COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW: SOMETHING CLASSIC

A brief interview with Something Classic, creators of Shadows of Adam


An interview with Something Classic, creators of Shadows of Adam.

The latest target of my 'Wait, Solitayre has an interview series?' is Something Classic, the development team behind Shadows of Adam, an old-school RPG due for commercial release on Steam on February 23rd!




Start off by telling us a little about yourselves!


Hello! We are Something Classic, an indie game team comprised of industry professionals that have been developing our debut project, “Shadows of Adam”.

Shadows of Adam is soon to be released commercially! How does it feel?

After three and a half years of hard work, it feels great to finally have Shadows of Adam in the bag. We are very proud of what we’ve done and super thankful to all our fans and Kickstarter backers. Countless indie games -released and soon to be- have inspired and guided us along this epic journey. They and the environment they’ve created are what makes Shadows of Adam possible and our dream a reality.

What were your inspirations for Shadows of Adam?

Tyler: Quality games from the 16-bit era. We are also inspired by modern design choices like no random battles, smooth UI, saving anywhere, and coherent story arcs. We recognize retro games have flaws and we wanted to alleviate those issues.

Josh: Basically what Tyler said. My biggest inspiration was actually from ‘beginner’ RPGs like Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, Pokemon, and Super Mario RPG. A lot of them really streamlined the RPG experience, but in doing so made things a little too simplistic. So we set out to take the best aspects of those beginner RPGs and smooth out their flaws and limitations.

Tim: Inspiration for me came from a mix of wanting to make the next classic “16 bit” RPG in combination with making it more accessible by applying modern day mechanics like user experience, acquisition, and retention- all of which are staple design principles religiously used in the social gaming sphere.


Did you learn anything while making Shadows of Adam or other projects?

Tyler: Attention to detail is important. Compromise (this is a tough one for me), when working in a group everyone may not always see eye to eye with your ideas, be willing to listen and adapt accordingly. Also, don’t take yourself too seriously. I’m working on the last one…

Luke: I learned (all over again) that taking one small step everyday towards a goal can snowball into so much more, and how rewarding a journey like that can be with a great team. Also, having a super anal person on the team is really helpful sometimes. Not naming names. :)

Josh: I learned that game design documents with a detailed scope are critical. I also learned that making cuts and concessions might be necessary to ensure a project is actually completed. There were a lot of cool ideas that we simply didn’t have time to include.

Tim: I’ve learned a lot about game design and production over my ten years as an indie game artist as well as the four years I spent as art director for a high profile social gaming company. When approaching Shadows of Adam I spent a lot of time consolidating that knowledge and applying it to ensure we could stay on budget, produce art that resonated with the largest amount of people, and provide gameplay that would be accessible to fans of old and new alike.

Core tenets from the social gaming industry allowed us an extra edge by allowing us to focus on important, but not often considered gameplay aspects like FTUE (first time user experience), accessibility (making sure anyone can pick it up and play), and appointment gaming (making sure the player can play the game for as short or as long as they like without being punished for their choice).

Ty: Embrace your community. As tiny developers, we have to embrace and continuously work with our community to give us that extra edge over the developers with far more resources. It can be very easy to get defensive about a game you worked so hard to develop when faced with criticism. Instead of becoming confrontational when dealing with a potentially difficult situation, work with the individual(s) and try to come up with mutual solutions to their problems.

What inspired you to want to get into game design?

Tyler: I was a member of the rpgmaker community in my teens, first starting at Gaming World and then migrating to rpgmaker.net. I grew up writing music for the school marching band, jazz band and my own rock band in addition to composing midis for my early rpgmaker projects. I was always making something, whether music or sketching ideas in a composition book. Game design seemed like a great way to combine my passions.

Luke: I was really into Nintendo games as a kid. I'd fill notebooks with level designs for all sorts of games. When I got my hands on Rpg Maker 95 back in the late 90's it became something of an obsession.

