Finally…

I’m happy to announce that “Drew and the Floating Labyrinth,” my hand-drawn 3D puzzle platformer, is just about complete.

And you didn’t think I could do it! Well… ok, I didn’t think I could do it. I said months ago that this would be finished in August 2014. I hoped to get it done a few weeks ago, but even now, it looks likely to get released just before September.

Unity3D has been a great tool to help making the game… until I made the final build. Near the end, I added a few Unity Pro – exclusive features, only to find that certain shaders and image effects to the camera were not working properly at all (other Pro features seemed fine). They worked great in the editor, but the build’s levels using these features looked broken (suspiciously like how the effects would look if I attempted using them in the free version of Unity). After experimenting, it seemed like an issue that plagued my entire Unity project, but not new projects made in UnityPro. I decided the only reason I could think of for this occurring is that I originally began the project in Unity-Free, which upon using in an upgraded Pro version would not accurately compile certain Pro features. And the only fix I could find was to export the entire project as an Asset package, and import it into a brand-new UnityPro project, upon which it worked flawlessly. It cost me a day of development, and gave me a scare, but the issue was solved, and I mention it here because I couldn’t find any other Internet people with such a problem. I hope it helps someone later.

What do I think of the completed game? The menu has barely changed, and still lacks a true options menu to change input mapping and quality settings. Apparently, most of that has to be setup from scratch, and it’s difficult to make custom code that accesses Unity’s default tools for these things. Certainly worth knowing for my next project, but for this, at least it exists using Unity’s default options menu that appears before the game opens. A pause menu was never made (instead, a prompt that allows you to go back to the main menu). Given the shortness of each level, it seems like the pause menu would look almost exactly like the main menu anyway, so I’m not concerned about that. Other features, such as keeping time records of completing each level, and a level-editor, have not been implemented (but the time records would be possible to add later). The levels themselves are mostly unchanged from even the first demo I made months ago, and don’t really look impressive until the last 18 (out of 63) levels. The ending theme during the credits was meant to be a nice vocal track, but after trying communicating with indie artists (and also considering tracks from Royalty-Free sites), I settled for using one of the instrumental tracks I already had (composed by the talented “Mee”).

Overall, the game is lesser and simpler than I intended… and yet, is every bit exactly as I envisioned.

The puzzles are actually kind of clever, and things I didn’t think about originally were added to help reduce frustration and make it an easy pick-up-and-play experience. The voice acting and music I acquired from very talented people are damn near perfect, I couldn’t ask better from a Hollywood contact (clarification, I’m clumsily saying if a Hollywood agent contacted me, I’d turn him down for the indie actors I got here). Generally, the entire project is more polished than anything else I’ve made (past tiny games I’ve done with pixel graphics might have had tighter gameplay and better aesthetic, but also look very similar to about 10,000 other indie games available, this looks more impressive from menu to levels to story). And the story… oh, the story! Admittedly, the story is virtually non-existent for the first two-thirds of the game, but thankfully the gameplay is decent enough that I think gamers will attempt to finish it. And when they get to the meat of the story, I think they’ll be surprised (especially with a brief hint about a certain feathery character in the final cutscene).

Over six months ago, I announced “James – Journey of Existence,” featuring traditional animation in a way never seen before, a emotional and deep storyline, and puzzles and exploration that would please adventure and puzzle gamers. It was planed to be released as early as September 2014. After a lot of feedback and reevaluating time I had available, “Drew and the Floating Labyrinth” was born, and while in a different package that appears slightly less ambitious, it does absolutely everything “James” set out to do, in a condensed and efficient manner that looks unique and feels truly “indie.” I couldn’t be more proud to have “Drew” as my first official release as a new indie game studio.

And Desura.com has agreed to release “Drew and the Floating Labyrinth,” hopefully as early as August 26, 2014. Now, I wonder how I can get more press…

A lovely poster for "Drew and the Floating Labyrinth"

A lovely poster for “Drew and the Floating Labyrinth”