L'Hermione

A edutainment video game about the Enlightenment and mainly the journey Lafayette took within the Hermione frigate.

L’Hermione, Age of Enlightenment

Summer 2014, the region of Poitou-Charentes launches a Request for projects as the construction of the Hermione frigate, its replica for the least, is going to be achieved very soon. Starting in April 2015, it will take the sea for the same journey as the one did Lafayette to America when he fought and helped America gain its independance. Boston Tea Party, the Enlightenment, military maps, foreign implications, such are the themes engaged in this game of a particular genre: it must be educative while being fun at the same time.

Responding to the request for projects, Romain of Studio Nyx went to see me telling he would love to answer this request but he can not do it alone, he offers I join him (well, my whole studio must join). This project attracts me and I confirm my interest right away! He will be the producer but our two companies will work as one to answer with 3 complementary projects: an edutainment game on tablets and pc, an interactive comic book and a webdoc (website where you follow a documentary). To fulfill those projects, an innovatice communication campaign will take place on social network: Lafayette will tweet its journey until his arrival in America.

3 projects, 3 companies

Yes, there are 3 projects and 3 companies (Depuis1977) joins us, its a local communication agency that will create the webdoc at least), it would be logical that each one of use focus on one project. But to create the interactive comic book, we need to establish a partnership with those who created comic on the Hermione and we have to validate the technical feasability with the estimated schedule.

Quickly, we decide that we have to create a tool and a comic, without going into too many details on what features will have to be part of the project. The company to create those two assets will be Equilibre Games, with a proof of concept as the first milestone. As soon as it’s decided, we start digging this up.

While it was going on, we continued our work for hire jobs and own creation. We finally received the good news that our project was selected by the region among other competitors (we are not the only one selected, but it will be the biggest and most innovative project), but at that time, we also realize that the region took 6 months to make its decision, and we will have to wait 2 more months to get the first part of the payment, a requirement for the team increase. The project actually starts mid December, and the frigate launches on April. We have less than 4 months to create and publish everything! The comic book and its tool is put aside right away, and we focus on the tablet/pc video game.

L’Hermione, Age of Enlightenment is a edutainment game that put you into a sailor’ skin aboard the frigate, reproduced in 3D. You will learn everything that you should know about Enlightenment and the journey on board this ship, by talking with significant characters of history, and playing 4 accessible games from the captain’s private cabin: History and Geography, Military staff, Chronos and Off one out.

A fifth game was suggested (by me) but was too much fun, not educative enough for this project. I grant you (you can see that) that I would have loved seing this game into the final project, especially since reviewers told us afterward that the global game was not fun enough. But, you know, with a 4 months project, you have to make tough decisions.

It’s time to distribute workloads, even if we already talked about it:

  • Frigate modelisation, dialogs and main quest: Studio Nyx.
  • Scenario : Studio Nyx.
  • Technical design, 2D games development: Equilibre Games.
  • 3D modeling, animation and motion capture integration of characters onboard: Equilibre Games.
  • Graphic design: Studio Nyx, Equilibre Games et Depuis 1977.
  • Motion design UI: Equilibre Games.
  • Webdoc, trailer : Depuis 1977.
  • Relationship and dialog with partners and teachers: Romain de Studio Nyx.

Design validated

Doing a fast forward to the end of the project: everything went went, with very little issue, the whole project management worked, excepted a little detail that drenched us in a cold sweat but allowed us to innovate further more: in July 2014, Unity 5 is going out of beta, with the first promises and first tests almost one year before the release, we decided to launch the project on this version to take part of the latest features. It could be fatale for the project as the first stable and final version of Unity 5 was released only in February 2015!

The key moments we got with this version summarize pretty quickly:

Unity does not compile on your computer ? Wait, we all try on ours. It’s ok, it succeed on ONE of ours!

Learned lessons

The co-production went very well thanks to the smartness and proximity of our teams, and it’s a crucial point: when a developer of the other studio was having difficulties, there always were one of ours (often Guillaume) that could help them. When we created the graphic design, both studio artists could work together and challenge themselves while going from one room to the others.

If I’ve a got to put a damper, it’s on the project launch: the company that was handling the whole project was not yet created, our brand was unknown, we communicate with Studio Nyx name, and it was really badly perceived from Equilibre Games side, and we had a lot of trouble explaining that we also had worked on that project, and not only as a work for hire.

Credits

Equilibre Games

  • Mini games development: Guillaume Thorel, Frédéric Rolland-Porché
  • Concept Art, graphisms and 2D animation: Meghan Martin, Axel Bertrand, Anne-Sophie Girault, Coralie Sanchez
  • 3D characters modeling and motion-capture integration: Stéphane Landry
  • Additionnal developments: Bastien Giafferi
  • Technical design: Frédéric Rolland-Porché

Studio Nyx

  • Path finding and main quest development: Nassouh Darwiche
  • 3D frigate modeling, UI design: Camille Besneville, Andy Lojbois, Caroline
  • Game Design lead and external relationship: Romain Soulié

External

  • Sound Design and unity integration: Christopher Knight
FredericRP Written by:

I create video games, started as an amateur, then created my own studio Equilibre Games and the Brand Your Game product.

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