine, and the Thousand and One Arabian Nights. When writing the Book of Days, I’ve also been inspired by Medieval religious texts. I love trickster figures like Anansi the Spider because he always jacks stuff up, and I love Dionysus because he always brings the party.
What has been your favorite part about working at Double Cluepon?
Umabel: The sense of community. We’re all working toward a common goal of bringing out an awesome game, but we’re all also friends. I like knowing there’s a group of people I can go to and say whatever crazy idea I’m thinking. Even if they don’t take me seriously, we’ll at least have a good laugh about it. Like when I suggested we include a pile of burning corpses…that got shot down. But we laughed!
Macaria: Oh, how we laughed over those corpses. But yeah… definitely the people! We have a lot of fun here (aside from all the hard work we do, obviously), and this company is full of super talented, interesting people who are really good at what they do. Everyone at Double Cluepon has been really awesome and welcoming since Umabel and I joined the team. I like that everyone has a sense of humor (unfunny coworkers are the worst) and I like that everyone can contribute ideas to any department. Sometimes we get pizza, and that’s nice too.
What has been your favorite part of writing the story?
Umabel: I like formatting the dialogue and thinking of what choices by the player should spark different reactions in the NPC’s. It’s a fun way to deepen some of the major characters’ personalities. It’s also a way for us to convey information to the player about the history and culture of Magna without having to be explicit. It’s different than any other writing I’ve done before because I have to incorporate the will and expectations of a “character” I can’t control–the player–yet still maintain control over the general events of the story, make them somewhat uniform for everyone despite the linear model (meaning we’ll have to be continually catching up new players). Oh, and make it not boring. Very challenging!
Macaria: Like I said, I love writing the mythology component of the game. It’s interesting to work backwards from the characters and the plot we have so far and create the myths that tie this universe together. Video games, cartoons, and comic books all pull archetypes from mythology, and it’s been really fun so far to expand on those archetypes and subvert them. Also, it’s been so much fun working with Umabel, brainstorming and bouncing ideas off each other. We have a good rapport, and we’ve been given a lot of artistic freedom to create something exciting and unique that we really care about, and I think that will show in the game itself.
What do you look most forward to?
Umabel: I’m excited for player feedback/criticism about the story –what works, what doesn’t, which characters people like, who they don’t like, etc. I know what my/our aim is as far as player reaction to events, but the variables are impossible to account for. I want to see everything we’ve created in action! And I want to watch as people try to figure out and anticipate our twists and turns. And the puzzles! Oh the puzzles. And the holidays! Oh the holidays.
Macaria: GAME DAY ZERO!!! (dramatic music) No seriously, I’m just super excited for the game itself, because it’s going to be crazy awesome. I look forward to seeing what the players (YOU) do when you get your hands on this world we’ve created. In any MMORPG, the players take the tools they’re given within the game and exploit them in ways the creators (US) never even thought possible. Emerald Kingdom is a game in which many, many, many things are possible, and I just know we’re going to be surprised, pleased, and possibly frightened (?) by how the community and the culture manifests as time goes on. OH, and the mini-games. Pretty stoked about those.
If you were stranded on a desert island, and could take only one album, book, and movie with you, what would they be?
Umabel: The album would be Sgt. Peppers. Hands down. It has highs and lows, dance segments and tunes I can weep to after I figure out how to distill alcohol from a coconut.
Because I will.
Movie…hm. Do I want something I already love, like Gone With the Wind? Or something like A Clockwork Orange that will just make me go crazy faster? Or something terrifying that will make me just curl up in a ball somewhere, like Event Horizon. Or maybe something inspirational that will get me fired up to survive, like The Empire Strikes Back. Book…I think I would want an anthology of poetry, something I can read in small doses that has layers of meaning to keep me occupied. Or again maybe something maddening and absurd like Tristram Shandy. Or Don Quixote, I need to read that again. (Though maybe not again, and again, and again.) I like the way I answer all these “pick one” questions with 4-5 different choices.
