Belief & Betrayal - Developer Diary (a retrospective)

Preface

"Sometimes ideas have to be pursued, like in a treasure hunt."

Sergio Rocco

Right. To understand an idea, you have to pursue it, take it apart, and observe it from different angles, up to the point when you can actually focus and make it real. Often, this is how a videogame is created. It starts off as a discussion, and then you have to interpret different people's ideas or trends, talk about a tiny detail, or discuss the latest specific piece of technology that previously didn't exist during a late night chat. Ideas that initially start off as jokes get transformed into real videogames!

We'd been thinking about it for years; we had the idea of creating an adventure story without using famous characters so we wouldn't need licenses. Although well known characters would have had an impact, in some ways this wouldn't have allowed us to create an original story from scratch, and it was thanks to a series of favorable circumstances that we found the motivation to go through with this ambitious project.

The adventure of Jonathan Danter, stage name "JD", is in fact the result of different ideas and experiences. After lengthy research, many suppositions and discussions, this project took off and will soon become, we hope and really believe, one of the best adventures in 2006.

Riccardo Cangini [CEO, Artematica]


 

Belief & Betrayal: Diary of Development

2nd September, 2005

Before I start, I ought to make a dutiful observation. It was a great privilege and honour to coordinate a project like this, since, as well as being the type of game I've enjoyed working on over the years as a developer, this project has actually come about thanks to the contribution of many of my ideas. Therefore, I am very fond of this game and I thought I'd write a few lines of introduction.

Francesco [Fugazzi], who looks after chronology and development processes during the making of a game, will briefly give you a snapshot of the developer's daily life in the following entries, obviously hoping he is describing something that you might find interesting.

So what I'm in charge of is the creation of the different game scenes, and I also have to tie all the parts of the game together, acting as a "server" to the programmers, graphic designers and animators.

To date, we can only be very pleased with how the game has been developing. We are proceeding at a good pace, frenetic but sustainable, and we're churning out game material according to estimated pre-production timetables and deadlines. It has to be said that the post mortem we carried out on our previous game, Martin Mystère: Operation Dorian Gray (also known as MM), has given us an advantage.

S. Rocco [Designer and Product Manager]

 

 

18th December '05

Stylistically speaking, the project we internally call "JD" reproduces the slightly picturesque look in Martin Mystère's scenes. At the same time, it fuses with a darker, grittier atmosphere and more ironic and unconventional situations. It's like a cocktail, which in our opinion could win the approval of fans who enjoyed playing MM, and might even widen the adventurous fan base who love the challenge of solving hidden, cunning tricks and the enigma of Templar knights.

From a technical point of view, we decided to keep the development pipeline as it was, hardly making any changes for game locations, but we boosted the characters considerably and increased the details and special effects, thanks to the technological advances we've seen in the last two years.

The game engine is decidedly more evolved compared to the guaranteed performance of the previous MM. For instance, our programmers Andrea and Stefano considerably improved the pathfinding instruments (through which the game players can move about in the various sets) and they restructured the engine and the management of the inventory in order to allow exchanges between the characters in real time.

That's right! You've got it! In order to solve the JD adventure, the player will be able to use different protagonists -- a real team of usable characters who interact amongst themselves, who help each other in real time to solve the game situations.

 

As we are all incurably nostalgic, we asked ourselves why the fantastic exchange system that was used in some old LucasArts masterpieces like Day of the Tentacle couldn't be used again. Too complex and costly? Perhaps! But the story unfolded thanks to the cooperation of the different characters and... what can I say? When you've got a company of people who really believe in what they are doing, literally everything is done in order to give the players a good product.

For now, we don't want to reveal the various team members so as not to give too much away. What we can tell you is that there is a wide selection of puzzles to solve. There's a bit of everything, and through the experience of the different characters, you'll be able to excitedly piece together all the clues that take you to the... no, we can't and really shouldn't tell you yet!

One thing is certain: we've kept the pace of the narrative very high! The player will find himself in really hard situations without finding even a glimmer of a solution, and the timing is tough, too, as all the events are interconnected and oozing with tension, suspense and emotion. In other words, this game is alongside some of the best modern day cinema or TV storylines.

Franz

Continued on the next page...


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