So let's fast forward through 2007, shall we? As Crack was putting together the rudiments of the game engine, Metapharsical and I had been grinding away at art and animation for about a year, and had assembled a slightly impressive array of material.
I had been focusing mostly on character art; the map sketches I was producing were pretty crude. Granted, the Underground Hole sketch is clearly a very early draft, but it underscores some differences between our work:
Figuring out how to reconcile our map and character art would become something of a challenge. In the end I thought it would be better to have more cartoony backgrounds for the sake of consistency with the characters — and particularly for the sake of expedience.
This meant that much of the detail, largely in the lighting and shadows, would be tossed out. Looking back at this art now, I wonder if it was the right decision. Did I lower the bar too much? Even the original version of World's End Chapter 1 published in 2013 looked quite primitive, and I doubt anyone played the game for love of its artwork.
My philosophy at the time was putting speed first. So much art had to be made, and as I was stuck doing half of it, I figured it needed to be churned out as quickly as possible even if the quality wasn't top-tier.
I also didn't want to have to keep redoing existing character art at this point (at least not much of it), so many of the quirks and strangeness that developed around that time stuck around in the published game.
So yes, most everyone remains with balls for hands, and no mouths, and everyone's corpse is aligned the same way. Hey, there were (some) valid reasons for this! This made animation notably easier, and an excess of detail would hardly be visible in the relatively small sprites anyway.
With an eye towards the fact that, hey, this was going to have to be a game eventually, I created some mockups of possible menus. These don't really reflect any intended content for the game; rather I was just having fun (though I do like the idea of Tevoran summoning slunks).
Now, did I say I wanted to avoid redoing art? The story was another thing entirely. As should be clear to any reader who's trudged through my ramblings, the World's End story has been the component of the game that's been most important to me.
But something about it no longer felt quite right, like it was too boring, or too unbalanced in some way. This note from early 2008 sums things up pretty well:
“Foremost in my mind is figuring out how to effectively add more action and conflict into the story. As it is, the characters are just roaming around without any clear goals ... [and] could use a bit of distilling. Their motivations aren't exactly clear, and I should have at the very least a basic idea of why they're tagging along with the party. Finally, I must never allow myself to forget that humor must remain at the forefront! ...I must never allow the mood to remain too heavy for too long.”
We'll get into how I went about changing things, and into the final phase of the World's End story, next time.