Sabotage Studio has held a few Q&A sessions, mainly directed by Thierry Boulanger, the main director and writer for The Messenger. Thierry and other members of Sabotage have provided more insight on the development of the game and also more lore about the game itself.
- Sabotage End of Year Q&A 2018
- Sabobo Direct - March 2019
- Live Messenger Q&A - June 2019
- Special Reserve Games Discord Q&A
- SaboCup Linear Casual Run: Thierry Edition (Plus Q&A)
- Sabotage Q&A (14 January 2020)
Sabotage End of Year Q&A 2018
Thierry Boulanger: Hello, everyone, it's Thierry from Sabotage here. To end the year, we wanted to do a Q&A with questions from the community. You guys really showed up. We have way too many questions. We picked around 25, maybe closer to 30. I'll just be going through them, unless maybe Sclout wants to host this.
[Thierry looks at Sylvain Cloutier, who is sitting in an office desk in the background]
[Sylvain looks at Thierry, gives a disapproving look, and says something indistinguishable]
[Thierry looks back at the camera]
Thierry Boulanger: [laughs] Alright, first question.
[screen transitions to Sabobo Q&A logo]
[screen transitions back to Thierry]
Thierry Boulanger: Gooberbarbarian asks-- which by the way, I'll be butchering all your usernames:
"How are you today?" − Gooberbarbarian
Thierry Boulanger: I'm doing good, very much. Thank you. We had our Christmas party on Friday night. It got pretty festive, especially with the news that we got the Game Award. We all got over it over the weekend, and now we're back to work. All is well in the studio.
Thierry Boulanger: We have Failpositive, who said:
"Hmmmmm... Are there going to be more future big content additions after Picnic Panic? (gotta get that one out of the way :D)" − Failpositive
Thierry Boulanger: Picnic Panic is an experiment. The idea of going with a free DLC was that we were blessed with a good reception. We're afloat. As we work on different bigger things for the future, we kind of have some spare time to also support and add more content to The Messenger. We wanted to try this. The idea for a bigger DLC was a thing called "Barma'thazël's Revenge," which was in 3 chapters. Picnic Panic is the first of those 3 chapters. The attempt here is that we make that one free, and we see if it works. If it drives enough sales on the main game by increasing its value. If that works out and then it ends up giving us the means to keep on doing that, there would be 2 more left before we close Ninja's story. We don't know yet, but we'll see how it goes with Picnic Panic.
Thierry Boulanger: We have Detective Soleil, who asks:
"Will there be a way to fast-travel to Ninja Village so we can access the Picnic Panic DLC more quickly?" − Soleil
Thierry Boulanger: Actually, fast-traveling there is the only way to start it. It's through the scrying orb. Exactly with the same condition that you have at the moment, which is if you collected at least 4 Music Notes, that's when the scrying orb activates. It gives you, "The mists of time are shifting." Once Picnic Panic releases, it will be the entry point to playing that scenario. We call it a scenario, because it's a linear self-contained thing.You started from the orb, you choose to go on that adventure, and then it teleports you to the Ninja Village directly. You can't exit to the right. You can just go to the docks where you will leave for the adventure. That's how the flow goes there.
Part of that idea is tacking things onto a Metroidvania world can get tricky. We thought the balance was fine there. For additional content, it made more sense to add linear levels. The scrying orb is our entry point back to the previous points of having up to 3, if it all goes well. They will all start from there.
[note: Picnic Panic now requires beating the game rather than collecting at least 4 Music Notes]
Thierry Boulanger: Next we have J_Reifeiss, that's from Twitter:
"How many new tracks will there be on the DLC? And assuming @rnbwdragoneyes will be composing the music?" − J_Reifeiss
Thierry Boulanger: Rainbowdragoneyes will be writing music for us as long as he cares to do it. We have a very good thing going on. We're very good friends at this point. On either side, none of us see that relationship ever ending. He is very much working with us still for everything that we have planned for the future. The DLC will be 3 levels. Also 3 boss fights. You can expect each level to have a track. Each boss fight to have their own track as well. Maybe a few things around them, like a specific cutscene that is more important. Maybe it would have its own bit. We'll see, that will be up to him. For sure, you can expect at least 3 solid new level tracks and 3 solid new boss tracks.
Thierry Boulanger: elCadlo17:
"Can we get the messenger in Smash Ultimate?" − elCaldo17
Thierry Boulanger: [laughs] I don't think we can, but we would love to. That would be huge. I have no idea how that works or if that's even possible. We know that Shovel Knight managed to get in there, but it's a pretty unique situation that the game was a really massive hit over more than one console generation. Over time, it ended up happening. We're certainly willing to do it, but we're not clear on even how to open that channel. Feel free to reach out or start a petition. We'd support it, that's for sure.
Thierry Boulanger: We have PJSaltwaster%:
"What are Ruxxtin's origins? Why did he decide to become a bad boi?" − PJSaltwaster%
Thierry Boulanger: I think you'll have to play the DLC on that one. I'll leave it there.
Thierry Boulanger: We have Soleil again:
"Why is the Western Hero pink in the files but yellow/brown in the game itself? Most of the other sprites are their normal color." − Soleil
Thierry Boulanger: Going to need backup on this one.
[Thierry calls for "Mic"]
[screen fades to black]
[screen returns back to Thierry Boulanger and Michaël Lavoie]
Thierry Boulanger: Mic, how does that work?
Michaël Lavoie: The Western Hero is pink, because in this part of the game, we use palette swap [inaudible 05:43]. To make it brown, we have to make it pink.
Thierry Boulanger: It's the thing of the lookup tables, right?
Michaël Lavoie: Yeah.
[an infographic image shows on-screen, displaying how lookup tables function]
Thierry Boulanger: Where the character is a basic color, and then every pixel is reaffected to--
Michaël Lavoie: --another color.
Thierry Boulanger: To whatever's on the other palette. You [inaudible 06:02] your links and visuals of how these assets go.
[infographic image disappears]
Michaël Lavoie: Yeah. With [inaudible 6:05].
Thierry Boulanger: I think that's how we handle the "hurt" effects on enemies--
Michaël Lavoie: Yeah.
Thierry Boulanger: --as well.
Michaël Lavoie: In 8-bit also.
Thierry Boulanger: How they blink when you hit them? That's also how it's made. Why would we have that in the Ninja Village then and not any other levels?
Michaël Lavoie: In the Ninja Village, we have the whole cutscene where it goes on fire to night. This whole level is palette swapped.
Thierry Boulanger: Because of that transition to the night, the daylighting was the different one?
Michaël Lavoie: Yeah.
Thierry Boulanger: So that's why we use that?
Michaël Lavoie: Exactly.
Thierry Boulanger: Well there you go.
Michaël Lavoie: There's your answer.
Thierry Boulanger: Thanks, Mic.
Michaël Lavoie: Bye bye!
Thierry Boulanger: Moving on.
Thierry Boulanger: We have @Garglephlumpian, who asks:
"Would you rather work on a sequel or a new IP?" − @Garglephlumpian
Thierry Boulanger: You make it sound like it's mutually exclusive. I think I'll skip that one.
Thierry Boulanger: We have SaboVirus. Hey, GVirus. That's you, right?
"Any other mechanics and/or weapons planned to be added with the next dlc or any future ones?" − !SaboVirus
Thierry Boulanger: We're pretty happy with where Ninja is right now with the moveset and all that. Everything combines really neatly. With that being said, every single level should have its little twist, its own gameplay ingredient, or its own novel way to interact with the environment. Maybe building a separate level, where we teach a new gameplay, and then we use it, we challenge it, and then we're done with it. You can think of the level Manfred, things like that. We're more interested in what's serving of that is interesting. We don't want to go and break the main game or change all the strats that speedrunners are using. Pretty sure the character will stay where he is right now, unless there's an official update to something that makes sense across the game.
Thierry Boulanger: We have Vascos, who is asking:
"Why is the tea leaves fetch quest so incredibly tedious?" − Vascos
Thierry Boulanger: I guess because I'm a flawed designer. To be honest, it used to be even worse. The Ninja Elder wouldn't give you the seed until you had discovered the Dark Cave entrance. The flow was that The Prophet would send you to discover the Dark Cave, which you couldn't do anything once you entered, and then that would let the Ninja Elder give you the seed. There was actually one extra tedious step that was removed. Maybe we can add that so that then you can be happy with the canon version. [laughs]
Thierry Boulanger: shtarfawkes:
"If you guys were going to do another game, what genre would you go for, what kind of setting? If that's too much, what kind of thematic/philosophical content would you guys want to tackle in the future?" − shtarfawkes
Thierry Boulanger: Definitely love. I think we need a good love story. Love stories I think lost their shine. We had too many cheesy songs and too many lazy writing. In movies, there's always a third person in the loop, and it's super complicated. It's all about looks. There's no real depth, any real support. In a way, I think that's what the world needs right now. Just a good love story. A good model there. Definitely that theme, in my opinion.
What genre, that's hard to tell. Sabotage, our tagline is "retro aesthetics and modern game design." The journey that we like to do, certainly for me as a game designer but also the whole team, is going through these retro games and getting into this pruning process of what aged well and what didn't. We rethink or polish to make them make sense for modern gamers. You can think of The Messenger as the Sabotage treatment on the retro-action platformer. Now we can do the Sabotage treatment to the beat-'em-up or to the racing game or to the first-person shooter-- well maybe not so much. The idea is that, regardless of the genre that we pick, the main thing that we will go for is what we're interested in in our dev mindset of what we want to tackle as a genre to give it our treatment. That's all I can say for now on that.
Thierry Boulanger: We have Elf Boy Hobez:
"Aside from the obvious Ninja Gaiden, what other retro titles/franchises did you take inspiration from when making The Messenger?" − Elf Boy Hobez
Thierry Boulanger: I don't know that it's when making The Messenger specifically. It's more that games that have an impact on you kind of bleed into everything that you do. It can be morals you learn from important NPC's, or it can be a good story you used to like to tell. It can be worlds you like to go back and hang out in, and you try to distill that feeling and reproduce it in some way. Aside from Ninja Gaiden, really big inspirations, I have to go with Chrono Trigger is the biggest one. Super Mario RPG, Mass Effect 2, the first Monkey Island, and I guess River City Ransom. That's the top 5 or 6.
Thierry Boulanger: Follow-up question by Elf Boy Hobez:
"Given the ending, that the shopkeep is telling the story to another Messenger, does that mean the story is entirely fictional? − Elf Boy Hobez
Thierry Boulanger: No, all of those events actually occurred.
"Surely if we truly did break the curse, there would be no more messengers to tell the story to." − Elf Boy Hobez
Thierry Boulanger: Right. That one is complex. I think that's more of a question for The Archivist directly. Basically there's multiple realities and multiple timelines. Just because a specific timeline got rid of the Curse, doesn't mean that it's the one reality that should be made canon, because it's not necessarily the one that produces the least amount of suffering for the biggest amount of human beings. There's deeper things going on in this world. We have one character pulling the strings and trying to solve it all. You're going to have to stay tuned on that one.
Thierry Boulanger: We have DOSBoxFalco:
"Is there any plans set in stone for what the studio will be doing after The Messenger and its DLC? Or even just ideas that are floating around?" − DOSBoxFalco
Thierry Boulanger: Yes. I'll just say yes.
