Quartet (Something Classic) Progress Report Interview

In this interview, we had the pleasure of catching up with Something Classic’s Tyler Mire (composer, producer), Patrick Holleman (director, writer), Peter Ruibal (programming), and Tyler Deren (programming) about their upcoming RPG, Quartet!

Note: Something Classic team members are denoted in green while SwitchRPG is in red.


SwitchRPG

How big of a development team is Something Classic?

Tyler M.

The original Something Classic team (which developed Shadows of Adam) had five members: myself (composer, producer), Tim Wendorf (art direction), Josh Garlitz (programmer), Tyler Deren (programmer) and Luke Wacholtz (writing and level design).

For Quartet we’ve brought in some new blood including Patrick Holleman (writing, directing) and Peter Ruibal (programming). Tim has stayed on as art director, and Josh and Luke are busy making their own awesome games (For a Vast Future is Josh’s new project which will release in November of 2022).

SwitchRPG

Besides Quartet, what other titles have you made?

Tyler M.

Our first published title was Shadows of Adam, which came to Steam in February of 2017. It was also released on the Nintendo Switch in 2019 and received a physical/PS4 release in 2020. We also published Pillars of Dust, which was spear-headed by SC alum, Josh Garlitz. That is on Steam (but perhaps a Switch port in the future?).

SwitchRPG

What is Quartet?

Patrick

Quartet is our attempt to make a game like Final Fantasy VI, but for adults. That doesn’t mean the game is always dark and serious, or has material that would be totally inappropriate for kids.

Rather, we’ve just tried to add things like more challenging combat, slightly more complex narrative and characters, and lots of quality-of-life features. That said, the combat system features the tag-team style swaps found in Final Fantasy X.

SwitchRPG

How long has Quartet been in development for, and how has this period differed from previous Something Classic titles?

Tyler M.

Pat and I began drafting basic plot and gameplay ideas for Quartet shortly after Shadows of Adam’s DLC finished in late 2017. We did not start working on Quartet in depth until around 2019 or so. Quartet had a bit more pre-production than Shadows of Adam and came to the starting point more fleshed out in terms of gameplay and story ideas.

When Peter and Tyler Deren joined the project, Pat and I had spent nearly two years fleshing out all the gameplay and story details for Quartet.

SwitchRPG

Have there been any major changes or shifts in Quartet since it has been in development?

Tyler M.

Like previously mentioned, the game had a few years to really be dialed in. Patrick had spent a lot of time crafting the narrative and thematic aspects of the game, which I’m sure he can talk about more.

Most of the time spent once production started was building good content creation tools so all the non programmers could easily create maps, cutscenes and battles with as little friction as possible.

We also made the move to Unity from impactJS so we could handle console porting ourselves. The game scope has not really changed much since we started working on content in 2019.

Patrick

One thing I’ve noticed is that the script doesn’t always translate perfectly to the screen. But since I’m the one who wrote the script, and I’m also the one coding the scenes, I can make small changes on the fly.

This is one of the great things about indie development; you don’t need to alert 20 people across three departments when you need to make a change. You can just do it yourself.

SwitchRPG

Can you give us an idea on major features that have been completed or are close to completion, and what remains for the final stretch of development?

Tyler M.

At this point we have nearly all art assets completed. It can not be overstated how big of a milestone this is. JRPGs have TONS of art assets. Besides that, all our major systems have been done for quite a while and have been polished to a sheen.

Now we’ve been busy creating all the content that makes up a game: cutscenes, maps, battles and such. Music wise, I’d estimate I’ve composed around 80% of the soundtrack.

SwitchRPG

You (Tyler M.) did a wonderful job with Shadows of Adam, so it’s nice to see you return to the podium for Quartet. How has the thematic change from both titles influenced this latest musical score?

Tyler M.

Thanks for the kind words. In Quartet, (similar to Shadows of Adam) I was able to develop a lot of the musical score before the game got started. I spent a while brainstorming melodic, harmonic and rhythmic motifs I would use throughout the game’s score.

Because of the fleshed out nature of the plot, I was able to get inside the world of the game and really think about how the music could help tell the story.

I also had learned every hard lesson about music production from my experience with Shadows of Adam, so hopefully the music has improved since then! Also I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Quartet contains a gaggle of talented musicians who have contributed their sounds to the game’s score.

Patrick

One thing I’d like to note is that sometimes we found that a given piece of music didn’t work for a scene, or that we had a scene that needed music and didn’t have it. But in those cases, Tyler could just make adjustments or write a new track right then and there.

It doesn’t happen often, but it’s another one of the advantages of being a small, indie team.

SwitchRPG

It’s great to see more RPGs experiment with scenario-based storytelling – even more so when those branches actually intertwine. What made you decide on this over a more traditional narrative format, and what RPGs would you say influenced you the most in this regard?

