Future Boy! is an adventure game, an interactive comic book. Future Boy is the hero of Rocket City. He can leap tall buildings in a single bound and he's faster than a speeding bullet. And you play... the roommate. But when Future Boy is kidnapped, you'll have to rise up to the occasion and save the day. Perils await you...
Now that you've got a small taste of what's coming, click below for a screenshot and the interview with Kent Tessman. ICO: Can you tell our readers when and how The General Coffee Company started and a little bit about your first projects?
Kent: The General Coffee Company Film Productions has been around for a while. The first projects were short films, pretty much like all filmmakers start out. Along the way the work has somehow diversified to include software and (specifically) games like Future Boy!, as well as feature films such as Apartment Story.
ICO: Where did you first learn about BeOS, and what version did you first get your hands on?
Kent: I remember running across the name "BeOS" occasionally but never knowing much about it--although thinking it always seemed to have positive things associated with it. At some point I must've done a little bit of research on the web and visited www.be.com, etc. I signed up as a BeOS developer when it became available for x86, and got that first x86 version (was that R3?) sent to me on CD-ROM. (I don't think I actually installed it, though, until I received R4.)
ICO: When did development on Future Boy start and how many people were/are involved in the project?
Kent: Future Boy! has actually been in development since roughly 2000, although work on it has not been continuous. It's been a huge undertaking with a relatively small team. The design, writing, and programming were all done by me, and the majority of the artwork was done by Derek Lo. Dan Langan and Nate Laguzza contributed the title theme. A number of voice actors did the dialogue for the game, and there were just under a dozen playtesters.
ICO: Do people "migrate" from one project to the other, or do you hire people depending on each project thus adapting the work force?
Kent: There tends to be one thing in production at a time, so the people hired for each project tend to be specific to the needs of that project. Some people have worked on different and otherwise unrelated projects, but it's all dependent on the work that needs to be done (and the talents of the various individuals).
ICO: The development of Future Boy was done with the help of your game environment Hugo. What has changed in Hugo since it's last release over at BeBits, back in August 2000?
Kent: Hugo has undergone continuous development for a number of years from its (comparatively) humble beginnings. The first games were text-only, but now Future Boy! incorporates graphics, sound, animation, music, and spoken dialogue, as well as mouse input. And it scales well enough that that the very same game is playable on everything from the latest top-of-the-line desktop computer with all the video and audio bells-and-whistles down to a handheld Palm device.
ICO: Do you know of 3rd party software developed in Hugo?
Kent: There are a number of 3rd party Hugo games. Most of them are here: http://www.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/hugo/. It's very rewarding to see that other people have used the tools to write games that are entertaining people around the world. Robb Sherwin in particular has written several of note.
ICO: Did you work on the game Guilty Bastards?
Kent: Yes. Guilty Bastards was sort of the early test-case for incorporating graphics and sound into a Hugo "text" adventure.
ICO: About your film Apartment Story. The press list seems impressive. Could you tell us a bit about the movie? Do you have an estimate on how many have seen it? Where can you buy the soundtrack? And are there plans on publishing it on DVD?
Kent: We were very fortunate with the press coverage for Apartment Story--it was very well received. The PR folks at Bravo! Canada (the network that first aired Apartment Story) did an outstanding job of making people aware of the film. I'm not sure about the total number of people who have seen it, but it has reached quite a large audience on Bravo!. As far as the soundtrack goes, it's not available for purchase. A couple of the tracks are downloadable from the Apartment Story website at: http://www.generalcoffee.com/apartmentstory and the two songs by Arthur Loves Plastic are available from: http://www.arthurlovesplastic.com/. There aren't yet any firm plans for DVD distribution.
ICO: What are your plans for future films and/or software projects that we might be seeing from TGCC?
Kent: The next projects are definitely in the works but it's a little early to comment on them, other than to say that another film is next. As for future games or other software projects, well, we'll have to get Future Boy! out the door first, and then we can think about what's down the line.
ICO: Finally, on Future Boy!, can you tell us when it'll be released, how much it'll cost and if it'll be available as a download, a CD or both?
Kent: The game will be released in mid-September, although we haven't announced the precise date yet. The price will be in line with other, similar independently produced games. There will be a downloadable demo, and the full version will be available on CD-ROM.
We'd like to thank Kent for being so kind and taking the time to answer our questions. Also thanks to Frank for his part in the interview. You can read a preview of Future Boy! over at Just Adventure and download the latest Hugo (version 3.0.07) here. TGCC has stuck with BeOS, come September it's your time to show your support.