I wouldn't be surprised if the game ended up cancelled at some point. I think the time to ride the KS train has lapsed. Ecco is niche enough as it is, and the Mighty No. 9 disaster has all but eliminated what little remained of the gaming community's faith in crowdfunded games. That aside, one of the questions people are going to be asking is why Virtual Ocean was cancelled and how will they know that LB/BB won't end up the same way?
LB/BB sounds like it is using some of the same concepts. For whatever reason VO was cancelled, people will take it into consideration when looking at Ed's track record before they make an informed decision to give him money or not. Perhaps VO couldn't find a publisher, evidently something LB is struggling with. If Ed wants to turn LB/BB into a franchise, it can't last off crowdfunding forever. Since LB will be a free game, Playchemy won't be making any money off it. As you can't please everyone, even fewer people will be willing to fund a sequel. LB may have a fighting chance on KS if the team is willing to be honest and do things differently from other KS campaigns. Granted some desperate Ecco fans will just throw money at the KS because they want a new game so badly, but they will be in the minority. People will need convincing, and gamers are reasonably bitter, tired and cynical with crowdfunding these days.
LB, the first step to the BB is in the works. I never give up. I don't care about KS failures or debacles or catastrophes.
I have one more Android game shipping at the end of this week, then its LB on the front burner.
Thanks for your input and thank you so much for your emotional support!
BTW I'll be most vocal about the LB on my twitter @edannunziata until it becomes official in FEB.
Happy new year!
Finally, we have a rough date. Are you perhaps aiming for an April relaunch to coincide with BB's initial campaign? Thanks for the update.
@Draikin: I imagine most people know what Ed has been working on. It's just that he hasn't worked on any mainstream platform since the PS1 so nobody talks about his newer games.
"I never give up."
That sounds like music to my ears, Ed. I hope you mean it. I want a new Ecco type of game so badly. Hell if it came out as a console exclusive I would buy the machine just for this. The only other game that could push me that far is Shenmue III.
Just remember, gamers have short memories and lots of old gamers might be gone and new youngsters appeared who never even heard or care about the 'primitive' Genesis/Megadrive Ecco games. You will have to win the crowd back all over again. You can't just feed off the past success. Make a solid game with good graphics, fluid intuitive controls, framerate, gameplay mechanics (really important this as a game stands or fails with it!); that magical ambient music we love so much and engrossing storyline. And please, no humans! Mentioning them is ok I guess (DOTF did that, and the MD games had Atlantis); but not one in sight lol.
I don't know if 2D will still attract people though (unless you want to make it as a phone game) so I hope it will be in 3D with some 2D bits here and there to please the fans of old as well. DOTF did it that way too.
Because aquatic games are unique and rare it could just work again. Good luck!
When it comes to framerate all that matters is that a game runs smoothly. Most older games run at 20FPS or less, and that doesn't make them bad or unplayable. Very few games are going to run silky smooth all the time. Today all people want to do is fling crap and fight with each other over if a game is that magical "1080P 60FPS" or not. In 10 years those same people won't touch those games anymore and will look back at them as primitive garbage when the industry has a new resolution/FPS standard. People today are spoiled and have no appreciation for games that work within technical limitations or differences in hardware.
A game can not be carried alone on having interesting concepts and mechanics. If the execution is poor then none of it will matter and the game will flop. I rather liked the concepts in Castlevania 64 so I was dedicated enough to beat the game, but it's a technically very flawed game and not a lot of people have finished it because of that, and I don't blame them. As Sith mentioned, gamers have a short memory. People will praise a game when they have nothing to compare it to, and in most cases older games have done everything before and better. People will call BS on anything being advertised as "new" that isn't, even if it is just generic marketing speak.
Actually now playing some sidescroller games. Starbound, Edge of Space and Darkout. Something like this.
Ok, Big Blue is actually a game about sea animals and under wather, but i wonder, how much crafting and possible collecting ressources (ok, a dolphin mining ore could look a bit strange) could be in the game. Creating stuff by using aswell some other sea animals. Dolphins are actually very intelligent. :D
Possible building vehicles and other helpful equipment later on, how talked some earlier. :D
The BB creatures will collect Songs and will be able to craft lifeforms. To create the actual lifeforms multiple resources will have to be collected.
I love the idea of dolphin/whale mining. The right song will shatter stone, the archiologist whales will unearth and expose sunken cities (like NY)
Thanks for keeping this board alive!
