It has been quite some time since I wrote about my favorite music tracks in video games. So far, I have written 24 articles in this series. Today I have a special spin-off article in this series. I was a guest on the “Untitled Game Music Podcast” by Alexander Sigsworth. Today it’s finally live and to give it some publicity since this series is amazing and I highly recommend that you all listen to it, this week’s article is simply going to be an embedded version of the podcast. Please enjoy and feel free to leave a comment here or on Alexander’s channel!
Today I have something quick unique to present to you. Not too long ago, I met somebody on a Facebook group about point-and-click adventure games who was developing a new title. The game is called ”The Uncharted Roads of Marco Polo” and it looks extremely interesting to me. I suggested creating an article for the developers and they agreed. So, here we are. I’m writing a preview article for a game that only released some screenshots and a small trailer video. But there is more! I had the chance to talk to one of the developers of this game called Josip Makjanic and we are going to talk about the uncharted road that took him to this development. So, with that said, it’s time to dive into this article and invite you to leave a comment in the comment section with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.
So, what is this game about? The developer provided me with a bit more information about the game. Basically, the game is a point-and-click adventure game like Broken Sword and Monkey Island. You can also compare it to Captain Disaster, Another Code R, Time Hollow, Ace Attorney, Professor Layton or the CSI games.
The game takes the player all over various landmarks in Croatia to solve puzzles and have a grand adventure. The story will be based on historic locations and figures. At this moment, the game is in its pre-alpha stage and has over 60 locations planned together with various characters to populate them. The puzzles will be in the style you would find in the Broken Sword or the Monkey Island series.
Pre-Alpha means that the game is in a sort “draft” phase. It means that everything is being prepared to go into the production of the game. Compare it to baking a cake, the moment you plan to bake a cake and make a list of which ingredients you will need and for whom you are making the cake… Those are things you would do in the pre-alpha stage of development. You can read more information about the development cycle on this Wikipedia article.
Personally, I love games that take place in unusual locations around the world. So, this game takes place in Croatia and is being developed by Svarog Interactive. This 4-man team is also based in Croatia. Now, the guys from there also send us a little teaser video that you can find right here:
I have to say, this teaser is extremely impressive. Right away, I noticed that the art style resembled the art style in the first Broken Sword games. Like the Broken Sword games, the locations are extremely detailed and colorful. Unlike the Broken Sword games, the animation like the leaves and the flies on screen… Well, the location feels more alive than ever. I find it rather enjoyable that everything looks quite realistic and those flies, man, they look so goofy I love it.
If you compare the Pre-Alpha video to the screenshots I shared on top of this article, you notice some big differences right away. First of all, the dialogue system looks a lot cleaner. You get dialogue boxes with character portraits on top. Also, you notice that on the bottom right corner, you have a bag. Most likely, this is where your items are going to be stored. So, you won’t have to go to the top of your screen for that. In addition to that, in the right upper corner, you notice that there is a gear icon. This will most likely be a way to go to the pause menu.
Sadly enough, since this game is still in extremely early development, there is nothing more I can show you or talk about. I can’t wait to see more and I’m going to follow the development of this game quite closely.
Yet, if you want more and you speak Croatian, you can read this article with one of the developers by 24Sata. Now, there is also this YouTube video where the developer talks about his road towards development. While the video is in Croatian, there are English subtitles provided. Sadly, the subtitles just stop around the 5:11 mark, so there are 2 minutes without subtitles ☹.
Now, before we continue with the interview with Josip Makjanic, one of the co-founders of Svarog Interactive, I want to share some links where you can follow the project as well. They have a Facebook page and Twitter page.
Jonez: Welcome Josip Makjanic, co-founder of Svarog Interactive. Can you give us a small introduction about yourself?
Josip: Hello Jonez. My name is Josip Makjanic, a co-founder and Game Designer in Svarog Interactive.
