How I got tangled up in The Journey Down

A long, long time ago, in a little village at the edge of a forest, there lived a kid randomly surfing the web. I guess that the kid was me, 16 years old, frustrated at the slow-motion 56K modem. This particular day I was surfing Theo’s homepage and waiting for a JPG download of a 3D shoe. It was the freaking coolest shoe I had ever seen in my foolish young life. To tell the truth though, it was just a random leather boot.

This might sound a little bit strange but it made me send Theo an email and explain to him that I loved his shoe and I asked for his ICQ number. (To this day I haven’t asked a girl for her number because of her nice shoes!) hehe.

We lived far apart but it didn’t stop us from being really good friends. At weekends we used to have speed-painting competitions. Theo used to say stuff like, “Draw the coolest spaceship before midnight”. It was fun but I can admit that painting starships has never been my strongest side.

After some years playing around on Icq, I had just finished my animation course, Theo asked me if i wanted to start a company with him and some other dudes and move to Gothenburg. I never really hesitated to leave my little village at the edge of a forest when the question came.

Thats my little story about how Theo and I became friends and started to build games together.

Normally when we are working at SLX Games we do more or less the same tasks. Only difference is that I usually end up doing more animation work and Theo ends up doing more illustrations. If either of us need help with our current tasks to reach deadline, we usually share the burden. What we do specifically though, depends on the game we are working on for the moment.

In the case of Journey Down I will work mostly on the animations but I will also be doing some of the character and other cinematic 3d models and will be spending a lot of time working on creating a nice pipeline to give the characters a nice cartoony feel to fit into the JD universe. Ohhh, I almost forgot to mention all the time I will spend in this project rendering and drinking coffee.

In case you wonder why I (the guy to the left) have my shiny beard, its a God cop, Bad cop thing!
We will try it out when hunting publishers.

Mocking up the inventory

The prototype version of The Journey Down was a 320×240 px production. The interactive area though (the actual backdrops) only took up 180 pixels in height. This left 60 pixels for the game’s main two GUI’s, the menu, and the inventory.

Now, the high-res version of the game will (hopefully) end up being a game built for a wider aspect ratio, preferrably 16:10 or 16:9. This means there won’t be any screen real-estate left for the GUI elements outside of the backdrops. How solve? Currently it seems like the winning suggestion is to keep the nice old “Beneath a Steel Sky” type GUI that pops up when you hover near the EDGE, but have it actually RENDER on top of the BACKDROP area… Man, just TYPING about BASS makes my CAPS go CRAZY.

Increasing resolution through brain-magic

Today I finally got started on the not so tiny project of increasing the resolution of the game’s inventory items, a project that I have been looking forward to for quite some time. There’s something oddly satisfying in adding detail, that I know has been intended to be there all along, but has been invisible to the everyday player’s eye by simply being obscured thanks to low resolution.

Through some bizarre inner working of my brain, these low-res pictures I painted more than three years ago hide information, somehow tucked in-between the pixels, that I am now able to decipher to be able to repaint them at a higher resolution. This is similar to another  thing that happens to me with old doodles, I’m still baffled by all the imagery a couple of sketchy little lines on a torn piece of paper from five years ago can mean to me, the details I didn’t bother to add because I already knew them, are still there. I call it brain-magic.