I’ve always been keen to create my own universe within a familiar game engine. The idea started out when I was still playing around with Duke Nukem 3D (I never released anything). I wanted to make a total conversion from the ground up, using only graphic and sprite resources of my own creation.
Then when I found out about ZDoom, I switched to that instead, and before long, got into modding for Doom instead, finding the Doom engine easier and more comfortable and flexible to work with than the Duke engine. I effectively dove right into the deep end and began work on a total conversion, which would slowly take form over a number of months and become a terrible unfinished mod called “Crappy Doom”, and feature a cavalcade of bizarre and highly disturbing MSPaint-esque monstrosities.
To this day, I haven’t shared any of this project bar a few fairly innocent teaser screenshots, because I don’t believe the world is ready to behold the kind of insanity that I managed to invoke with my hyperactive 14-year-old mind. I may release what I had to the world but it would be purely for historical/hilarious reasons. I didn’t have a great deal of ideas, initially. I was just going to make a few maps and replace all the graphics with (intentionally) crappily-drawn works of my own. However, before long, that project ballooned uncontrollably into the idea of a whole megawad with a (sort of) plot, interactions with other non-player “characters” and whatnot, all in ZDoom. Needless to say, my ambitions were far too high for anything to actually take off.
The project lay dormant for years. Then, one day in mid-2011, I had the idea of simply making a smaller project of only a few levels, featuring the protagonist “Square” – a creation of my brother’s, who had set out to create the blandest children’s show character possible. I’d actually already tried to do something in ZDoom with this character, and it only made sense to combine the two projects – they were, after all, done in a similar cartoony MSPainty style. With my ambitions set considerably lower than before, an actual releasable project started to come into sight.
I created a set of extremely simplistic but effective cartoon-style textures in about a day, and promptly started building maps with them. I properly announced the project in September 2011, and progress on the project at that point crept along pretty slowly, though surely. Despite the simplicity of the visual style, it was still a lot of work – creating the hundreds of custom graphics and textures, putting together the maps to use them, and coding new monsters and weapons to make essentially an entirely different game – all on my own. The 1.0 demo release was almost entirely my own work. I had some assistance from some private testers who helped me out with some last minute graphic and sound tweaks before the demo went public. It received a great deal of positive feedback, a lot of comments going towards the art style, which honestly I kind of wasn’t expecting – if anything I was anticipating people being turned off by the art style, and I was fully ready for declarations of it being “lazy” or “placeholder-y”.
A short time after releasing it publicly, I got a PM on the Doomworld forums from Matt Tropiano, who was eager to work with me on the project. Matt’s a pretty seasoned mapper in the community, and certainly one I respected, so I was all too happy to take him on board. At that point I began to think that actually assembling a dedicated team for the rest of the project’s development (it was to be an ambitious venture) would be very helpful, so I got in contact with Gus “Alfonzo” Knezevich and Walker “Pavera” Wright, two close friends who are also extremely talented mappers in the Doom community. Before long, Richard “Tarnsman” Frei, Conor “ClonedPickle” Maddin and Xaser “Xaser” Acheron (let’s go with that name) also joined the party.
It didn’t take long for us to build up a great deal of excitement about the project. I shared my ideas, essentially becoming Creative Director for the team, while Matt took up Project Management, assembling all the game files and assets into a useful system on Dropbox that we could all share and update in real-time, setting up a Trello board where we could keep track of progress and ideas, and doing a huge deal of cleanup in the project itself, even helping record new sounds to replace the copyrighted ones. We all agreed very quickly on who would create which levels in the first episode, and have a release out by October 2014.
As the project picked up steam during development, and became more and more refined and independent of the Doom universe, we considering seriously branching out. I took the game to local gaming events to be playtested by other nearby game developers. I took on Jerry “jmickle” Mickle to assist with taking the game’s exposure to new heights, and soon he was sworn in as our Public Relations expert, introducing several gaming conventions to us, including GameCity (which the game was showcased at in 2014), EGX Rezzed (which we brought the game to in 2015), and AMAZE Berlin. Right now we’re very serious about making The Adventures of Square the best game it possibly can be. I myself am incredibly happy with how it has turned out and am infinitely grateful to my team for making such a great product. I’m proud of everyone.
As the inevitable release of the game’s second and third episodes draws ever closer, the game is continuing to be made into a completely unique gameplay experience – and hopefully not just stylistically. The game will feature an instantly loveable player character, a plethora of villainous geometrical characters, and a set of intricately-designed, quality-assured levels that harness the endless wonders of the Doom engine to create an experience unlike any you’ve seen before. And best of all – it’s totally free to play. You’d be mad to miss it. BE THERE AND BE SQUARE!
This guy thoroughly enjoyed the game, and his commentary’s pretty damn funny. A really enjoyable “Let’s Play” of the first episode of the game.