Jonez: In our conversation over mail you told me that this isn’t your first game. You worked on impressive games like Serious Sam 4 and Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope. Serious Sam is an amazing series from Croatia, your home country. Was it always your dream to develop games?
Josip: Yes. I was always fascinated by it. I started making video games not so long ago, but I sort of designed games in general since I was a kid, by designing them on paper, writing stories and creating concepts. When I lived in a high school dorm I used to make versions of Warcraft, Diablo and even Counter Strike on paper that we played with dice, and people from the dorm would come and play in our room.
I was always fascinated by it and loved creating, so today, with some experience behind and with some good friends by my side, I thought it’s time to start working on our own video games.
Jonez: On the road to the developping of “The Uncharted Road of Marco Polo”, you created two other games called “Day in Dementia” and “In Memory”. Both games have a similar concept and art style. As a side note, I have to say that I’m touched by “In Memory”. The story behind it, a game to honor the dead of your mother, I have one word for you: respect. Respect man. Now, I noticed that both games were created in Construct. Are you using the same engine for this game?
Josip: Thank you. 🙂 Both of these games were made in Construct 2, and were created as a personal project. I don’t even know if I could call them games, but rather some sort of experiences that meant a lot to me personally. Marco Polo is being developed in Unity since it gives us more freedom from the technical sides of things.
Jonez: In our conversation, you talk about an open-world RPG. So, this point-and-click game isn’t the only title you are working on? What is this open-world RPG game or is it more a testing ground for possible future titles?
Josip: We are huge fans of Point & Click games and huge fans of RPG’s. We grew up on those games and always wanted to make our own worlds that others can enjoy with us. So, we are working on an open-world RPG system and have stories and concepts, but, we don’t like to rush ourselves, as we know how ambitious and big these projects are, and we would, of course, need a much bigger team. So before it happens, and we hope it will, there are other, smaller projects in mind, but we are going in that direction.
It’s very important for us to first understand how everything works and make many tests so we don’t waste time or get lost in the projects we’re developing, which makes the development much more enjoyable and better organized. So yes, we are making tests and preparations for other projects, but Marco Polo is a priority and is written as a trilogy. We are also huge fans of traditional drawing and animations, so I don’t think we will ever want to part with it. 🙂
Jonez: Now, let’s get back to The Uncharted Road of Marco Polo since that’s the game that I’m previewing with this article. I’m rather curious. Why about Marco Polo? If the game is set in Croatia and Marco Polo is a merchant from Italy. Of course, there is this debate about his birthplace might be Croatian as well… So, why the decision for Marco Polo?
Josip: The game is talking about historic figures and real places, and players will learn so much about Croatia from it, and while the game has many real things people can learn about, it’s story is fictional and we won’t get involved into that debate, but will rather focus on some other, more interesting aspects based on his life, and how to make an enjoyable story and experience in general. 🙂
Jonez: Are you developing this game full-time or are you developing this game on the side like the Corpse Party developers GrisGris? Also, how do you make sure that there is enough budget to create this game?
Josip: We are currently working in our free time, so that means that we also have other jobs, doing freelancing and helping each other out, but we believe that soon we’ll be able to work full time on the game, and when that happens, we will inform everyone about it. If we don’t get a publisher then we will definitely go Kickstarter with playable Demo, Trailer and some other interesting things in mind. So the game’s development is currently going smoothly without too many investments, but we will definitely depend on a publisher or Kickstarter later if we want to finish the game in a reasonable time.
We also don’t want to go on Kickstarter without having some quality content that people can enjoy before considering supporting us. 🙂
Jonez: You told me that there are, including you, 4 people working on this game. Can you tell us a bit more about the team and the talent in it?
Josip: Yes, there are 4 of us and we all have some projects behind us. There is Alen, our technical guy who makes sure all the systems work in general. Devis is our character artist and animator, and Andrija is our manager. I make backgrounds, write a story and making a game design in general, but we are all highly involved in each part of the development so there is a bit of everyone in every aspect of the game. Andrija, for example, came up with the idea of Marco Polo, so we all worked together to make a story that will fit the game’s mechanics.
