In 2016, The Forgotten City it was a great story-driven expansion for a popular RPG and the first mod to win a national screenwriting award. Find it in the Microsoft Store (Argentina, chili, Colombia Y Mexico). Here you will travel back in time, discover a mysterious underground city in ruins and meet its inhabitants. So, you will learn about a terrible curse: if one person sins here, everyone will die. So you will start a quest to find the person responsible for the sin that is eating away at the city to prevent a disaster. All this while you are in a time cycle in the style Spell of time as you try to find out who is responsible for the sin that destroys the city and stop it.
The mod was downloaded over 3,000,000 times, received comments from IGN describing it as “just amazing”, but as popular as it was, I did it in my spare time on a $ 0 peso budget and knew I could do it a lot. , better. So in 2017 I decided to make it a standalone game, bigger and better in every possible way.
I only faced 3 little problems:
1) I didn’t have time
2) I had no budget
3) I had no idea how to make a complete set
But today it’s available on Xbox Series X | S and Xbox One! Now, I would like to tell you how I did it.
My first problem was time and I solved it by leaving my job. Sure, it was incredibly risky, especially since I was working in the legal field, where taking a few years usually means you can’t get back in. It felt like jumping out of a plane, so my plan was to learn to fly by the time it was time to land.
My second problem was that I had no budget and I solved it with my savings and applying for grants. After rough prototyping, I was able to secure grants from an arts funding body (Film Victoria), as well as the Unreal Dev Grant from Epic. The mod and its reception really opened a lot of doors for us.
My third problem was that I had no experience and I solved it by hiring Alex, a programmer who had just finished a virtual reality spacewalk simulator in collaboration with NASA. He has only taken over the work of an entire team of programmers for the past four years. We met by chance at a party. It was the right time and place.
The highlight of 2018 was seeing the game revealed on stage during E3’s PC Gaming show. After a lifetime of watching E3, it was amazing to see my little game up there. We even managed to win an Unreal E3 Award: “Unreal Underdog” for being brave (or rather crazy) enough to compete with the greats of the E3 industry.
That moment felt like a victory, but then we realized that we had made the mistake of announcing the game much earlier than we should, because we were still finding ways to improve it and had to delay a couple of times.
The highlight of 2019 was presenting the game at GDC and PAX East. We were almost out of funds when I met Dear Villagers, an editor who gave us the support we needed to make the game we always wanted to make.
Later I was told that one of the key criteria in deciding who to post to was, “Would I like to have a beer with this person?” That left me a great lesson: never underestimate the importance of relationships. I was unable to visit them in France due to the pandemic, so I sent them a nice case of beer with a thank you note.
2020 was a difficult year but two things stood out:
First, we worked with a couple of extraordinary history consultants to ensure that our game world, an ancient Roman city, had historically authentic art, architecture, costumes, and customs. The first was Dr Philip Matyszak, who has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Oxford, teaches at Cambridge, and has written 17 books (17!). The second person was Dr. Sophie Hay, who has spent the last 20 years excavating the ruins of Pompeii. They are both extremely intelligent, charming and down-to-earth people, and they helped us immensely.
Second, we managed to figure out how to make good dialogue animations, thanks to a call with Shon Stewart, lead animator for one of my favorite developers, Obsidian. While it is true that our animations are not Triple-A motion capture, considering that we are a core team of 3 developers, I am very happy with the results.
That brings us to 2021. And the game will launch later this month!
The last 4.5 years have been terrifying, exhilarating, creatively satisfying, and absorbing. They have also been very productive: we rewrote the script (it is now twice as long) and added new characters, missions, turns, endings, gameplay mechanics, as well as professional voice acting and a new orchestral soundtrack.
No matter what happens in the future, I am very proud of the result of The Forgotten City. I am very happy to have made this big leap! Find it in the Microsoft Store (Argentina, chili, Colombia Y Mexico).
Thanks for reading!