For many, The Vision came out of nowhere last month. A ten-minute-long trailer promised the world (quite literally) with the freedom to travel to any time period in history, survive, build, kill, and switch between first- and third-person viewpoints.
The prospect of such an ambitious project—from a solo developer, no less—is heady. Already almost five years into production, The Vision is one to watch, even if much remains to be done.
21-year-old developer Justin Darlington was kind enough to take some time out of his schedule to talk about the vision behind The Vision, where the game is at present, and the struggle of balancing his ambitions and the limitations of his budget when showing it off.
OnlySP: First of all, the really impressive thing about The Vision is how ambitious it is. You’ve said that you can visit any time period, build anything you want, and I want to get into those details later, but for now, I just want to ask what drove you to undertake this project in the first place?
Darlington: I have always dreamed of turning one of my many stories into a feature film. The Vision started as a book I wrote with no intention of creating a video game out of it. I got the idea for beginning the development of the game back in late 2013/early 2014 while finishing the stories of the other lead characters. I thought to myself, “This would make a really great video game story, too!” The story itself was one major factor in my decision to start the development. I thought it would be really intriguing to follow multiple characters and their lives in different worlds and throughout the multiverse.
OnlySP: One of the things that really caught my attention is this claim that you can travel to any time period. The trailer showed off a few different periods, and I’m wondering how comprehensive that will be. Like, will 1956 be different from 1955? Can I travel to the paleolithic or the Victorian era and expect a relatively faithful representation of those times?
Darlington: I really hoped to touch on this! Although minor, there will be differences from year to year. A home that was built in 1956 will not exist in 1955. Or on a larger scale, cities as we know them today, like New York City, will not have existed thousands of years ago. This land will be free, open, and full of wildlife before the development of that city! The same is to be said for any historical wars. You might travel back to December 7, 1941, to witness the Attack on Pearl Harbor, but December 8, 1941, will not show you the attack as this is a day late. I have a technical video coming about how all of this will work and maybe even giving a demonstration.
OnlySP: Was the game as you’ve presented it in your recent trailer what you first started working on? How has the development process expanded or shrunk your original intentions?
Darlington: Yes, the prototype trailer is all new, plus improved content from the original. The second video merely expanded upon the first one. In the past, I was not able to demonstrate the traveling system as I was still planning out how it would work in an official stage one prototype release.
OnlySP: You’ve already been working on The Vision for four years alone. Do you have any plans to get help with it if it starts to pick up traction?
Darlington: I do have plans to receive help! But sadly, my budget does not allow for any outside help. I have started a Patreon for the game for those who are looking to help The Vision’s development progress.
OnlySP: We didn’t see much of the story in your debut trailer beyond the protagonist, John, being captured in the year 4012 and some vague mentions of a mission. Can you tell us anything more about that, and how prominent it will be within the game?
Darlington: John is a very deep character. His background is unknown to literally everyone in his universe and throughout the multiverse. Many versions of John exist throughout the multiverse, but only one could travel through all multiverses and the time within those universes. All Johns are connected through the multiverse. Destroying a universe can destroy a part of yourself. John’s capture in 4012 is a very intense moment in his journey. It is a time when he learns that his captor is truly himself in another form, in another life, and what that means for him. I hope to showcase more of the story later.
OnlySP: You mention multiverse travel. Will moving between the universes have any impact on the individual worlds. Like, will they have developed differently in different universes?
Darlington: Traveling throughout the multiverse exposes you to many different things. Germany may have won World War Two and taken over Earth. The British may have succeeded in defeating the rebels during the American Revolutionary War. So many possibilities that I hope to go more in depth about in my next series of videos!
OnlySP: And considering the sheer scale of the work that would entail, will that all be available in the 1.0 release or will you add more as time goes on?
Darlington: I cannot say for sure. But I do know that by imposing limitations on the world before official development can begin, I can build the world without having to worry about breaking promises. I know that I will limit the number of galaxies to three, while also limiting the number of planets and moons within these galaxies to a reasonable number.
OnlySP: Again, related to the scale question, how big will each of these environments be?
Darlington: Well, I try to explain the scale of Earth by comparing to The Crew 2. They [developer Ivory Tower] were able to greatly condense the United States down to a very reasonable size. The Vision’s Earth will be a super-condensed version of Earth. A lot of countries will be omitted from the game’s world. However, along with this large condensed open world comes space travel and multiverse travel! From the video, I cut a scene of John going through a hotel. Hotels, apartment complexes, and so many other places that you can visit and even build in this world. You can say that the world is massive!
OnlySP: Will any of the planets or moons other than Earth be inhabited? What might we expect to find on them?
Darlington: Yes, other planets and some moons will be inhabited by other life! Not all life in this universe will be intelligent. You may discover creatures or ways of life that are unimaginable.
OnlySP: The trailer mentioned a lot of moving parts, from survival aspects to the building of theme parks to the ability to move technology between time periods. However, it really only showed off gunplay and a little bit of sneaking around. Why focus on those aspects in this debut?
Darlington: I focused a lot on gunplay in this video because I do not have the budget currently to implement much else without spending years working on it. I hoped to show off building systems, grocery stores, and a bunch of other content. I quickly realized that this would require another year or two at minimum of development time. I wanted to get the Prototype Concept out there in hopes to raise funding so that I, or someone I hire, could work on showcasing all the cool features that The Vision has to offer. I tried implementing cinematics to show that there is a story. There are a lot of story elements I wanted to include but do [not] have the budget for. I hope my extremely low budget does not affect people’s ability to see the full potential in The Vision.
OnlySP: Is it possible to return to a time period you’ve already been to and come across a past self?
Darlington: NO!!!! I will never ever promise this. This would make the development process potentially extremely complex. Could it be possible? Yes, it could be possible. But I do not see how this could be developed now.
OnlySP: You’ve said that a prototype build will be coming soon. How much of the overall mechanics and world do you plan to have accessible in that?
Darlington: I plan on having a pretty large world that encompasses three different time periods. I would like to implement cutscenes, but I am afraid that with my current budget, I cannot implement them. You will be playing through some missions and getting a general idea of the game in the first prototype build. I will also be showcasing weapons customization in the first prototype! In stage two of the prototype, I hope to showcase story, minor construction capabilities, and many other important elements. I for certain want to demonstrate a world progressing, but this will have to wait until my budget increases.
OnlySP: I’m sure that a lot of people are interested in seeing how The Vision works, so do you have any time frame in mind for the prototype release?
Darlington: I do not have a time frame for the release of the first prototype build. I am still working on improving the AI, texturing the world, programming John’s time manipulation abilities, and optimizing levels. However, I will be uploading development videos. This can give you a glimpse into the future of the first prototype release!
OnlySP: Finally, is there anything else that you would like to say to our readers and the wider gaming community?
Darlington: Thank you to all the support and understanding that I have received. It is very challenging working alone on any project. Support really means a lot and thank you to all [the] people that have supported me! If you want to help further the development of The Vision, support us by signing up for at least $1 over on our Patreon. You can also stay up to date on the latest news and updates about The Vision by following us on social media:
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