The Beekeeper's Picnic (Kickstarter Underway!)

Started by Jabbage, Sat 24/09/2022 20:48:32

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Jabbage


The Beekeeper's Picnic

It is the 1920s, and in the sleepy Sussex village of Fulworth, an elderly beekeeper (who is definitely NOT the world's greatest detective... any more) is trying to arrange a pleasant clifftop picnic for his friend Dr Watson. The only problem is that a series of pesky murderous mysteries keep getting in the way.

A retro-inspired cosy point and click adventure and mystery(ish) game lovingly inspired by the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

There is a kickstarter campaign underway right now!(Fully funded, hooray!)


Screenshots:









Current Progress:
Story--  90%
Puzzles-- 90%
Graphics--  70%
Scripting -- 50%
Music/Sound-- 10%


Release Date:
Planning for Q2 2024 at the moment!


Updates

23/10/22 - I've unleased my 'proof of concept' demo on the world! A few rooms, a few characters, and me trying out a few game mechanisms and teaching myself how to use AGS.
I put it up on itch.io since a few people were interested in seeing it.
https://jabbage.itch.io/the-beekeepers-picnic-poc
I've also mapped out the story and created some puzzle dependancy charts. I'm sure there will be lots of tweaks along the way, but it's nice to have a roadmap to follow! 

24/11/22 - I've taken what I learned from the demo and now I'm in the process of blocking out the prologue of the game.
I'm leaving the artwork for now since for me that's the pleasant, easy bit which I could happily sink a lot of time into (only to find myself with lots of nice artwork and no game!)

21/01/23 - Prologue complete, and I'm in the process of roughly scripting the whole game, mostly with placeholder graphics. I want to get it into a position where I can show it to some trusted folks to see if the puzzles and pacing work for them, before I start adding any fancy extras.
I've also made a Steam page, which was a wild ride - so. many. graphics!

01/05/23 - The game is now vaguely play-able from start to finish, with lots of placeholder graphics and text.
I'm finally letting myself have fun making backgrounds and character art!

heltenjon

Oh my! This looks really good! One can tell that you're an artist, and it looks like your comics experience pays off a great deal when it comes to how to make the scenes look nice. It will be interesting to see if you can make puzzles and interaction to match. I'll certainly play your proof-of-concept when you're ready. Best of luck with your production!

And welcome to us, by the way! This is a friendly place to be.

Jabbage

Thank you! I've got to admit the puzzles (and coming up with a satisfying mystery story in general!) are the part I'm most intimidated about at the moment.

Pogwizd

#3
Hi Jabbage,
Your art is simply beautiful. When I saw that the violin is interactive and then saw the bee hives this scene from Sherlock Holmes immediately came into my head: //wSAGkwpPC8Q

I know these are flies, but still... :)


Snarky

OK, so this looks fantastic, I love the premise, and I really hope you complete it. Seek out help and support when you need, there are a lot of people in the community who will be happy to provide it.

(Also, if you haven't already, check out the AGS Discord server: https://discord.gg/bxVEXWxm)

Rik Vargard

The graphics look really beautiful! Have fun with the production! :)

newwaveburritos

Welcome to AGS!  This looks great!!  Excited to follow the production.  And, yeah, don't hesitate to ask a question.  Lord knows I've asked plenty of dumb ones.

Jabbage

Quote from: Pogwizd on Sun 25/09/2022 10:02:12Hi Jabbage,
Your art is simply beautiful. When I saw that the violin is interactive and then saw the bee hives this scene from Sherlock Holmes immediately came into my head: //wSAGkwpPC8Q

I know these are flies, but still... :)



Ooh that's such a fun idea! I've got to admit I haven't worked a way to fit the violin into a puzzle yet, but it felt wrong not to have one!


Jabbage

I've completed my little 'proof of concept' demo! This was something I wanted to put together for myself - a few rooms, a few objects and a few characters which have let me teach myself the basics of using AGS and get a feel for the kinds of mechanics I might like to use for a longer game.

