Tobias and the Dark Sceptre; The Game in Development for 13 Years
You may have seen this story online already. But if not, the game in question has been in development (by ONE person) for more than thirteen years straight. Named Tobias and the Dark Sceptre, this interesting indie game has been developed by an indie dev called Adam Butcher for so long, the modern indie scene as we know it didn’t even exist yet. Here’s a video about the game by its maker, explaining quite why this 2D Zelda style title took just so long to finally complete:
Looks pretty basic doesn’t it? Maybe a bit old fashioned? Well regardless, I’m actually kind of impressed by this guy’s work, and if you want to know why, keep reading!
So what makes me impressed? Well for the most part, a few things. Like the fact this game actually had ambition.
That my friends, is something that’s seemingly almost non existent in today’s world. In both the professional and indie game development scenes. Indeed, the current ‘plan’ for making games seems to have boiled down to either ‘cash in on what’s currently popular on the app store/Steam/whatever’, ‘make a bland sequel to a popular game using an existing engine’ or ‘release minor updates of the game year after year under the pretense that they’re sequels and not mission packs’.
Above: Sometimes both the second and third option, like with Sig World and its 30 sequels in four years.
This game however, seems different. Yes it’s unpolished, but it has a certain level of ambition that you can’t help but admire. The same kind of ambition present in say, Mushroom Kingdom Fusion:
Or Brutal Mario:
Okay, it’s not exactly as fancy as those, but the same general deal applies; one guy (or at least, a small team) working on a single game (for fun) for decades of their life with the goal of making a great game at just about any cost. The kind of game they themselves want to play, not the kind currently trending on smartphones or that’s easily chucked out in a weekend due to its non existent game depth or mechanics and overly basic style.
And that’s something you just have to admire. But you know what else you have to admire too?
Mr Butcher’s persistence with this game. Making something like a game is already hard. But working on a free, overly ambitious game for over 13 years straight? That’s extremely hard to do. It’s something that just about nobody on the planet has the level of persistence needed for.
Just look at the fan game and ROM hack forums out there if you need proof. Note how many ambitious projects are just lying dead, with their only proof of existence being a bunch of screenshots and videos littered through a showcase topic. Or how many of the games you can download are just ‘demos’ that will never get finished. And don’t think it only applies to amateurs either! After all, Duke Nukem Forever, another game with a similar timeframe took the company down before it was complete. And that’s a lucky example, the rare game that actually got picked up again and finished! Most games like this would probably end up either cancelled in a couple of years or end up in limbo as the company runs out of money and ceases trading, never to be heard of again.
This story should be proof to everyone that yes, you too can finish your dream game if you’re determined enough to keep working on it for over a decade.
So yes. Despite it being a rather amateurish (and most likely) old fashioned game, I think Tobias and the Dark Spectre is at least an inspiration for game developers world over. An inspiring example of a childhood ‘dream game’ that finally got finished after more than 13 long years.