Dust: An Elysian Tail
In mid August, Dust: An Elysian Tail is going to be released. You will buy it because I have encouraged you to do so with my words.
What, you require a little more back story and encouragement? Fine, fine…
But seriously. I do hope you consider buying this game. I feel he’s earned it.
Let me start at the beginning.
I was a kid in the late 90′s and I found a website (currently smashed with bandwidth overages) this dude had made for himself. His name is Dean Dodrill. He was basically chronicling his endeavor to create a feature length animated film entirely on his own. No financial backing by anyone, and it would be much in the vein of earlier Disney or Don Bluth works.
From the trailers and shorts he published online, I was floored. This was amazing! This was Long before the internet tainted everything drawn with rule 34′s and such. Every couple years I would pull up his website to see what had been going on. Very few updates, but who could blame him? I didn’t expect him to finish his movie any time soon. It was pretty high quality stuff. The movie is called “An Elysian Tail”.
Kind of surprisingly, I can’t find a single YouTube video of the movie. I suppose I saw the videos you know.. Before YOUTUBE existed (Never!). So enjoy the Forum Gifs someone made of the movie.
You may already be familiar with some of his animation already. He worked on the animation on Jazz Jackrabbit 2 and 3 (unreleased) You know, by the company now spearheaded by Cliffy B That makes all the Gears of War Games? Yeah. Epic was once Epic Megagames (big change, I know) and all that snazzy animation in Jazz Jackrabbit was a lot if not all of Deans work.
Things take an exciting turn towards awesome after the cut!
Fast forward to 2009.
The $40,000 winner of Microsofts Dream-Build-Play competition was a game called “Dust: An Elysian Tail”.
My Mind was fucking BLOWN.
I… I recognized that name! And apparently I wasn’t the only one. This game started to gain a small following after it’s showing. What amazes most people is the quality of the animation. The animation in this game was very reminiscent of high profile titles made by full teams of animators like Odin Sphere and Muramasa.
The game stars Dust and his little floating fox thing Fidget along with his sentient sword, but for the most part the story has been kept under wraps. Dean insists it’s going to be a much darker story than the brightly colored characters imply.
Now, it killed me. A game? Based off the movie that’s not even out? After doing a bit of digging I figured out it was an alternate story based in the same universe. Will have a couple characters from the movie that he’s designing. But that’s not the best part.
The game was pretty much built entirely by him.
Okay let me say it again just in case you didn’t catch it. Just like his one-man animation on his feature length movie that isn’t complete yet – He’s doing this game almost entirely on his own. He showcased this in 2009. Shortly before this Dean did not know programming. So you know what he did? He picked up the XNA toolkit and started learning to program. Reading tutorials, he pretty much designed this entire game from the ground up by himself. No team of programmers, no team of animators. Just him, the internet, and his artistic skills, and got some help with the music by the folks over at HyperDuck.
The game has taken a bit more time to complete than he expected, but it’s hard to blame a guy when he’s doing it all on his own. Originally slated for a 2011 release, and he’s been getting a lot of help from Microsoft. In fact, it went from being just another “indie” title to being part of their summer 2012 line up. That is REALLY good in the world of XBLA games. That’s what I find so interesting about the story though. This guy is an inspiration! He shows that if you put your mind to it you can really create some amazing things. But I think the trick is to utilize your strengths, and he obviously has his background in animation. It’s not all about how pretty you can make a game, I feel indie games VVVVVV and Cavestory with their massive success and simple graphics prove that. But the point here is he DID make this by himself. Any one of us could. It just takes that first step.
If this interests you in creating your own video games, or inspires you in some way, check out XNA Game Studio (completely free) and related tutorials.
And, no. It won’t be easy. It will make you rip your hair out. There aren’t graphics and pretty buttons. You will have to learn basic programming but you can do it. If you think you can’t… Tell me why in the comments! Go back up and read this again, but I believe in you. If you always wanted to be a video game designer, why not start now when there are more resources available for the layman than EVER before.
So yeah, Dean Dodrill. He’s a freaking inspiration man! And if this guy doesn’t inspire you to BUY HIS GAME and SUPPORT HIM, then you are a silly, silly person.