Thierry Boulanger: DOSBoxFalco again:
"How did you feel about critics saying that the Metroidvania aspects of the game were poorer than the linear section (start of game -> end of Underworld), and will that influence any future content that you're gonna make for The Messenger?" − DOSBoxFalco
Thierry Boulanger: As I said earlier, we'll be going linear for the Picnic Panic, and if there are other content updates as well. The way I like to approach game design is that nothing should be a gimmick. The reason why we had a Metroidvania portion to the game was that your job was to set the world straight. You can't really do that by going from point A to point B. You have to analyze and cater to the world, find its problems, and solve them, by investigating yourself and finding your own way of doing that. In this way, you restore harmony. It wasn't like, "Hey, let's make a Metroidvania just because they're fun." It was really because it supported the story that we were telling. Now in the case of Picnic Panic, there's no need for that, because it's a rescue mission.
As far as the critics go, not to dodge the question here. Maybe we missed a few of the critics, but what we felt in the response was that some people just happened to be more into linear games. Then they were like, "Oh, that's when it stopped being the type of game that I prefer." We feel it's kind of 50/50, that others were like, "Oh no, you got to play until it gets good." By the time it's the Metroidvania, that they really started liking the game. It's sort of a mixed reaction. To your question, I can see that. Maybe we need to target a specific userbase. Maybe going full-on linear to full-on Metroidvania, you're bound to lose a few people. Like when Final Fantasy XIII opens up, you're like, "Wait, I was used to my catwalk." I don't know. We probably want to re-think how it really blends together into proper pacing, but it doesn't feel like it was a mistake, at least on our part.
Thierry Boulanger: We have Kammesennin, who says:
"What is the thought process for bringing something like The Archivist into existence? To be more clear about what I'm trying to get at, you clearly have some very good strategies and are keeping us all enthralled through the Twitch/Discord theatrics utilizing The Shopkeeper and The Archivist characters respectively. But what made you decide to take this route, and how far ahead of schedule are you in your planning of these types of things?" − Kammesennin
Thierry Boulanger: Very far ahead. I'll just put my ARG hat on for a few minutes. The Archivist recruited us to tell stories. The Archivist is basically an immortal being who is cataloguing all the events of that world. The first step to his grand plan was that he needed Messengers. He needed to expose people to very specific things that the Ninja has seen. It's the first step to a bigger call-to-action. I got to leave that there for now, unfortunately, but stay tuned. For sure, there's more where that came from.
Thierry Boulanger: We have juef:
"What is your favorite speedrunning category from The Messenger and why?" − juef
Thierry Boulanger: For me, it's "Any%, No Out-of-Bounds." I like to see every level, all the content. Also because the routing. I think the second one would be, definitely "No Out-of-Bounds," but the "8-Bit" run is pretty cool as well. I think that with the second quest and all that, seeing all the routing that goes on and how the path was optimized, it's really cool to watch. So yeah, "Any% and No Out-of-Bounds."
Thierry Boulanger: Soleil again:
"How do you pronounce Barma'thazël?" − Soleil
Thierry Boulanger: In French we say "bar-mah-thah-zah-l," but I guess it's "bar-muh-thay-zuh-l." Sage goes:
"They'll just read the question and be 'like that.'" − Sage
Thierry Boulanger: Bonus points to Sage here.
Thierry Boulanger: Gooberbarbarian is back with:
"How old is SaboJLux?" − Gooberbarbarian
Thierry Boulanger: Let's ask the guy.
[Thierry calls for "Jean-Luc"]
[screen fades to black]
[screen returns back to Thierry Boulanger and Jean-Luc Savard]
Thierry Boulanger: What's up, Jean-Luc?
Jean-Luc Savard: Hey, guys.
Thierry Boulanger: Our ninjas want to know how old you are.
Jean-Luc Savard: I'm 37.
Thierry Boulanger: Wow, you're 37 and just drawing pixels.
Jean-Luc Savard: Yeah.
Thierry Boulanger: Living the dream.
[Jean-Luc gives a double thumbs-up and leaves]
Jean-Luc Savard: Thanks, Jean-Luc. Next question.
[screen fades to black]
[screen returns to Thierry]
Thierry Boulanger: nothingisa wants to know:
"If I put $100,000 in my sink in real life, will I get the dog icon?" − nothingisa
Thierry Boulanger: I don't think you will. If you do it and send us a video of that, we'll gladly send you a print of the dog icon. [laughs]
Thierry Boulanger: Crazy Theorist, Spiderbenb:
"Boxers or Briefs?" − Spiderbenb
Thierry Boulanger: I got to say boxers. The answer to "anything or briefs" is never briefs.
Thierry Boulanger: Soleil:
"Are Phobekins named from birth, or is their name chosen later when they learn what their fear is?" − Soleil
Thierry Boulanger: The backstory that wasn't explored in the game because it was too much dialogue and really didn't contribute much to the story, was that the Phobekins, they are named from birth. It was a moral on how people let themselves be told who they are. They are given a name, and there's like, "This is what you fear. Never get close to it." They learn to fear that, even though they don't actually fear it. The idea was that maybe eventually they can get free of that by challenging their assumptions and their worldview that was forced upon them. The moral behind that was the power of thought. We seem to only be able to apply it when it's to create negative experiences for ourselves.
Thierry Boulanger: We have rchirino, who asks:
"What role does Devolver play in marketing, decisions to port the game to new platforms, etc?" − rchirino
Thierry Boulanger: Devolver, so they are our publisher. They really helped us piercing markets which we couldn't really have done that without them. We could have released the game in probably North America and Europe. When it comes to like Brazil, Russia, and Japan, you need to have partners there, you need to understand the market, you need the resources to localize your content, and things like that. Basically it's a lot, but they bring all that savvy, all that knowledge. Also when we do events, they really take care of most of the planning of the booth size that we will have and the props. The thing is really cool with art in the background, lights, and things like that. Outside of developing the game, they do a lot of stuff around it to make sure that there's eyeballs on it. They also advise us when there's a sale or when there's a timing to market something different, like hitting another platform, and things like that. They play a big role in all those discussions.
Thierry Boulanger: We have MickD777, who asks:
"Which came first? The chicken or the egg?? I'm assuming @LeShopkeeper extensive knowledge of time and space can finally allow us to know the truth." − MickD777
Thierry Boulanger: The Shopkeeper could probably go and investigate that one, if asked. Maybe I can ask. I would say that the prehistoric old chicken came before the egg to the chicken that we know now. Is that still up for debate? You would have like a dinosaur chicken that lays an egg that's like the new iteration of the chicken that we know now. It has to have come first. I think so. Let me know what you think. [laughs]
Thierry Boulanger: We have SaboVirus GVirus again, who asks:
"What is love?" − !SaboVirus
Thierry Boulanger: Wow. I mean, love is probably a thing we're compelled to feel that we don't really control when we see someone being courageous, honest, or just acting in a way that it feels that they should probably reproduce, because we need more people like them. That's a big question. He was probably only hinting at that song, "baby don't hurt me," but whatever.
Thierry Boulanger: aug_mental, what a cool name:
"What was the inspiration behind the shopkeeper and the variety of stories? I absolutely loved reading them all. The one about the wizard and the ring might be my favorite. Thank you all for such an amazing game!" − aug_mental
Thierry Boulanger: Well thank you, aug_mental. The inspiration behind The Shopkeeper. The idea was to have an optional layer of philosophical and personal growth advice takeaways in the game. If you played the whole game and made it to the story of the little boy in the well, my story was a big mental struggle for the last 10 years. During that time, I read many books, I listened to many intellectuals, and delved in psychology a lot. I tried to distill in an entertaining way things I wish I knew 10 years ago. If I had implemented them into my life earlier, it would have taken me less time to essentially get better. It was important for me to share these things, in the hopes that it can maybe help other people. That was certainly the intention. I can't really speak to the effect, though we do get our fair share of emails. People who seem to have touched them. Pretty stoked on that, to be honest.
Thierry Boulanger: ytsejam2013 asks:
"I'm stuck in the dragon boss." − ytsejam2013
Thierry Boulanger: That's not a question, but if you're stuck at the dragon boss, join our Discord. We have a lot of adventurers who are always really happy to help. Look up any speedrunners on Twitch. You can see some moves that they're pulling. Maybe they are a bit hard to execute. Definitely come and see us on Discord. People will be happy to assist you.
Thierry Boulanger: Last question, Enigmicia asks:
"Does the Messenger like cats?" − Enigmicia
Thierry Boulanger: No, The Messenger is allergic to cats. [laughs]
Thierry Boulanger: That's it for the Q&A. A reminder that you can join us on Discord. We'll link in the description. We have a very good community going. We even have an ARG that kicked off a few weeks ago. It's a good time to join and just have some with with us. Share some screenshots. Annoy Sclout with all the bugs that you find. If you guys like this Q&A, let us know. If you want us to make some more, we can certainly look into that as well. Again, thank you so much for playing the game. We have more content coming soon. Thank you very much. Have a good one.
Sabobo Direct - March 2019
Thierry Boulanger: Hello, everyone, it's Thierry from Sabotage here. Welcome to this first ever Sabobo Direct, where we not only answer questions from our community on Discord but also make a few exciting announcements. We'll even tease today a bit of music from our upcoming DLC, Picnic Panic. Rainbowdragoneyes is also in the studio with us this week, so we'll take a few questions related more to the soundtrack and its creation. Strap yourself in as we "do the thing."
[screen transitions to Sabobo Direct: March 2019 logo]
[screen transitions back to Thierry]
Thierry Boulanger: Before we jump in, I hope you understand I will be butchering your names once again. [laughs] The first question today is from orannqq, asks:
"How's your day been?" − orannqq
Thierry Boulanger: Our day has been great, thank you very much. Everyone's in the studio. We're all really excited. We got past a pretty bad snowstorm this week, but that's behind us now. We're all very much hard at work and really excited to be showing you guys what we've been working on. Hopefully soon.
Thierry Boulanger: Next question is from Delphine, who asks:
"What happens to Bowman after he gives the scroll to Ninja?" − Delphine
Thierry Boulanger: That's not clearly defined, because all we have is Ninja's book. We only have the story from his perspective. There's a few information between the lines there. It's not really clear, but it seems like Bowman wasn't actually the Messenger right before Ninja but was rather tasked with grabbing the scroll and just taking it to him real quick, which may or may not be related to another Messenger who became Fallen. The other thing was, I know that Bowman's main villain was Barma'thazël. Other than that, I can't really tell.
Thierry Boulanger: We have Gooberbarbarian:
"Thierry, what's your favorite type of tea?" − Gooberbarbarian
Thierry Boulanger: I like the classic chai latte. When it comes to herbal tea, I like a mix of ginger and rooibos. Roo-bee-oh-s? I'm not sure how you pronounce it, like R-O-I-B-O-S. I kind of like when these two mix together. Hot or cold, it's pretty good.
Important Announcement #1
[Thierry looks away from the camera and speaks to somebody off-screen]
Thierry Boulanger: What do you want? I'm filming.
[Martin Brouard appears on-screen with a piece of paper and hands it to Thierry, then Martin leaves]
Thierry Boulanger: An important message.
