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There’s almost a swear in the intro, at the 55 second mark
we went from no swears for ages to one within the first minute
not a good sign
Please listen responsibly
Zachary Claxton joined us for a chat about his work-in-progress title Earthrend. A game that he described to us as a Legend of Zelda-like adventure, with Shadow of the Colossus scale. We played the demo, and he’s not wrong.
As I mention in every episode, we recorded this episode ahead of time
which is something we do for almost every episode
In fact, we recorded this episode on November 23rd, 2020
The “other Zac” that I refer to is, of course, ZBoi. At the time of recording this episode, we’d just finalised recording ZBoi’s appearance on the Street Fighter the Movie episode
It’s a real phenomenon that developers like to play titles like Factorio and Human Resource Machine in their spare time. It’s almost like we can’t get away from the thing that we’re passionate about. And it’s not something that you typically find in other industries - the majority of session musicians that I’ve met, for example, only tend to play when in the studio and don’t tend to find that much pleasure from playing outside of it.
maybe that’s more to do with the session musicians that I know
Squidge’s Recent Games
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
had just come out, so Squidge had been enjoying that
more proof of when we’d recorded the episode, if you needed any
He’s not been playing the game. He’s just been wandering around, hitting people with frying pans
because of course Squidge had been playing Diablo III
Sonic the Hedgehog
Gotta go fast, and all that.
Jay’s Recent Games
Borderlands The Pre-Sequel
I’d been playing through the DLC for the Pre-Sequel
and, to this day, still haven’t completed it
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy
I seriously love these games. Not just for the soundtrack (which is banger after banger), but also the story and the characters. Hidden object puzzle isn’t my favourite genre of video games
in fact, I sometimes find them really infuriating
but everything else about the Ace Attorney games makes up for it.
This was also around the time when I had started teaching Squidge how to code using a language called Python. He actually went on to create a game, based on a combination of our sessions and reading a few books on programming with Python.
I’ll check in with Squidge about whether he’d be happy releasing it to the world. And if he is, I’ll attach it to a later set of show notes. In the mean time, keep an eye open for a video of me teaching him some Python basics over on our YouTube channel.
We’d each bought a RaspberryPi 400 as soon as they came out, and had been playing around with different applications and uses for them. We’d been playing with:
a breadboard is where you might prototype an electronic circuit before having the actual circuit manufactured
To be fair, these videos are super interesting, and I’d recommend them to anyone who wants to learn a little more about how PC hardware is designed.
I recommended Zac check out the wonderful Nand2Tetris project, where Professor Shimon Schocken teaches
for free on Coursera
all of the Computer Science concepts with the goal of building a computer and running Tetris on it. If you’re at all interested in how computers work, I’d check it out.
And so the topic turned to Zac’s work-in-progress title Earthrend.
It’s no joke that I totally dig the hand drawn aesthetic of this game. Every visual asset in this game is hand-drawn, hand-coloured, scanned into Zac’s computer, then slightly edited with GiMP
the GNU Image Manipulation Program
take your ming out of the gutter :P
And that gives it a wonderful look
Earthrend is a hand drawn, hand crafted adventure that kind of riffs on the MetroidVanias and is inspired heavily, I would say, by the Zelda series. And is my take on what would be a really good Zelda game
And that’s no joke, the scale of the game is very much similar to Shadow of the Colossus.
I want to play with the camera in this game to really sell the idea that the player’s a tiny speck in this world
I very much got the vibe that you’re a Yorkshire Terrier attacking an Elephant
And that’s the vibe that Zac is going for in Earthrend. Oh, and that was a mini-boss too. So the actually bosses will likely be larger, with plans to make the player have to work their way around the boss characters and potentially climb them (Shadow of the Colossus style) in order to take them down properly.
On the graphical assets, Zac has a bit of a lengthy process which I’ll try to condense here:
First comes the sketching on standard printer paper
Colouring and inking happens next
The coloured and inked image is then scanned
GiMP is then used to snip ou the background and tweak the brightness and contrast
After a little light editing, the image is then ready to use in the game
That’s rather different to most 2D image asset creation, where a hand drawn sketch
if they exist at all
will likely be completely replicated in something like Illustrator, using a graphics tablet.
When talking about inspiration, teamwork, and research, I drop a story about when John Carmack recreated the first level of Super Mario Bros. 3 on his 486
i.e. pre-Pentium - which was the 586
powered machine. This was something that Nintendo had said couldn’t be done; in all of their marketing spiel for both the NES and for SMB3, they had said that it wouldn’t be possible to recreate SMB3 on a PC. When Carmack was done, he sent his demo of the pixel perfect recreation of the first level over to Nintendo, asking whether he could have a license to port the game to PC, since it was clearly doable.
Nintendo responded with a cease and desist.
What might have been.
The source for that story is Masters of Doom, which I would recommend that everyone who is interested in video games should read.
You can tell that we recorded this episode a while back, because we talked about the upcoming release of Cyberpunk 2077
as in the delayed, released just before Christmas 2020, release date
But the thing to remember is that games take a while to make, and that most journos don’t appreciate or report on just how long a game takes to make.