It’s fun to play games, but it’s also interesting to see how they are made. Outside the Box is about telling the creator’s side of the story. Today we spotlight Francisco Gonzalez, a game developer with a passion for old school point-and-click adventure games.

Francisco Gonzalez is a game developer with a perfect sense of timing. His new game, A Golden Wake, is a throwback title in a genre that is suddenly cool again.

A Golden Wake explores a slice of both real and videogame history. It’s historical fiction wrapped in the skin of a point-and-click adventure game employing a visual style and game mechanics popularized in the 1990’s when games like Monkey Island and Gabriel Knight first hit the shelves. It comes at a time when the genre is making a comeback with Telltale Games finding success with The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us and titles like The Room series getting critical acclaim.

Gonzalez’ game takes place over the period of 14 years exploring the setting of real-life Coral Gables, Florida from the mid-1920’s through the 1930’s. The era is rife with intrigue, detailing a place that alternated between periods of massive land development and destructive hurricanes. The story is told through the lens of real-estate entrepreneur Alfie Banks whose life becomes intertwined with the mob. Though Banks is a fictional character, he interacts with many real historical figures: George Merrick, the man who helped plan and build the real Coral Gables, a New York mobster named Thomas “Fatty” Walsh who operated a speakeasy at the Biltmore Hotel in town and the anti evolutionist William Jennings Bryant whose name is in many high school text books for his role in the Scopes Monkey trial.

While the aim is not to make a piece of edutainment, Gonzalez wanted to emphasize the time period and capture a sense of place.

“At its heart this is an adventure game. I’m not trying hit people over the head with history,” Gonzalez said.

A Golden Wake is the first commercial game for Gonzalez and his one-man studio Grundislav Games. He recently secured a deal with publisher and developer Wadjet Games to distribute the game on PC and GOG then iOS later on. Gonzalez said the game is slated for release in September.

“Just like everything else, it works in cycles,” Gonzalez said. “Adventure games went into a lull after that Golden Age in the 90’s, in the mid 2000’s there was a focus on graphics and how things looked and now that graphics have caught up, there is a focus on telling stories.”

Gonzalez grew up playing traditional adventure game titles produced by Sierra and LucasArts The genre appealed to him because of its emphasis on story and that passion persisted even when popular interest trended toward high-end graphics and 3D games. The games of his youth were an inspiration to take up game development.

To help compensate for a lack of programming experience, Gonzalez used Adventure Game Studio, an open source game engine, to create the Ben Jordan series of games. These titles were inspired by Gabriel Knight and followed the exploits of Ben Jordan, a paranormal investigator that solved mysteries. He worked on the series for eight years, releasing all eight parts under Grundislav Games.

After years of distributing the Ben Jordan games as freeware, Gonzalez decided to make the leap into commercial game development. It was an adjustment fine tuning his games for an audience that may not have played an adventure game before. What didn’t change much is the art style, which is reminiscent of old 16-bit era SNES games. The decision to keep with this style in A Golden Wake is born out of the realities of being a one-man development team as much as it is an artistics one.

“I’ve done it myself because from a commercial standpoint, I don’t have to worry about paying other people,” Gonzalez said.

This also felt like the right time to make the leap with a burgeoning indie game scene and resurgent interest in adventure games. Gonzalez said that he wanted to see if it was possible to make a living doing game development.

Traditional adventure games didn’t go away as much as they were absorbed into other titles. AAA games and indies alike employ  branching story paths and multiple dialogue options that are adventure game staples. Fueling the resurgence of more traditional titles are veteran developers wanting to recreate a part of the experience that inspired them.

Gonzalez can count himself among the ranks of veteran developers with A Golden Wake slated for release. He’s spent years developing titles that reflects the genre that inspired him, the only difference is that it’s now his career.

“Just like everything else, it works in cycles,” Gonzalez said. “Adventure games went into a lull after that Golden Age in the 90’s, in the mid 2000’s there was a focus on graphics and how things looked and now that graphics have caught up, there is a focus on telling stories.”

About The Author

Editor In Chief

Jose is a straight shooter who always goes the paragon route. He joined the team at Indie Haven to spread the word about indie games all across the galaxy. When not aboard the Normandy, he lives in the San Francisco Bay Area playing video games and plotting ways to rid the world of games like Colonial Marines.

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