Patrick

Back in 2017, Tyler came to me with an old RPGMaker game premise he had worked on, when he was a teenager. We thought that it would actually make a good framework, because we both believe that constraints make you more creative and focused.

The original premise involved four different stories, taking place in four radically different settings (and even different genres of story), and so I tried to emulate that from the beginning.

The premise got developed a lot more, and we figured out how the stories would eventually intertwine. Roughly half the game is spent with the entire party together, working toward a common goal.

People frequently ask us about Wild Arms or Octopath Traveler influences. Wild Arms 2’s use of three separate opening chapters definitely gave us confidence that our similar opening could work.

Octopath Traveler actually didn’t come out until after the plot and gameplay were already written and designed, but we tried to use Octopath as a benchmark for quality. Octopath’s optional endgame content also gave us some good ideas.

SwitchRPG

Are Quartet and Shadows of Adam related in any way? Same universe, etc.

Tyler M.

They are not related. It’s possible there could be a cameo or two…

SwitchRPG

What should RPG fans know about Quartet? Is there anything in particular you’d like to share about the title?

Tyler M.

This is a game for fans of classic JRPGs, but with a modern coat of paint. We really tried to make this game a bit more story focused than Shadows of Adam, but with all the same QoL and fast paced gameplay.

Patrick

The characters, and the countries they come from, are very different. So if you don’t love Cordelia’s chapter, you might find that Ben’s chapter is what you were looking for.

But we put lots of effort into all of them.

SwitchRPG

What are you most excited for people to experience in Quartet?

Tyler M.

Honestly, I am excited to see people experience the story and characters. I think people will really enjoy it!

Patrick

I’m really interested to see which characters are fan favorites. It will be a good sign if opinions are evenly split between the various characters. But with that in mind, I do have a favorite character, and I wonder how many people will agree with me.

SwitchRPG

What experiences (good and bad) did you learn from Shadows of Adam and apply to Quartet?

Tyler M.

There’s so much to go into here I’m not even sure where to start. I think the main takeaway was just creating easy to use tools. That was a big priority for Quartet. In addition, we created a lot of our tools with the future titles in mind.

What I mean by that, we are trying to build a sustainable pipeline so future games are easier and cheaper to make.

Patrick

All devs are constantly learning from player feedback. We compiled a huge amount of feedback about Shadows of Adam, analyzed it quantitatively, and then applied those lessons to Quartet from the very beginning.

Tyler D

In Shadows of Adam, we wrote all of the game data, except maps, by hand using a text editor (JSON). In Quartet, we spent a lot of time creating tools to help the content creation process.

We tried to use “off the shelf” solutions where possible, like Articy Draft as our game database, Yarn Spinner as our cutscene/scripting engine, Tiled as our map editor and a few custom Unity editor tools to help test and jump around the world.

Quartet is a larger game than Shadows of Adam and our core team size is the same. The improved content creation pipeline definitely made all of that possible for us.

SwitchRPG

What sort of runtime do you anticipate for Quartet?

Patrick

Some faster players who only focus on the main story might see 15 hours of content. Players who pursue the (substantial) optional content will probably get 20+ hours. That’s not counting DLC, which we already have planned.

SwitchRPG

Text box size in handheld mode can often be problematic in some Switch RPG titles. Do you foresee this as being an issue in Quartet?

Peter

We’ve chosen some pixel fonts that have great readability on smaller screens, and regularly test the game on smaller screens during development.

We’ve actually gotten some feedback that the dialogue is more difficult to read on large displays (while docked), so we’ll be experimenting a bit more and including accessibility settings to make sure everyone can read comfortably.

SwitchRPG

When do you expect Quartet to make its way to the Switch?

Peter

We’ve gotten the demo running on Switch already, and done an initial optimization pass. There’s still a lot more work to do, but we’re planning to release it on Switch a few months after our initial launch on PC.

Since our PC release date is looking like late 2023, if everything goes smoothly, we’ll be on Switch in early 2024.

SwitchRPG

And lastly, is there any message you’d like to say to the Nintendo community specifically?

Tyler M.

We really appreciate the support we have gotten from our Shadows of Adam Switch release, especially the physical. We know Switch players are passionate about turn based JRPGs and we hope they turn out big for when Quartet comes out!

We think the game offers something for all the diehards out there.


And there you have it! We’d like to thank the Something Classic team for taking time to get us up to speed on the latest with Quartet! For more information on Quartet, be sure to check out their Kickstarter Page as well as their Steam Page.

And, of course, stay tuned right here at SwitchRPG.com for future Quartet and Something Classic coverage! In the meantime, consider checking out some of our content surrounding their debut Switch RPG, Shadows of Adam!

About the Author

Gio Pimentel

Gio Pimentel

Content creator for the SwitchRPG YouTube Division and co-host of the SwitchRPG podcast.

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