“A part of me always wanted to do video game designing,” said Ricardo Lee, 24 year old Video Game Designer and Entrepreneur. “When I was younger, I started off by drawing. I wanted my own cartoon.” As a child, Ricardo sketched comics featuring Sonic, one of his favorite video game characters. In the sixth grade, he was introduced to game design. Since then Ricardo has learned, practiced, and progressed. Now is his time to develop a video game worth remembering.
Here, Ricardo provides a brief summary of his coveted venture into independent video game publishing:
“Project Atlantis follows the story of a young boy [named Nyren], who wakes to find his home and everything he knows has been destroyed. He soon remembers that a storm took place the night before. Not having anything or anyone to turn to he finds an old boat and sets sail, but he realizes he cannot control which direction the boat goes. The rudder on the boat is broken, so he can’t steer the boat. He begins to drift from island to island and stumbles upon a glowing blue stone [that] appears to be an unlimited source of light. He finds that there is more to it than meets the human eye, and the storm that happened wasn’t a normal storm.”
This is concept art of Nyren’s boat.
The game is a 2D side-scroller action/adventure RPG set in a pirate-themed world of intrigue and wonder. Exploration and discovery are key components of Project Atlantis’ gameplay. Ricardo stated that the game could be 80 hours long (with additional side quests/missions), but he has not set a specific length. One main selling point of Project Atlantis is how players progress through the story.
Nyren, the protagonist of the game.
“90 percent of the areas or environments you visit in the game are randomly generated and that last 10 percent [contains] story points that you have to go to,” said Ricardo. He is aiming to create 50 different islands/locations, and players will visit those locations in an unset order. Players will be able to complete the game without seeing all of the islands. This factor will increase replay value. Key events in the game will take place at specific locations.
Originally, Ricardo was working on the game solo. “I was doing the programming, the art, the music, and the story. It wasn’t a big deal because I know how to do those things.” For the past year and a half, Ricardo has worked hard, and his team began helping him in the past two months. “Anthony’s the lead programmer. [At] his day job, he’s a Financial Accountant. He’s taken coding classes, but he’s never taken game design classes. He’s only been doing video game programming for four months, and he’s twenty times better than me.” Dylan Sluyter is the gameplay programmer. His primary function is to work on how Nyren moves and interacts with the fictional world. He also works on how enemies function in the game. Nathaniel Johnson, Digital Music Producer, is composing the music. Lastly, Tarrel Thomas-Turner acts as an idea consultant to Ricardo, and he is responsible for creating two of the game’s characters.
L to R: Anthony, Lead Programmer; Dylan Gameplay Programmer; Nate, Digital Music Producer; Terrel, Idea Consultant
“With this game I really want even the most insignificant characters to feel very realistic,” he said. “In this game you will meet a lot of different characters. The same the amount of time I put into the main characters, I put into some of the side characters that you meet along the way.” Asuana (which means “waterfall” according to Ricardo) is a notable support character. She is an archer with a special light arrow named Piercing Light. “When the main character meets her, she doesn’t have the arrow. She shot the arrow at the mountain of the island where she’s at. It became such a bright light that it makes the island hard to see. It basically looks like the sun.” Asuana shot this arrow to protect her island from an enemy. Nyren, the protagonist, has special abilities that stem from the blue stone he has. His is called Revealing Light. It changes his eyes to a crystal blue and allows him to see spirits among other things.
Here’s Nyren using his light to see an enemy.
Here’s a Dreamer Loop exclusive concept pic of Asuana.
“I want people to see their lives as a purpose filled journey,” said Ricardo. “I want them to see their lives as a story. I want them to see their lives as a love story. I want them to see their lives as a war.” He believes that fiction is informed by non-fiction and real life is just as entertaining a fictive one. “This isn’t something that I do all the time, [but] I had a day where I was fascinated with honey. Honey looks like edible gold. These are the kind of eye opening things that only God can bring to your attention.”
This is another one of the game’s supporting characters.
Ricardo had some encouraging words for those with high aspirations. “People take you as seriously as you take yourself. My advice would be not to settle for less. If you’re afraid of the prices, you aren’t gonna go anywhere.” He added, “If you’re not working towards something or your dream per se, you kind of wither away [because] you won’t have a purpose.”
This video game is only the beginning. Ricardo dreams of having more games, cartoons, and movies. “Eventually, I want to have my own theme park with all my characters just like the characters at Disney World.”
Be sure to check Project Atlantis’ website for weekly hints at the game’s progress and story. Also, check Nathaniel Johnson’s Sound Cloud for a taste of his musical talents.
Photo credit: Dreamer Loop