Three years ago, while working full-time as an artist on The Witness, I began learning to program in order to prototype my idea for a game involving time loops.
Back then, if someone had told me that the game would one day garner praise from press, gamers, and peers, I would not have believed them.
But over many months, the prototype grew. And as the support rolled in, it became my goal to get the game in front of potential partners who could help transform it into the full vision I had for it. This is what I’ve been doing for over a year now, and why I have had less time to write these posts.
In case you forgot, or it’s your first time reading the blog, here is a gameplay video with Greg Miller, Nick Scarpino and me going through the first 40 minutes of game:
So, why did it take this long?
First, I wanted to be sure that I had the necessary amount of funding to complete the game. I’m always amazed at the number of Kickstarters that ask for amounts that don’t even cover a single person’s salary for a year, then fail, under-deliver, or bring the developer to exhaustion.
I needed to ensure that any money I took from investors was enough to create Twelve Minutes as I envision it.
Second, I needed to ensure that any investors I partnered with understood what I’m trying to do and believe in it, and likewise, trust in me to have full creative control without pressure for release dates or inflexible milestones that are not considerate of the reality of game development. It is absolutely crucial that I’m able to develop Twelve Minutes in the way that is best for its growth.
Meanwhile, I sought out other individuals who could help transform other key areas of the project, such as Audio,Writing, QA, Animation, and Marketing, so that when this moment arrived, I could be confident that I have the team I need to complete the game
Well today I am happy to announce that all of the above is in place. Twelve Minutes is fully funded and is now a full-time project!
And what better way to make this announcement than by revealing some concept art?
This is the first ever piece of concept art made for the game, created by the very talented Luis Melo:
And here is another piece, this time a sculpture from the talented Andrea Blasich.
So now, what is the next step?
Over the next few months the focus will be on cleaning up the prototype.
My time has been so limited over the last few years that I was forced to take the fastest ways to try ideas and convey mechanics (which is actually a pretty good limitation to have at this stage). And so, even though the foundations are solid, there is a lot of patchwork that needs to be done so we can build more complexity on top.
Once this is out of the way, the focus will then be on the three other core aspects that will make or break Twelve Minutes, Animation, Writing and Character Design.
I want the characters to express their emotions through the ways they move and behave, with believable dialogue that doesn’t just read like an exposition dump, but actually expands on the game’s dramatic narrative and reveals each character’s nuanced personality.
Once I know these are in a good place, then it will be time to build the final art assets, bringing the game closer to what it will look and feel like upon release.
It is then when I will resume the whole salesman circuit, showing the game at events and trying to get as much awareness as possible before its actual release.
While I am in the fortunate position of not having a ‘set in stone’ release date, I do have deadlines in mind that I want to hit, and so I’ll be working my hardest to do so.
All the while, I intend to share the game’s development as transparently as I can. While I’m not the kind of person that will start doing daily posts or twitch streams, when I do have something that is worth your time, you can be sure that I’ll post it here.
The first of these posts is an upcoming post-mortem of the last three years, in which I will break down how we got to this point — the original idea of the prototype and the many challenges and developments since. I learned a lot of lessons that I wish I had known before I started, and these will hopefully be useful for other developers and creative people in general.
And with that, I’d like to end by thanking the many amazing people that have been there for me during the last three years. Whether you played the crappiest versions of the prototype, given me late-night feedback on narrative or gameplay, helped me understand what State machines and Navigation meshes are, taught me how to negotiate, or believed that this was a project worth investing in, I give you a huge thanks from the bottom of my heart. I know this is just the beginning, but it’s a huge step for me, and reaching this moment in the development of Twelve Minutes could not have been possible without you!