Something I always liked about the Ecco games is the contrast between the environments. There is this ocean of tranquility theme with jellyfish, sharks and other 'regular' sea-life versus the high-tech environments of the Vortex and sunken civilizations. I hope this difference in environment themes will return in BB.
A sand ocean, caves, ice caves, high-tech submerged computer rooms and machinery, volcanic areas, a space-ship out there filled with water where our dolphins can swim through or an orbital space station with view on a planet below, water-tubes (I loved those in TToT and DoTF), sunken galleons (again those in TToT were nice), an ocean area full of seaweed giving something different than just sand, rock and water etc etc... So much you can do with it. And why not some fictional animal and plant-life in there too which can be alien.
You always had a vivid imagination in your Ecco games Ed, I'm sure you'll treat us once again on some variety of breathtaking submerged worlds.
Hammerhead sharks to break stone sounds more comical than realistic ^^.
Also if there isn't a trilobite circle and a hair loss inducing welcome to the machine that might break away from the theme!
I'd be interested in different environments as well. A 3 day swim to Antarctica sounds neat. I always wanted to see a snow petrel. And then another day swim to New Zealand. All set in a matter of hours in a game environment.
>Hammerhead sharks to break stone sounds more comical than realistic ^^.
Yes, yust just a more or less comical idea and shoudn't be taken to seriously. ^^
Of course it would need something more to get this done. But with some strange creatures how Ed aleady mentioned, it could work. Yes, something like a shark would be most likely better as some combat unit. The Narwhales aswell. For the mining stuff we would need some more exotic creatures, some strong stone biter, a create creating very strong heat, possible some acid, some creature with very strong and hard claws, fangs, etc. or something similar.
Sonar obviously penetrates/reflects off different objects differently, so I'm sure that could be tailoured into it. For instance, density would be a factor that can be determined (i.e. diamond vs wood), as could quality of sonar echo from the object. Certain objects might have "stronger" or more chiming/musical echoes depending.
Creature creation/breeding is fine as long as it's done properly. I don't know of many games that did creature creation right, it's very easy to turn it into a very tedious process. You don't want the player to spend hours gathering the requirements for a specific creature (or grinding for that lucky item drop), only to get a new creature a few hours later (through the story or some other means) that makes it obsolete. There also have to be checks and balances in place to prevent the player from getting overpowered/endgame creatures early in the game, thus breaking the game and making it too easy. I don't know what kind of resource collection will be involved, but if there are going to be unique items that can only be gathered once a playthrough, there should be a warning so the player doesn't waste it on a weak creature. And of course there's the unfortunate inevitability that anything involving creature creation will be compared to Pokemon, when it's a horribly outdated comparison.
I don't like the idea of vehicles in the game. You don't want to humanize the cetaceans. Plus it's not like they have any difficulty navigating around their aquatic world anyway. But if there's going to be space travel involved, that's different. Depending on how far the cetacean civilization has advanced, they could possibly explore and tunnel into the (purported) oceans of other heavenly bodies like Europa (Jupiter's moon) or Neptune.
I'd like it if the game had punishing difficulty like Ecco. One of the things that disappointed me in Tides of Time was that it didn't have a challenging final boss and the Vortex Queen was a pushover. However, the Globe Holder fight was really something else and made me rage. A game being hard doesn't automatically make it good, but hard games are more rewarding and games that are too easy are boring and a waste of time.
As for environments, I'd like to see some deep sea stuff in near to total darkness. Other than deep divers like sperm whales, only a handful of creatures would be playable down there. But it wouldn't just be limited to small fish that can withstand the pressure, there are also sizable deep sea sharks, crabs and squids. It would be challenging not to make the setting tedious from a gameplay perspective, but as has been discussed previously, making it a 2D game on a rail or a sidescroller would cut down on that. The deep sea is a setting many people find fascinating and horrifying, and something a lot of people like to think about is deep sea gigantism and the horrors it could create. There are still many parts of the ocean floor that haven't been mapped, so people can't exactly say that whatever the team comes up with will be unrealistic. Underwater mountain ranges and deserts in the deep sea would also be fascinating to explore.
Building on Sith's point, something like Russia's Orda Cave or the Cenotes in Mexico could be interesting (depending on how much of Earth is submerged). Kelp forests would also be a great setting.