[Thierry reads from the piece of paper]
Thierry Boulanger: The Messenger is coming to PS4. The Messenger is coming to PS4. Let's keep going.
Thierry Boulanger: PiranhaPig wants to know:
"Do you enjoy seeing speedrunners, like me, beat your game as fast as possible?" − PiranhaPig
Thierry Boulanger: Yes. [laughs] I don't know about PiranhaPig specifically. We did watch a few of your play sessions. The game has been very much designed with speedrunners in mind. The fact that you guys picked it up really truly means a lot. It was kind of the intent. We've discussed a little bit on your guys' Discord. No one here really runs. We can't really run, but we're big fans of events like GDQ and things like that. To have made a game that was even taken there by Strizer, it's a real honor. We really hope that you guys will keep on playing, because we certainly plan on that and supporting it. It's a beautiful thing.
Thierry Boulanger: We have Gooberbarbarian again:
"Will we ever get pitou merch?" − Gooberbarbarian
[Thierry laughs and looks behind at Sylvain Cloutier, who is siting at an office desk]
Thierry Boulanger: Sylvain.
[Sylvain swivels around in his chair to look at Thierry]
[Thierry looks at the camera and laughs]
Thierry Boulanger: This one's for Sylvain.
Sylvain Cloutier: Yes?
[Thierry looks at Sylvain and motions him to come over]
[Sylvain comes over, wearing a black cap with a Pitou logo, and a black shirt with a Pitou logo and a white label below it that reads "Le dogo"]
Thierry Boulanger: You're rocking that Pitou merch today, Sylvain.
Sylvain Cloutier: Yeah, my Pitou dogo shirt.
Thierry Boulanger: You did the shirt yourself, and you did the hat yourself?
Sylvain Cloutier: I did the hat, yeah.
Thierry Boulanger: I think we have enough people who would like to buy it. Is it on sale? Do you have your own online store where you design clothes?
Sylvain Cloutier: Not yet.
Thierry Boulanger: Not yet?
Sylvain Cloutier: It's coming, yeah. I'm on it.
Thierry Boulanger: Is it? [laughs]
Sylvain Cloutier: Yeah, it is.
[Sylvain gives a double thumbs-up as he returns to his desk]
Thierry Boulanger: [at Sylvain] We'll get a few pre-orders in for you.
Thierry Boulanger: Maybe one day. I know that Sylvain is probably crazy enough to actually do it. [laughs] If you guys get behind it.
Thierry Boulanger: We have Kammesennin, our new mod. Hi, Kamme!
"You mentioned that this DLC will feature three levels. Can we expect them to be longer than the traditional levels of the linear portion of the main game?" − Kammesennin
Thierry Boulanger: Briefly, yes. Slightly.
"Will there be a good amount of new dialogue? I am especially looking forward to some more Shopkeeper interactions since the other characters will be alternates." − Kammesennin
Thierry Boulanger: Just to be clear, Barma'thazël is not alternate. He came from Ninja's timeline as well, but I see what you're saying there. There will be more Shopkeeper for sure. There's more where that came from. You walk into the shop in a new area, you expect your story, you will get your story. There's no cabinet rant, because the cabinet is gone. It's been replaced by a jukebox. Of course that's unless you can find it.
Important Announcement #2
Thierry Boulanger: Moving on--
[Thierry looks off-screen]
Thierry Boulanger: What's wrong? What's happening again?
[Thierry is handed a piece of paper]
Thierry Boulanger: Another paper.
[Thierry reads from the piece of paper]
Thierry Boulanger: Special Reserve Games will be doing physical Switch and PS4 editions with premium collectibles in the box. There's even going to be a booklet. They will announce a pre-sale date soon.
Thierry Boulanger: We should probably follow Special Reserve.
Thierry Boulanger: Wobbly Python:
"Can you tell us more about the process and going from placeholder art to final designs? How much of it is based on traditional/mythological stuff we may not generally be aware of?" − Wobbly Python
Thierry Boulanger: That's a good one. When it comes to the traditional or mythological stuff, that's bound to bleed into anything we do. The stories we're told as kids, the movies we watched, the heroes we look up to when we're younger. I don't think anyone can say, "I created something entirely from scratch, like I invented the concept of flight." I think we're subconsciously building on top of things that we took in. To think of a specific, outside of Ninja Gaiden and The Phantom of the Opera; without spoilers, that plays a small part in the game in the tying a romantic angle to the story. The process of going from placeholder art to final design, I have my--
[Thierry grabs a book from off-screen and flips through it]
Thierry Boulanger: This one here.
[Thierry displays pages from the book, concept art of a one-headed Demon King boss fight]
Thierry Boulanger: What happens is, I draw really bad, but then I'll do something like this. That's the Demon King before. It was supposed to have the four heads, but I didn't care to draw the details. That was basically the concept for that fight. You're riding a rocket here, and it was supposed to be throwing bombs instead of adding heads that shoot fire. It became cooler to make it more organic than using tools. That's where we start from.
[Thierry puts away book]
Thierry Boulanger: The team is always very kind with me. They never laugh at my terrible sketches. They try to take in the concept, and then they propose. They'll start sketching more properly, then eventually we get to the pixel art and the animation, and then it comes up in game. The very first step is really not much to look at. [laughs]
Thierry Boulanger: We have heather:
"You mentioned that bosses in the DLC will have a scripted pattern for first encounter. Will you be changing the original bosses to have that as well?" − heather
Thierry Boulanger: For those who don't know, heather is a speedrunner. I think what she mentions here is that how they're random in the game means that the boss can have different patterns if you die and go again, or even the first time around. If you're a speedrunner, you always want to see the same pattern so that it doesn't fall to the roll of the dice whether or not you'll beat your score. It should be all your performance. It shouldn't be whether or not the game gave you the number that you wanted. To address that, with all new bosses moving forward, we'll make the patterns fixed for any first attempt. If you're a speedrunner, you don't die during a boss. You can know what you're getting into if you're racing against someone. You don't lose because of the random.
Now as to whether or not we will backtrack this fix to also implement it in earlier bosses-- I know Ruxxtin is a big one, and the Colos Suses is also another big one for that. We'd like to do it, but we'd have to check in with the speedrunners first. If you're asking, it's probably a thing you guys would like to see in there. Come talk to us on our Discord. We'll try to figure it out, but if it makes sense for you all that we don't want to turn the table on you guys as the strategies are being developed. If it's a change that you all want to see, we could certainly look into that. It should be a small effort for us. If it's a win-win, yes, we'll do it.
Thierry Boulanger: We have O-S-H-I-- I'm not pronouncing that one:
"Are you planning to create new games after The Messenger?" − OHSHIET
Thierry Boulanger: No, we're starting a pizza joint. You can come and eat pizza with us as we reminisce on the old days of The Messenger.
Thierry Boulanger: KuningasEST, the guy who got the record on his birthday, and AJ the friendly crocodile NPC, both want to know:
"Voodkin/Phobekin plushies when?" − KuningasEST, and AJ the friendly crocodile NPC
Thierry Boulanger: We'd all like to see them. I'm surprised Quarble isn't mentioned in there, because we get that a lot too. We're interested in exploring all forms of celebrating what this game is. We're still not over the reception that we got. As a game studio, our main objective or responsibility should be to put more games out. That's the main thing that we're doing. We would very much like to see our characters come to life, or at least be interpreted in different medias. Plushies very much included. It's just that we have a lot in the works right now. Nothing is off the table, but we don't have a set timeline for something that specific.
Thierry Boulanger: I think the next questions, or at least the next segment, are all for Rainbowdragoneyes. Yo, Eric.
[Rainbowdragoneyes appears from below the screen, surprising Thierry]
Rainbowdragoneyes: Good evening.
Thierry Boulanger: Whoa, there you are.
Rainbowdragoneyes: It's a little joke I like to do.
Thierry Boulanger: It's a good one. You ready for some questions?
Rainbowdragoneyes: Sure. Let's see what we've got here.
Thierry Boulanger: We have Jack here for RDE:
"How is it composing music for the game, and how was it different compared to making your original tracks on LSDJ compared to Famitracker/Deflemask?" − Jack
Rainbowdragoneyes: How was it? I guess it was pretty cool. It was a lot of fun, because it was presented with tasks, trying to set the tone ahead of time. Writing music is writing music. The tools were slightly different. I had more channels to work with, so there's that. The main thing was making it loop.
Thierry Boulanger: LSDJ, for those who don't know.
Rainbowdragoneyes: It's a GameBoy music-making software that runs on the GameBoy. It's how this guy [motions at Thierry] found me in the first place.
Thierry Boulanger: Exactly. See, compose music on GameBoy, it leads to working on games.
Thierry Boulanger: We have a second question, ruiner9:
"Which tune from The Messenger do you think would be the most fun playing with a live band?" − ruiner9
Rainbowdragoneyes: Probably any of them, as long as the live band was sick.
Rainbowdragoneyes: If the drummer was better than me and the guitar player could really shred, I think Glacial Peak would be a good choice.
Thierry Boulanger: Oh yeah, Glacial Peak. That would be a good one.
Rainbowdragoneyes: Rivière Turquoise would be a good choice. Honestly, just pick any of them.
Thierry Boulanger: Interesting.
Rainbowdragoneyes: If the players are there--
Important Announcement #3
[Frédérik Rodrigue, who is sitting at an office desk in the background, stands up and hands a piece of paper to Rainbowdragoneyes]
Rainbowdragoneyes: For me? Thanks.
[Frédérik returns back to his desk]
Thierry Boulanger: These messages today.
[Rainbowdragoneyes purposely strains to read the message on the paper, then properly re-reads it]
Rainbowdragoneyes: Look forward to something with iam8bit.
Rainbowdragoneyes: Soon, too. Look forward to something.
Thierry Boulanger: Something with iam8bit.
Rainbowdragoneyes: I wonder what that could be.
Thierry Boulanger: I have no idea what that could be or why you would be there when we get [puts away Rainbowdragoneyes' message] this specific one.
Rainbowdragoneyes: That was really good timing.
Thierry Boulanger: Urgent messages.
Rainbowdragoneyes: We just happened to be here doing this. Crazy.
Thierry Boulanger: Crazy day.
Thierry Boulanger: Up next is Clappj, for RDE:
"What was your process for making Past and Future versions of each song? Where did you start?" − Clappj
Rainbowdragoneyes: I started from the beginning mostly.
Rainbowdragoneyes: The process was using two different programs. I insisted on doing it that way, because you could actually play back the past tracks on a Nintendo. You can play back the future tracks on a Genesis. I just had to use two different programs to make that possible.
Thierry Boulanger: Would you usually, in looking for the hook or the main melody, start off with the 8-bit and then portal it over to 16-bit?
Rainbowdragoneyes: Not exclusively, but I think that's what I ended up doing for most of it. There are some tracks that were not in both dimensions.
Thierry Boulanger: Up next is GVirus:
"Can you give Sir @Rainbowdragoneyes a high five for me? Thanks." − GVirus
Thierry Boulanger: Can I give you a high five for GVirus?
Rainbowdragoneyes: [holding up his hand] Let's do it.
[Thierry moves in for the high five, but Rainbowdragoneyes retracts his hand]
Rainbowdragoneyes: Sorry, had to be done.
