Brad Newsom, DeAnn Hinojosa, Michael Shreffler, Dan Butler, Esteban Santana
Vigilant Entertainment Company
First posted on 23 May 2008. Last updated on 06 April 2012.
About the game
The Journeyman Chronicles: Pegasus Dawn will be a complete fan remake of the original trilogy of The Journeyman Project series: The Journeyman Project (and The Journeyman Project: Pegasus Prime), The Journeyman Project 2: Buried in Time, and The Journeyman Project 3: Legacy of Time. The remake is currently in development by Vigilant EC.
For more information, visit Vigilant EC.
When Brad Newsom first announced his plan to remake The Journeyman Project series back in 2004 with his team at Vigilant EC (Vigilant Entertainment Company), little did he know that the fan project would undergo so many changes over the next few years. Despite a belated start, he had managed to recruit a talented team of designers, programmers, and artists, who were also fans of the series, into the project. He even tried to negotiate with Presto Studios for the noncommercial permission to remake the series. The remake, aptly named The Journeyman Chronicles: Pegasus Dawn, will be a complete remake of the trilogy series and will employ next generation technologies in game development to update the series. This separates him from most other fan developers who aim to simply recreate the original titles in their remakes. True innovation, however, is frequently met with great obstacles, and the intrepid developer has plenty of firsthand experience in dealing with and triumphing over these hurdles to realize his dream.
We are pleased to be invited to an opportunity to interview the team at Vigilant EC (Brad Newsom, DeAnn Hinojosa, Michael Shreffler, Dan Butler, Esteban Santana) about The Journeyman Chronicles: Pegasus Dawn. In the interview, the team speaks of the trials and tribulations of being an indie developer, the challenges of pre-production and production works in remaking the series, the current status of the fan remake, and what holds in the future for them and their project.
Check out our exclusive gallery of concept art from The Journeyman Chronicles: Pegasus Dawn!
- Can you briefly introduce yourselves?
- Brad Newsom: I am Brad Newsom, President of Vigilant Entertainment Company, Project Leader of the Journeyman Chronicles, and Lead Level Designer.
DeAnn Hinojosa: *smiles in glee* My name is DeAnn Hinojosa. I'm Vice President of Vigilant EC and Lead Conceptual Artist.
Michael Shreffler: I'm Michael Shreffler. I'm currently Lead Non-Organic CG Modeler.
Dan Butler: I am Daniel Butler, Lead Environmental Conceptualist.
Esteban Santana: Esteban Santana Santana, Lead Programmer.
- What is the inspiration behind The Journeyman Chronicles: Pegasus Dawn? What attracts you most about The Journeyman Project series?
- Brad Newsom: Most of our inspiration comes from games like Mass Effect, Bioshock, Syberia, and of course all of the Journeyman Project games.
The one thing that attracted me the most about the Journeyman series was how they presented the idea of time travel and the world around it. The world felt living and breathing, especially in the later games in the series. Not only did it feel like the world existed, but the games greatly presented how the world reacted to the invention of time travel. How would people really react to it if it became a reality? It was basically the realism the game presented, but still keeping everything that made it a sci-fi adventure.
- Which games from the original series, including storylines and characters, will be involved in the remake?
- Brad Newsom: Our current plan is to remake the whole series, from beginning to end. The storyline and characters will remain the same since they pose no threat to the idea of remaking the game for next generation standards.
- Most fan games were developed without permission from the owner of the original IP (Intellectual Property) for the game. Yet, you chose to approach Presto Studios at the outset to seek permission to remake the series. Why? Who in Presto Studios did you approach? How did you come in contact with Presto Studios?
- Brad Newsom: Like many video game IP game modifications and remakes, they've usually all met the fate of the famed Cease & Desist letter. Taking that into account, I posted in the archived Presto Studios' forums about the idea and to see if anyone was interested and to see if we can get permission. Surprisingly, the idea was welcomed with open arms. The Presto Studios' member that gave us permission was Tommy Yune, who currently hosts the archived company website.
- What were the major challenges in trying to negotiate with Presto Studios for permission to do a noncommercial remake? What was the legal holdup that effectively delayed the project for more than a year?
- Brad Newsom: Surprisingly there were no challenges in the negotiation with Presto. We were genuine fans and have the drive to create a non-commercial project. The legal hold up though had nothing to do with the use of the IP or the name. It was a misinterpretation of a discussion Richard Claybaugh (Vigilant EC Ex Vice-President) had with Michel Kripalani (CEO of Presto Studios). We threw around the idea of getting the Journeyman license, but without my awareness, Michel thought we wanted to go commercial. Only a few months after, I met Tommy Yune in the Bandai booth at Anime Expo '07. Amongst the discussion about Robotech and taking miraculous amounts of photos with him, I threw a question at him about the Journeyman Chronicles. The best thing I heard amongst the answer was that it was a misunderstanding. As long as the project is non-commercial, the work should be fine.
