Hey everyone! I thought I would tell you a little more about me and this idea.
Hi! I'm James!
Before coming to Double Fine, I made an adorable little indie game called Peter Panic, which you can grab for free on IOS and Android. It's like if WarioWare was a musical! When I was going around talking to people about the game, and explaining that it was a musical, I would often come across people who said they hated musicals. I tried to get to the bottom of why some people "hate" musicals and a lot of times it would come down to the same thing:
Why are all these people singing?
When I was in school studying theater it was explained to us that characters in musicals sing because of emotions - that there's so much emotion that the only way they can get it out is by singing. I like this explanation (even though it's a lofty goal that most musicals don't live up to) and I want to make a game where the way you interact is primarily tied into the idea that emotions ebb and flow up over the course of a story. So you have these different kinds of interactions inside an adventure game structure:
1. Stop-and-think choices. This is when there's no singing, and music is playing but there's no time limit for when your character needs to start talking. The information the player has to make a choice would be explicit, such as the entire sentence the player will say or a specific action they'll take.
2. Rhythmic choices. This is when music is starting to move, and the player has a limited time to make a decision. Their information might be limited to a single word or color or image that's illustrative of the choice they're making.
3. Sung choices. This is when there's music, the character is singing, and the player must make a decision now. The information given might be no more than a button prompt showing the direction the player can move.
The idea is that once a proper song starts, decisions have been made that forced this song to happen, and the song can't be stopped - just like in a staged musical! So the decisions you're making become finer and the information and time you have lessens. Imagine you start a fight with your parents by telling them to "go to hell" and a song kicks up - you can make different decisions in the fight, but the fight is happening whether you want to stop it or not.
One of the things I'm most excited about is the visual treatment for the game. One of my favorite things when working in theater was seeing tiny set design models sitting on important peoples' desks. Set design models are beautiful - they get the point and feel of a set across without necessarily being literal 1:1 representations of a set. Google "set design model" - they're awesome. As far as how we'll do the videos of the set as visuals, I would take a look at Lumino City to see the amazing work they did with a hand-built set.
Stylistically, I want the game to be reflective of more modern musicals, like Fun Home or The Last Five Years. These shows are less presentational and more intimate in nature, which is a side of musicals that most people don't hear if they have only dipped their toes into musical theater
About half a year ago, before I even started here at Double Fine, I explained this whole idea to my friend Austin Wintory, who you may know from the amazing music to Journey, The Banner Saga, Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, ABZÛ, and more. He not only liked the idea, but a similar idea had been rolling around in his head as well! Which is why he's going to come work with me for Amnesia Fortnight if this game gets picked! I can't even begin to imagine the kind of amazing stuff he would write for Liz. Miserable.
I asked Austin if he wanted to say something in this post and he said:
Thanks everyone! It would really mean a lot to get chosen, and I think this game could be really amazing and beautiful.