Clockturne Post Mortem I: Introduction

Posted on June 19, 2012

The last few months have been, I’m quite sure, the busiest of my life. This is chiefly because of a crazy project that came to be known as Clockturne. I had the greatĀ privilegeĀ of making a game with a very talented team that included two other Georgia Tech students (Aaron Sumsky and Aaron Yip), eight graduate students from SCAD Atlanta, and two professors who did everything in their power to steer us without hurting our feelings too greatly (John Sharp and Matt Maloney). I consider this project to be a great success (some have said “miracle”) and an epic failure. As a learning experience it was second to none. As a game I’m… well… looking forward to future iterations.

Every project undertaken demands a post mortem for proper digestion. This one will be drawn out for two reasons. First, it has been the biggest project I’ve been a part of to date and I won’t short-change it. Second, it has been almost a month since I’ve worked on the game and I still need more time to process some aspects of its development. I think a proper treatment demands five parts: an introduction, design failures, design successes, development failures, and development successes. This will give me adequate space to develop my thoughts the many influences working on the development process.

Here’s quick introduction to the final project. In Clockturne the player is introduced to four children. These children live all over the world but meet in their dreams. Running from nightmares, they find each other and band together to ascend to the top of the dark grandfather clock within which they find themselves. One player (on an iPad) guides the children’s hastily-assembled balloon up through the clock. Other players (on iPhones or iPod Touches) control “Sooties”, stuffed animals brought into the dream by a girl named Viv. Three players work together to collect fireflies to fuel the balloon and to fight off the nightmares trying to break holes in its canvas.

The story of how that paragraph became writable will easily encompass four more posts. In the meantime you can see some brilliant art and learn more about the game at its official website.