- Tommy Yune from Presto Studios has publicly acknowledged that an archive exists (in secret) of all the original concept art, 3D models, source codes, and basic game materials from The Journeyman Project series. Do you have access to this archive for the remake, given that your project is endorsed by Presto Studios? In what capacity will Presto Studios be involved in the remake, directly or indirectly?
- Brad Newsom: We had hoped to get access to the archive back in 2005, but after the legal holdup, we lost the opportunity. Despite this disappointment, we are hoping to get access to it later on in production. At the moment, Presto Studios is indirectly involved. Why? Because we have to prove to them that we are capable of completing a project that includes extensive amounts of work and follows strict guidelines that accompany a remake. We see this as being in Presto Studios' Ancient Proving Grounds.
- In September 2007, you announced that the project had been revamped from scratch and a new development team had been brought into the project. When did the project first start? What prompted this changeover? How had your vision of this project changed since it was first announced?
- Brad Newsom: The project first set sail in 2004 lead by me, Mindshift, and Nayus Dante. As time went by, the team grew, but Mindshift had to leave for personal reasons. In 2006 Richard Claybaugh joined the company as Vice-President, who proved to be a valuable asset. At the middle of 2007, the end of the legal hold, we scratched the project to rethink our direction and what our goals were. This carried out for some time. I called this time of the project 'the Depression' since nothing really had gotten done because we never expected to break the legal hold. On October 3rd 2007, I discussed with Richard about resetting everything to the very beginning, including rebuilding the team. The reason for this was outsourcing. Making such an ambitious project using people you only talk to online is truly risky. Who knows when someone may give up and run away without leaving a message? This has happened twice actually, and in all honesty, it's just not fun. So from there on out, I decided to build an in-house team, and a couple of outsourced members that I can truly trust (best way to work with this is making blood contracts......without the blood, ha ha). At this time, Richard Claybaugh backed down as Vice-President to become Project Analyst. DeAnn Hinojosa later took place as Vice-President. This then leads to the project we see today.
DeAnn Hinojosa: When the project first started, we had no clear direction. Our goal was to remake the game and that's what we were doing. We had no set art direction, no consistent overall look. Because of this, the center of the conversation during the Pre-Production (late 2007) was to focus on an art direction and stick with it. We wanted a direction that we can stick with through the project, especially after we complete the first chapter (Pegasus Dawn). Without this, we probably wouldn't have gotten so far.
Dan Butler: Art Direction wise, we are aiming to pursue a world with detail. As discussed we want to stick with the original core designs as much as possible, especially the designs from Pegasus Prime. Like what Pegasus Prime did to Turbo, we will do to the series. We will incorporate some new architectural designs, new game play ideas, revamped robot designs, and much more. Fans shouldn't worry though. When we release a screenshot for the game, you will know doubt smile with glee. We promise. Hold me to that. If we fail......I'll get fired...let's not think about that though. Move along citizen.
- Why the remake is subtitled Pegasus Dawn?
- Brad Newsom: Pegasus Dawn is actually the name of the first chapter of the remake series. Don't be disappointed though when I say chapter. We are planning to release each chapter separately and in the end release completely compiled version. No worries though, we are still planning to include seamless transitions between chapters (Meaning, you will find out what happens right after you capture Sinclair. We are actually planning to allow the player to keep playing even after the game is over to allow them to rack up more achievements and much more. Now with that out of the way, I think it's time to answer the question. Pegasus Dawn basically means the dawn of the Pegasus Machine, the beginning of a long road ahead.
- How large is the current development team? What prior experience, if any, does the team have in computer game development?
- DeAnn Hinojosa: At the moment, none of the members on the team have had experience in computer game development. Most of us, if not all of us has had modding experience though. Although none of us have experience, we are hoping to bring aboard Teod Tomlinson (who had worked on such films as Donnie Darko) filling in the CG Modeling position, and Rudy Gardea (Professional Freelance Illustrator) as Art Director. The outlook of the project looks great!
- What programming tools (such as for graphics, sounds, and scripting) are being used to develop The Journeyman Chronicles: Pegasus Dawn?