There will be behind the scenes when it comes out. 🙂
Jonez: And as a final question, I would like to ask what are your favorite parts of being a game developer and what do you dislike in being a game developer.
Josip: I like how rewarding it can be. It sure isn’t easy to make a game and that’s why I started with those small ones. To build strong foundations and to be able to better understand it and move on to bigger projects.
And the better I understand it and the more I know about the technical side, the more I can enjoy the creative parts of it, so I guess after every day of work you get rewarded with new knowledge and skills, and I find it very enjoyable.
The bad part of the development would definitely be one issue in the industry in general, and that’s the crunch. I’m not talking about a month or two of crunching, but about the developers who crunch for 6 months or more.
It’s not healthy and I believe that the health of those developers should be in the first place and by organizing yourself better before getting into developing a certain project would save many from that.
It’s a huge problem and something we want to avoid and not be a part of, so that’s one of the reasons for our long preparations and organization before the project even starts. I maybe went a bit off-topic with it, but I believe it’s very important to talk about it
Jonez: And with that, thank you Josip for the interview and the answers! Thank you for answering my silly questions and talking about games and development. I enjoyed it quite a lot.
Josip: Here’s a few words for the gamers out there. It is a huge compliment for us to be compared to a classic such as Broken Sword, as we saw many of you talk about it, and we are happy that you love what you see at this stage of development. It will maybe remind you of it, as we see it already do but I just want to say that we don’t want to be another Broken Sword in the end, as Broken Sword is a timeless classic and we don’t want to compete with it, nor I believe we can.
But what I believe is that we can make an enjoyable experience that will make your time worth playing it, a game on its own that we would like to play too, and that’s what we hope to achieve.
We want to make games like they used to be, or at least, make them feel like they used to be, and even though we are not the most experienced studio in the industry, we will give our best to make them worth your time, and try to be better with each one.
Thank you. 🙂
Jonez: And as a closing note, you can follow Josip’s personal projects over at his CrobbitArts Facebook page!
Ending of the article
And with that, I have to call this article a wrap. I want to thank Josip Makjanic for the interview and the material he provided for me to write this article. I’m quite hyped for this game and I can’t wait to play a demo or see more. Yes, I have quite the weak spot when it comes to well-crafted point-and-click adventure games. I love them more when there is a certain charm to it, like with this game.
This game looks to have quite some potential. Currently, we got only some screenshots and a teaser video and it’s already looking quite amazing. So, here is to Svarog Interactive, keep up the good work you guys! You can do it!
So, I’m curious. Do you think that this game is as interesting as I think? Have you noticed something I overlooked? Tell me in the comment section down below. And with that said, I want to thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!
My name is NekoJonez, at the time of writing this article, I’m 23 years old. Apart from writing this blog, my hobbies are playing games (duh), watching anime, going out with family and friends and acting on stage. Also, at the time of writing, I work full-time in the education sector and I also follow evening classes in applied computer science. I have quite a busy and eventful life in my opinion. And I’m enjoying it. All the high and low points. But there are a few struggles I want to talk about, and here they are. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on them in the comment section down below.
I have to play a new game each and every week!
Usually, I write about a game every week. And I try to take a look at a different game each and every week. Thankfully, I don’t care if the game is old or not and I also collect games, so I don’t have a shortage of games.
The struggle is in managing my personal life, playing the game and writing the article. It’s not the easiest of things to do in life.
I have to admit, that there are a couple of games I haven’t finished after I had written my first impression. Games like Elebits, Okami, Rachet and Clank and Magical StarSign are a few examples. In the past, I continued playing the game until I had finished it. But now, I stop playing it sometime after I have written the first impression.
But since the start of December, things are sort of changing. I have been playing games I haven’t finished or I have finished in the past. Games like RollerCoaster Tycoon, Hyrule Warriors and Fantasy Life come to mind.
