More Prisoners

I had posted some of these before, but here were some more prisoners Roger encounters

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Level Editor

One of the things I always loved about the old SQ games was the level of interactivity.

To that end, we had a quick-edit menu for putting in click-events, such as the response when you LICK a chair.

While many things needed scripting, we wanted to make it as easy as possible to just spam entries, so we had a dedicated tool to make that easy.

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Cosmo

We had had an in-game joke magazine, which had some hints the player needed to use in certain parts of the game.

Cosmos-Polishin.

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Sarien Ship

I was going through some old backups the other day, and I realized I don’t think I ever posted some of these files.

At one point later in game, Roger ended up aboard a Sarien ship, some reminiscent of SQ1.

Colin Panetta (who had done a good portion of the SQ7 concept art) drew us some beautiful rooms aboard the ship.

One of the things we were going for was a split between high-tech and a sort of “organic” feel – For example the ceilings were covered in a sort of slimy tentacle.

Sq7 Shuttle control room

The area was guarded by several Sarien Guards that Scott had made for us.
Scott had done a wonderful job doing a lot of the early concept art, the renders of the Deepship and Mallard.

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Colin had also done a variation on them later on-

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There was a fun laundry room area, as a bit of a callback to SQ1.

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There was also a great closet full of easter eggs. SQ7 Closet.jpg

This is also where you’d re-encounter an old friend, Beatrice, who had run into some trouble.

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You’d also get trapped in the torture room, and need to escape.

SQ7 Torture room

The Sariens were trying to extract some of Roger’s cells, to harvest some Itty-Bitty-Clorians. The whole subplot was one of my favorite in the game.

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You’d run into a couple of fun NPCs as well –

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The prison (which some images of were shared earlier) took place here.

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Danny had done a huge of detail work on the interiors here.
(Sorry for the lack of link!
Contact me and I can link to your current webpage/Insta/etc if you’d like. )

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We had most of these areas rendered- I don’t still have the assets, but I had thought they looked pretty crazy impressive, particularly for the era!

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A later variant of the same – iirc, we brought in the Hexacomb to make it more on-brand for the Sarien.

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Two more by Scott. Who is that Sexy Dude? 🙂

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A few more quickies-

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Exterior Locations

One of the fun things about Designing SQ7 was the Wealth of locations available – The Universe has everything, whether it makes sense or not! 😉

Asteroid Halle Berry

One of the things about Space is that there’s always more places to go, more things to see, and we wanted to explore a few we’d never run into before.

One of the early locations we brought Roger to was an Asteroid- Not a huge, developed Asteroid like Vohaul’s layer, but a much more natural, floating in Space, asteroid.
It let us play with Caves, and gave Roger an area he could explore fully, without us needing “invisible walls” keeping the player from going past them.

Halle Berry

There were a few main areas, separated by a small tunnel, as shown below.

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Cave 1

1a

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Throg

We also were able to throw in a few fun creatures, which Roger could harvest to use on his quest.

Throg Body

Snail

Snail

Habitrail City

There was a “Fun” puzzle with Habitrail City where you needed to return to the city multiple times- Each time things would be slightly different.. This gave a cool dynamic, somewhat similar to Day of the Tentacle. Things you did in one visit mattered in the next, and you could create neat puzzles by leaving items for yourself, or dealing with the consequences of what you’ve done.

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ShHuman

Melttest

Icetest

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Soundtrack

Over the years we were working on Space Quest 7, I had the pleasure of working with two amazing musicians, Troels “SQ Historian” Pleimert, and Danny “Dee” Bloks.
I remember when we were getting started, I was very excited to try to work with Troels – Not only was he famous for writing the SQ FAQ, but he had also done the music for SQ Incinerations, which at the time was a dead game.

We worked together for months developing leitmotifs for the various characters, many of which are included below, as well as various location themes, which helped set the feel of the game. I loved his work, and we made a great deal of progress, but ultimately other projects pulled him away.

Soon after, Danny took over, creating another set of tracks – Helping to write for scenes that Troels hadn’t had time to do yet, and thing we were still adding to the game.

Alas, after years, I’m missing quite of few of the tracks from that Era – In particular, there were a set of “Roughie” sound tests which we had done that I’d love to have back.

I the mean time, in the interest of sharing material, and avoiding any more bit-rot on my hard drive, enjoy the following sampling of SQ7 music.

The DeepShip

We wanted to start SQ7 in familiar territory – Someplace the audience had been before, and might feel comfortable.

One of the things that Josh stressed a few times was that that making fan game drives some choices that would be unusual for a commercial release.

