|Genesis | Realisation | Illustration | Versions | Re-release|
|To better understand how the game came into being, I found
it useful to retrace my creative progression with a graph. I advise you
to take a peek at the time line.
Between 1983 and 1987, I created a series of games, some original, some not, when I was working independently. Then, in 1987-1988, I worked as a graphic designer in the young company Chips. In 1989, I went back to a free-lance position as a graphic designer and animator on "Future Wars", created and programmed by Paul Cuisset. I had stopped programming for about two years, as my last truly original game dated back to 1986, when I started to become lost in ambitious and never finished projects.
Even though I expressed myself freely graphically in "Future Wars", I became frustrated by not being able to create my own games, as I used to. I could have kept on working as a graphic designer on other Delphine Software games. However, in August 1989, when Paul was completing the code for "Future Wars", another game as famous for its spectacular pictures as for its non-interactivity was released: it was the Amiga adaptation of Dragon's Lair. Developers actually managed to store the original videodisk's animations on a floppy: characters filled the visual space, like a cartoon, which was unusual at the time with the reduced sprites' size. The downside of their method was the huge memory storage needed for the game: 6 floppy disks were read during its streaming... When I saw all these animations in flat color, I thought these could be done with vector outlines. That's the sparkle that made me use polygons for 2D animations. This technique has the benefit of using less memory space without any restraints on the animation size. That's the principle used by Flash on the internet.
I knew this principle would be quite perfect for a game with a cinematic atmosphere. The first thing I did was to write a polygon routine on Atari ST in order to make sure this technique would work. I had already worked at the 68000 assembler for a few months, and after a week of writing, performances were getting right, at about 10 displayed polys per 50 frames per second. That was good enough.
Still under the visual influence of Dragon's Lair, I thought I would create a game with very big expressive characters... I thought about many different themes, such as an adventure game in a house haunted by spirits? No, I had already experienced that in "Le Pacte"...
I actually quickly orientated myself towards a theme in which I had worked little but that was always dear to me: Science-fiction. I wanted the player to be immersed in an alien, completely quirky but credible world. Its on this basis I made the introduction, without thinking thoroughly of the development once in the other world, as the separation with the real world would be clear-cut anyway. I kept the game mechanics for later, even though I was already thinking about a 2D game, between "Karateka" and "Impossible Mission" (Epyx, 1984).
The next step was to conceive a creative environment that would exclusively use polygons, and then to realise it in the introduction. Why begin with the introduction, when there is no interactivity? It would have made sense to first work on the game itself, the interactivity being the most sensitive part of a development. My first priority was to achieve what was unknown to me, and I had already created a game with sprites coupled to a scripted mini-language (Infernal Runner). I just wanted to make sure, in the first place, that I could write a polygon editor that would allow me to create complex animations. The introduction is not just a succession of pre-calculated images. Even if its development is predefined, it is sustained by a logic structure where many graphic display scripted layers interact, working together via many tests. Putting the script system to the test allowed me to plan the limits of the future game and thus to make it better.
During my encounter with Costa Gavras for his film called "La Petite Apocalypse", he asked me how I proceded in creating the game Another World, and if I had already planned the entirety of the game from the beginning. It embarrassed me as it made sense to plan everything in advance and I had worked completely the opposite way. It is clear to me that Another World is the outcome of an educational improvisation !
At the beginning of 1990, the introduction was complete, the first level was being created and I had no clue about the following events, and even less about how the game would end !
On the other hand, I knew precisely what feelings and what look I wanted to communicate throughout the game. That's what ensured the consistency and the direction of the project. I had an emotional guideline and the starting point was well-defined and in tune with what I felt was right. The close elements distinct and the later events vague. I created this game by settling all the details during its creation, like a painter who makes his first sketch and then starts polishing it progressively.
I have to outline that no improvisation has been made however on the game engine and the tools that had been realised in a few months from the beginning of the creation were all made in a stable and almost definitive manner.
It was during this creative process that I fully realized how important rhythm was to storytelling. I unconsciously discovered the duality of interiorization and distancing between the creator and his artwork.
I wanted to communicate a cinematic experience according to two principles: