Flipping Roles In Elementary, My Dear Holmes

By Ben Barrett on August 22nd, 2013 at 9:00 am.

Ah, the cruel annals of (fake) history. Who knows what would be heroes have been lost to the mists of time because an author decided to base their tale around the tall bloke instead of the short lady? What (fictional) victories have been won off the backs of (not-real) unmentioned protagonists? That’s the question Victory Square Games are posing by bringing the charming John Watson to the fore in Elementary, My Dear Holmes. It’s an adventure game in the comedic Lucas Arts style currently just over half way to their $50,000 goal on Kickstarter. What sets them apart, however, is a just wonderful sense of humour.

Developer acting in Kickstarter videos is a common dread and while Sam and Max (they’re literally called Sam and Max and they want to make an adventure game, how can you refuse them?) won’t be winning any Oscars, I giggled my way quite heartily through that. Probably the first time I’ve checked progression the bar on a pitch and been glad I wasn’t even half done yet.

It takes more than good personality to make a game though, so where’s the meat? Well, if they make their goal, Ouya have promised to chip in for the same amount as part of thier very admirable Free The Games Fund. The ‘price’ of this, for us anyway, is six month exclusivity on the homebrew console, meaning the prospective release on Windows (and other OSs, as per stretch goals) is September next year. Still, there’s a talented team here and the game looks charming enough I’d be willing to wait. Pitch in if you would too.

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Top comments

  1. BobVSG says:

    Hey chaps. My name is Bob, and I’m the writer on the project. We hadn’t even noticed that RPS had done an article on us until this evening! So, thanks a ton for that. I’m happy to monitor the thread and answer questions.

    So, to get started….

    @ KwisatzHaderach – Our initial release will be on the Ouya, and then six months after on PC. If we reach our first stretch goal, we will release on Android, iOS, Linux and Mac. I know that seems like a lot of money to ask just to release on other platforms, but it is a ton of work to do that.

    @ Spacewalk – He’s always watching… and just behind you…. always waiting… (I’ve actually worked a creepy Watson reference into the script).

    @ Philomelle – He is, if you look at the story in a perfectly sane, logical way. We’re doing an Adventure game. Sane doesn’t even enter the equation. In all seriousness, this is an idea that Sam has baby sat for quite a few years, and he and I have worked on for about a year developing the story before ever coming to Kickstarter. We’ve done a lot of script rewrites and such (A planned update soon is offering some of the script pages). Watson and Sherlock were chosen because they’re immediately identifiable characters in public domain, and quite a bit can be done with them. Just look at Sherlock, Elementary and House. Same idea, but very different takes. We just want to get our hands into a setting we can do a lot with, to give the players a good experience. One of the really fantastic things about the Sherlock stories is that you pull a lot into them. A bit of Lovecraft. Maybe a flair of Burroughs, with some nice helpings of Moore.

  1. elevown says:

    Ever heard of or seen ‘Without a Clue’ ? 1988 film that is exatly this – Michael cane as a clueless stupid holmes, with a realy smart Watson played by Ben kingsley.

    Holmes has the reputation and ‘thinks’ he is smart but Watson in the wings is always guiding him to the truth.

    I vaugley remember it was pretty funny.

    • gunny1993 says:

      Ahhhhh that’s the name of it, been trying to remember it for the last hour XD

    • LionsPhil says:

      That film is brilliant.

      This kickstarter video started with a badly acted “let’s repeat lines from Hit the Road in our nasal voices, that’ll be funny”, and got closed immediately after.

      • BobVSG says:

        Hey LionsPhil,

        Sam (project creator) here. I’m sorry to hear that you did not like our homage to Hit the Road in our nasal voices. Unfortunately, those are also our normal voices!

        We weren’t really trying to be funny there (not at that point). Neither are we actors (we’re developers, creatives, programmers, writers, strategists – but nope, no actors). But we did try our best to put together a funny video. Some people liked it, some people did not – and I can completely understand that. It’s all a matter of personal taste.

        Nonetheless, if you do like point-and-click adventure games, you might want to give it a shot and watch the video. Perhaps you might think we are worth a chance. :-)

        Best,
        Sam

    • BobVSG says:

      Hi Elevown,

      This is Sam (project creator) from Bob’s account. I saw a lot of buzz here and so popped in.

      Ironically, I have never heard of Without a Clue before! 1988 is actually before I was born (I’m ’89!). The concept for Elementary, My Dear Holmes is something that I came up with while living in Germany some years ago, and I’m confident that we’ll be able to differentiate ourselves from the movie. We do have some funny and talented people working here with us, and can pull something out of our bags.

      Having said that, I am still going to force the entire staff to watch Without A Clue! Perhaps we could even throw in an easter egg or two as a small tribute! :-)

      Sam

  2. caff says:

    This is not Sherlock Holmes.

    Sherlock Holmes is all about shuffling landladies, bleak morphine addiction, and moustaches. Well I suppose they got the last bit.

    And these two people are far too cheerful.

    • lhzr says:

      Holmes was doing cocaine (7% solution), not morphine, and there was nothing bleak about it, he always managed it just fine.

      • gunny1993 says:

        Opium as well

        And it was fairly bleak, whenever he wasn’t working on anything he entered into a mope, which is why he did the drugs. (Well as much is said in the books from what I recall)

        • elevown says:

          It wasnt ‘whenever’ – it was earlier in his career and only when he was at his most bored from lack of work. Watson got him to stop and after something like about halfway through his career I dont think he did it again.

          • gunny1993 says:

            When does that happen? I haven’t read past the final problem mind, so probably haven’t got to that part yet.

            Of course it’s totally possible I forgot that part.

          • DonDrapersAcidTrip says:

            There’s one sentence in a later story about Watson weaning Holmes off drugs over the years. Like a lot of the stuff in the Holmes stories it’s so vague and you could read anything you wanted into it, so people complaining about one Holmes interpretation not being like another is just weird.

          • elevown says:

            I forget which case files its mentioned in – its not in when it happens- a lot of the stories arnt chronological anyway, and often watson mentions past cases and stories that are never written about- it’s disclosed through several such memorries and a few conversations about past events.

    • BobVSG says:

      Hi Caff,

      Thanks for your note! This is Sam, the project creator, from Bob’s account. I want to personally say thanks for thinking that I’m far too cheerful! The staff here at Victory Square Games are always complaining and grumping that I’m a mean taskmaster who yells too much. I’m going to show this post to everyone here to prove that I AM indeed a nice guy.

      Also, just because we’re going for a tongue-in-cheek style does not mean this won’t be about shuffling landladies and substance-addiction. It will just be a very tongue-in-cheek style of shuffling landladies and substance-abuse. ;-)

      Cheers,
      Sam

  3. orient says:

    So they have “a lot done” already, but no footage of the game — not even one measly screenshot?

    • KwisatzHaderach says:

      I find this odd too. Especially since they plan on releasing it next March. ASnd what’s with the stretch goal $75,000? “We’ll release for Android, iOS, Mac and Linux!” No Windows?

      • dolgion1 says:

        For a moment there I thought you were a particularly good ad bot.

      • Teovald says:

        Windows is already part of the 50 000 $ goal, these are just added platforms.

        In my opinion this is still an horrible choice though. They are developing using Unity, meaning that if they target Windows, adding OsX & Linux is almost trivial. I insist on the almost, even if Unity is pretty good, there are still platform related bugs & anyway you need some QA on each platform but the amount of effort is vastly inferior to the benefits of adding another platform imo..

        Between this and the fact that they only have 1 artwork to show off, count me out.

        • BobVSG says:

          Hi Teovald!

          Thanks for your note. Bob pointed your note to me so I thought I would jump in to clarify (I’m Sam, btw, the project creator. Great to meet you too.)

