The Space Pope has been keeping busy, while taking a SpaceVenture.
Chris Pope (AKA The Space Pope) has been super busy, working Mark Crowe, Scott Murphy and a team of programmers to get their upcoming game, SpaceVenture completed. This past weekend, I caught up with Chris Pope at the Geek Media Expo, getting the latest update on the Guys From Andromeda, spoiling some details from their demo and detailing a four-day cram-session (otherwise known as a party)!
So far, how has your GMX experience been?
– “GMX is going fantastic. I always have a blast at GMX. This is the third GMX I’ve been to and every single time, the people have always treated me like I’m Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt or somebody, and I’m just Chris Pope, the Space Pope. I have a blast and I look forward to going next year, as well.”
Unfortunately, you didn’t have a SpaceVenture booth. What’s the latest about the game?
– “We decided this year it would be better not to do all of that, until the game is out. Everybody’s been really, really pushing hard. In fact, this past week, the four of us (myself, Mark Crowe, Scott Murphy as well as our Senior Developer) got together and shut ourselves off in a house for about four straight days working 12 to 16 hours a day on SpaceVenture. We got a lot done. I’m very excited about all of the work we got done. We finished, like, six more rooms in the game, we finished some more of the story that needed to be done and finalized… things are really coming along. I’m very optimistic, now, about how things are going.”
If only you had a camera during that four-day cram session…
– “Well, actually, we did. I actually got a high-definition camera that I took over there with me. We filmed quite a few behind-the-scenes things. As people were working on things, I would pop the thing out and just let it roll. We even got Mark and Scott to dress in up in their Guys From Andromeda outfit, to a degree. They didn’t have their uniform, but they had the nose, the glasses and the red mohawks. We got some cool behind-the-scenes stuff, for sure.”
I’d love to see how much caffeine and alcohol were on the premises for those four days.
– “I’m actually allergic to alcohol, but I can tell you the other guys aren’t. Some of the best filming times was when they had a little alcohol in them.”
Did this cram-session harken back to the Sierra deadlines of the old days?
– “Yeah. I know there were times, especially when the game was almost done, they would have to do that. Scott and Mark have both talked about the late night, they almost wanted you to sleep there, at the facility. I kind of felt that way, even though I didn’t work at Sierra, myself. It was always my dream to work for Sierra. I’ve had a taste of that, now. Be careful what you wish for.”
What is your deadline to release SpaceVenture?
– “I hate giving deadlines because it’s so hard, but we’re shooting for less than six months. That’s what we’re shooting for.”
What would you say is the percentage that is completed right now?
– “Well, it’s hard to say. The reason I say that is because so much of the game, thus far, has been dedicated to the foundation coding of the game. A lot of the behind the scenes (or under the hood, if you will), has taken so long, but we’ve got this awesome event-driven system now, to where we can throw objects into the Unity engine and make them do things, without having the programmers to program every little thing. It’s a lot more graphically driven, now, for us to just click around and add things ourselves, than having to do all this coding. I would say we’ve got about 95 percent of the things in the event-driven system we want. We’re now moving along with the game. Graphically, room-wise, we’ve probably done about a quarter of the scenes… but now that the event system is done, the sky is the limit. We really can move a lot faster, now.”
What’s the planned room total, for the game?
– “It’s going to be about the size of Space Quest IV. I would say anywhere from 40 to 50 rooms and it could go as many as 60 different scenes in the game. Mark is still working on how graphically we’re going to work it out. For example, we have some scenes, like the red corridor, which some people might have seen in the demo, which is actually three or four scenes together. It’s a long room that you navigate around and do different things in. We have a couple of scenes like that, in the game.”
How many of those rooms are currently completed?
– “Graphically, I would say we’ve got 10 rooms complete, for the most part. We’ve got polish that still needs to go on them, but close to 10. We’ve got four or five more, that are coming along.”
What is the latest update for the KickStarter campaign?
– “Almost a month ago, we put out a huge update, letting everybody know the status, which was, ‘Here’s the deal: We’re behind schedule. You’d have to be blind not to see we’re behind schedule, but here’s why.’ We were amazed at the community, because they really embraced it. They were very, very supportive. ‘Look, a lot of us have waited 20 to 30 years for this game and we’re willing to wait a little longer. Just get it done right.’ We were blown away by the outreach of the community and how much positivity we got from that.”
When is the next planned update?
– “We do two updates a month: I do one that’s on the first of each month and one that’s on the 16th of each month. So, I actually just finished a Halloween treat, because I did the update on the 31st, this time. It was a day early, because I was coming to GMX. The next scheduled update will be on the 16th.”
What are you working on, at the moment?
– “I’m actually working on a scene right now that involves an elevator. Ace is going up and down this elevator and the doors aren’t working properly. I’m going to be working on that. I’ve kind of gotten knee-deep in all of it as well, not just doing the producing and the promoting, but also working on the game. Mark is actually working on another scene right now, that takes place on a planet that happens toward the end of the game. It will be a very comedic scene that will be parody-like, if you will. Scott’s got to work on the narrative and our senior developer, Tyler, is fixing some coding issues that we’re having with one of the scenes. The whole team, including our programmers (Patrick Johnston, Mike Penny, Brent Forrest) is just busy, busy, busy.”
Can you tell me a little about the SpaceVenture demo?
– “The demo is out. It came out on July 16th. It is very buggy. All of the demo has been fixed, for the most part. The bugs and stuff aren’t there. Instead of releasing a more polished version of the demo right now, we’ve been focused on the rest of the game. Eventually, we want to release a more polished version of the demo. The demo is out there, it’s only for backers, but if you look at the July 16th KickStarter update, you’ll see the demo. Actually, I did a commentary, as well. If you look on Youtube, just look up ‘SpaceVenture demo’ and ‘Chris Pope’ and you’ll see the commentary. It’ll give you a good perspective on what was in the demo. Now, it’s a little spoilery, because a lot of what you’re going to see in the demo is going to be in the game. There will be some things that have changed, but a lot of it is going to be in the game.”
Do you have any future appearances planned already?
– “For the rest of the year? Probably not. I think GMX is going to be the last one. Now we’ve got Thanksgiving coming up, we’ve got Christmas coming up, so I’ll be mainly just hanging with the family, of course while working on the game. I haven’t lined up my convention schedule, yet, for this next year. Most likely, I’ve already got a room for San Diego Comic-Con. So, I’m going to Comic-Con again and then hopefully, to GMX again next year. I’ll be at a convention called Omnicon, which is in May of next year, in Orlando, FL. I’ve got a few other ones coming up. I think I’ll be at Alabama Phoenix Festival again and maybe a few other things I’m forgetting.”