- Michael Shreffler: Brad may answer it better, but I'll just answer it. Level design is currently handled with Valve Hammer (2008 edition). Textures are being created using Photoshop CS3. For CG Modeling, I'm using Autodesk Maya 2008. Detail modeling is done through Zbrush and Muddbox. For Audio, I'm pretty unsure. We are planning to use Sony Sound Forge for SFX but for Music, we are unsure at what the Orchestra will be using to record.
Esteban Santana: For programming I'm using Visual Basic 2005 with the latest Source SDK batch.
- What is the underlying game engine that will handle the physics in The Journeyman Chronicles: Pegasus Dawn? What role will physics play in the game, particularly as related to puzzles?
- Brad Newsom: The underlying physics engine in Source is Havok, a physics engine that we know and love and can really trust to get the job done right. Physics in the game will be absolutely crucial the overall gameplay. Our saying goes 'If it's not nailed down, you can move it'. Puzzle wise, it will play a big role too. Unlike a lot of the original puzzles from Turbo and Pegasus Prime which are pretty static (mainly because the games had no physics at all), we are planning to integrate new puzzles that like repairing the Pegasus Machine after you return from the Prehistoric Age. A lot of the puzzles though are hard to translating into physical form, but we are still planning on more puzzles that will utilize physics, mostly in the prehistoric and Norad locations.
- How do you intend to capture artistically the diverse look of the different time periods in the Earth's history to which the players will time travel in the game?
- Dan Butler: Research. This is key to capturing each time period. Sure one can artistically portray another thing in their own way, but the Journeyman Project games strictly try to realistically portray each location. Now home research can only go so far. I want to say we are going to do some cool artistic direction, but in reality, that can potentially offend some of the long term fans. Once we progress to the later game chapters, especially Buried in Time, we will research and read up on the history of each culture to help portray how things would look, not how they are today, but how they were when they were shining achievements, just like the original.
- The Journeyman Project series is among the first games to pioneer the use of a Head-Up Display (HUD) in adventure games. How differently will the HUD operate in the remake? How will this increase the immersion of the players into the virtual world?
- Brad Newsom: For Pegasus Dawn, there will be little to no HUD. I'm not saying there is absolutely no HUD though. Actually you will have to press the tab button to pull it up. We took this route because 1. It would be impossible to see the monocle in extreme clarity and still expect to have good eyesight at the end of the day. 2. No one would play a True 3d game where the HUD takes up 65% of the screens. This is to say that for later chapters especially 'Buried in Time' when you were the Self-Contained Temporal Biosuit seen in Buried in Time. We are actually aiming for the ability to look around your suit. The HUD will literally be Three Dimensional. For now though, we don't have any technical information on that yet since we are still focusing on Pegasus Dawn. Rest assured, we have some pretty kick a** ideas that will make any Journeyman Project fan jump up into the cry in happiness.
- How close will The Journeyman Chronicles: Pegasus Dawn follow the original series, especially with respect to actual gameplay (including puzzles)? Why may fans of the original series be interested in a remake?
- Brad Newsom: Interactive Norad Submarine and Mars Flight. Enough said. I think that would get any Journeyman Project fan interested. Besides that we are really going to stay close to the original. Pretty everything will remain the same except the art direction (modified just like Pegasus Prime) and the environmental expansion. Also being able to play the game totally interactive world again would get even any hardcore adventure gamers excited.
- Currently, at what stage of development is The Journeyman Chronicles: Pegasus Dawn? What is the next milestone for the project? How will the game be released (such as in episodic format)? What is the target release date?
- DeAnn Hinojosa: We are 1/4 of the way through production. The next milestone we are facing is Alpha 1.1, which will have playable Caldoria, Prehistoric, and TSA levels. Our first official alpha builds. The game will be released in episodic format, but we won't officially say that. Why? Because this game isn't going to be made and released a couple of months, but it will be in separate chapters every year. At the moment, the estimate release date is Christmas 2008. I want to say October, but we want to thoroughly beta test it.
- As an indie game developer, what is the greatest obstacle you see facing this project in the near future?
- Brad Newsom: Commercial projects. As an Indie Developer, money makes the world go round, even if you're not money hungry. At some point we will be taking up a commercial project, which will be put on top priority. When Pegasus Dawn is released and it doesn't get the attention of Presto Studios to the point that they want this to become commercial, the project is threatened by other projects that will pay our bills. I'm truly hoping that when we release the first game, we hope the public takes it well and will continue to support us on furthering the project. The thing is, Presto Studios went under. Who would do the job of remaking the series? Not EA, not Ubisoft, not Activision. If that was the case, the games themselves would be tainted by those higher up in the company that want money instead of loyalty. Who knows how System Shock 3 would be now that EA is working on it. I would like to say that it's the fans and independent game developers' duty to remake games.