Mar 272015
 
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Welcome to this new development update! While working on the environments I have recently finished converting the shaders to proper physically-based ones, thanks to Shader Forge’s newest release (thank you Joachim!) which supports the latest Unity 5 features in relation to lighting.

Here is a screenshot showing the result; Tilo seems positively fascinated with the fire… :)

ScreenShot 2015_03_27 11;42;43001

A nice side-effect of this shader update is that the framerate is now super-smooth on my machine. The main phase of optimization for the game will only come later in the development cycle but to be able to run around in those environments in such a smooth way is soooo nice.

Here’s Tilo exploring one of Dwindling Height’s collapsed towers. It is safe to say the keep has seen better days. Indeed many years ago Dwindling Heights sustained a large attack by the Ferrets of Saltar and it’s been falling in a state of disrepair ever since…

collapsedTower

On a different topic, sometimes I get asked “How can I support Ghost of a Tale”? And here’s the short answer: for now, the best way to support the game is to talk about it to your friends. On Facebook. On Twitter. Spread the word. Awareness is going to be the most important thing when the release date nears.

Currently, the plan is to begin letting people financially support the game within a couple of months. In return you will be able to download and play the beginning of the game (on PC). Of course, if you were an Indiegogo campaign backer you will access all this (and the final game) at no additional cost.

This early access period will help in catching bugs that would have eluded QA and also of course start to provide some much-needed revenues. The final price for Ghost of a Tale is not yet set, but will be announced later on.

The release date of the game (on PC) is planned towards the end of autumn (hopefully with the Xbox One version not too long after that). As soon as I have more elements I will post a definitive release date.

That’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed the update! :)

Mar 112015
 
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Hello everyone! I’m still hard at work on the game’s environments and things are moving forward smoothly, although it’s quite intense; balancing artistic ambitions with gameplay layout and technical feasibility…

While I was going through my stash of screenshots I found some old ones (well they’re from last year) and it was quite the eye-opener to see how far the project has come.

Here’s an example with the keep’s courtyard you get to explore when you escape the jail (I hope I don’t need to tell you which one’s the new screenshot :) ):

courtyard_comp

Of course on those screenshots the camera angle is not quite the same but still it’s close enough to measure the overall progress.

I have a feeling the contrast provided between dark environments and sun-drenched ones is going to be pretty effective. I’ve been experimenting with so-called “God Rays” (rays of light catching particles in suspension in the air) and I think I’m getting close.

It’s really neat walking through patches of light this way; it certain adds a dramatic flair to some locations. When in motion you can even see fine particles of dust moving across.

ScreenShot 2015_03_10 22;10;48001_comp

After I’m done with the current task of doing a first pass on most of the environments it will be time to test streaming solutions to load locations as needed. This is something that’s a bit scary because it needs to work perfectly in order to avoid stuttering framerates and maintain a smooth experience.

I’m also looking forward to tweaking and improving the animations; Unity 5.0 brings a lot of new features for refined control over animation states.

On a different topic Paul and I recently talked a lot about gameplay interactions based on Tilo’s lute. It’s not implemented yet but we’re both very happy with the direction it’s taken. I’ll probably go more into details about that in a future update.

Anyway, back to work now! :P

Feb 182015
 
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Welcome to a new game development update! This will be a lengthy one, so please bear with me. In order to make your reading more palatable I’ve interspersed a couple of screenshots for your viewing pleasure… :)

The last couple of weeks have been particularly productive. Paul and I met to lock everything in terms of quests, story and structure. The result is an even clearer understanding of the game’s scope.

ScreenShot 2015_02_13 13;53;590012

Regarding that topic, it is interesting to note how much the game has evolved since the Indiegogo campaign. At the time I only had a very rough idea of what I wanted the game to be, but many important elements were still up in the air.

For example I thought the game would take place on Periclave, this huge island you would roam around, fighting enemies and… well that was about it really. There was no sneaking involved, no interaction with the environments, no detailed story for the world and its characters, no real AI no speak of, etc…

So I decided (about a year ago) the game actually wouldn’t take place on Periclave at all but rather happen on the mainland, in and around an ancient keep called Dwindling Heights. And you would get a chance to know who Tilo is before he embarks for Periclave. So to anyone wondering why the game doesn’t take place on Periclave, here are a couple of reasons.

