It's been a long week here in Montreal. The snow is piling up, to the point where, apparently, we've run out of places to put the snow (did you know they just... scoop it up and move it? Seems pretty inefficient). But there's light at the end of the winter tunnel. The days are getting longer, slowly, and it might be cold, but that means it's the perfect temperature to eat poutine.
It's like that when you're working on a game - it can seem like you're endlessly fixing bugs, tweaking animations and deleting line after line of dialogue, especially when you start rapidly approaching the release date - but then, the game is released, and you get to see the happiness of everyone playing. It's like the first flower poking through the snow, and the spring melt that brings life back to the world.
This week's featured Epsilon devs have been in the industry a long time. They know all about what it's like to have that seasonal swing from darkness to light, from coldness to heat - also because they live in Montreal, a city that swings from winter to summer harder than any other.
Sabrina writes the story and the dialogues for Primus Vita, as well as being the director. This week, she's working on cinematics, which means drawing up storyboards for how she pictures the scenarios, which will later be created by the artists, animators and programmers. She's also working on the final script, because the voice actors will be recording next week - and after that, it's a lot harder to make changes!
"Before Epsilon," Sabrina says, "I worked in games for 10+ years and before that, I directed documentaries, corporate videos and TV shows." She's a Quebec native, which means her first language is French - but all the dialogue and writing for Primus Vita is done in English. "Writing in English is the hardest thing about the process," she admits, but it's hard to tell!
"Starting Epsilon Games is the highlight of my career," Sabrina says. She speaks about the characters of Primus Vita as if they're old friends, saying that "getting to know them" is the key to writing each of the episodes. "I want each of them to have a unique voice," she says. "I'm most like Hayao - I like poetry a lot, and most of the time, he doesn't say things straight away, he uses metaphors and analyses a lot."
Martin Paradis, the Technical Director and Lead Programmer at Epsilon, agrees at first. "Hayao is a cerebral guy," he says, comparing himself to the botanist, "and I tend to see myself as cerebral... but maybe I'm more like Austin." Before coming to Epsilon, which he says was the "best moment of his career," Martin was working at Unity and Ubisoft, working on tools that helped the creatives on the team picture what scenarios would look like.
"My next big task is working on graphics - I'm rewriting and finishing a shader for the reveal, so there's more of an effect." Martin works closely with the artists like Nancy, helping them with their ideas. "Sometimes Nancy comes up with an idea and she shows me references, and asks, 'can we do that?'" It's Martin's job to say yes!
"When art falls into the technical world, I'm usually summoned," he admits. "In my career I was tagged as a generalist programmer - I worked on many sides of the game. Sounds, graphics, a little bit of gameplay. Every experience that I've had in my career, all the things I've learned, helps me here."
Martin's one piece of advice - other than being a great generalist - is to leave your comfort zone. "If you want to stay on programming," he says, "learn more than one language!"
"We walk into a unknown land, Martin says of Primus Vita. "It is very exciting, and rewarding." Sabrina agrees. "It’s exhilarating, full of unknowns, and one of the best opportunities to learn I’ve ever had."