          Why Linux is not a base funding promise is a question I have been asked several times in the last week. The base argument is risk-mitigation, as we’re still doing our research our feasability and Linux market size. I am actually talking with some folks from Gaming On Linux to get their advice on the issue, and told them last night that I would be very open to considering shifting Linux down to a base funding promise and even putting in some company resources to ensure that that happens.

          You can find my post on that at http://gamingonlinux.com/forum/topic/416

          Also, we added in some artwork in the Project Update section, and will be releasing another piece tomorrow. I would love to talk to you about Linux’s gaming community and help us make an informed decision to move Linux down to the base $50k goal.

          Best,
          Sam

    • BobVSG says:

      Hi Orient,

      I’m Sam, the project creator, and reading your note, realized that I needed to clarify a bit.

      We’re making a point-and-click adventure game, which is a *very* narrative-driven medium. At the core of our game is our story, and so we have taken a lot of time (almost a year) before this and finalized our story and script. That, in our opinion, is a significant milestone in the creation of a point-and-click adventure.

      So if you look at the development, pre-production, production and post-production cycle of game development, we have crossed development and pre-production. We have our story, we have our team, we have our art-style locked in. We even have our sandbox code done, which means we have built an engine that lets the user collect inventory objects and use X with Y to do Z.

      So we are at a position where we can dive right in into full-blown production the minute we reach our funding for this. That is the “what we’ve already done bit.”

      I am realizing now, though, that many people might make different assumptions around that sentence. We will be doing a project video update over the weekend, and I will be clarifying this issue there as well. We put up one concept screencap as an update this week, and will be putting up a better, more refined one by tomorrow as well.

      Hope that clarifies things. Don’t hesitate to let me know in case you have any follow-up queries! Bob or myself will be happy to respond.

      Cheers,
      Sam

      • orient says:

        Well that makes more sense. Thanks for clearing this up. I just wouldn’t want to pledge without knowing what the game’s going to look like, even if it’s just a mock-up.

  4. Spacewalk says:

    I’m hoping that Watson’s creepy teleportation powers will be present and accounted for.

  5. bstard says:

    I think it was the neighbors ex wife, in the internet, with a laptop. Case of the missing 18081 ruppies closed.

  6. Hidden_7 says:

    Anyone else wanna read into it that it’s Canadians doing a story about the under appreciated, much neglected sidekick getting a shot at the limelight? No? Just me, then?

    More on topic, if these guys can inject the fun personality of this pitch video into the game, I could see myself quite enjoying it. And it IS a fun concept.

    • BobVSG says:

      In all honesty, that made me chuckle! Even though Sam isn’t really Canadian (he’s just been here a year) – it still makes all of us at the studio chuckle though!

      And yes, our promise IS to inject the fun personality of the pitch video into the game. Hope you give us a chance to prove ourselves!

  7. golem09 says:

    The Games fund?
    So the console of the people, the magical miracle box from the future for the free mind is relying on…. exclusivity? That’s a pretty ancient concept.

  8. Philomelle says:

    That’s not really flipping the roles, though. John Watson is hardly a sidekick in the books, he is the voice of reason, the one who provides common sense and subtle scientific knowledge due to Holmes’s habit of forgetting things that don’t immediately help in his cases, and who keeps Holmes afloat and away from drugs. He is a critical part of the duo, a stable lightning rod to Holmes’s chaotic genius.

    Instead, these writers’ Watson comes off as a pissy diva going into hysterics over not being given the spotlight.

    Which brings to mind the question, in which way is this a Holmes & Watson story at all? Didn’t they simply decide to do a “lololol so funneh” story about a sidekick trying to upstage the hero, shove every famous duo in public domain into a hat and pull out names at random?

  9. BobVSG says:

    Hey chaps. My name is Bob, and I’m the writer on the project. We hadn’t even noticed that RPS had done an article on us until this evening! So, thanks a ton for that. I’m happy to monitor the thread and answer questions.

    So, to get started….