One of the biggest things is that we knew that all (or at least a large number) of the players would be familiar with the series.
On a good side, this meant we didn’t need to spend as much time introducing the characters or the concept. We could assume the audience would already be with us.

In retrospect, is that it made us rather susceptible to fanservice, but for good and ill!


Since we knew the audience would get in-jokes, it encouraged us to put more in 😉
I don’t think we went overboard, but that’s also part of why we wanted act 1 to be on the DS. It’s familiar home turf for the audience, and fun for us as gamedevs 😉

First- The Ship itself. We showed this in an early trailer, but I thought it was a great reproduction of the Ship from SQ6.
We preserve the distinctive Jockstrap design, and flesh it out with lots of windows, one of which we climb through.

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What we did want to do was to have a puzzle where Roger walked along the outside of the DS86- This was to be a large scrolling room, a favorite technique of mine. I loved Scrolling rooms, both because A) it was a PITA to put them into the engine, so we better use them, B) Because they allowed a lot of detail and have realistic puzzles that demand and C) I loved them in SQ4, in particular.

The Exterior of the DS worked well as a long scroll target.

It was also rewarding to let us explore familiar territory from a new angle. This was a theme we kept revisiting on the Deepship.

Sure, you’ve been here, but have you seen it like This?
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Right1

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This is also where we did the initial Shuttle craft artwork.

The Shuttle would show up through-out the first half SQ7, as Roger’s Go-To ship while on-duty.

This set up the arrival of the Mallard later on as a fun back-to-roots fun ship instead of the more official, more Starcon shuttle.

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We saw the Shuttle, as well as other ships, in the DS86’s bay.
These were mostly here as distractions and space filler, involving a puzzle with the revealed ship’s parts.

In particular I liked the little robots you can see to the left – They were designed to be somewhat obstinate to Roger, and have a mute-beeping personality that recalls R2 without directly copying him.

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The DS86 Hallway! Another Long scrolling room that we used as a prop to get between other areas.

In SQ6, they used tube-based transport, which was funny, but the gag would get a bit old if we copied it – The Hallway also gave us time to talk with Ramdon passerbys, with bits of various conversations, references, and other TGA inspired style humor.

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Roger’s room was a direct callback to SQ6.
Since you’re back on the same ship, we felt that you should have the same quarters for continuity.
This is one of those things we did because it’s a fan-game, which if it were a new game, we might have strayed from, but it felt really nice to revisit home territory.

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The Maintenance HQ is my favorite room on the Deepship.
In all of Space Quest, we’ve seen Roger in Closets several times, but we’ve never seen a room worthy of his station. A True Janitorial paradise.
We felt like he should have a place that felt like home.. And of course, it should be a complete mess.
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The Holocabana was another callback to SQ6, although we used it to good effect to lead into Act 2.
We wanted to show the trouble people were in, not just send a video chat.

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Keilbasa’s ready room was designed as a room to give Roger a dressing-down.
It’s one of the few rooms (along with the Maintenance room) with a Pneumatic tube.

We also animated the Octacreature in the back of the room, letting him try to scare out fair Hero as a click-event.

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Part 2

In the later half of the game, we revisit the DeepShip.

We had changed artists at this point, so you may notice a bit of visual variance.

That’s one of the costs of being a volunteer game. We’ll take whomever volunteers 😉

For reasons , the DeepShip explodes!

This leads to us exploring a semi-destroyed DeepShip, with things malfunctioning everywhere!

We filled a lot of these areas with smoke and flashing lights, and generally signs that You shouldn’t be here.

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This is the room of the Chief Engineer – Notice a certain level of cleanliness in comparison to Roger’s room?
The poster on his wall in the back is also important to one of the puzzles in this area.
Also notice the Chrome in this room, which looks neat through a smoke effect.
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This was the Chief engineer’s cooking area, which was a visual callback to the 1950 diner area.

The idea of having a diner on a futuristic space ship is a lot of fun, and a good place for humor.
“The large quantities of smoke billowing from the cooksurface seem wholly familiar to you”, sort of thing.


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The view from inside one of the ships Roger gets to use. Again, running with the theme that like a Plumber’s house that’s full of leaks, Roger’s areas should be the least clean on the ship.
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As I mentioned above, much of the DS is destroyed at this part. I thought it’d be fun to revisit the Command room from SQ6, but in the nearly blown-up state.

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This was one of the Engineering rooms, near the Chief Engineer’s office.
The room doesn’t need to be in heavy detail, since it’s mostly just used to walk through, and an overlay of smoke and dust is rendered on top of it.