Thierry Boulanger: Sorry, GVirus, he went there.
Thierry Boulanger: We have dosboxfalco:
"Does RDE listen to his own music? Of course he does to listen to it as a test, but I mean on the regular." − dosboxfalco
Rainbowdragoneyes: I've actually never heard anything I've written.
Rainbowdragoneyes: It's a weird phase cancellation. As soon as it comes out, I just can't hear it anymore.
Thierry Boulanger: For real? [laughs] Say you're going in the car somewhere on a Sunday. Would you be like, "I'll play my album. It'll be fun to look back." It would take a few years, at least?
Rainbowdragoneyes: I've never really thought about that.
Thierry Boulanger: Good question then, dosboxfalco. You have our guy stumped.
Rainbowdragoneyes: I'll check it out sometime.
Thierry Boulanger: GaidenGravity:
"RDE, what music inspire you or that you reference with The Messenger's music?" − GaidenGravity
Rainbowdragoneyes: I don't know why I hate this question so much. There's nothing specific that I referenced or was listening to while I created this. I listen to a lot of metal, I listen to a lot of game soundtracks, I listen to a lot of electronic music. It's all just swimming around up there. I try to come up with something I like that fits the application. That's all I got on that.
Thierry Boulanger: Last one for you, RDE. It's from Soleil, and it's a lengthy one.
"Rainbowdragoneyes, could you give us some insight on the lyrics-making process? Is it difficult to make lyrics and ones that rhyme, or does it come easily to you now since you've been making music for years? Do you try to make a story or try to capture specific feelings with those lyrics? Do you compromise the story or feelings a little bit in order to get words to rhyme, or is rhyming not a huge priority? And have you ever had ideas for lyrics and then built a song around that, or is it usually song first then lyrics later?" − Soleil
Thierry Boulanger: Yes?
Rainbowdragoneyes: Let's break it down a little bit. "Insight on the lyrics-making process. Difficult to make lyrics and ones that rhyme." I think it's difficult to make good lyrics. I think it's very easy to make bad lyrics, as the lyrics of Bamboo Creek will teach you.
Thierry Boulanger: [laughs] Official lyrics.
Rainbowdragoneyes: The official lyrics. Let's see what was next. "Does it come easily now that I've been making for years?" No, it's never come easily. It's a lot of revisions. You start to figure out patterns and stuff. You sort of unlock different techniques, and you just develop it over time. As soon as you do that, there's another level of unlocking and developing. It's a lifelong journey. "Do I try to make a story?" Yeah, sometimes. It depends. For my own original stuff, I like to tell weird stories about made-up things. Let's see what else we got here.
Thierry Boulanger: Which would it be? Is it like the music to the lyrics, or the other way around? If you had to compromise on one of the two, which would have priority?
Rainbowdragoneyes: That's a good question. The priority would go to the music. Generally the music comes first and lyrics after that. Usually I'll try to fit a certain number of syllables in a verse, but sometimes I'll have a good lyrical idea and then want to make a song around that.
Thierry Boulanger: Great. Thanks for taking some questions today.
Rainbowdragoneyes: Thanks for having me.
Thierry Boulanger: Since you're here, could you maybe bless us with a teaser for one of the tracks you're working on for Picnic Panic?
Rainbowdragoneyes: Yeah, I can do that.
Thierry Boulanger: Can we hit the music now?
Rainbowdragoneyes: Alright, let's hit it. [points up]
[screen transitions to Picnic Panic logo, upbeat chiptune music plays]
[screen transitions back to Thierry, Rainbowdragoneyes is gone]
Thierry Boulanger: Back to non-music-related questions.
Thierry Boulanger: Soleil wants to know:
"What's Ninja's favorite food?" − Soleil
Thierry Boulanger: I don't know if it's a food, but it's when you have a bowl of vanilla yogurt with maple syrup. That's the fuel for ninjas. [gives a thumbs up]
Thierry Boulanger: We have Delphine again:
"Colos vs. Suses, who would win?" − Delphine
Thierry Boulanger: That's a very ironic thing to be asking. I would advise you stay tuned on our Discord.
Thierry Boulanger: Gooberbarbarian:
"What is the canon height of 1 tile in The Messenger?" − Gooberbarbarian
Thierry Boulanger: That's a meme on our Discord. First Q&A, they asked, "What is the canon Ninja's height?" We said it was 2 tiles. For the canon height for 1 tile, we need to ask the man himself.
[Thierry calls for "Mic," Michaël Lavoie appears on-screen]
Thierry Boulanger: Mic, the people need to know. What is the canon height of 1 tile in The Messenger?
Michaël Lavoie: That's a good question. It's one half of a ninja.
Michaël Lavoie: See you.
Thierry Boulanger: Half a ninja is the exact metric here. [laughs]
Thierry Boulanger: Dime wants to know:
"What is The Artificer's obsession with doing the thing?" − Dime
Thierry Boulanger: "Doing the thing" is transforming and the big Arcane Golem. The Artificer wasn't explored a lot as to any backstory, but I always pictured The Artificer as being a child, or being at least really young. When you're young, and you're like, "What if we had superpowers? What if we could fly? What if we could throw fireballs?" Just because it's cool, you'd be doing it all the time. That's the deal with The Artificer. He's always so really excited to turn into this big thing, and the other Blue Robes are like, "Hey, not now. All in due time. There'll be a moment for this." He's always kind of like a child, always really excited for the next moment. Like, "Can we play games now?" That's all there is to it.
Important Announcement #4
[Thierry looks off-screen and acts exasperated]
Thierry Boulanger: I swear today, it's--
[Martin Brouard appears on-screen, wearing a large red Devolver Digital cowboy hat]
[Martin hands a piece of paper to Thierry and gives a big thumbs up before leaving]
Thierry Boulanger: Nice hat, Martin. We have another paper. [laughs] Trying to answer questions here.
[Thierry reads from the piece of paper]
Thierry Boulanger: We will be at PAX East showing Picnic Panic with a playable demo. Come meet Mic, Savannah, Sylvain, Thierry, and Rainbowdragoneyes. We will also have Pinny Arcade "Ninja pin." We will have a Fangamer-exclusive "Shopkeeper pin." We will have a new Devolver Messenger T-shirt.
Thierry Boulanger: That's in Boston, March 28 to 31. If you want to come see us, if you're on the east coast. If you want to fly to the east coast, that's cool too. We'll be there, you can try Picnic Panic for a few minutes. We'll have some goodies. It will be a good time for sure, so come say hi.
Thierry Boulanger: We have Soleil again:
"Is Ruxxtin an actual skeleton, or a guy wearing a skeleton costume?" − Soleil
Thierry Boulanger: I mean, not that it's mutually exclusive, but Ruxxtin is not a skeleton. When it comes to Ruxxtin, I suggest once you play Picnic Panic, you'll have a little surprise on Ruxxtin's backstory there. I'll give you infinite Time Shards if you can guess what it is.
Thierry Boulanger: Next question is from Spiderbenb:
"What programs do the artists use for creating all the assets in the game?" − Spiderbenb
Thierry Boulanger: Let's grab Savannah on this one.
[Thierry calls for "Savannah," Savannah Perron appears on-screen]
Thierry Boulanger: Spiderbenb wants to know what programs the artists use for creating all the assets in the game.
Savannah Perron: Most of our assets are done in Pyxel Edit.
Thierry Boulanger: That's "Pyxel" with a Y, right?
Savannah Perron: Yeah, "Pyxel" with a Y. It's like $10 online, and it's great for pixel art and animation. Sometimes if we need to use a flat surface to animate it, like a 3D-ish style, we use Flash.
Thierry Boulanger: I think the Butterfly was made like that, right?
Savannah Perron: Exactly. The Butterfly Matriarch's wings are made in Flash. Sometimes we use Photoshop for specific effects and stuff like that. Especially if [inaudible 23:09] is needed. That's about it.
Thierry Boulanger: Then you just have the good old graphics tablet with the pen.
Savannah Perron: Right, or tablets.
Thierry Boulanger: Mic for the level art, it's roughly the same?
Savannah Perron: Photoshop, yeah.
Thierry Boulanger: Thank you.
Savannah Perron: You're welcome.
Thierry Boulanger: There you have it, Spider.
Thierry Boulanger: We have orannqq:
"What is Manfred's birth name?" − orannqq
Thierry Boulanger: [laughs] Boyfred.
Thierry Boulanger: Gooberbarbarian:
"Why are you called Sabotage, and why that logo?" − Gooberbarbarian
Thierry Boulanger: That's a big one. So why Sabotage? The first thing is, we're based in Quebec. If you couldn't tell from the accent, we're French. In wanting to do business worldwide, you need to have a name that works that's not a very specific thing in French that people can't either pronounce or even write down because of complex characters. We wanted a word that worked both in English and in French.
So Martin, we co-founded the company together. The one thing we had in common, outside of video games-- You can't really go into the video games industry and be like, "Hey, we bring games." Of course that's what you're going to do, so what's the thing that's not related to gaming that you bring that's your own sort of identity? For us, it was the punk culture. We first bonded over the fact that I had a NOFX T-shirt on. He was like, "Hey, I'm into that band," and that's how we became fast friends just around that. This idea of punk values in general. This commenting on the passage of icons through time and integrity, and keeping a cool head. It was very much part of the wish and the intention.
Further, when it comes to the logo, I'll only speak for myself. I really like the monkey skull with a crown. From being a developer for many years before doing that in bigger studios, I have my own issues with higher-ups not being truly passionate about games. I felt sometimes they'd be selling cars if that were the trend. They would treat some tasks that have to do with game dev as, "Oh, that's just monkey work." I've always had that frustration in me. "You're treating me as if I need you and you don't need me, but it's the other way around. I'm passionate and you're not really." That's not to make a general point about any higher-ups. I can only speak for myself here in my personal experience. To me, this idea of putting a crown on the monkey is, "Let's see what happens next." I guess we can say, so far so good.
Thierry Boulanger: Final question from Boo:
"Do you have global stats regarding how many time shards have been given to or taken by our good fellow and savior of Ninja?" − Boo
Thierry Boulanger: I really hope you put a pin on that question. Really shortly, you'll be able to see how ironic it was to ask about global tracking of Time Shards. I'll leave it at that for now.
Important Announcement #5
Thierry Boulanger: That's it for today, unless Carl. Do you also have a message for me or since everyone seems to--
[Carl Dubreuil, who is sitting in a nearby office desk, hands a piece of paper to Thierry]
[Thierry laughs then reads from the piece of paper]
Thierry Boulanger: The Messenger will be out on PS4 next week. That's March 19. March 19. Will be on PS4, so you can get it next week.
Thierry Boulanger: Thanks everyone for tuning in today. I'm Thierry again from Sabotage. From everyone here, we thank you for playing our game. It's a real honor. We'll keep on supporting it as long as there's interest for it. You all have a good day.
Live Messenger Q&A - June 2019 (Part 1)
Timestamps currently based on original broadcast.
