Hectornomicon, Breachers and the future.
My writing partner, superstar board artist Elliot Sperl and I are currently working on revisiting an original IP we have been developing for a while.
Stage 1: Breachers
Originally branded as an adult animation feature, "Breachers" went through various iterations and development cycles. The first iteration was a "Scooby Doo meets Lovecraft Country" type story (long before the latter was even announced) happening in a fictional seaside town of "Wanigan Island". It was dark and mystical, but also intentionally goofy.
Magic was toned down in Breachers. There was no magic system to speak of, and only one character had "powers" worth noting. The rest were a cast of regular humans who are way in over their head.
When we started development, we actually imagined Breachers as a game. So at some point we even collaborated with the Binary Bubbles team to start development on a proof of concept demo for a potential game. We worked on some animatics to show how this type of experience will play out and even had a very early playable build to show for.
But then Binary Bubbles stopped bootstrapping and went into its proprietary tech-focused stage. That included fundraising and a very different focus. So we scrapped that collaboration and kept focusing on independently developing this IP in our spare time, since the company had nothing to do with its actual development process or ownership.
The game design concepts were unique, so we're still keeping these materials and all the research we did on the backburner. Perhaps we will find a way to revisit these concepts one day!
Breachers was ambitious, but back then the very idea of an animated adult/young adult horror/comedy was still viewed as too "out there". So we decided to try something a little different...
Stage 2: Hectornomicon / Protectors of the Realm
Enter: Hectornomicon! The next step in Breachers' evolution. Hectornomicon was pitched as an animated 6-11 horror/comedy show. The cast was redesigned, a couple of characters were changed and the show focused on 2 lead protagonists as opposed to 1. This show was pitched as "Duck Tales meets Harry Potter" and we created a magic system and deep world lore to make it all work.
The obsession with mixing linear and interactive storytelling did not end there though. We even created an "interactive" animatic to show how this IP could feel if we ran it on a more elaborate "multiple choice" system than the one Netflix is currently using. We called this system "Inter-Arc", and this was how we envisioned a typical experience playing out:
As we were pitching this IP to networks, we played a lot with shifting focus between the leading characters, adding and removing elements from the world and cast and more. This IP has more development put into it than some already produced and distributed shows have. But then...right as we were ready to shelf this world, another opportunity came out of the woodwork...
Stage 3: The Next Iteration
We have just partnered up with a production company that wants to develop this IP further, into a middle ground between Breachers and Hectornomicon/Protectors. A teen-oriented IP that takes elements from both iterations and adds something new and fresh to the mix.
There's a lot of work to be done, and I'd rather keep things vague for now. But as you can see - this IP and its world is close to my heart. It's something Elliot and I have been slaving on for years at this point and we are always pumped whenever we get to revisit it. We're working on multiple projects at the moment, but this journey is one I really wanted to document and share because I think it shows a very interesting an agile creative process. When we move forward with the next iteration - I'd be glad to share more about that as well!
If you enjoyed this blog post - let me know. I'd be happy to share more development stories, as I'm constantly involved in new projects and every process tends to have its own unique progression.