    @ KwisatzHaderach – Our initial release will be on the Ouya, and then six months after on PC. If we reach our first stretch goal, we will release on Android, iOS, Linux and Mac. I know that seems like a lot of money to ask just to release on other platforms, but it is a ton of work to do that.

    @ Spacewalk – He’s always watching… and just behind you…. always waiting… (I’ve actually worked a creepy Watson reference into the script).

    @ Philomelle – He is, if you look at the story in a perfectly sane, logical way. We’re doing an Adventure game. Sane doesn’t even enter the equation. In all seriousness, this is an idea that Sam has baby sat for quite a few years, and he and I have worked on for about a year developing the story before ever coming to Kickstarter. We’ve done a lot of script rewrites and such (A planned update soon is offering some of the script pages). Watson and Sherlock were chosen because they’re immediately identifiable characters in public domain, and quite a bit can be done with them. Just look at Sherlock, Elementary and House. Same idea, but very different takes. We just want to get our hands into a setting we can do a lot with, to give the players a good experience. One of the really fantastic things about the Sherlock stories is that you pull a lot into them. A bit of Lovecraft. Maybe a flair of Burroughs, with some nice helpings of Moore.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Oh my good lord I /only just/ got the reference in the name “House”.

      Further to Orient’s query – is there any footage available or incoming?

      • BobVSG says:

        We’re hoping to have something by the end of the Kickstarter. We posted a shot today of what the UI is going to look like, and really working our butts off to get something to show.

        • elevown says:

          I still think its not realy a good idea to do that – why didnt you wait to kickstart till you had a bit to show off?

          You realy expect many to kickstart a project without famous devs and a track record, with NO prototype / footage at all just on your word what you want to do?

          Even braben took stick for lauching a new ELITE kickstarter with no footage, and you cant get better pedigree than that. (Thankfully they added in engine footage within a week or 2 and it made it fine).

          • BobVSG says:

            We understand the risk. It wasn’t something undertaken lightly, or at the drop of a hat. In the end, it comes down to the fact that we believe in our product, strongly.

            We knew there’d be flack, and it’d turn some people away. That’s the way it is, but internally at the studio, based on the strength of script, story and concept, we knew we had something special.

            We’re going to haul ass and do our best to get something tangible to show by the end of the month, before the Kickstarter is over. One thing that is really important to us is maintaining a strong dialogue with our backers, and people interested in the project, and there’s been a lot of call for game footage, and rough as it is, we’re going to do our best to deliver.

          • BobVSG says:

            Hi Elevown,

            This is Sam (project creator) from Bob’s account to shed more clarity on why we went to Kickstarter right now.

            As I commented earlier, as a point-and-click game, our strongest strength is our story and narrative. And that is something that we have refined for a long, long time. Our story and script is ready, our production plans are made and we have finished development and pre-production and are kicking off into production. As a studio, Victory Square Games is also working on two other, non-Kickstarted projects.

            I will be honest and tell you that we came to Kickstarter now instead of later because of Ouya’s Free The Games initiative. We did not know how soon the fund will be exhausted, and as a game developer that is trying to stay in business and make more games, the opportunity was definitely too good to pass on.

            We understand that not everyone might be a fan of the Ouya Free The Games initiative. But like everyone else, we have bills to pay and lights to keep on. Even doubly so, as we have to do that at home, and then at the studio as well. And so as a very young dev studio, we went in for it. If we can get our funds doubled from the Ouya, that lets us make a better game. A better game works well for everyone. Plus, as we mentioned in other forums and posts, we will be adding additional gameplay and secrets in the post-Ouya launched to make it up to our backers.

            We released a concept screencap yesterday and will be releasing one more on Friday. So far, the adventure gaming community has loved our pitch video and is backing us because we have proved our narrative skills. I sincerely hope that you give us a chance as well!

            If you have any questions, just shoot! I would be happy to clarify further! :)

            Cheers,
            Sam

    • The Random One says:

      “We’re doing an Adventure game. Sane doesn’t even enter the equation.”