Thierry Boulanger: Let's try that transition. It worked. This first stream is off to a great start. Hey, everyone, it's Thierry from Sabotage. We're here for the live Q&A. I'm trying to put a bit of music in the background. If it's too high or it's too low, we can try to adjust on the spot. We'll try to do at least 20 minutes. We'll see how it goes, and depending on how spammy it gets or if we're out of questions after 5 minutes, which I doubt would happen. To those who were a bit worried that the Q&A was taking place before the release of Picnic Panic, don't worry. We can host another one afterwards if you have more questions related to the lore or anything.
On that real quick, I know that some of you already know that there won't be a lot of lore additions with Picnic Panic. It's not that there won't be additional stories unraveled to the characters local to Ninja's story. It's just that it's not relevant anymore to the big picture, for those following. So with that, I'm ready to take questions. I got the [inaudible 05:21], Carl is right there at the controls station. He's following the chat in both Discord and Twitch, and he'll be forwarding the questions that seem to come back a lot or things like that. If you just wanna fire away, I'm ready to take some questions now.
spiderbenb: I hope you're prepared for a long stream of questions Thierry. Hope you brought food with you. lol
Thierry Boulanger: [laughs] Spider, I don't have food, but I have my Zelda mug with I think enough water for 20 minutes. I should be fine.
HylianAngel: Oh it's the mug!!!!
GaidenGravity: That's a nice mug!
Thierry Boulanger: [laughs] It came from Soleil, actually. It's the mug. I drink out of it every day. It's now my official mug.
agentpapyroos1029: i love the boi in the background
[Thierry looks behind himself and notices a cardboard cutout of a Voodkin]
Thierry Boulanger: Oh, yeah. The flamethrower.
Miale_of_the_Void: How was your day?
Thierry Boulanger: It was great. It's this funny period at the studio where we're sort of in between projects. We're done with the DLC now, so it's all sent. Now we're just slowly working towards more stuff. We're still a studio, we're supposed to make games. It's going to be a chill summer, reconvening with the team and preparing for the next big thing.
Daniel_EDC: [for the DLC] is it going to be linear or metroid style? or both?
Thierry Boulanger: Picnic Panic will be linear. It's basically a rescue mission. The evil demon, Barma'thazël, kidnapped some Phobekins and took them to a remote tropical island, and so the Messenger goes on a rescue mission. It's linear. On that real quick, the reason why the game turned into Metroidvania, and I'll use air quotes here because it's still up for debate whether it's a legit Metroidvania or not, is that the idea is we always work with the story first. The story for The Messenger was at first was you grab the scroll and you have to take it to the top of the mountain. In that regard, it makes sense for the game to be linear, because you're just taking something from point A to point B. Now when you reach the halfway point of the story, everything starts unraveling. Now it's about fixing the world, so you need to be searching all around, finding artifacts, and trying to piece everything together. The best way to support that part of the story was to have a Metroidvania type where exploration played a bigger part. It's not necessarily that we're committed to a specific gameplay or game genre. It's more that we have a story to tell, and then we look at the best way to tell that story. In the case of Picnic Panic, since it's a rescue mission, you go out there, you grab that, and you come back, so it's linear.
Mrs_Stephanie: Why did the Messenger who got the two first Music Notes collected the Music Notes ?
Thierry Boulanger: Why? Because she could. Ninja obviously isn't the first Messenger, and the idea is this deal with the Curse that's never-ending. To tell a story that spans such a big amount of time, there's a lot of backstory to that world. It's not, "Everything happened for hundreds of thousands of years, and then someone solved it in 2 days." The idea is that there was a lot of build-up that led up to the Curse finally being ripe to be broken. There was a Messenger who found the Music Box, and from that, the world's intention to save itself materialized as Music Notes. Two of them were found, and then other stuff happened, which we may or may not visit later.
Grochowicz: Are you guys ever going to release The Messenger on Xbox?
Thierry Boulanger: Yeah, so we get that a lot. It's always hard to tell. We haven't announced anything, and then it's not me like weaseling out of "oohh, maybe, but I'll let you guess." We actually haven't announced anything. It's not that we're not looking at it. We certainly want to get the games in the hands of anyone who wants to play it, but we're just looking at options right now. We're a very small team, and so doing a port also means not doing something else, potentially. We have limited time, and so we have to plan carefully. I don't have an update on that at the moment, other than we hear you, and if the demands become overwhelming, I think we'll have to get to it.
JakkMAU5plays: in light of video games getting TV adaptations, if the messenger was a tv show of some sort, who would you cast for actors?
Thierry Boulanger: Wow. I think I'd like to do Ruxxtin's backstory from the beginning to how he got his necromancer gear. Something like "Ruxxtin Origins." I think that could be really cool. Obviously we're not TV producers, but I'm happy to dream.
Kamjol: Will we be getting a soundtrack download for the new dlc?
Thierry Boulanger: Yes. There's shorter tracks because sometimes it's a quick cutscene, and everything's doubled because of the 8 and 16-bit, but in total, it's 18 tracks for Picnic Panic. On Steam, the bundle will be there. You'll be able to just to buy the soundtrack as a standalone. If you already bought the bundle, it's included for free already. I'm sure Rainbowdragoneyes will be releasing on all channels as is his habit.
Sg9000: How were the Music Notes created? Are the Guardian Gods responsible for them?
Thierry Boulanger: I can't really touch on the Guardian Gods. Hold on, do you want that question "ARG on" or "off"? That's very important. I'll just assume "ARG on" since it touches on lore. The Guardian Gods, I don't have more information at the moment. Other than they played an important role, and it seems that love was the thing they brought or that they showed the world in important enough fashion that it could crystallize into something physical. The way the Music Notes are created, and lifting the veil a little bit, the whole story of The Messenger is a metaphor. I don't want to defeat all the magic by pointing every single detail, but the idea is that you could in a way think of the world as a person and as everything you might need to become whole or to embrace. The good, the bad, and understanding that everything is in either moderation, or certainly harmony in the case of going with the melody, the Music Notes there. The idea is that at some point, everything was going really bad. At some point, there was just a little sign of hope, and it created those Music Notes. It was the world going, "This is my last-ditch effort at saving myself," and if someone could then do the empathetic effort of gathering them and acknowledging them and listening to them, then perhaps things could be taken to the next level. Does that make sense? I hope that makes sense. That's all I've got on this one.
Grochowicz: Do enemies despawning when they leave your screen have to do with time magic?
Thierry Boulanger: [laughs] No, that one is pure gameplay. It's one of these where you have to create a glitch in your game for it to feel retro. It's just something we loved, and the game didn't feel right without that little added thing, because it's what you expect when you get into that retro space, or at least we felt. No, there's no lore implications there, though I'm happy if you want to connect some dots there.
oh_shiet: what connection is there between Artificer and Monk?
Thierry Boulanger: [silence] Wow. I don't want to do too many spoilers. She got the scroll from The Artificer at first. I'll leave it at that.
Sg9000: The most important question: Is Artificer a panda?
Thierry Boulanger: I legit want to retcon a bunch of stuff so that can be a thing, but sadly, The Artificer is not a panda. The Artificer is a panda in our hearts, so I think that counts. [laughs]
AesopB3EF: Will Quarble be getting his own spin-off game?
Thierry Boulanger: I don't have a scrying orb, but I could see that happening. That could be cool. Not that we're doing that at the moment, but I can see why that would be out on the table. It sounds like a cool idea. Just like a TV series on Ruxxtin, why not?
ThyPengu: Did you take the same premise of "Subverting expectations" with the DLC?
Thierry Boulanger: We're still called "Sabotage," you know? [laughs] Maybe you can get back to us after you play it, but hopefully you'll be surprised at least 3 times. It's all about designing by expectations, but the challenge with Picnic Panic is that we don't catch you off-guard this time around. Now you expect something, and so how do you surprise someone who's expecting a surprise, to quote The Shopkeeper. There's ways to do that, but if it's something that people can predict, or if it's something that they could have guessed, then it kind of ruins it a little bit. I'm not sure how that should inform the expectations that you set before you go in, but yeah, there should be at least 2 or 3 moments that you go, "What?"
agentpapyroos1029: who makes the blue robes that they wear?
Thierry Boulanger: That will remain a mystery. [laughs]
Grochowicz: If all of the stories actually happened and Thierry is the boy in the well, Thierry is a canon character in the The Messenger universe, right? So is everyone from our universe a canon character in the The Messenger universe?
Thierry Boulanger: Sure. Everyone, we're all canon, isn't it great? [laughs] Not all of the stories happened. While they do have easter eggs, and in The Messenger world, they happen for sure, because it's part of what the world stumbled upon or attempted in finding some things for itself. As far as the stories go, with the hat off, some of them are made up, some of them are riffs on classic stories, and some of them are just things that stayed with me or morals that were put in fairytale form. You can expect more Shopkeeper stories in the DLC. I won't say how many because I don't want to spoil too much. The only thing though is that it seems like the cabinet is lost for good, because we've had playtesters on it for a few weeks and there's no sign of it.
AesopB3EF: Favorite ninja movie?
Thierry Boulanger: There's one I don't remember the name that I saw when I was in elementary school, and that ninja was so cool. I don't remember the name, and I tried thousands of ways of typing "ninja movie 90's." I never found a single screencap or anything that looks like what I saw. I know there's a very cool ninja movie out there, and I wish I could watch it again, but I can't. The best thing was probably being 8, so maybe the movie is not that great. So my favorite ninja movie is the one I can't name.
Miale_of_the_Void: So, When I finished the game, I read the last story from the shopkeep. I found it really inspiring. So here's the Question, what made you decide to include such a beautiful message?
Thierry Boulanger: Part of it is the game is called "The Messenger." The answer is in the question. You don't go rip a title that's already overused by the Facebook app unless you have a good reason for it. The Messenger is the function of your character of carrying the scroll, but it's also the mandate of the game for me was to create a space where it's entertaining enough that you have people's ear and that while you're there, perhaps you can maybe help move the ball a bit further for them. That was part of the intention.
Deciding to include it, I don't know if you've seen the "Behind the Schemes" documentary on the production that Devolver did with Cosmocover on us, but it was almost not in the game. The reason was mainly because, for me, the creative process comes from a very vulnerable place. It's a big risk to be exposing yourself so much. In a way, the whole world is invited to look in on things, and they could choose to pick on them or think they're silly or make fun of them. Especially in the mindset that you're in. It's a game I've been wanting to make since I was about 8 years old. To eventually get down to it, bring friends along and start doing some dev with them, they're all listening really respectfully to all those ideas, they made their best to apply their craft to that, and then you send it out. Maybe everyone would be, "What's the deal with the shopkeeper?" "Why would you do that?" "Why would anyone do that?" Certainly the response has been great, but the reason it was almost not there definitely was because of the risk. The rejection. The level of rejection that it could have been.
mmhmmnope: Thierry Will artificer ever be revealed without his cloak? Does he even have a gender?
Thierry Boulanger: The Artificer will be revealed, yes, but I don't think you will know it is The Artificer the first time you see-- anyway, yes. The answer is yes.
Nufakas: So the vision the messenger saw in the orb from the shop was a teaser for the DLC?
Thierry Boulanger: Absolutely. The entry point to the DLC is the scrying orb. Once you download the DLC, what happens is you need to be on a game where you beat the final boss, you saw the credits. You go into the shop, and on the scrying orb there's a palm tree neon sign. Then you just activate the scrying orb, it opens a portal, and it sends you to the alternate timeline where Picnic Panic takes place. It is an alternate timeline.
