TAG | The Time Project
Ah, yes, here we are in our natural habitat. Such rare and majestic creatures.
Jon heads up the art production, Maya is our programmer extraordinaire, I write all of our words and stories, and Henrik is our game designer/puzzle-wizard.
They’re the official versions of our roles but like any small creative team, we wear a lot of different hats. We all weigh-in on design decisions and talk about what we love and what could be improved.
As you can see, we cleaned our desks for the most part~~
The plants in the background are new (and REAL so you can be sure we’re getting our oxygen). Now you know we’re real, too!
Thank you Ariel Cameron for your photography skills.
Awesome news! The Time Project was nominated for Best Design and Best Visual Art at the Freeplay Festival.
We all rocked along to the awards night feeling quite proud to have been nominated along side of an extremely impressive line-up of games.
While we didn’t pick-up any wins, we were thrilled to have been considered. The team was very much taken by surprise by these nominations. We didn’t imagine our game was at a point where it would be considered for an award, little own two awards!
Push Me Pull You (House House) took best design and Movement Study 1 (What A Dreamer) collected the Visual Art award (the rest of the award results can be found over here!). Congrats!!!
Freeplay had it’s tenth birthday this year and went for ten days – it’s longest running time, yet! It also had an online festival as well which our programmer, Maya Violet, was working on as an associate producer (wooo!).
The Voxel Agents would like to thank all of the Freeplay staff and the board and all the other games and game makers for making such cool stuff. We’d especially like to thank the judges for seeing something in our little game.
I have recently done another draft of the story for The Time Project and so I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to have an adventure.
Adventures are an exciting, bold experience in a different place that challenges us. Adventures may expose parts of ourselves that we didn’t know existed.
Adventure stories are usually based around a quest where a character has a strong desire for something. Usually an object like a treasure chest. This is the outer, physical adventure, the journey the characters must embark on to get their hands on the goods.
A character’s outer journey often mirrors some kind of inner journey (to use Michael Hauge’s terms).
At some point, usually at the height of the adventure, these two journeys collide. The adventurer must complete their inner journey in order to complete their outer journey.
In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana is on an outer journey to save his father which becomes the larger effort to get the Holy Grail. His inner journey is a bit more up for interpretation, but I see it as about him growing closer to his father despite their differences. This is shown by him literally following in his father’s footsteps in two ways: by following his father’s journal and by trying to catch up to him to save him.
Both Indiana’s outer journey and inner journey inform one another, and are reinforced all throughout the movie. There are many points where the inner and outer journey meet. In the case of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, they are tilting towards one final decision: to keep the cup or let it go. Life or death.
So that’s all well and good, but do characters always have to have an inner journey that results in a change?
Some characters refuse to change even though they have gained insights throughout the course of the story. Others may completely miss having an insight or a realisation, but us readers have it instead. Some characters triumph by not changing, by staying true to themselves despite challenges at every turn. The adventure tests their mettle.
I’ve been thinking about the outer and inner journeys of our characters and how challenges in the game can harmonise or complement their journey. How they walk, how they look at one another, the world, the environment, the myth and lore. When it comes to challenge, I also think about how the game is played because the puzzles are the challenges for the player.
Solving puzzles affects the outer and inner journey of our players. My goal is to connect a player’s inner emotional journey with our game to the physical journey of completing our puzzles. They must either complement or harmonise. What do the symbols in the puzzles mean? How are they a part of the story world? Asking questions like this help me figure out how puzzles can inform the story and how story can inform the puzzles.
I do this because I think part of what makes a good game is one that takes us on an adventure, an outer and inner journey that allows us to have an insight, a realisation.
It makes us feel a bit different for having played it.
Maybe expose parts of ourselves we didn’t know existed.
It’s no small task but that’s what’s keeping me out of trouble at the moment!
We are doing things! It’s been a whirlwind these last two months but I’m happy to report we are in full-on production mode. I have become a calendar queen and scheduling tasks has never been so fun because tasks look something like this:
- Write more story for the Swamp of Vestiges – what is it like here?? – this will help with puzzle design & art
- Second pass on puzzle puffs to make them more readable
Admittedly, it’s not stuff that sounds like hard work, but building puzzles, worlds and character stories that work in harmony is challenging us. What works for the story isn’t always ideal for the puzzles.
Sometimes, we do things differently. Jon will design a landscape and then we “reverse engineer” it. (see this super-cute gif!)
As the writer, I think: what is the windmill for? who lives here? what does it do? what’s it’s significance in the land?
We all have a go at these questions and then think about puzzles that will reinforce the story, or, that would be super fun to have in a windmill setting!
I have been immersing myself in the story world, writing short pieces for our characters. I wasn’t sure if this was helping, but the details that came from these stories – that bubbled up naturally as I wrote – have been helpful! Win!
Now, we are in solid production we are all getting into our own creative groove and headspace. These headspaces are quite different from one another which means we are approaching problems, designs and the overall executions of the levels from different points of view. It’s challenging to communicate within the team sometimes and often we have had to pause and clarify the words we are using to describe the game. Henrik put together brief glossary of terms and we were back on track again.
Amazing news, everyone!
We are thrilled to have been selected to be a part of the Out of Index Experimental Games Fest.
- Dissonance (Team Dissonance, US)
- Donut County (Ben Esposito, US)
- Synonymy (Christopher Jarvis, US)
- Not Everything is Flammable (DAM, US)
- Plug & Play (Etter Studio, Switzerland)
- Panoramical (Ramallo & Kanaga, Argentina)
- CONTROL (Kieran Nolan, Ireland)
- Prune (Joel McDonald(Polyculture), US)
- Mushroom11 (Untame, US)
- Cerulean Moon (nachobeard, Spain)
- Aboard The lookinglass (Henry Hoffman, UK)
- The Time Project (The Voxel Agents, Australia)
- Tetrageddon Games (Nathalie Lawhead, US)
- RETSNOM (SOMI, Republic of Korea)
We will be celebrating with baked goods, yesss!!
I have always known music is important to games, but having the opportunity to attend sound meetings with the team has drawn my attention to the huge story potential it has as well. Seems a bit obvious now I write it down!
I have been preparing outlines of the story, locations, world history, key words that help capture the tone of our game and it’s various location to help our sound collaborators. Already, the story has moved so far along and the world has grown more vivid. I can’t wait to see what happens when sound it added into the mix!
Check out Tim’s SoundCloud for more!
I am super happy to report that I now have a stand-up desk!! My back thanks me. As you can see, lots of story creation going on fuelled by lots of cups of tea.
You may also have noticed Unity. I’ve been taught the basics and next week, I’m white boxing my own levels. Woooo! The teams doesn’t know know what they have done..
One of my lego level prototypes is on my desk there next to Harlequin – wish me luck!
Henrik has been puzzling. We think his blowfish looks like it has a five o’clock shadow…
I was greeted with a new box of lego this morning! Safe to say, the day was a lot of fun!
I was surprised that the bricks came in separate bags that had their own colour schemes, so I’m seeing if I can build a level from each before I mix them all up.
Behold, pink, purple and white!