‘I hope the authen­tic­ity will be one of the main sell­ing points’

Clare video game de­signer is cre­at­ing an ad­ven­ture game based on Clare

Tri-County Vanguard - - NEWS - AMANDA DOUCETTE DIGBYCORUIER.CA

Chad Comeau re­mem­bers play­ing clas­sic video games with his grand­mother when he was grow­ing up in Clare.

Some of his favourites were Su­per Mario and Zelda, which he played on a Nin­tendo.

“Ever since then I’ve al­ways been cu­ri­ous to learn more about them,” he said.

In Comeau’s first year of uni­ver­sity, when he was study­ing in Monc­ton, one of his friends found a com­puter pro­gram where they could make their own role-play­ing video games (RPG).

Af­ter work­ing on a few small games with friends, he knew he wanted to do more.

He grad­u­ated from uni­ver­sity with a trans­la­tion de­gree. He worked for four years in that field while work­ing on video games in his free time and on his lunch breaks.

Some­thing about video games has al­ways fas­ci­nated him, ever since he started play­ing them with his grand­mother. Comeau knew he had to pur­sue his dream in cre­at­ing games.

Comeau has worked on many small projects, some col­lab­o­ra­tions with other de­sign­ers. Last Septem­ber he pro­duced a game with a friend, all about don­airs, and pre­vi­ously an ad­ven­ture game about a Frenchy’s shop­ping trip.

“I thought about this for a while and af­ter work­ing on so many side projects, I thought hey, I should make this work full-time.”

He ap­plied to a video game de­sign course in Koln, Ger­many, at the Cologne Game Lab. It’s a pub­lic school so it has free tu­ition, but it’s a hard school to get into, he says.

“I didn’t think I’d ever get in, but since I’ve worked on so many games in the past, I think that gave me an ad­van­tage,” he says. “Once I got ac­cepted, ev­ery­thing be­came so real.”

The course is a three-year pro­gram and Comeau has com­pleted his first year. Now he’s back in Clare work­ing on a new project.

Comeau is mak­ing an ad­ven­ture game all about the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Clare.

He plans to in­clude some of Clare’s small tra­di­tions like the an­nual ca­noe trip, as well as le­gends and myths passed along through gen­er­a­tions in Clare.

“My ap­proach is to make a lot of small weird games, be­cause if you make a com­mer­cial game, a generic game to sell to the world­wide mar­ket, how are you go­ing to make it spe­cial? But if I make a don­air game or an Aca­dian game, then just be­cause of the sub­jects, it will be more spe­cial for more peo­ple,” he says. “I try to con­vey some­thing with the games, you know, you play it and it’s not just purely for fun or to make money off of it. You can al­most walk away with more knowl­edge or an un­der­stand­ing of a sub­ject.”

He’s been work­ing on the project for the past year while in Ger­many. He’s part­nered with the Aca­dian Stud­ies pro­gram at Univer­sité Sainte-Anne to re­search all the de­tails he needs to com­plete the game.

He has a two-year time­line to fin­ish the game. With a year al­ready gone, he plans to have it fin­ished by Au­gust 2019.

Comeau is also ask­ing for some pub­lic in­put. His vi­sion for the game is to fea­ture sto­ries from res­i­dents of Clare and to record their voices to ap­pear in his game.

“One of the pil­lars of this project is work­ing with the com­mu­nity

be­cause the process of cre­at­ing games is usu­ally just, the com­pany does it, then they put out the game and peo­ple buy it. But you know there’s other ways of do­ing it,” Comeau said.

He’s ask­ing for sug­ges­tions and hopes to start record­ing sto­ries in early 2019.

“Ev­ery character in the game will be per­formed by some­one in the re­gion,” he says. “It’s tak­ing a par­tic­i­pa­tory ap­proach to mak­ing the game.”

Comeau ad­mits he’s not great at com­puter pro­gram­ing and cod­ing, so the tech­ni­cal bar­ri­ers have caused him some trou­bles along the way. For the Clare game, he plans to use some real photos of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to give the game a more re­al­is­tic ap­proach.

“I hope the authen­tic­ity will be one of the main sell­ing points. It will be sto­ries from the re­gion, with pic­tures from the re­gion, with voices from the re­gion and also en­vi­ron­men­tal sounds. Like if you go to the wharf you’ll hear the seag­ulls and the wind will ac­tu­ally be cap­tured from the re­gion. Which is very rare for a game to be ge­o­graph­i­cally spe­cific to a re­gion.”

Comeau be­lieves his game will be pop­u­lar in Clare, but he hopes to see it played world­wide too.

His favourite part of the job is hav­ing cre­ative free­dom. He gets to vi­su­al­ize a plan and see that plan come to life. But he also en­joys see­ing play­ers’ re­ac­tions to the games.

“If peo­ple en­joy it, I mean that’s all I can hope for.”

When the game is fin­ished, Comeau plans to host a launch party in Clare.

The game will be a longer-styled ad­ven­ture game, mainly in French but with the op­tion to play in English.

“It was my dream to do this full-time, it has been a lit­tle over­whelm­ing with the switch. Be­cause within a month of ap­ply­ing, I found out I was go­ing to Ger­many and I could leave my job to work on this project. It’s a lot to han­dle and man­age but I’m ob­vi­ously su­per grate­ful that it all panned out and I can wake up ev­ery day and go work on a game.”

SUB­MIT­TED

A screen­shot of some of the projects Clare video game de­signer Chad Comeau has worked on.

SUB­MIT­TED

Chad Comeau is de­sign­ing an ad­ven­ture game based on Clare.

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