Mrs_Stephanie: Can you confirm that Ninja is about 180,975 centimeters tall ?
Thierry Boulanger: Ninja is 2 tiles high. I think that's been established as canon. When it comes to the specific height of things in the world, we tried to include something for that in the DLC. We'll see how it goes, but you should be able to confirm character heights in the near future.
oh_shiet: was the Primal Fear the ruler of demons?
Thierry Boulanger: Nope. The Primal Fear is unrelated to demons. It's a Primal. Primals are a thing. This one is the Primal Fear, so you can have the Primal something-else. You can think of them as huge incarnations of extreme emotions. Not unlike Music Notes, but the bad kind. Other than that, what else is there to say on the Primal Fear-- any visuals you saw on the Primal Fear is not canon and was just a loose attempt at picturing it from what we could read from The Archives. We may or may not hear more on Primals later.
ThyPengu: If the past and the future are 500 years or so apart, how are the moth and the bat synchronized?
Thierry Boulanger: That one is a bit intricate to detail. I think you'll get a hint of alternate timelines in the DLC. There's something about these worlds sometimes clashing or connecting for short periods of times, and I think I need to leave that one just on a hint there.
sage_88: do you have any favorite books?
Thierry Boulanger: Wow. It depends which subject, but yes. I've read a lot of fantasy. I'm a big fan of the Crystal Shards series. Probably my favorite one. Then there's the classic Wheel of Time until it becomes boring. Other than that, most of the reading I've done was-- actually, that's kind of a boring answer, but it has to do with psychology and personal growth. I was big on understanding the human brain and behavior and things like that, so a lot of it is just heavy reading seemingly for no reason. Other than that, I still read a lot. One that I really liked is-- what's it called again? The Night Land. It's an old sci-fi horror thing where the whole world is completely broken, and they all just live in a pyramid. It's the night everywhere, and they're trying to survive. It's a good one. It's a slow read, but it's very good. In the end, it pays off. It's about how someone had to go into the night and cross this completely destroyed world to go and grab someone. It's a good one. The Night Land is good.
ThyPengu: When are you going to sell that really nice hat?
Thierry Boulanger: Which hat? Do you mean the Devolver hat? We don't sell it. Devolver made that one, it was for PAX South. It was pretty cool, but they don't sell it.
[Thierry leaves briefly and returns to show off a giant red cowboy hat with the Devolver logo on it]
Thierry Boulanger: If you mean Ninja's awesome hat-- [laughs] I don't know if we have plans to sell that, but it's a good idea.
TurboAtomsk_TPK: Do you have plans to make the Gunner/Archer playable characters?
Thierry Boulanger: Not at the moment. I assume you mean Bowman and then Soldier. Not at the moment. Again, back to the question of, "if we do a TV series." There's a lot of little sub-stories, sidequests, adventures, or things that happen, and it's a very big world. Our options are endless right now.
[video feed cuts off abruptly]
Live Messenger Q&A - June 2019 (Part 2)
Thierry moved to a different room to finish the remainder of the live Q&A due to technical difficulties.
Thierry Boulanger: Are we good now? Just going to confirm that works.
[Thierry looks behind himself and points at a cardboard cutout of a Voodkin]
Thierry Boulanger: We still have-- [laughs] That was not even intentional. We still have the flamethrower guy. It's a different one.
[Thierry shows off two swords]
Thierry Boulanger: Hey, I brought Barma'thazël's double sword from the short film we did when the game released to make up for the technical issues, so we have Barma'thazël's weapon with us.
[Thierry puts the swords away]
Thierry Boulanger: We actually already did 20 minutes, so technically that would have been fine. [laughs] I can still do about maybe 10 or 15. I have something at 4 EST, which is in 18 minutes. I need to go prepare. We can do 10 more minutes. Where were we? Back to the questions.
GaidenGravity: Were the other people freed when Monk was freed?
Thierry Boulanger: Which people are you talking about? You mean everyone who was turned into a Quillshroom? Nope, they were not freed. They were cursed forever. Monk was the only one that had a strong enough will that she embraced the curse, and that allowed some space for her own mind to not be completely obliterated. That's why she's not a monster. She's just a monster version of herself. She's still in there somewhere and then comes back out eventually.
spiderbenb: When will we see The Archivist again?
Thierry Boulanger: [laughs] The big question. You're assuming that we will see The Archivist again. Maybe The Archivist's role has been played now and that we don't need The Archivist anymore, but no. Actually we're wondering exactly the same thing. We're kind of eager to get to work on the next big thing, but we have yet to receive the book. That's still in the air as to when The Archivist will appear.
oh_shiet: is The Iron Hood a human?
Thierry Boulanger: [laughs] Yes, The Iron Hood is a human.
Seizou: so am I murderer for every shroom I kill
Thierry Boulanger: Not really. That's always a big debate, but no, there's no humanity left in them at all. They're nothing but monsters. It's a simple world like that.
Mrs_Stephanie: Where do The Matriarch and the fireflies' abilities come from? (I'm talking about the ability to time travel without any scroll or anything)
Thierry Boulanger: They're not linked. The Matriarch and the fireflies, they are related lore-wise, but they don't have the same-- the Matriarch just happens to be really old, whereas the fireflies are made of time magic in a way. Maybe you noticed that the color that they have and that they carry is the same as the portals that you go through. It's the same as the energy on the scroll when the Ninja does the thing to call the Tower. It's the same blue that comes back, and that was on purpose.
gooberbarbarian: Who is shoppy's boss?
Thierry Boulanger: Shoppy is the boss, don't you know? [laughs]
oh_shiet: who was the last to join the Order of the Blue Robes crew, if choose between Prophet and Artificer?
Thierry Boulanger: You mean which of them joined first? The Prophet joined before Artificer. If that's your question, The Prophet joined the Order before The Artificer. On that brief note, how you give the scroll, then you disappear, and then you appear into the shop. It's a bit unfair for Messengers, but the idea is that, once you touch the scroll and once you're attuned to that magic, you belong to The Void, because it's the only thing that's unique (for those who've been following all the shenanigans and time travel and whatnot that we've had going on). You first exist in a branch, in a possible timeline of reality. Once you touch the scroll, you become attuned to the only thing that's unique, which is The Void, as there's only 1 scroll, there's only 1 void. You can't exist outside of the void if you don't carry the scroll, because you don't belong there anymore.
HylianAngel: So they can't go back even if they want to?
Thierry Boulanger: Like Soleil is saying, no, they cannot go back, but it also never existed in the first place, in a way. I don't wanna get into Archivist business here, but there's something bigger going on.
oh_shiet: okay, question: how old is Ninja Elder?
Thierry Boulanger: That's one of these where I just got to go with the, "Really old, you guys." The guy is old. For real though, the Ninja Elder, there's not much to the character. It's really just your clichéd-- the way we presented the game was, it first starts off as-- we wanted it to be, I don't know if it's the right choice of words, but to be deceivingly simple, pretending, "It's that thing again with the demons and the village burning," and the, "Hey, no time to explain, just go." All the depth that unravels later, your experience is dealt over those two points, how simple it was at first. The Ninja Elder was just there as a, let's have the clichéd old guy who's like [Thierry does an old man voice impression] "And so you go on a quest."
GaidenGravity: What's Shopkeeper's favorite drink?
Thierry Boulanger: I can't really recommend anyone drinks alcohol, but for The Shopkeeper, it happens to be the Moscow Mule.
GaidenGravity: What's your favorite track in The Messenger?
Thierry Boulanger: That one is impossible to answer. Rainbowdragoneyes is my favorite artist, is the short answer, or the only real answer I can give. Probably Elemental Skylands 8-bit. I always felt it was a bit of a shame that that level is mostly 16-bit. The Manfred boss fight is also a really good one. Howling Grotto 16-bit. And all of them.
gooberbarbarian: How long has the ARG been planned, and do you come up with stuff as you go or do you have everything planned?
Thierry Boulanger: That's another tough one, because we're all shaping this together. That is extremely ARG hat off, and I apologize. In a sense, I'm in the ARG as well. The Archivist doesn't have the solution. He needs people to find it. The community is legitimately making decisions, and we're legitimately acting on those decisions. There wouldn't be a Q&A today if Heather hadn't bought it. You could have had the Jukebox 3 weeks ago, or maybe 2 months ago. I think it was there already. You can think of The Archivist as the onlooker of us trying to figure what's going on, as he also is trying to figure what's going on, and he needs help. The theories-- we're beginning to understand this world. It's so big and so complex that he unveils the parts he feels we need to keep on progressing. Again, we don't have a scrying orb, but you don't start a studio just to make the 1 game and then shut your doors. All I can say to that is I really hope that we'll get to show you the bigger world that we plan to build, and I hope that one day you can look back and think of how small a slice it was of the bigger picture that The Messenger turned out to be.
JustDenys1: So, where appeared Key of Revenge and Key of Adventurer?
Thierry Boulanger: So the Key of Revenge is when-- yeah, I can't say that one. The Key of Adventure was from all the Messengers who left-- so the Key of Adventure at first was in the game, and it's the one Music Note that you found during the 8-bit/linear portion, just as a hint that there was something more. It was in Bamboo Creek, and you stumbled upon it just as a, "Wait, what's that?" It was the moment in the story that, because it's very dark at first, and now you get a bit of fresh air, and you're like, "Oh, wow." It's the moment where it picks up. It's a bit more lighthearted, and it's where you're really feeling the journey. It would have been the one moment where so many Messengers had that feeling, that it eventually materialized. In that, "Wow, I'm far enough from home. I'm committed to this. You know what, there's no going back," kind of deal. Key of Revenge, I can't touch on it. It's too big a spoiler.
starryeyedninja: will colos ever pop up in the server?
Thierry Boulanger: That's not up to me. [laughs] You guys can ask for whatever. The Discord is there for the community. Again, with the ARG hat off, we're here to entertain. Me as a game designer, I like to apply those principles to everything in life. We can entertain in a game, we can entertain through a cutscene, we can entertain through a short story, or a video, or we can do a text adventure game in #the-shop channel. As long as we have people around who care about this world, we'll dish out more about it. If everyone wants Colos to join the server, I don't know what that will look like. We think that the dynamic is kind of good right now, where you have Suses. Excuse my French pronunciation. When he's using the hyphen, that means he's talking to Colos, and when the hyphen isn't there, that's because he's talking to the server. The shenanigans there of them getting ice cream and whatnot. Think we're in a good place right now, and if Colos joins, it just becomes a dialogue all the time. I don't know. Maybe it could make sense, but know for sure that we're paying attention.
gooberbarbarian: is Sabout canon
Thierry Boulanger: Yes, Sabout, and I think everyone needs to pronounce "Suh-boot." Sabout is the most canon thing we have. We call him Sabout every day. It's still funny every day. I don't think we're getting over that one basically ever. I don't know that he would do a live Q&A, but maybe we can have him on for one question. Hold on.
[Thierry leaves and returns with Sylvain Cloutier]
Thierry Boulanger: Alright, you guys better show up with a question, because I got Sabout with me. Hello, Sabout.
Sylvain Cloutier: Hi, guys.