Macaria: The classic get-to-know-you question! Wow, I hope this never happens to me, because I hate talking to coconuts (they’re jerks). Does LOST count as a movie? I guess for a book I could take something useful, like Hatchet, or Lord of the Flies. Or, I could take a ridiculously long and dense book, so that I’d probably die before I even finished it. Like War and Peace. I’m sure I’d be so sick of the sunshine and the beach that Tolstoy would be refreshing. As for music, I could jam out to Jimmy Buffet and pretend I was there on purpose. Or I could listen to something high-minded and classical and focus my sun-addled brain on understanding it; I’m thinking Stravinksy, maybe, just to hasten the inevitable madness of solitude. The movie is easy: Terminator 2.
If you could have dinner with any historical figure, who would it be and why?
Umabel: Hildegarde von Bingen. She was a nun, born 1098 died 1179 (she lived to be 81 in the middle ages! a tough lady). Her parents gave her to the church as a child because she experienced visions. She spent a significant portion of her childhood/young adult years walled up in a room with one other nun as company, an older mentor who taught her to read and write and play an instrument. They could see out a window into the chapel and someone gave them food through a slot in the door but otherwise it was a solitary few years. Once she was released back into the real world, Hildegarde was elected abbess of her convent and became a powerful figure in the Catholic church whose opinion was solicited by Kings and Popes, as evidenced by the surviving letters she wrote to them. Her writings of her visions and about the art of early medicine are fascinating. She was awesome, and well ahead of her time.
Macaria: In all honesty, I have trouble answering this question, which is ridiculous because I was a history major undergraduate and have always been into Things That Happened A Long Time Ago. I’d like to talk to someone who could answer a bunch of my questions, someone who could solve a classic historical mystery for me. I know history is an inexact science, but unsolved mysteries totally bug me! I want to know if Richard III really murdered his two nephews, what happened to the Peking Man fossils in WWII, and for god’s sake, where is DB Cooper!? Also, I’m more inclined to sup with a group of famous people, because one-on-one dinner has too much potential to be awkward. I’d love to hang out with the Bloomsbury Group, the Beat poets, the French student revolutionaries of 1848, Andy Warhol’s Factory, the Harlem Renaissance… I could go on and on. I love moments in history when brilliant people find each other and create a community based on sharing ideas and debating (and drinking, usually). That’s why I’m excited about landing this job at Double Cluepon, because I feel like I’m getting in on the ground floor of something really cool. Except we do fewer amphetamines than the hep cats at the Factory, I guess.
And there you have it. Writers tend to ramble. But they also tend to write stuff, so here’s some Book of Days-type “stuff” to tide you over until you can get your mits on our game. Don’t worry, it’s cryptic and infuriating, as usual. We like to haunt your dreams.
We had another fun and busy week here at Double Cluepon.
First, let’s talk about our latest story teaser release:
Breaking point is our last teaser for the Emerald Kingdom story. It nicely end caps a glimmer into the fall of Magna. When you’ve read it, and discerned all of it’s secrets, you should head over to VShift to join the discussion about it.
Aside from that, we had another great week of updates for Emerald Kingdom’s alpha testing. Some of the highlights:
We have added the ability to walk inside buildings. This was quite an update. The Art Department even threw in some new tables and chairs for the occasion.
- New Logon Screen.
We began roughing in the User Interface, starting with the logon screen. We immediately decided it needed some revisions, but still, it looks so nice, finally in place.
- User Interface.
We roughed in the main elements of the user interface. It’s starting to look like a game finally. Even though we have not enabled a lot of the interface pieces, we put them in to gather feedback from testers. So far so good on this score. Our testers have been giving us a lot of good feedback as to what they think, how the interface looks, and some initial concerns.
While we have placed this stuff in, we are busy bug finding. But more than that, we have to take a short break from visible updates, and move over to invisible updates. We have begun a course of work that involves adding more functionality to the server, as well as our databases. Working according to the specifications, we should have player inventory and a few other goodies soon.
That about wraps it up! All in all, we’re very happy so far with how it’s shaking out!