February will always be an important month for Super Matt Jordan. February holds the date I started SMJ and I want to celebrate that as much as I can. It's been two years since I started the project and it has definitely been a life changing experience. I would have posted an article on February first, but I was hung over from all of that life changing and celebration.
When I started the project, I just wanted to make a game. I experimented with platforming and blocks, and planned on finishing the game in probably three months. A few months later, I wanted to make a fun game. I experimented with all sorts of game play mechanics and features that eventually formulated the game we have today. A few more months, I wanted to make an appealing game. I spent a lot of time on graphics and synthesizing the image that would become the SMJ style. A few more months past, I released the demo. After some time and people played it and enjoyed it for what it was, they asked me about the story. This shocked me because most people, when they make a game for the first or second time, keep it simple. The original intention was for SMJ to be in the realm of a Super Mario World styled game, so much so when I tell people about it, I use that as the example. I found it intriguing that people cared about the story quite a lot.
In our modern times of high polygon counts and shaders, it feels like good or deep story lines are a dying breed. Since the demo came out and the people have voiced their opinions, I've almost exclusively been working on the story for over a solid year. I hope that my efforts will show true, and give my audience the story along with the platformer styled game they so seem to crave. My goal is to create a game as a whole that leaves no one wanting. The script has undergone multiple revisions and will go through more so as to attain the highest quality of my intent for the story as possible. The reason this is so important to me and why I keep talking about it is because writing a story is a difficult challenge.
So, as a game designer, how does one go about creating a story for a game that already has a demo out? How do I give meaning to what people have already seen? I've started analyzing movies, games, the stories I know, anything I can get my hands on including books. I've started reading books on my own now (rather than playing games) and wanted to get as much research done as I can. Its fascinating to compare styles and literary differences from authors and really dig deep into the “why” of things. This is the life changing aspect of this game's development. Throughout this project, I have had to wear every hat in the production pipeline. Consequently, my journey has also required I learned music theory in a massive crash course by getting a Ukelele and learning to play it. I feel that all of this has made me a deeper and more interesting person and I'm glad for it. I don't think I would have taken that first step if it wasn't for my valentine, my love, my wife, Lyssa. She singularly inspired me to take many incredibly scary steps with bits of wisdom that for some reason she keeps forgetting what she said, but I never forget. Development is a roller coaster with boring moments. Working on the story is not flashy work and it has become silent in the subject of comments and questions. People were never meant to go it alone.
So as I put on my big game developer's underpants, I must take the first of many scary steps to make my dream a reality. First, I would like to announce that I have licensing from Stencyl to sell games made with their software. This is stating very clearly that I am committed to what I am doing and put the money on the table for it. Let's be brutally honest for a moment, I do no make any money from that donate button on the front page. I would like to personally thank those who have pitched in. You know who you are and you should feel warm and fuzzy inside. Support with the community is still going strong. Alas, I have run into the ever dreaded software lock. This is a point in any development where updating or changing the software used can damage the project. I don't mind it so much though because everything works very well and I understand it. For the future of SMJ, I will work to implement a secondary control system that can be bound to any USB controller of choice. The new system will use secondary keys on the keyboard that can be set to the controller using a program like Joy2Key. It works very well but the best way to play SMJ is with a mouse and keyboard on PC or Mac. Just wanted to announce that. That being said, I was careless one night and failed to back up some work before experimenting. I'm sure by now you're thinking “So what did you lose!?” Well I lost the entire opening cutscene. You may now facepalm at will. I have all of the graphics so I didn't lose anything beyond the programming for the animation. No big deal, right? So you may now be also asking yourself “What cutscene!?” Well, here it is, the opening for Super Matt Jordan! Enjoy!