ScreenShot 2015_02_18 16;31;06001

First, the story turned out so nice that it simply felt like wasting it by starting the game on Periclave, with no proper introduction to the world whatsoever. Plus I wasn’t sure I could do justice to my ambitious designs for the island. Which brings me to the next point.

Over-ambition will kill even the best of projects and I want the game to be released this year, not linger into the realms of vaporware and pretty screenshots. Biting more than I could chew was a real danger.

But the main reason is this: I want to maintain a very high level of quality throughout the project. From story to coding to visuals. And that means focusing on a smaller (relatively speaking) track of land and making sure everything works there.

Then if the game is successful (which I VERY much hope!), it will be my immense joy to expend the scope in the next game and to do justice to the intricate world of Ghost of a Tale.

But enough rambling. Suffice it to say that despite the huge workload I am indeed very happy with the way the game is turning out. Alright, and now for something completely different!

I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Canal Plus not long ago to talk about the game and I thought French-speaking visitors might be interested in watching the show online here: http://www.canalplus.fr/c-infos-documentaires/pid1829-c-le-journal-des-jeux-video.html?vid=1212596

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It was a fun virtual experience; by that I mean on the picture you can see Fred (the show host) on the left and Fabien (from PastaGames) on the right, but if you look closely on the right hand side I’m visible on a tiny screen. I was remotely controlling a Segway equipped with a webcam from the other side of the country, if you can believe it!

In the footage that was shown you can get a glimpse of the new in-game water interaction (among other things). Here’s a fun little video of Tilo wading through murky waters; I had to develop the shader to get exactly that look. It took me two days, but I feel it was worth it. I like how foam breaks in Tilo’s wake. Of course it looks better when not shot from my handheld phone!

Finally, I’m proud to announce we have a first build of the game running on an actual Xbox One, thanks to Cyrille!

This is great news because the building process itself is fairly smooth and I’m told no computer was hurt in the making of it. And even though the Xbox One version is not the main priority (finishing the game on PC is!) it’s still nice to know Ghost of a Tale can run on the console even though no specific optimization has taken place yet. So big kudos to Cyrille!

GoatOnX1_small

And on those exciting news I’ll go back to work! I hope you enjoyed the update! :)

Jan 222015
 
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Hello everyone! This is going to be a quick update to tell you that I’m currently in the process of converting the game’s project to Unity 5.0 (beta 20). I’m not even using any fancy Global Illumination yet, but the new lighting engine shines through:

ScreenShot 2015_01_22 12;32;41001_cropped

This is a rather involved task but it is also indispensable for Ghost of a Tale to move forward. The reason is we’re going to need the new navigational mesh abilities which should allow us to achieve our goal of streaming the game’s environments instead of having to put loading screens at select locations.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Ghost of a Tale is my first game ever, therefore it’s not going to be a sprawling epic tale. In fact, it is the very first step on a longer journey, for us as well as for Tilo.

If the game meets with success then we will be able to keep on telling this story with greater confidence. So this game is going to happen in a single (rather large) location with environments going from subterranean caves to the top of high towers (think “Ico”). And everything is consistent from a spatial point of view.

So it is important for us to be able to tap into Unity 5’s new capabilities regarding pathfinding across several streaming interconnected locations. Plus this new version has a lot of improvements in many domains (lighting, physics, animation, etc…). There are still many issues that I need to fix for the Unity 5 conversion to be considered complete, but I am confident that this the right choice. And I really hope it will pay off in the long run!

Finally -and this is completely unrelated- I thought you guys would enjoy this fun game mechanic I recently implemented (thank you Cyrille for the candle flame behavior!): Tilo can now use a candlestick to set ablaze some banners! (Make sure to watch the picture in full screen!)

ScreenShot 2015_01_18 09;58;55001_2

Who knows what it may reveal behind? Note that you’ll also be able to use a lantern in the game, which will procure a much wider light radius. However the candlestick, although far more limited in terms of lighting range, will let you to burn away a couple of things; it’s a careful tradeoff and both are definitely useful… ;)