Thierry Boulanger: [laughs] Alright, what's the question for Sabout?
oh_shiet: why does Pitouette icon have the question mark instead of normal icon?
Thierry Boulanger: That's because we don't know what Pitouette will look like. Wait, we need a question for Sabout. Come on. [laughs]
spiderbenb: When can we have a 16 bit Pitou?
Thierry Boulanger: That's your question, Sabout.
Sylvain Cloutier: Next week.
Thierry Boulanger: Whoa.
Thierry Boulanger: Alright, thanks.
Sylvain Cloutier: See ya, guys.
Thierry Boulanger: I guess Sabout just committed to delivering [French word for 16]-bit Pitou next week. [laughs] I think that's a good note to end on. Thanks, everyone. Especially thank you for bearing with us with the technical issues. It was first time streaming. Basically the takeaway is that the wi-fi in the other room is terrible. We'll do better next time. I hope you enjoyed. Obviously let us know of any comments. We're always on Discord if you want to be in touch. You all have a great weekend, and we'll see you around. Take care.
Special Reserve Games Discord Q&A
Special Reserve Games cooperated with Sabotage to release physical copies of The Messenger for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. A Q&A involving Sabotage was held on September 28, 2019 within the official Special Reserves Games Discord, in #the-messenger text channel.
Note: As these messages were posted in a text channel, questions and answers were originally posted in chronological order. However, a pure transcript of the original text would make it difficult to understand which questions were being answered, so the following transcript has related messages grouped together.
soul: Thank you @everyone for joining us today for a chat with our great friends from Sabotage Studio. We hope you enjoy a bit of conversation with the great team behind #the-messenger. Please note a few ground rules for the AMA:
-Please direct support issues to email@example.com, the Sabotage team is here to have some fun with everyone, so let's keep it light!
-Slow mode is on to allow our guests to keep up the pace with the chat. This will be turned back off after the AMA.
-Any inappropriate comments will be removed and may be grounds for a ban from the Discord.
-Have fun with this and thank you for joining Sabotage Studio and Special Reserve Games for this
soul: @Thierry and @Phil (The Clockwork Operator) thank you all for joining us for this event. We are honored to have you here and were humbled to be able to bring your amazing game, The Messenger, to physical for for everyone to enjoy. Would you mind taking a moment to each tell us about yourselves and Sabotage Studio?
Thierry: You bet!
Thierry: First of all thanks so much for having us @soul and @AskSmitty! It's truly been amazing to see the response on the physical version of our game. Coming from a childhood of playing games on Nintendo I'm sure you can all imagine how much of a trip it has been to see this come to life at that level.
soul: Also...please ask our guests whatever you guys want to know! Earlier, @AskSmitty wanted to know @Phil (The Clockwork Operator)'s favorite fair food.
Phil (The Clockwork Operator): Hey guys! Happy to be here! Thanks for the opportunity @soul and @AskSmitty - For a bit of background, I joined the team as the new Executive Producer back in February, during the production Picnic Panic. I'm now overseeing the production and taking care of everything related to marketing efforts for the studio. I also do a bit of development on the side, like Discord bots, websites, marketing tools, whenever I get a bit of time.
Thierry: So I'm Thierry, started Sabotage in 2016 with my buddy Martin so that I could finally work as a game designer director and writer. Our Studio now counts 14 people! For full disclosure, Phil here our executive producer is also my best friend, and for those who finished the game, he's also the Philip from "Merci Philip". We're stoked to be here.
PancakeFlip: I want to say I’ve been playing games for almost 30 years, and I feel your studio has done a spectacular job capturing the magic and feelings of those old games. It felt unique and original but it felt like it was made during my childhood playing NES SNES and GB games. From the humor, music and graphics it captured everything remarkably well. This game means a lot to me and I look forward to what new things you produce.
Thierry: Thanks @PancakeFlip, it seems the vibe we were shooting resonated with you, that's always great to hear!
matehiqu: Are John Gaiden and Ray Troid actual characters in the universe of the messenger or they are just jokes?
Thierry: @matehiqu they exist in real life
Thierry: Wait is sarcasm allowed?
dystroph: did you guys start making the game inspired by 8-bit first, or 16-bit? Or was it always planned to include both from the very beginning?
Thierry: @dystroph Started off as "just a game". It all started when Ninja Gaiden 2 blew me away back in ~1992, so 8bit was the default, or at the least the only option in my mind. The world built itself slowly in my head over some 25 years and always had the Ninja time travelling to the future. Once it became clear that the game would actually happen evey important story bit was crafted in the best way possible to convey the events, and switching from 8 to 16 bits just felt rad
gainzofcastamere: Thank you Sabotage for making an incredible game and giving us the amazing Picnic Panic! Other than the Shopkeeper, what is your favorite character in the game?
Phil (The Clockwork Operator): I'm personally a big fan of the Concierge and Manfred!
WindSlasher: Hi to everyone from Sabotage and thanks for the AMA, and for making such a fantastic game, my question is who came up with the idea of the Shopkeeper's stories for the game and who wrote them?
Phil (The Clockwork Operator): @WindSlasher - Thierry did all the writing for the Shopkeeper.
Thierry: @WindSlasher I kinda not 100% like these questions because there's no way I'm as cool the characters but I wrote every single word. It was my first gig as a writer and I was struggling to find my style since all I know is to be silly and a bit cynical. Back at GDC 2017 we were all set for a pitch to Nintendo and needed at least one shop sequence in there. The only way I could write in time to hit the dedaline was to go unfiltered which gave us the first shop interaction from Autumn Hills that made it into the final game and set the tone for the whole thing. The first cabinet rant was in there too.
Natalie: I'd like to hear about the extent of your collaboration with SRG on the physical edition. How involved were you guys in the design and layout? Were there ideas you had that didn't make it to the final product?
Thierry: @Natalie it was a really fun collaboration, the opportunity was surreal but it was also a very busy time for us at the studio, so it became a happy mix of them proposing a lot of things so we had grounds for discussion and could iterate from there to make sure everything was on brand but also had the SRG (excuse the pun) paw on it. It mostly felt like a celebratiuon if that makes sense.
PancakeFlip: How hard was it to design sections that were more challenging, that required more skilled usage of attacking and double jumping? Was it hard balancing it between fair and infuriating, I found it fair but always wondered the thought process behind developing trickier platforming sections.
Thierry: @PancakeFlip our definition of fair is pretty basic, in that the challenge should never be tighter than the controls, and the penalty shouldn't outweigh the input window of a challenge. Does that make sense? For example walking back 5 minutes just to fail a frame tight input all over again is a no-no. We tried to be mindful of that when placing checkpoints and whatnot. Then for the controls we wanted to keep it nervous at all timesl, so there aren't a lot of setting things into motion and 5 seconds later you see whether you hit or missed the mark. Simply put we're our biggest critics and each screen has been done and redone 11 times on average
yggdrasil (ユグドラシル): HeyHo! Thanks for the AMA and spending your time with us here ! So I'd like to know if you approached Devolver or was it the other way around? And which engine did you use or in-house tech?
yggdrasil (ユグドラシル): @Phil (The Clockwork Operator) Ah okay! So is the game actually made out of 2D sprites or actual models. I know that Enter the Gungeon actually uses the latter.
Phil (The Clockwork Operator): @yggdrasil (ユグドラシル) - yep, 2D sprites!
TigerFestEvil87: I loved the messenger esp the shopkeep dialogue and was wondering how long the team plans on making content for the game, also went to pax east and your set up was so cool for picnic panic
WhatsAMod: Well I guess I'll ask a question..
For the crystal ball.. there's still room, future DLC?
P.S. glad you left the quote in the game @Thierry
digitalelixer: Picnic Panic seems to ramp up the difficulty (which I really liked), any plans for even more difficult levels coming in the future?
Thierry: @WhatsAMod @TigerFestEvil87 @DigitalAtlas about future content past Picnic Panic, what happened is there was a trilogy called "Barma'thazël's Revenge" and Picnic Panic is Act 1, but we haven't confirmed yet whether we'll be exploring Act 2 and 3 anytime soon, or even as a follow up to our first game. The gist of it is all of our games ever will take place in the same universe, and we're definitely going to release more entertainment in the future.
dystroph: Like probably most of us, I first heard of Messenger from the Nintendo Direct it was in. How did that happen? Did Nintendo approach you about including it in the Direct?
Thierry: @dystroph it comes down to "beating the drum" as Phil always says. You show up to gaming event and pitch your game every chance you get. Eventually, hopefully, someone with decision making power likes it and gives you a shot. I must admit I'm still not over the fact that it all turned out the way it did
Snare: Did you guys also get physical copies of the game for yourselves? Have you played them/kept them sealed? If so, what numbers did you guys get? (I’ve got copy #6660)
Phil (The Clockwork Operator): @Snare - we actually had physical copies for the whole team! Each member got 2 copies of their choice (PS4/Switch). I kept mine sealed, can't say for the rest of the team!
AskSmitty: I have a Bokken Bundle preview
AskSmitty: Wrapped in javelina
yggdrasil (ユグドラシル): @Phil (The Clockwork Operator) Which program was used for the sprites?
Phil (The Clockwork Operator): @yggdrasil (ユグドラシル) - Pyxel Edit for characters and animation, and Photoshop for environments.
yggdrasil (ユグドラシル): @Phil (The Clockwork Operator) Sweet thanks! I'm just wondering how you approach pixelart in Photoshop. I made a few texture packs for Minecraft years ago. But those were obviously small sprites with individual sizes. Which dimensions did you use for the backgrounds? I know that's a pretty specific question, sorry.
Phil (The Clockwork Operator): @yggdrasil (ユグドラシル) - pretty good question, let me validate and get back to you!
yggdrasil (ユグドラシル): Do you see yourselves approaching different genres in the future?
Thierry: @yggdrasil (ユグドラシル) Absolutely definitely 100%. You can think of The Messenger as Sabotage's treatment on the retro platformer/sidescroller. The design approach is maintaining the audio visual aestetics of retro games while removing irritants and modernizing game design and storytelling so that they hold up today, an approach that could be applied to many genres.
yggdrasil (ユグドラシル): Sweet! Personally, I'd like to see a spin on the RPG genre from Sabotage in the future.
Thierry: wouldn't that be a sight
yggdrasil (ユグドラシル): For sure! :) Btw how did you get to work with Rainbowdragoneyes? And will you collab again in the future?
Thierry: @yggdrasil (ユグドラシル) that one's always fun to tell. Basically had been a fan of his "eurobit" shenanigans for a while, and I used to ramble a lot to my buddy Sabout (coder at Sabotage) how I'd quit my job and start this thing and hire him and we'd make the 8bit ninja and travel the world and be independant and connect with everyone and blah blah blah. Overtime those ramblings of things that probably would never happen got bolder and included "and Rainbowdragoneyes whose real name I don't even know will MAKE THE MUSIC". Fast forward to the fall of 2015, I had been working on the protoype with the other Phil (level designer, not producer) evenings and weekends for a few months, and Sabout says "dude Rainbowdragoneyes is playing drums in this accoustic pirate band and their playing Québec tonight". So I took my rambling voice again and said "Imma go there and meet him after his set and recruit him" and I'm glad I had 3 witnesses because I swear it happened exactly like this:
-Me: "Hey man, I... I don't want to be a bother I....