We could possibly start a discussion about how I might be burning out of writing or something along those lines, but the reason is quite simple. I just felt like playing those games again. Trying to finish them up. I made a text file with games I have finished and can review when I haven’t played a “new” game in that week.
In the past, I asked the question if a reviewer can review a game twice. And I want to add a little bit to that section of the article. I think an updated review is possible, but should only be created if something huge changes. For example, a (fanmade) patch for a (very old) game that improves quite a lot or adds a lot of content. Another example is that a game gets an expansion pack that changes the whole game. Or games like Minecraft can be review twice in my opinion. Some updates change the game quite a lot and make old reviews… well, be out of date.
But for my blog, I have made a promise with myself. I won’t review a game twice since I still keep true to this statement from the original article:
But I try to only review a game once. While I replay games from time to time, also the ones I have written about, I think it’ll only create confusion for your readers. Or it would look like you have an article that praises and bashes the game. And that’s not a good idea.
Professional or not?
It’s not the first time I have asked myself this question. Should I go more professional with my blog or not. I have received a couple of emails from ad companies that offered me to be paid for writing my articles.
Currently, I think I will stay the way how I am doing things at the moment. While I would enjoy it when my articles would reach a greater audience, I wouldn’t enjoy writing anymore. I’m afraid that I will loose my passion and my creativity when I go professional. So, I choose to continue to write this blog as a hobby. Oh, and before somebody gets confused, what I mean by “going professional” is that I’m writing this blog for a living. I’m still going to try and make the best content I can make for this blog, no matter if I do it professional or not.
I see my blog as a sort of weekly diary of my gaming life. A lot of people strive to make their hobby their job, but I think that’s not the best thing to do. Since when you get bored with your job, you also get bored in your hobby.
Besides, I don’t want to give up my current job. As a child, I have dreamt to either work with computers, become a teacher or do something with writing. And as an adult, I can tick every box in a sort of way. I’m doing something with my love for writing stories and that is this blog, I’m doing something with computers and that are my evening classes. While I haven’t become a teacher, I work in the education sector, so I have come pretty close. My life is going the way I wanted and like I said in the introduction of this article, I don’t want to have it any other way.
When people from all around the world read my article, even when only 5 to 10 people read my article about a certain game I played, I’m happy. Because I was able to entertain and/or inform somebody about a game.So, I’m even more honored when developers use my contact page to offer me a chance to review their game. It gives me a special feeling inside. It’s hard to explain, but I feel like that somebody thinks that my writing, opinions and such are good enough to take time out their day to email me and give me a chance. So, thank you for all those opportunities.
Also, my biggest fear is that I’m going to burn out on gaming. Since my childhood, gaming has been one of the biggest ways to relieve stress and enjoy myself. It’s an amazing medium to connect with people and enjoy myself with friends and family. It has so many positive memories connected with it and honestly, it’s something I don’t want to loose. Ever. And the reason why I think I’m going to burn out on them is quite simple. Because I will see every game I play as work. Even when it’s not. Also, I’m convinced that game reviewers have to review games that they don’t enjoy and have to put on a face. Or companies pay for a good review to drive sales. And I want to say true to my opinion. Without any censor or editor. I just want to be me and nothing else. And that’s one of the biggest reasons why writing this blog will be a hobby of mine. A hobby that I love doing, I might add.
If I had to say one thing I could try and improve on, I have to say the ending of my articles. Since that’s the part I rewrite the most. I seem never able to close my articles in such a way that I think I wrapped it up.
So, in conclusion, what I tried to talk about in this article is that I might take a look at a game I have played in the past because I tried to finish a game I already reviewed. Also, I’m not going professional with this blog because I’m afraid I’ll loose gaming as a hobby and/or I’ll burn out on it.
In any case, thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing this article. Next week will be an article on a game again, so stay tuned for that.
I hope to be able to welcome you in another article, but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!