Since The Amazing Fantastics demo is finally complete, I get to sit back for a bit and reflect on various aspects of the game's design and development process. I'm not sure how frequently I'll do these devlogs but I hope you enjoy!
In case you missed it, The Amazing Fantastics is a turn-based saga that puts the player in the shoes of a hero who must assemble a team of super-powered allies to protect one of the most dangerous cities in the country. This city, Utopia, is the poster child of crime and corruption and in defending this town its heroes come face-to-face with criminal organizations, fiendish mutants, and even otherworldly deities. You'll see firsthand that Utopia is a living, breathing creature with tons of dark secrets visible only to those crazy enough to go looking for them.
2013. Several years ago I watched the animated movie Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox, and something clicked. From that point forward superheroes were no longer just cool to me, they were epic. Flashpoint Paradox was not only mature in its subject matter, it also brought together an ensemble of legendary characters, each with their own star power and rich backstories, into a single wonderfully-told story. As odd as it may sound, Flashpoint Paradox felt like a believable portrayal of people with extraordinary powers, and after finishing the film superheroes became a mini-obsession. I had learned that superheroes weren't just for kids and that the stories that could be told about them and their worlds were limitless.
1997. Final Fantasy 7 hit shelves and changed the way I looked at video games (you can probably see some similarities between FF7's opening mission and The Amazing Fantastics opening mission as seen in the game's demo). It was my first experience with RPGs, as it was for many gamers outside of Japan. A far stretch from the platformers and fighting games I was used to, FF7 had a richer assortment of characters, a deeper story, a more fleshed-out world, and combat that prioritized slower and more thoughtful gameplay over quick reflexes and precise button inputs, this point being something I appreciate more and more the older I get. Selecting the right combination of magic, equipment, team members, and attacks to take down a boss that's been wiping the floor with you feels like the ultimate payoff.
Around the time I was graduating/graduated college I was searching the internet and app stores for turn-based superhero games. I was splitting my free time between playing through Final Fantasy games on iOS and reading comic books, and I really just wanted to do both things at the same time. I couldn't find any games that really satisfied the itch I needed scratched so I decided to just make the game I wanted on my own, and thus The Amazing Fantastics was born.
If you asked me to, in one sentence, sum up what I wanted to make I probably would've told you something along the lines of, "Give me Final Fantasy but take out all the anime stuff and replace it with superheroes." Of course that's simplifying things a lot but it's essentially what I set out to make, though my ultimate goal with The Amazing Fantastics was to go a few steps further than simply re-skinning a Final Fantasy game and introduce the ability to patrol your city, create your own superhero, build legions of adoring fans through a fame system, and more. I wanted to make the player feel like Batman commanding his or her own Justice League.
Prototype Artwork (2015)
I began developing The Amazing Fantastics in the summer of 2015. Pictured above is my amazing programmer art. The initial prototype consisted solely of a battle scene and featured art assets from MapleStory and Pokemon. The Amazing Fantastics originally featured heroes who were much more "anime" than "American superhero," but this felt like a missed opportunity since the vast majority of turn-based RPGs already tend to draw very heavily from anime. I reminded myself why I wanted to make The Amazing Fantastics in the first place, went back to the drawing board, and came back with characters that looked more like they belonged in a comic book. I took inspiration from everyone from Aquaman to Zatanna to build a game that was essentially Final Fantasy re-imagined with DC and Marvel-esque characters and settings.
Prototype Artwork (2015)
Thanks for reading part 1 of The Amazing Fantastics devlog! If you haven't grabbed the demo you can do that below.