      I look at those words and hear: At some point in our game you’ll have to combine the scissors with the dustpan to get the decoy, which you’ll need to use on a duck to get bread, which is the only thing the beggar will accept even though you also have money, wine and chocolate in your inventory. But that’s ok because we’ll mention how little sense that makes, so it won’t be unintuitive – it’ll be zany! LOLOLOLOLOL

      Perhaps if you had any gameplay to show you could prove me wrong, but you don’t, so I won’t be pledging for this one.

      • BobVSG says:

        O Random One,

        Sir, your description of what those words could mean is literary divinity! Would you consider joining my team as a writer? I’ll fire Bob and hire you!

        (This is Sam, the project creator, from Bob’s account.)

        As I told the folks above as well, we’ve finished our development and pre-production, but haven’t kicked off production. Our story is done, our script is done, our production plan is ready. But yes, in all honesty, we do not have gameplay footage yet.

        We have some concept screencaps that we will be releasing steadily, but our promise right now to you, other potential backers, and our existing backers is this: We promise a great narrative, up to the level of fun that we have introduced in our pitch video. It will be fun, it will be ridiculous, but not SO ridiculous that the beggar will only accept the bread and not accept money, wine and chocolates. In our game, beggars can’t be choosers. ;-)

        I hope you choose to give us a chance to be able to prove ourselves. If you need any clarifications, feel free to ask!

        Yep,
        Sam

  10. Zepp says:

    Nice moustache, so manly in the right way! Do they have concept art of Holmes wearing only white wife-beater? I would love to see it.

  11. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    If I remember this kickstarter when it hits the $750.000 goal I may just pledge, but I’ll have to see if they make it to that point.

    • BobVSG says:

      I hope you mean $75,000! If we hit $750,000… well, we don’t know what we would do. But it would be huge!

      Also, if you’re holding out to $75k for Linux, well Sam is already talking with some Linux communities to get a better idea of things. We might be moving that down to $50k!

  12. seamoss says:

    Our initial release will be on the Ouya, and then six months after on PC. If we reach our first stretch goal, we will release on Android, iOS, Linux and Mac. I know that seems like a lot of money to ask just to release on other platforms, but it is a ton of work to do that.

    Support for other platforms as a stretch goal has always prevented me from supporting a project: I give them my money so I can get a Linux release, but if they reach their funding but not the stretch goal then they keep my money and I don’t get a Linux release. I realise there’s no simple solution (they can’t support every platform from the get-got) but still…

    • BobVSG says:

      Hey Seamoss,

      This is Sam, the project creator, from Bob’s account. As I just mentioned above, I am talking with a few Linux gaming communities to get a better idea of things and we are strongly considering moving Linux down to our base $50k funding goal.

      I made a detailed post above and here: http://gamingonlinux.com/forum/topic/416

      Best,
      Sam

  13. Gomer says:

    Blasphemy! This is madness!

  14. BobVSG says:

    We at Victory Square Games are very excited to announce that we have just reached our base $50,000 Kickstarter funding goal on our point-and-click title, Elementary, My Dear Holmes!

    New Video and Concept Art!

    To celebrate, we’ve released a new video update, as well as a bunch of concept art to share with our backers and the community. The concept art and the video is live on the main Kickstarter page at http://kck.st/19tFgrV. The video is also available at http://youtu.be/bOff7gh6Y40

    A Linux Version!

    In addition, we’re proud to announce that the Linux version has been moved from a $75,000 stretch goal to a $50,000 base goal. Which means that the Linux version will be shipping in September 2014!

    Free Game Consoles!

    And that’s not all. Victory Square Games is also hosting a Console Giveaway! Anyone who donated $15 or more to the campaign is now in the running to win one of four consoles – an Ouya, a Wii U, a PS4 and an Xbox 1. Also, anyone who donates between now and September 05 is also eligible to win.

    It’s a really exciting time for us at Victory Square Games, and we are proud and happy to share our little success story. Please feel free to write back if you would like any further information on any of the updates.

    Best,
    Sam

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