What happened to “James?”

So I’ve formally announced “Drew and the Floating Labyrinth” to the world, complete with logo and rough video. I’ve gotten some good feedback too, mainly from Youtube and Reddit. The game certainly isn’t catching like wildfire, but I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback, and am grateful for the responses.

But the fans must be asking… what happened to “James – Journey of Existence?”

… ok, no one’s asking. But I’ll talk about it anyway.

I originally intended to finish “James” first, as a showcase to this new animation style as seen in Drew. I even went as far as making a Kickstarter campaign for it. But I was learning, and made mistakes along the way. Namely, showing off animation too soon, with poorly captured video and rough animation not intended for the final game. Many people praised the game, but even more people criticized and questioned it. The gameplay and story also had confusion due to it’s secrecy.

So I decided to start fresh with “Drew.” This time, doing the animation properly to the best of my ability, and armed with FRAPS to record with, I’m in a better position to show my progress. As my first planned game to publically release, it’s a better fit for the following reasons:

  • Drew is the only main character (one or two other minor characters may also appear in the game). James had dozens of planned characters, which would no doubt take much longer to complete, and increase my exhaustion and result in quality loss during development.
  • Drew’s artstyle was found in the aftermath of James’ reveal and failed Kickstarter, where I found what I believe will be James’ final look when I eventually make his story. Practicing with Drew first to refine the style is a good idea.
  • James was an adventure game with puzzle elements, where Drew is a basic puzzle-platformer, which is generally much simpler and fun to play with. Where James had little to no focus on “fun gameplay,” here Drew is meant to be a fun platformer, putting gameplay and visuals on equal grounds of importance. The exact gameplay levels will be seen in videos in coming weeks, but basically involves rotating the camera a lot to see the world, better matched to take advantage of the 360 degree hand-drawn art style.
  • James had a strong focus on narrative. So does Drew, but it is toned back a lot while still being relevant, but no longer at the forefront, no longer in a grey area of gamers wanting more details.

A simpler, basic game that I can complete in the next few months, that’s easier to understand and appreciate. But James is not dead… in fact, I always hoped to extend James into a trilogy, each game focusing on a new child lost and trying to find their way home, each dealing with interesting theories of death and the afterlife. Without giving much away, game 1 is becoming game 2, and game 2 is becoming game 3, and what was game 3 was so rough and incomplete in story that it’ll be scrapped in favor of arranging certain revelations in earlier entries. Ultimately, this is a better structure for story, and I’m better off for it. Drew is a good introduction and first game to this series, it’s themes and it’s style. I hope you appreciate the game upon its release to warrant making the next two games soon, but we’ll see if that comes into fruition.

And no matter what anyone says, no matter my personal thoughts, I swear this game will be completed and released this summer. No second thoughts, no doubts, no change in idea, no excuses. I’m tired of not completing my games and releasing them properly. I won’t let that happen any more.