Josh: I was also a member of Gaming World, and helped run some old sites like War of the Magi and RPG RPG Revolution (if anyone remembers those). I always liked the creative process, and gradually started learning more about programming as I was involved in those communities.

Tim: Similar to the rest, I got into game development seriously during the rpgmaker days in the very early 2000s. Prior to that, and again similar to Luke, I was designing games levels and making fake instruction manuals with pencil and printer paper as young as 8 years old all the way through my teens when I discovered rm2k irresponsibly browsin’ the net at school.

Ty: The Neverwinter Nights toolset. I spent far more time creating items, scripts and maps using that toolset than I spent playing the actual game.

You successfully held a fundraiser on Kickstarter to support the development of Shadows of Adam. Can you tell us about that experience?

Tyler: Kickstarter was an amazing experience. We were very fortunate to raise over $20,000 in a month’s time thanks to over 700 backers. Running a kickstarter was a full time job for that month. We prepared an hour long demo and spent the month reaching out to press, contacting Let’s Players, and Streamers. The grass roots effort really helped us go from a project no-one had heard of to something that has a small niche following!

Tim: In addition to amazing I would have to call the experience harrowing, haha! There were numerous times that it looked like we might fail, and our studio was beginning to accrue a lot of debt at this time, so the future of the game and our sanity looked a bit unstable. I think we all wanted Shadows of Adam to be a success, and we knew that getting funded or not would play a huge part in just what we could offer, and the timeframe we’d have been able to do it in. At the end of the day it was without question worth it, and we cannot thank our backers and supporters enough for what they did to ensure we got funded.

Ty: Before the Kickstarter, I had a white patch of hair on the side of my head. After the Kickstarter, I had many white patches. If you are planning on running a Kickstarter, it is imperative that you or someone on your teams make themselves available on a full-time basis. You will receive a lot of direct messages from people asking questions, and responding to those questions quickly, efficiently and professionally goes a long way into building up that trust you need from the backers. Even after funding was successful, we made sure we ended each of our Kickstarter updates with contact information (And made sure we responded to inquiries) so our backers would know how to get in touch with us.

What is it that drew your team to put together a project in the 'Old School' or classic RPG style seen in Shadows of Adam?

Tyler: As mentioned before, we all were huge fans of jRPGs, especially the 16 bit era. All of us are in our late 20s/early 30s, so our childhood was spent playing Final Fantasy 4, 6, Earthbound, Chrono Trigger, Super Mario Rpg, Breath of Fire, and Pokemon.

Josh: I’ve noticed a lot of high profile indie RPGs like to emphasize how they’re different from your average jRPG… so I thought “what if we just made your average jRPG but as fun and polished as we possibly can make it!”

Tim: Most of us have roots in the RPG maker community, and it was that common ground which initially allowed us to “find” each other. Whereas everything is 6 degrees of separation, I believe we as a whole were probably only 1 or 2 degrees removed from each other. That loose connection was enough to spur the possibility. The fact that we are all excellent representations of professionals within our respective fields is what cemented the connections in our team as the right choice for Shadows of Adam.


Can you tell us about the engine used to develop Shadows of Adam and why you chose it?


Josh: It’s a common misconception that this game was developed using RPG Maker, but the engine is actually completely custom! It is built in Javascript using the ImpactJS framework. Since Impact is more catered towards platformers and simpler games out of the box, we ended up extending and modifying the framework significantly over time. All of the core systems, from movement to battles, were written from scratch.

We chose HTML5 technologies to develop this game for two major reasons:

Since HTML5 is browser based, it was very easy to test the game and show early previews. There was no long compiling process or anything like that; just make your changes and refresh the browser!
Portability: We could develop in browser and easily create executables for Windows, OSX, and Linux as needed.

Does your team currently have any plans to develop other titles?

Tyler: I’d love to do a Action RPG prequel starring Curtis or Shadows of Adam: Kart...

