There's some real weird stuff in the indie scene. At a recent PlayCrafting event I got a chance to see tiny studio Glen&Devan. They were showing off Escape the Room?, a strange adventure game made up of ideas they couldn't fit in their other adventure games. I got a chance to talk with Glen Hosie, who describes himself as a professional bro, about the game. In addition to this, I got to hear a bit about Project Island, an upcoming adventure game also by the studio.
TechRaptor: So I'm here with Glen&Devan, they're showing Escape the Room? question mark?
Glen Hosie: Yes.
TechRaptor: So tell me a bit about this game.
Glen: So basically when, in our quest of developing several point and click games, we get ideas that don't really work anywhere, and sometimes I just have a weird fever dream that I like. So Escape the Room? is a combination of all of our weird ideas that don't quite work anywhere else.
TechRaptor: So, if you want to give me an example, what's one idea that didn't work somewhere and you just tossed in Escape the Room??
Glen: A direct translation of a dream I had where a giant double helix falls from the sky and griffins fly out and start eating people.
TechRaptor: Hate when that happens.
Glen: Every Tuesday!
TechRaptor: Every Tuesday. You get used to it when you live in New York. So, when you started Escape the Room?, like when you decided you're going to make this weird game based on all the stuff you can't fit anywhere else, how do you start with that? What's the first thing you do?
Glen: It really made itself. First I started out with the idea of a clear and concise game that only took place in rooms, small puzzles per room, and the whole goal was I wanted to test out art styles and mechanics for our next game Project Island. I did end up doing that, but then the game kind of got a mind of its own.
TechRaptor: So tell me about Project Island, what's that?
Glen: So Project Island is a sequel to our game Project Beach House. Basically what happened with Project Beach House is that I started it five years ago when I had no idea how to make games, and a lot of... because of that, it had a lot of crutches that I couldn't quite... that made the development of the game tricky. So now with Project Island it's starting fresh with all the skills I have, and it's basically taking place right after the events of Project Beach House.
TechRaptor: So all your games are adventure games, correct?
TechRaptor: And you're not using Unity, you're not using Unreal Engine, you're using an old throwback.
Glen: We're using Adventure Game Studio because games are just too much about innovation, you know? Everybody wants to innovate, everybody is doing Unreal and stuff like that. That's fine, there's nothing wrong with that, but I wonder what we could do with old tech.
TechRaptor: Is it difficult to work with such an old thing, or...?
Glen: It's really not. I mean, with any system that you work with you're going to run into problems, you know? But it does the job, and even the weird stuff that you think would be too modern, like an open world, works just fine if you finagle it the right way.
TechRaptor: So Escape the Room? question mark is the video game of all the things that didn't fit. Is there something that didn't fit in Escape the Room??
Glen: Something that didn't-- that's fun! That's interesting! I like that. Um... there's several levels that are actually, you can still get them if you debug in, but there are levels that just didn't work. For example, there was one level where you're at a sleepover and your little brother hid roasted turkys all over the room and I was like "the game has no place for this." There was another game where you were a gnome in a tundra and you were digging holes, and that just didn't work out. That was actually going to be a really cool level, but it eventually became the human world, which is the last level of the game.
TechRaptor: Is it a really cool level because it was in a tundra? Was that a pun?
Glen: You know what, I wish I were that smart. It was a really cool level because there was a monster stalking you non-stop the whole time, and you had to keep moving around to solve puzzles. I'm going to redo that idea, but it's kind of...the impetus of that idea is in our other game which is a prototype called... what's it called... Just You and Me, where you play as a bunch of savanna explores that discover a new creature, which starts hunting them.
TechRaptor: Alright, so, Escape the Room?. Is this game available now?
Glen: This game is available for free right now on Itch.io. We've made several patches but I think the last one we put up is definitive.
TechRaptor: Then the upcoming Project Island, when can I get my hands on that?
Glen: So basically Project Island is... the best way I can describe is is an open world game that combines point and click games and Dead Rising where everything is an item.
TechRaptor: Oh I like this already.
Glen: Of course that means I need to do a lot of work and I don't feel comfortable putting out anything that isn't exactly where it needs to be. Of course, in a year and a half when I'm really ready to put it out I might be saying something differently. But yeah, I'm going to be posting updates constantly in our Discord until we have a build I'm ready to show off.
TechRaptor: Awesome. Well I'd like to thank you for letting me see Escape the Room?, and I'm interested to see the upcoming Project Island.
Glen: Thank you so much, it's great talking to you.
We'd like to once again thank Glen for taking the time to talk with us.