I've put it up on itch.io, since a fair number of people have been interested in it!
https://jabbage.itch.io/the-beekeepers-picnic-poc

I'm sure seasoned AGSers will find a lot of this very familiar!

newwaveburritos

Oh, very cool.  I was hoping we'd get an update but I sure wasn't expecting a whole ass demo!  Great wor; I look forward to playing it.

lorenzo

Very nice concept and the palette in these screenshots is just lovely!
As a fan of Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories, I really look forward to this game.

heltenjon

I played the demo and enjoyed the relaxed tone of it. As far as the demo goes, as there's no real case yet, it will appeal to people familiar with the characters. Fortunately, that's most of us.  ;)

I especially liked the close-ups where Holmes could make his observations and prepare for deductions later on. You also nail the characters pretty good. While they can be interpreted differently, I'm all aboard with how they behave here. Nice that Mycroft was included, too.

The art is beautiful. At the moment where Holmes stepped outside the cottage, the colour of his jacket and the colour of the wall were a bit similar, so I actually didn't see where he was at first. Other than that, you'll hear only praise from me.

The ending
Spoiler
reminded me of thoughts expressed in my own silly little Batman game Prep Time. So of course, I liked it.  ;-D
[close]

Jabbage

Quote from: heltenjon on Sat 12/11/2022 16:46:39I played the demo and enjoyed the relaxed tone of it. As far as the demo goes, as there's no real case yet, it will appeal to people familiar with the characters. Fortunately, that's most of us.  ;)

I especially liked the close-ups where Holmes could make his observations and prepare for deductions later on. You also nail the characters pretty good. While they can be interpreted differently, I'm all aboard with how they behave here. Nice that Mycroft was included, too.

The art is beautiful. At the moment where Holmes stepped outside the cottage, the colour of his jacket and the colour of the wall were a bit similar, so I actually didn't see where he was at first. Other than that, you'll hear only praise from me.

The ending
Spoiler
reminded me of thoughts expressed in my own silly little Batman game Prep Time. So of course, I liked it.  ;-D
[close]

I'm really pleased you enjoyed it, thank you for the feedback!

I had to get Mycroft in there! Since he doesn't actually appear much in the original stories I feel quite free to characterise him however I want which is really fun, much less daunting than writing Holmes and Watson.

The ending...
Spoiler
was originally just me joking around, I thought it would be funny to have a fourth wall break, but somehow became quite sincere. I'm trying to decide how I feel about having a similar ending in the real game - fortunately I think I have a loooong time to think about it!
[close]

Jabbage

I thought it was about time I give a bit of an update!

Upping the resolution
I tried really hard with my demo to find clear, readable pixel fonts however one of the repeated comments from my playtesters was that they were having problems reading it, with some people with dyslexia finding it especially difficult. I think seasoned retro gaming fans are used to pixel fonts, but for folks who aren't it can be a bit of a leap.

I realised I wasn't going to be happy until I came up with a solution, so after some testing I've upped the resolution of the game from 230 x 180 to 640 x 360 - not the artwork, but the game itself, which is allowing me to use smooth sans serif fonts. Perhaps it's sacrificing style for practicality, but I actually quite like how it looks? And it's given me the benefit that if I do want to use higher resolution for certain elements (I'm thinking specifically some UI things) I can.
I wouldn't have wanted to do this any further along in development, but since I'm reworking a lot of the content in the demo anyway it it was managable.




A new game mechanic
In my demo I played with the idea that examining people and objects would open up dialogue options, so if you look at the ink on Watson's hands, you can talk to him about what he's been writing.
The problem I found when applying this to other parts of the game is that the cause and effect isn't always obvious to the player. I was hoping they were following along and making connections themselves, but there's nothing in the gameplay to facilitate that. 

So, I'm trying a game mechanic where you collect 'facts' which can then be combined to produce effects in the game, like opening up dialogue or allowing you to examine something more closely.

This is effectively just a second inventory screen.


(I have a feeling I'm going to keep tweaking the design, but it works for now!)

