The five-year journey of making an adventure game using ink and paper

“I can’t get over the pen and ink thing,” said John Evelyn. collage collection, a fantastic story adventure game recently released on Steam. The entire game is hand-drawn, from the tiny flowers and insects to the massive buildings and clouds floating above them. Exploring the world will reveal its fantastic story, with environments that unfold based on your approach.

“I had been painting for many years before that […] I always draw directly in ink without any prior pencil work or sketching,” he said. “I love all the serendipitous details and mishaps that happen along the way.” He compares it to improvised music — “actually, sometimes it goes horribly wrong!” — but he says taking things in stride and being rewarded by unexpected results And the feeling of being surprised is important to the entire game.

Because of this, the art style underpins the rest of the experience. Individual game artwork can fall into the background, collage collection Demand your attention to detail—and reward it. At the beginning of the game, a windmill will appear on the grass; look at it and it will start spinning. It was one of the first products Evelyn created, initially as an app to accompany a picture book.

This book is a self-published work ” sleep like breeze, aims to explore themes of agency and feelings of disempowerment that can arise from traumatic or disruptive life experiences. “You start to feel like life is something that happens to you, rather than something that you can meaningfully control or create,” Evelyn says.

When trying out the theme, “everything fell into place” as the windmill spun, he said. “It dawned on me that, actually, that’s the crux of what I’m trying to talk about. The fact that even if you don’t feel like it, your presence in the world is truly meaningful and does have an impact on it. . Even your gaze and your observations are meaningful.

“Even your gaze and your observations are meaningful.”

Evelyn presented the idea for the app, which aims to provide ephemeral artistic experiences, at the Leftfield Collection at EGX 2016, a UK gaming conference. game. Instead, he said, it was “something I personally felt I really needed to do.”

“I’ve been through some pretty bad times over the years,” he says, “and I found it difficult to find media outlets to talk to me about what I was going through.” While other media seemed very specific to other people’s situations, Evelyn wanted to go wider s things. “I find things that touch on universal themes very useful.”

At the exhibition, people resonated with his work. In particular, Evelyn was affected by the attention of “business people” who would ask him how long the full game would eventually last. “In my mind, I was like, ‘Oh, do you really think people are going to want this?'” He said he was swayed by them because if they looked at this from a “pretty cold financial perspective,” question, and thinks there is something there that he himself might believe if he were its audience.

Pictured: John William Evelyn

He knew he wanted the experience to “slowly draw you in”—meaning hours, not 10 minutes. He spent the next four years doing his best to fill that niche. Although he had a wealth of experience and knowledge from a career that included making Flash games, doing freelance illustration work, and releasing music EPs, he still had a lot to learn. “The day I started collage collection Like now, not the little demo, that was the first day I opened [game engine] Unity,” he said.

To convert the illustrations into 3D (a process he had never done before), he first created the model in Unity, then printed the map and drew the details with a pen.Once scanned back, these textures are read into the model to create the world collage collection And everything that makes it up.

“The works have no permanence – they just disappear.”

After nearly five years of work, the game was released on Apple Arcade in 2020, but was removed when the exclusivity period ended in 2023. Before long, even people who downloaded it couldn’t launch it. “It’s sad the way our creative medium evolves: the works don’t have any permanence — they can disappear,” he said. Evelyn feels he should thank his past self for doing all the work to ensure the game is still available and recently released it on Steam.

After the game was released on Apple Arcade, Evelyn thought he might not work in games anymore. “I was talking to a friend of mine who was a AAA developer, and I said, ‘That’s it. I’m done with it and I’ll never do it again.’ He said, ‘I’ll give you six months.’ Almost.” Exactly six months later, he started working on his next game, Wings of Sycamore. It’s also hand-painted, a bit like “Psychic Sequel” collage collection.

atlas are trying to explore the idea of ​​falling inwards,” he said. “Wings of Sycamore It’s about flying. Once you’ve managed to climb out of the abyss, hopefully then you’ll be able to enjoy the pure joy of flying.

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