This is Ryan Modjeski again, designer and producer of Legacy Interactive’s upcoming hidden object adventure, The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes, Vol. 2. Since my last developer diary, things have gotten really hectic around here. Murder, She Wrote just launched (at the time of writing it is #1 on Big Fish Games and Legacy Games) and the energy surrounding that project amplified our stresses as we are quickly approaching our own release date in December.
Having finished all the key art and programming for the game, we’ve reserved most of November for the oh-so important polishing phase. We’ve been tweaking the game here and there, adding little bonuses, and refining our mini-games. My favorite part is going back over the hidden object scenes to play them with a fresh perspective. Strangely, one of the hardest things about designing hidden object games, aka HOGs, is judging the difficulty of a HOG scene while creating the artwork for it. Why? The answer is simple; you can’t hide something from yourself!
So what happens is that we naturally make scenes way too hard in an attempt to make it look reasonably difficult to ourselves in the moment. That is why taking a little distance is so important; so we can come back and see what we did as if it was the first time. Especially since we have three different hidden object arrangements for each scene, which ensures that objects are in different locations when replaying the cases! Then we go through each scene again to resize, re-hide and refine our work to make the best game we can.
Between fixing bugs and updating files, our artists continue to put in extra effort to make this game stand out from the crowd. They are busy adding amazing little animations here and there to make the environments come alive. Sometimes they’re big and your eyes are drawn to them immediately. Often they’re so subtle that you can’t quite put your finger on it, only that you sense a movement and life in the scene. Sometimes, they’re so tiny that you need to have your cursor over the objects with the magnifying glass to even detect animation! For example, can you guess what could possibly be animated in this scene?
That’s right, the sand in the hourglass.
Our artists don’t stop there; they have illustrated additional expressive poses for the characters to give even more depth to the dialog scenes. It has been a tedious, but rewarding task to assign a different expression to each line of dialog. The end result will hopefully look really good. Why don’t you judge for yourself, here’s a couple new character poses for you. Hopefully it will raise as many questions as it answers.
Can you guess what Sherlock is thinking here?
What does Sherlock wear "after hours"? Answer: A smoking jacket maybe?
What is Watson so upset about? Did a publisher refuse his latest manuscript?
It’s always a real pleasure to have the time to add these little touches. As a producer I look forward to this final stretch and I have to say, my biggest terror between now and our release date is trying to figure out how to keep our Thanksgiving break from cutting into the great momentum we have going. Maybe I should bake a few extra pies this weekend to entice everyone back to the office.
What do you think, Watson?