Today let’s talk about style, specifically when you make a game that so obviously takes inspiration from classics in the genre which have their own strong aesthetic, how do you make sure it stays unique? Well, I decided that creating a strange mashup of things that I enjoy in an attempt to create a new style might be a good idea. The result is what I call “Retro Hi-Fi Sci-Fi”. Allow me to explain what that is:
When I first decided to make CJ: SCotF, I knew I wanted to make an adventure game and I knew I wanted to make it for DOS, but that was pretty much it. The first idea that I had was a sort of fractured fairy tale thing about a spoiled noble kid named Roland who gets robbed and has to make his way in a fantasy world. So I started programming and I got a lot done on graphics routines, scripting and path finding. The engine was starting to come together, but the story eluded me. But then, somehow I had an idea, just an image of a guy with a ridiculous mustache flying through space in a rocket powered El Camino. So I thought maybe I should make a game about that guy after I finish this fantasy game. That’s when I drew this picture:
Despite the limitations of my drawing ability (the perspective is more than a little wonky), it was this drawing of an orange ’70 El Camino SS with rocket boosters that convinced me to forget about the fantasy idea and roll with this crazy space game. Soon after, the pieces started falling in place, I came up with a story about a space detective.
The core of the Retro Hi-Fi Sci-Fi style is the fusion of 70s nostalgia through a 90s video game lens with classic Sci-Fi elements. I’ve tried to apply this to every aspect of the game, from the graphics to the music, to the story and characters. For example spacey Herbie Hancock tunes played on a Sega Genesis, blasting through the 8-track player of your muscle car would be supremely Retro Hi-Fi Sci-Fi. While I don’t have Herbie Hancock I’ll try my best.
To apply this to character writing, its about making characters feel like they just walked out of a 70s cop movie, yet completely at home in a space station with walls finished like the front of a Marantz stereo receiver.
So I hope you can understand the idea of Retro Hi-Fi Sci-Fi; its a sorta Retro-Retro-Futuristic design and it ideally permeates everything. Well that’s the idea, we shall see how well I’ve applied it!
Please let me know if you have any comments or questions, I’ll see you next month!