by Wesley Sappington
You might have noticed a recent lack of activity from our blog and social media. That's because, for the past few weeks, we've been in crisis mode!
Strap in everybody, it's story time.
One night, a few weeks ago, I was intensely studying the Conundrum Agenda; meticulously listing out everything that needs to be done, who's going to do it, and how long it will take. Despite the anxious thoughts swirling around inside my head, I was tentatively confident in at least knowing everything was accounted for.
"We're closing in on the end," I thought "There won't be any more surprises"
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a new thought hit me like a curve ball. Or a truck. Whichever analogy you prefer. What little confidence I had secured was ripped out from under me with a single errant thought.
What about FWT?
Panicked, I opened up my management files for FWT. The agenda documents, the to-do-lists, all of it. On paper, FWT looked to be in great shape. Items were checked off, tasks completed. Slowly but surely, it looked as though FWT was chugging towards completion.
But "on paper" wasn't good enough.
News flash, everybody: We've never done this before. It's our first time around the block. Throughout the software development process, we've had to continually shift, analyze, evaluate, rework, and adapt. After Conundrum hit Alpha Testing, we went in guns-blazing for release. But as time went on, it became increasingly clear that the Alpha Phase and other late-development phases are much longer and more complex than we had hoped. (But hey, that's gamedev!)
My experience dealing with the later stages of Conundrum's development is what put FWT into perspective. Because Conundrum is ahead of FWT in terms of development, we can use the experience and skills gained from it as a kind of "crystal ball" when looking into FWT's future.
We still have a ways to go on Conundrum, and FWT is nowhere near where Conundrum currently is. The software development process, as proven by Conundrum, is a rocky road. It's unpredictable. There are inevitable setbacks and unforeseen issues.
So while everything looked fine in the agenda documents, trackers, and graphs, I'd like to think of myself as a little more experienced and consequently wiser than I was when I first drafted those timelines in Freshman year. FWT was too far behind. We could never get it done before the end of the school year!
And so begins crisis mode
"What am I going to do?" I said aloud to my computer screen, as this terrible realization hit me like a pile of bricks. Heart pounding, I desperately racked my brain for a solution to save FWT.
Can I just go crazy and code the rest of combat system myself?
Is there any way we can get ALL of the sound effects fully mastered?
How much can we cut from the writing to make this thing possible?
But I was avoiding the simple truth of the matter, and denying what the experiences I've gained over the years were telling me: in the current situation, we could never make a quality product that is polished and cohesive. Sure, we could throw together something sloppily, forego testing entirely, and still push FWT out the door. But that wouldn't do our vision justice.
So, only a singular, terrible question remained. A question I never wanted to ask.
Do we cancel FWT?
"Are we really that doomed?" I thought, helplessly scanning the agenda documents for answers they didn't have. I thought about how I'd break the news to the team. Could next meeting really be the last FWT meeting? How could I even begin to explain that our years of hard work and determination amounted to nothing at all?
"Time to call the team," I thought, picking up my phone. I wanted to gather everyone's perspective before making any final decisions. I called each of the FWT Team-Members, and discussed the unfortunate status of the project.
Olivia Morgan is the lead writer for FWT, a key visionary for the project, and a great voice of reason in times of trouble. Olivia's awesome advice inspired me to reframe the way I was looking at the issue. Rather than canceling the project altogether, I decided to look for ways to reform the ambitious project into something more attainable yet just as cool.
The new project: Reframing the way we think of FWT, Eyesight, and... storytelling
I decided to take a step back. What is it about FWT that makes the project special? What makes it innovative? What is the core component of FWT that makes it FWT?
Not the story, the art, the combat system, the music. It's the way the story is constructed. As mentioned throughout our blog (and at our fundraiser!) FWT is meant to be an open world story. Think of it like a novel, but a novel that evolves and changes as the reader reads it. A novel where the reader can explore to their heart's content, discover, and grow.
While our artwork is (in my humble opinion) beautiful, (thanks Glynnis, Lillian, and Sky!) our music is straight fire, (thanks Gabe) and our story is incredible (thanks Olivia and Jalal!) it is all a presentation that surrounds the core idea of open world storytelling. The "videogame" part of FWT is just the fluff that presents this central idea in a format the populous can digest.
But what if we stripped all of that away? What if, instead of marketing a game with open-world-storytelling as its critical point, we simply marketed the idea of open world storytelling itself?
Back in action
Pumped with adrenaline derived from both fear and excitement, I feverishly drew up plans for a new concept. A concept that would take advantage of the work we've already done, while also being easier for us to complete as a polished and cohesive product.
Over the next few days of my fall break, I grinded out a software prototype (what else is there to do on a week long break during COVID?) and presented the new concept to the team at the meeting that weekend.
After some invaluable feedback, discussion, and suggestions, Fantassist was born...
Eyesight Technologies Proudly Presents
Eyesight Technologies is no longer exclusively a game development company! That's right folks, Eyesight's new project, Fantassist, isn't a game. It's an entirely new platform for creating open-world-stories.
Fantassist is a piece of software that will allow any innovative writer, regardless of technical skill, to author their own open-world-stories and will allow readers to enjoy them. In essence, it makes the aforementioned core idea of FWT into something more widely accessible and broadly usable.
With the button below, visit the shiny new Fantassist home page!
And what about FWT?
It lives on! FWT is no longer a game, either. It's the first ever Fantassist story - a narrative created for the Fantassist platform.
FWT will be released as a completed Fantassist production, but also as an expandable foundation for other Fantassist writers to use in their own stories!
Check it out with the button below!
And we all lived happily ever after...
So, to address the title of this post: "No, FWT isn't doomed!"
We took a step back, and analyzed how we could improve upon it, without scrapping it altogether.
It turns out that in our "crisis mode," we've come up with something that is, in my opinion, far more impressive than the original FWT ever could've been. From the ashes, we rise!
We hope to have some Fantassist screenshots next week. We couldn't be more excited for what's to come. Just think: We're developing an entirely new genre of storytelling!
Until next time!