Adding this mechanic also made me have to incorporate it into my puzzle dependency chart.



Next steps!

The next task I've set myself is to set up all of the game locations and make it so the player character can walk between them. At this stage I'm resisting the urge to get stuck into artwork - that would be staying in my comfort zone and potentially wasting time making backgrounds and animations that I don't use,
So right now all my backgrounds look like this:


And all my characters are floating around in a ghostly way for want of walking animations   :-D


Jabbage

Time for another update!

Prologue complete, and I'm in the process of roughly scripting the whole game, mostly with placeholder graphics. I want to get it into a position where I can show it to some trusted folks to see if the puzzles and pacing work for them.
I did have fun fleshing out this particular room in detail. It's get a different, dreamy vibe to the rest of the game and I had a lot of fun playing around with lighting levels and effects.



I've also made a Steam page, which was a wild ride - so. many. graphics! But at least now I have a place to send people looking to wishlist.




FireFlower

This looks like a nice game.
Story rich DRM-free games - http://fireflowergames.com/

Jabbage

It's been a while since my last update, so here's what I've been up to!

I completed the scripting to the extent that I could get through the game from start to finish. In reality there is soooo much more work to do in that area, right now it's just the bare bones, but I thought I'd switch tasks and treat myself to completing some backgrounds and character art! It's really motivating to finally get to see how this game might look when it's finished.





SarahLiz

#17
Those are some good looking screenshots!  I especially love the bedroom with the little hanging pictures & stuff in the foreground.  Can't wait to play the game once it's done!

ThreeOhFour

This looks really good! Such nice colours and designs!

shaun9991

This looks great! Nice work :)
Support Cloak and Dagger Games on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=460039

Rincewind

This really looks right up my alley,
love the graphics and the setting!  Definitely wishlisting this on Steam.

brushfe

This is amazing! Congratulations on everything so far. I've wishlisted the game!

Jabbage

Thank you for all the lovely comments and support, everyone!

It's been a busy few months for this project since my last post, although I can't say much development actually got done!

I was invited to a conference at the British Library to talk about my game and Sherlock Holmes games in general, and the problems of adaptation in interactive narratives.
This was more than a little intimidating because I feel like I don't know a lot about game design (especially the lingo!), and a lot of the audience did. It was a great few days though.
I got a free sneak peek at their current exhibition on digital storytelling, which I definitely recommend checking out if you're in London this Summer!

I've been scrambling over the past month because I'm planning a Kickstarter campaign for late September and really like to take part in Steam NextFest in October, which means pulling together a "proper" demo, and wrangling Steam's convoluted back end to get all the files working. Just as everything was going great my computer died and I wasted a few weeks trying to get it repaired, before realising I was going to give in and buy a replacement.

One of the best decisions I feel I made was commissioning an excellent artist to create some gorgeous cover art for me which I could use for all the graphics I need across Steam, Itch and Kickstarter.
I've been doing all the artwork in the game myself and I feel like I could have whipped something up, but being able to outsource it so I could think about other things was such a load off my mind, and I'm so much happier with the final product than I think I would have been if I'd done the artwork myself.

I've also got a brand new trailer, woo!

You can follow the Kickstarter here!

RootBound

Great to see some updates! Love the trailer. Looks like you put a lot of thought into the writing, and the details in the art are incredible.  :)
J. They/them. Here are my most recent games:

Rik_Vargard

That's a very nice trailer!
And very (!) nice classic pixel art.
Looks like there will be a lot going on there, gameplay wise.
Keep up the great work :)

Jabbage

Thanks! I hope so, the gameplay is the bit I'm most nervous about!  (laugh)

Jabbage

Exciting news!
I launched a kickstarter for the project today... and it's already fully funded!

I kept the goal quite modest because I had a couple of very specific goals in mind, but I have to admit I'm really surprised that it's funded quite so quickly!



AndreasBlack

It's almost as if you had a photography of me as reference. Tall and skinny figures is the way i guess (laugh) Started following your Youtube channel :) 

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