-RDE : "You're fine. What's up?"
-Me: "I'm a big fan of Rainbowdragoneyes".
-RDE gives double high five
-Me : "So I've been a dev for 7 years, and we're making this 8bit ninja game and-"
-RDE : "Yes I'll make your music."
yggdrasil (ユグドラシル): @Thierry Haha! This is beyond awesome! What a rad story. Sometimes you just have to take the opportunity. How did you get into coding and Unity in the first place?
Thierry: @yggdrasil (ユグドラシル) started working in games in 2008 when Flash was all the rage. When Unity came out the studio we worked at transitioned some projects and we never looked back, it's perfect for the kind of games we want to make
TigerFestEvil87: Do u guys see a lot of messenger cosplay at events
Phil (The Clockwork Operator): @TigerFestEvil87 - we haven't seen a lot of cosplay, though some people did an amazing job with their costumes, but we do see a lot of fanart though!
Snare: do you guys work on PCs or Macs?
Snare: my favourite part of the game was all the flavoured dialogue from the shopkeeper. how long did it take to write all of that stuff? also, was it just one member on the team that wrote out all those stories? or did multiple people contribute?
Thierry: @Snare I wrote every word of the original script (English), then did Québécois, the rest was traslated by professionals. Again I don't 100% like these questions because the characters are bigger than me at this point and I like to preserve the magic. As far as time investment, inspiration is different for everyone. Most of it happened in bursts during sleepless nights, or mornings where it just felt right to not go to the studio and let it out instead. The bakcbone is a personal growth journey of roughly 10 years dealing with debilitating anxiety, so most characters and important events in the game are things I felt the need to either expose, ridicule, redeem, or get the world to beat up for me
soul: Thierry and Phil - With so much of your heart and soul (no pun intended) put into The Messenger, are there times when you're just doing normal daily things outside of the daily grind when a thought pops into your head that you wish you would've put something into the game? Just during say...a random grocery trip?
Thierry: @soul yes! Part of it is exaggerating or borrowing from the mundane, that goes a long way into making your work relatable I think. As far as "wish we added that" we're in a lucky position of there always being a next time. As far as the dev process goes, we like "dense" game, in that we distill instead of dilute. On the shorter end but with a lot of twist, so part of the pre-production design process is making sure we have enough "wow moments" to sprinkle overall so that it remains engaging. And for those who've seen Picnic Panic's final boss, sometimes we just like to go crazy and do an awesome thing people won't expect
Phil (The Clockwork Operator): @soul - I'm not doing anything creative in the game per se. Though, I do get most of my ideas related to marketing outside of work, but implement them at work. Long walks outside, during outdoor, at the café, while gaming, reading, etc. It's pretty hard for me to get creative in the middle of the day juggling with the numerous threads a small indie studio has to handle.
soul: Thank you both for the answers. I apologize if I missed it during my Discord outage, but have either of you had a chance to talk about the Sabocup?
Thierry: @soul Sabocup? way to get Phil started!
Phil (The Clockwork Operator): Not yet! For those who haven't heard about it, to celebrate the 1st year anniversary of The Messenger, we're organizing a speedrunning tournament, for both experienced and casual runners, with 5000$ in cash prizes, a physical trophy and numerous other unique rewards (Like one of Barma'Thazel's swords, unique cutouts from the game, a signed vinyl, etc.)!
The tournament will span over the month of November, and will start with Thierry streaming a Linear run of the game. Anyone who beats him gets a chance to win prizes!
For the experienced runners, there will be qualifiers and brackets, all based on the Any% run.
You can still apply here : https://themessengergame.com/sabocup/
Thierry: @Missucky the approach is story first. The way The Messenger goes from linear to (arguably) metroid-vania, is because the story goes from "take the scroll from here to there" which is a linear goal, to "figure out the world and fix it if possible" which entails traveling around looking for clues. The gameplay style is whichever best supports the story we're telling. So to your question, if the story was one where many different people need to interact together to do something then maybe the best way to tell that story would be to go multiplayer. At the moment we have nothing planned in that regard though
killermmn @Thierry cest quoi le prochaine affaire comme project??
Thierry: @killermmn we're not ready to announce that, but we definitely are hard at work on more video gaming for the masses
yggdrasil (ユグドラシル): @Thierry So you worked at a bigger studio before founding your own studio?
Thierry: @yggdrasil (ユグドラシル) yes, it was a servicing studio called Frima, upwards of 350 employees during the peak. I was lead coder there for roughly 7 years. It was great to get production experience and define the kind of studio vibe I wanted. Also let me test which team size I was comfortable leading, and meet like minded devs to tag along and build this dream
yggdrasil (ユグドラシル): @Thierry Wow! So quite some experience before leading your own team. If you could give me some advice for starting with Unity, what would it be?
Thierry: @yggdrasil (ユグドラシル) the tutorials are honestly great. Back in the day it had you make a simple space shooter, from which you could go off and add stuff. It's more than enough to figure whether you like actually working on a game and within a game engine. After that it's redoing everything at least 11 times!
AskSmitty: @Thierry The joy of holding a physical game in your hands......back in the day (old man voice)....before digital downloads....physical CD-ROM & DVD and console carts.....each had their own magic. Each game 'felt' a certain way. They weighed the same. Some things smelled the same.....all of that had a '4D effect' for me as a kid and I assume you as well. So, we borrowed little things from memory and recreated for The Messenger physical.
QUESTION: What was the one thing about the physical edition of your game, that you love the most?
Thierry: @AskSmitty it's so obvious that I think to have an original answer the question should be "other than the booklet". But yeah, the booklet, by far. These were so cool back in the day, and it came out perfectly here. Another thing is, with the alternate reality game we have going on on our discord, and the creative vision having all games be part of the same world, I like to do 4D game design just like you mention with the feel of the game. Even though we have very hardcore fans who do a lot of digging, they have yet to notice the subtle lore drop that's in there. So my favorite thing about the physical edition was using it as an extra tool to go meta with our world building. There's also a little something hidden in the physical scrolls you showed earlier
DA N G ER DA N G ER DA N G ER: Hi, first off, absolutely ADORE the messenger!! As a game design student, it's games like these that inspire me to keep working at this amazing craft!!
Anyway, I was just wondering if there were any major third party tools or plugins you used from the unity asset store. Or did you guy made the whole thing with what unity comes with out of the box?
Phil (The Clockwork Operator): @DA N G ER DA N G ER DA N G ER - Most of it was built using our own technology. We did use a couple plugins, Rotorz being the main one, for the level editor/tileset editor. It is now sadly deprecated/not maintained, which was a small challenge for us.
DA N G ER DA N G ER DA N G ER: neat! I'll have to check that one out!!
Phil (The Clockwork Operator): @DA N G ER DA N G ER DA N G ER - We're becoming more and more careful with using external plugins. We don't want to reinvent the wheel by rewriting everything, but we're more picky when it comes to choosing which plugins we want to integrate in the game. The time savings doesn't always justify the external risk.
DA N G ER DA N G ER DA N G ER: @Phil (The Clockwork Operator) yeah, I get what you mean. You're still an small studio, but you've scaled to a point where you can't afford to mess about with that stuff.
Phil (The Clockwork Operator): @DA N G ER DA N G ER DA N G ER - Exactly. We cannot risk having something at the core of our game be deprecated, and that doesn't only apply to the period during the production, but a couple years after. Having to port the game to multiple platforms, release bugfix/patches, over years, you cannot be too exposed to other developers dropping support for a tool.
muxync: Will Sabotage Studio be at PAX East this year? If so, maybe I can bring my copy of The Messenger to get signed?
muxync: err, next year*
Thierry: @muxync we are planning of staying mostly under the radar for a time as we are in the early stages of building our Next Big Thing ™
RaddestSnake: I'm always curious to ask talented devs this question- what is your favorite game(s)
Thierry: Chrono Trigger
Thierry: As to the (s), Zelda 2, Super Mario RPG, Ninja Gaiden 2, World of Warcraft, Mario Bros. 3, Mass Effect 2, Monkey Island, Ocarina of Time and Roller Coaster Tycoon come to mind
Thierry: @gainzofcastamere No one. My Shepard had one job.
Missucky: I have another question if i may. Maybe it doesn't seem to be something relevant, but the first time I saw Manfred, I thought, what color should his blood be? and since then, I've still been wondering about it. So, what color is it?
Thierry: @Missucky Sky Serpents don't bleed
Soleil: No blood?
Thierry: @Soleil hopes and dreams
soul: I was curious, @Thierry & @Phil (The Clockwork Operator) if there was something that you tried to put into the game in an earlier revision that didn't work right, but might have come back in Picnic Panic?
Thierry: @soul an epic final boss battle
Thierry: @WindSlasher Quarble eats the time shards, even though it's unlikely to be explored anytime soon, more is revealed about the time shards in Barma'thazël's Revenge Act 2 : Tower of Thyme
Thierry: oops I dropped lore again
yggdrasil (ユグドラシル): @Phil (The Clockwork Operator) Any results regarding the sizes of the backgrounds?
Phil (The Clockwork Operator): @yggdrasil (ユグドラシル) -I took note of it, and will get back to you in DM with the specifics. Sadly, Mik, who led the environment art, couldn't be available today, and I want to give you a detailed answer
Soleil: @yggdrasil (ユグドラシル) Idk if this is helpful at all but here is info on the screen size I saw in the official Discord. Sometimes the backgrounds are bigger than the screen size tho.
Outro (Part 1)
soul: Once again, I would like to give my most heartfelt thank you on behalf of everyone here in the Special Reserve Games Discord to both @Thierry and @Phil (The Clockwork Operator) for taking some time out of their weekend to share and talk with everyone. It has been our pleasure to put out a physical copy of your wonderful game, The Messenger. Please post up a link to your Discord as well for those that are interested in further discussion with other fans of the game and to get more involved with the ARG as well as to follow the Sabocup!
Thanks to @AskSmitty for being available to answer and participate as well and for sharing some great behind-the-scenes pics of those scrolls!
Phil (The Clockwork Operator): Hey guys, thanks a lot for participating today, it has been a lot of fun.
For those who aren't on our Discord, feel free to join us, we are there every weekdays basis and will gladly answer more questions : http://discord.gg/themessenger
Missucky: May i ask a last one?
Thierry: ask away @Missucky
Thierry: @Missucky holy priest in vanilla, disc BC to Cata, then I stopped playing it seriously
WhatsAMod: @Thierry @Phil (The Clockwork Operator) Slim chance you'll remember but if you do.. in the future would it be possible to get images files from you guys when I get my tattoo, to make it easier on the artist
Thierry: absolutely, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thierry: or hit us up on our discord server
Outro (Part 2)
Phil (The Clockwork Operator): You can also track our Discord community progress here :
soul: We're off slow mode and back to normal. Thanks again to Sabotage Studio for everything!
Thierry: Thanks @soul and @AskSmitty both for having us and for working with us on an amazing physical version of the game, and thanks everyone for making this AMA lively and laid back!
AskSmitty: Thanks again @Thierry and @Phil (The Clockwork Operator) for your time and your skills making magic thru digital portals and such.
Thanks @soul for setting this up. We will do it again!