Welcome to our first developer diary post. I thought it would be a good idea to talk about how we got here. Thanks for taking the time to read it!
In 2012 I was amazed (as many folks were) how Double Fine and Tim Schafer had raised money on Kickstarter to fund Broken Age. I found the idea of crowdfunding to be quite exciting – not the money part, per se, but the idea that games that I had worked on decades earlier might find a new life and a new audience. I was no stranger to ports – heck, Shadowgate has been ported from the 512ke Mac to PC CGA, PC EGA, PC SVGA, Apple IIgs, Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Palm, Pocket PC and, of course, the NES. But the idea of re-imaging the rooms, having a complete score and sound design and illustrating it without restriction was too much to ignore.
So in Feb of 2012, I contacted Eugene Evans, a friend of mine who I helped secure the rights of some of my games back in the ’90s. Eugene and I had worked on a number of titles together over the years and I had helped keep Shadowgate alive in the form of Shadowgate 64, Shadowgate GBC and a few canceled projects (Shadowgate Rising, Shadowgate II (nes) and Lands of Shadowgate.) Eugene was running Mythic Studios (Dark Age of Camelot) at the time I contacted him and I worked out a deal to regain the rights to all the MacVentures (Shadowgate, Deja Vu, Deja Vu II, and The Uninvited) as well as the Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective mysteries. I came up with the name Zojoi by using a company name generator. I basically wanted to get a short URL and I liked how it looked. After a failed Sherlock kickstarter, my friend Karl Roelofs and I formed a small team (friends we knew who were excited about the idea), found an epic composer on YouTube (Rich Douglas) and a few phenomenal artists – speed painter Chris Cold and all-around-genius Aaron Milligan. We then spent about four months putting together the kickstarter for the re-imagined Shadowgate and ran it in the fall of 2012.
While we raised enough to get the art, audio and rewards done, we had to be very creative money-wise from a design and programming perspective. Since we were all just thrilled to be working on the property again, we quickly worked out a royalty deal and got to work developing the game in Unity. Brandon Booker, Rob De LaTorre and Nathan Harbour became our crack programming team and we brought on board a few awesome interns from George Mason University to round out the art (Jason Frostick and Daniel Cloth.) Last, but not least, the wonderful Sarah Watson came in to help Karl with design and scripting. Oh, and I would be remiss not to mention working with Masaomi Kurokawa at Kemco. He was kind enough to allow me to include the old 8bit Shadowgate chip tunes in the game. 🙂
I won’t bore you with all the details but we found a great publisher in Reverb XP, worked insane hours and finished the game (albeit a bit late) in August of 2014. We followed up the launch with a second UI (command wheel) and a Halloween side quest. During this time, I attended a game convention in Ohio and met a 3D artist named Adam Meixner. We instantly hit it off and while Karl was working on the design for Beyond Shadowgate, Adam, Sarah and I started talking about this idea of a separate team working on a new 3D game called Argonus and the Gods of Stone. If you want to know what happened with Beyond Shadowgate and that team, I posted about this on the Shadowgate Steam Forum last year. It’s an honest take on what happened and worth the read if you have the time. Will we make Beyond Shadowgate one day? Surely. I just don’t know when.
I think that’s a good start and I will try and post at least once a week with the next post covering working on getting Shadowgate to the new consoles as well as the 8bit adventures and then into Argonus.