Josh: Maybe, if we get an offer we can’t refuse…

Tim: I’m with Josh. But, if we don’t get amazing offers, I think it would be cool to keep publishing quality retro games under Something Classic, even if we’re not directly part of their development.

Ty: We will definitely spend extra time building development tools...You can only manage so much data with Notepad/a text editor.

Are there any games on RMN you like or recommend?

Tyler: Back in the day I was a huge fan of “A Blurred Line”, “Whack a Food”, “Demon Legacy”, Brick Road’s Fanfics “Miranda” and “With His Father’s Sword”, and of course “The Stupidest Game Ever Made”. Still haven’t played “The Way” yet, sorry Luke!

Luke: Lol. Fine, as its creator, I will recommend all six episodes of "The Way." Battles and puzzles can be toggled on or off! I remember liking "Sunset Over Imdahl" and "Three The Hard Way."

Tim: I’m with Luke on “The Way”. It is a phenomenal series, and I personally tracked Luke down to write the story for our game based on the exceptional narrative he portrayed in The Way. I also will plug my own game “Whack a Food” even though I am pretty sure the final area is unbeatable due to a bug, as well as the game being forever locked thanks to Icon (of gamingw legend) and his program to encrypt rm2k games. P.S. if anybody knows of this program and a way to reverse the encryption please send us a message, lol. Beyond that I have to give props to “Sunset Over Imdahl”, “Wilfred the Hero”, and I also played most of the “Legion Saga” series back in the day.

Any advice for other game developers out there?

Tyler: You really need to love it. A lot of times it can be a grind, especially when you’re aiming for a commercial level project. However, with each new goal we hit in Shadows of Adam I felt immense pride. The end result is worth it. Don’t give up!

Luke: Avoid scope creep. Understand your critical path from start to finish. Some features just aren't worth the effort.

Josh: Keep it simple and focused. Realize your limitations. A well executed, simple game is always better than an ambitious but unfinished project.

Tim: Agree with prior comments completely. It is all about knowing limitations and executing perfection within them. Anyone can keep designing til the cows come home, it’s being able to have a finished product by the time they come home that matters.

Ty: Unless you have an unlimited budget to work with, the term ‘cut’ will become your best friend.

Any other comments?

Tyler: My day job is playing trumpet. I love writing music and lead my own band, the Tyler Mire Big Band, which has recorded three CDs.

Tim: If you read all of my walls of text, thanks! I hope you were able to gain something from them. Other hobbies include gourmet cooking, writing, and giving praise to the West Coast: the best coast!

Ty: I’m a full-time software developer, rum drinker, and once caused a neighbourhood power outage by using the toaster. I am the only Canadian on the team.

Posts

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Very interesting interview! I found working in a team to be quite hard in the past. It's a lot of hard work to pull it off, especially for passionate people. I'm glad you guys pulled it off this long! I definitely look forward to playing your game.
author=zDS
Very interesting interview! I found working in a team to be quite hard in the past. It's a lot of hard work to pull it off, especially for passionate people. I'm glad you guys pulled it off this long! I definitely look forward to playing your game.


Thanks! Not much longer. And yes a team can be challenging, but rewarding when people can specialize I think. Also compromise can be a good thing when forging ideas.
WIP
I'm not comfortable with any idea that can't be expressed in the form of men's jewelry
11363
So freaking pumped for this to come out. Glad my name is on the list of folks who pledged. Although I gave enough to get the betas, I didn't want to spoil myself.
author=WIP
So freaking pumped for this to come out. Glad my name is on the list of folks who pledged. Although I gave enough to get the betas, I didn't want to spoil myself.


Thanks dude! Been frantically bug fixing and doing tons of QA for the last few months. Ready to get this out there :)
Good dog, LunC is on this? I had no idea, somehow. I'm very much done with retro, but I'll buy anyway, if only as belated thanks for The Way.
Gibmaker
I hate RPG Maker because of what it has done to me
9226
Great interview!
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