Welcome to the Christmas update of Ghost of a Tale. This is going to be a longer post, but hopefully you’ll find it an interesting read!
First, here’s a gift for you all: a new Ghost of a Tale wallpaper. You can click on “Media” at the top of this page then scroll down a little and you’ll find an archive put there by David. It contains several different screen sizes to accommodate your favorite display. As always, this screenshot is a direct, unaltered gameplay screenshot (well, save for the logo)…
When I started the Indiegogo campaign back in May I was hoping for some kind of closed alpha to be released right about now but it seems that was a little optimistic, as I’m still putting something together as we speak. I am aware that we live in a time where huge studios cancel or delay their games on a whim, without much apparent respect for their audiences. And sometimes when they do release their games they are crippled by strings of bugs, broken features and half-baked ideas. But let me assure you that I have no desire to follow in those tracks!
Actually, given the fact that this is my first game ever (and that I’m still learning as I go) I’m very happy about the way things are evolving. Indeed I’m slowly reaching the feature-freeze stage where everything starts to gel and game mechanics just… work. Although one of the perks of developing the game 95% on my own is being allowed to change my mind and experiment with things without enduring the wrath of irate team-members. On the other hand if I break it, I have to fix it!
Still, I am glad to benefit from the help of great collaborators whenever the need arises (thanks Paul, Cyrille and Stephane)!
As a side note for a couple of months now I’ve been working with a new computer (bought with the campaign’s funds) and the speed at which I can develop the game has been greatly enhanced. It doesn’t look fancy but it’s got 16gigs of RAM, SSD drives and a GTX Titan graphics card. I am so happy about it because it makes the development process so much more effective (and enjoyable!).
And now for something completely different, here is a new peek into the process of creating the game’s sets. The dungeon you see on the new wallpaper is (probably) going to be part of the alpha. Its purpose is to show off game mechanics in a restricted environment and give a very small taste for the game.
It all starts with a process called “white-boxing”, which means that the architecture is created out of simple textureless cubes and planes in order to get a sense of space without getting bogged down by minute design decisions.
(Pay no attention to the HUD on the picture, it’s just a place-holder)
After that stage I go back to Maya and create the actual models used in-game. You’ll notice the environments require a relatively low amount of polygons since a lot of work comes from the textures themselves. As I already mentioned before, DirectX 11 allows displacement to be used to great effects. Of course geometry and surfacing need to be perfectly in sync to yield a pleasing result, which requires quite a lot of back-and-forth.
This is the same location as in the other screenshot, but the temporary white-boxed assets have been replaced with their final counterpart. Still, a screenshot doesn’t do the game justice in this case because it doesn’t convey the flickering torch lights and slowly drifting smoke, along with the sound of crackling fire.
Again with Ghost of a Tale I am striving to create an experience both engrossing and aesthetically pleasant, despite the very limited manpower. And as a friend of mine was putting it, ultimately it should feel like you’ve been invited to another world which was given a lot of thoughts and care. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if you have a fast machine and a great graphics card! ^^
On the behalf of the Ghost of a Tale small team, happy and safe holidays to you all!