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Another Hall way!
And there was much rejoicing.. At least at the Davis compound.

This was another scrolling room, as you navigated the destroyed ship.

I like hallways. I think they have a club for that.

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And finally, some gen-u-ine Colin Davis concept art!
This room was one I wanted to show you to help illustrate My amazing art prowess.
Sure, the rendered room at the bottom is a bit higher-class, but I think my room had CHARM.

Sq7 escape pod bay
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Evolution of a Room

We had a very collaborative environment in the SQ7 project.
One of the things that helped to keep the team going was to post versions of what they we were working on, so we could get ideas, criticisms, and encouragement.

On any volunteer project, getting this feedback is critical- At times, I probably overdid it.
I know that I may tried to make comments and suggestions on every piece- In retrospect, I probably gave people a sense of demanding a lot out of them, for a free volunteer project.
I tried to always say good things, but I rarely only “That’s enough, ship it!”

I thought it’d be fun to bring you through the development of two of our early scenes, and two of my favorites- The Docking Bay, and the Maintenance Room.

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The Docking Bay is crucial both for access to the Starcon Shuttle, as well as harvesting Parts from an open ship.

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Maintenance HQ

The Maintenance HQ was a very Space Quest room.

I’ll describe it in more detail in a later post, but It’s one of my favorite rooms in all of SQ7, due both to the plethora of items, and because it’s something that I always felt belonged there.

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Interface

Icons

We wanted to give SQ7 a classic Sierra point-and-click interface, much in the style of SQ4.

This meant icons. LOTS of icons.
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We fleshed out a basic version of the top-menu.
The way it worked was to drop down on-top of the window, partially obscuring it.
We had also played with hiding it, but I never liked the effect.



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We actually setup SQ7.org to reflect this menu for a while.
While the action icons were cool in the game, they were more confusing out of context.

I still thought it was cool! 😉

SQ7 org

The final version was cleaned up, and rendered more tightly.

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GUI

We set up the Slage engine to allow you re-arrange the interface buttons as you chose.
You can see the basic idea of that at This Flash (Warning, big).



Rearrange

If I were to do it today, I’d do things differently.

I’d do something more akin the Monkey Island 3 cursor, where clicking brought up a radial menu of options. (In their case 2. In ours, maybe more)
I think it scales better to what people can mentally keep track of. In SQ4, I was always worried that if I didn’t use EVERY option on Everything, I’d be missing the funny.


Cursor

Then again, that was part of what made it lovable.
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We went through several revisions of the cursor as well, trying to make it visible, but not too garish.
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I think we finally got it, though. More Subtle colors.
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Window

Our window went through a few revisions, but was basically the same thing.
We wanted it to look like a StarCon communication panel.

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Evolution of Scenes

One of the most fun things of doing this project, was watching the artwork evolve.

Not only did so many of the individual artists evolve their styles (Colin Panetta in particular!), but watching the characters come to life was spectacular.

One scene in the later game found Roger Wilco in a Jail cell, working with a bunch of low-lifes.
Colin Panetta put together a bunch of sketches, based on ideas that the team suggested- Primarily Josh and Matt.
Danny (MyFishBone) also made a bunch of sketches, some of which are included below.

Characters

During the Sierra Reunion, I recall one of the questions was about Space Quest 7- One of the details they joked about was having Giant Platapus. Of course, this meant we needed to do exactly that 😉

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Prison 4 and 5 were, if I recall, roughly inspired by Cool Hand Luke and JasonX.
Hrmm.. It looks more like George W, though. 😉

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LedHead rendered the character, and brought a really creepy vibe to it.
We were going for a sort of robotic friendlyness, almost reminiscent of Sebastian’s toys, in Blade Runner.

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In particular, I thought he looked creepy as heck 😉

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Architecture

You can see our basic prison cell below- If you have a keen eye, you might recognize it from the animation above.
We were copying the writing style from the Space Quest comics, and the angular rooms fit in with our design for the prison ships architecture.
We also wanted a very mechanical feel, to offset the more organic look you’ll see in later pictures.

Prison cell


Danny did the first version, but due to time constraints people were always showing up, and dropping out again.
Colin polished it- We added a probulator, mostly because the click-events wound be funny, but also because a regular toilet seemed out of place on an Alien ship. These people don’t do things like we do!
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Ledhead did another amazing conversion to 3d- The lightbeams are my favorite “effect” here, but the roundness around the edges on the bed is also a very nice touch.
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We found we needed two versions of this room- The standard one, but also a side-scrolling version for our Heros to walk on the outside of, exchanging Whedon-esque witty banter.

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