When I think back on the long development, the highs and lows, the sleepless nights pondering a bug and the feeling of joy when weeks of work finally came together, I realise that the most important thing I’ll take away from this project
No one was as integral to the creation of TAW as Christine Crossley. Before we met I had never collaborated with an artist, long distance, on a project of this scope. I had many anxieties about how to approach this kind of relationship – about whether we’d be creatively compatible and what kind of expectations she’d have of me and the project.
It wasn’t long after she sent me her first test sprite-sheet that we were talking daily and brainstorming new ideas for the game. I realised that she had become a vital part of the game’s development. Besides producing beautiful artwork like it was her job (well, I guess it was her job), she was always ready to let me bounce ideas off her and tell me when they were bad (or just needed some tweaking).
She was an advocate for the fans, as well. More than once she talked me out of making a huge mistake. One that comes to mind involves TAW’s fast travel system. **Mild spoilers** To save myself time I thought about scrapping the alternate-dimension fast-travel world (similar to how it was in Treasure Adventure Game). I wanted to do something traditional like selecting a destination on the map. She rightly called me out and convinced me to keep it in. More often than not we were on the same page – and most importantly, she stuck with TAW until the end and was vital in making my dream game a reality
Since TAW wrapped we still keep in touch and she will be my first choice of
Craig Barnes came on board late in the game to fill in some gaps in our soundtrack. We met by happenstance at a mixer after an expo where TAW was being shown. I’ll always remember our first conversation was about the fear of failure… not the typical small talk that I find myself engaging in with strangers.
At this stage in development I didn’t think we’d need any more music for TAW. But when I got to hear some of Craig’s work I hoped I’d find an excuse to add some more tracks to the game. In the meantime we became friends – playing co-op Cup Head until the middle the night is a great way to find out who your true friends are. And as luck would have it we added a few areas to the game that needed musical accompaniment.
Since then Craig has worked on a number of games and is currently doing sound design for Subnautica: Below Zero.
Getting to collaborate with Adam Phillips is one of the highlights of my life. When I decided the game needed an animated opening cinematic Adam was my first choice – even though I didn’t think he’d answer my email let alone agree to work on the project. As it turns out, Adam is a huge fan of indie games! He was enthusiastic about helping with TAW and was extremely flexible with our tiny fledgling game studio.
On a few occasions I got to interact with him and his audience while he live-streamed himself creating animations for TAW. I’ve been a fan of his work since the early Newgrounds days so I still nerd-out over getting to work with him on this. It kind of blows my mind that he took my ideas and characters and turned them into a short cartoon.
I’m excited that he’ll be doing more live-streaming this year as he celebrates the 10-year anniversary of his animated-short The Last of the Dashkin. I heard he might be working on a sequel…
Not everyone I met during the development of TAW became part of the team. Going to conventions and expos exposed me to many amazing fans, press-folk, event organizers and YouTubers. And sometimes I’d meet someone like Brian
Brian did a podcast of my previous game on a website he ran. Years later we met at MAGFest and I knew right away I liked the cut of his jib. By the time MAGFest ended I learned that one his many talents included making Pysanky eggs with video game art. Pysanky eggs are made using a traditional Ukrainian technique using wax and ink. To celebrate our release, Brian created one for TAW and live-streamed part the process along with the final reveal.
He carefully packed and shipped the egg to me where it now resides in a display case with my most prized possessions. I look at it everyday I walk into my office and am reminded of all the amazing people I met and worked with during the development of Treasure Adventure World.
Video games come and go – they are literally a dime-a dozen sometimes – but the relationships we build with other people can last a lifetime and ultimately are more meaningful. One of the best side-effects of developing TAW was (and continues to be) getting to interact with talented, funny, game-loving folks.
So, to everyone who I met along the way while making Treasure Adventure World – Thank you for giving me a lifetime of great memories.