As for James' point, spending a few hours traveling to a new setting is something few people would put up with. On the other end of the spectrum, I find that games where you "travel" entirely through selecting location choices on a menu feel hollow. I loved the feeling of the Open Ocean level the first time I played through Ecco, it felt like I was breaking free of the cave systems of the first part of the game and actually going somewhere. So levels like Open Ocean between locations in LB/BB could be great. While "open world" games have grown in popularity in recent years, I personally find them a boring mess of endlessly recycled assets with everything looking the same and very little to interact with. So giving LB a level structure like Ecco could help keep it more focused. On the other hand, commuting in games isn't a bad thing if it's done right.
One of the things I like is when directors put references to their past games in their newer works. It doesn't have to mean that they take place in the same universe, they can just be fun little references for the fans. For example maybe inputting "NNNNNNNN" (a password for Welcome to the Machine) somewhere could unlock a secret message or bonus in the game. It doesn't have to be Ecco references since there may be legal issues involved, but it could be a fun little side thing.
Mining with a song will be cool, and I believe satisfying. It will take time but with the right song giant boulders or encrusted reefs can be reduced to silt.
The "Archeologists" find ancient cities buried under a million years of sediment and coral bone (rock) They see the buildings with penetrating songs, but later they develop a rock shattering song so they can excavate. When 1000s of them work together, they begin to unearth the city.
One thing that I love about this mythology is the insatiable curiosity the whalekind has about mankind.
Grinding is the tedious process that plagues most -if not all- MMOs these days. Because it is much easier for a developer to create a grinding zone where players are required to go back to and do the same thing over and over and over, to improve their skills and gear. A story content episode takes a lot of time to develop and is over in maybe half an hour of so. So the devs go for the lazier and cheaper 'return on investment' that is the grind system. Personally I hate, even despise, grinding. It makes games feel repetitive and boring. Gaming should be fun, not a job.
It then bears the question: how can you keep players interested and begging for more without a lot of grinding?
The game is already won or lost in the development process before it is even launched. You need to develop the proper software tools from the ground up beforehand to increase a game's long term survival. You need to think ahead, far ahead. Take the graphic's engine for example, it should not be integrated into the rest of the software but be a module that can be yanked out and replaced with a better gfx engine in the future (which can read the existing polygon/texture data but has more oomph to create new areas that are graphically far superior by then.
You also need to have gameplay mechanics that can be extended on later. Dolphins initially start bare without any skills, then they learn songs that open up new possibilities, they can acquire harnesses and weapons, can maybe teleport over short range in combat, or take place in combat or mining vehicles and operate those as if it is an extension of their own bodies. You can have different classes of dolphins like warriors with strong physical attributes or singers who are experts in using songs etc. The possibilities are endless.
Then you need software tools that allow you to efficiently create new zones and gameplay mechanics to keep players interested. And they should allow to create new gfx maps, enemies and content in a timely and cost-effective manner, to avoid falling back on grinding mechanics too much!
Another thing for long term survivability is not to give the players everything at once but let new ideas and content be introduced bit by bit over time. You don't want to introduce a harness into the game from the beginning for example.
The song unlocking you mention reminds me of the old SNES Super Metroid mechanic where getting new skills opens up new areas. It is a mechanic that can only extend so far, you cant keep adding areas like that forever. And then you would need to ask yourself, what is left after that?
What can also be interesting is a mission using a random generator, where caves or areas are randomly constructed each time you enter that mission. The enemies can be different as well just like the objectives. If there has to be a grind at least that would make it a bit interesting. You would need parts of maps that fit together like puzzle pieces in one way or another that can be shuffled randomly to fit together.
I hope you can tell us if it will be 2D or 3D based or both. I really liked the 3D of DOTF so it is doable.
I agree with Ice on the difficulty. Ecco games are challenging but not impossible. I do remember though that in the European version of Ecco facing the Vortex Queen and dying required you to do The Machine all over again as well while the US version even had glyphs as save points in there to make things easier. They didn't have to redo The Machine either when dying at the Queen. I loved the Globeholder Gravitorbox. That was really hard, but because it was a short battle you could retry many times in a short time.
Mentioning humans is ok, as long as the game doesn't get 'humanized'. Humans should be nothing but a distant memory in your game. Not vivid and omnipresent, more like only somewhat visible from the distant past behind the fog of time. Atlantis (ECCO 1) and the second chapter of DOTF (poisoned civilization) did it right.
Would be nice indeed to hear something from the project. Last thing we heard from Ed was 2 month ago. Hope he is still on it.
For everybody, who is looking for some dolphin action, there is already something in the water. I mean Steam. (At least greenlighted and in production.) ;)