Oct 312014

Hello everyone! This post is intended to give you a glimpse into the thought process of designing Ghost of a Tale’s models. But first a word of warning:

Arachnophobes beware!

Recently I worked on one of the game’s enemies; namely the “Blood Spiders”. I went straight ahead to get the first idea out of my system and this is a quick (admittedly very rough) first pass at the model (with garbage texture). However at this stage I realized I was not quite happy with the direction I had taken.

First attempt at a spider

The first question I always ask myself is this one: does this design belong specifically to Ghost of a Tale? Meaning does it have enough personality with the right mix of cute and dark? This question is closely followed by another: did I see this design plastered all over contemporary games? Does it have a modicum of originality?

Now it’s not always possible to make something which stands out from all the other clones you saw in countless games and movies. And sometimes it does seem like the mainstream video game industry puts a fine point in making sure creature designs reference each-other and never stray too far from an accepted norm.

Usually when spiders are concerned in movies and games the designers go for the tarantula (“mygalomorph”) look. A very meaty, brown, beefy kind of spider. So that look was done to death.

Spider montage

My first spider design was okay but it didn’t feel enough like a “real” spider to me. More like some alien monster. And as it stands it lacks appeal. Maybe I’ll end up reworking that approach at some point in the future but I wanted to try something different. So I went back to the roots of any design work: gathering documentation.

After a little more research I honed in on the very arresting Evarcha Culicivora (the “vampire spider” from Kenya). It’s a small spider that preys on mosquitoes.

Evarcha Culicivora, the African spider

The colors on its head looked a little like war paint and it was almost cute (for a spider that is). So once I settled on that new direction the rest of the way was fairly smooth sailing. I ended up with a design that satisfied me and was a lot more fun and appealing while retaining its inherent creepiness.

An interpretation of the vampire spider

And finally a quick in-engine shot of the spiders in a test level. The whole (re)design process I described took less than two days. I will probably still tweak the model later on but it is important to let time pass in order to gain a fresh perspective on things.

New spiders inside the Unity engine

The lighter patterns on the legs’ joints will also provide some nice and unsettling “visual noise” as the spiders hone in on Tilo.

Anyway I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! Have a happy (and spider-free) Halloween…! :)

EDIT: Previously this post erroneously stated that Evarcha Culicivora originates from New-Zealand when it is in fact from Kenya. Thank you to Alianin for pointing out that mistake!

Aug 292014

We’ve been back from Gamescom for a week now and it was a blast. Of course I was a little anxious as to what the gamers’ reaction would be. As I said in the previous post, up to now Ghost of a Tale was just a couple of pretty screenshots. And from one day to the next it became something real that players were experiencing first hand (even though it was just a demo).

Here are a couple of pictures of the convention (including a nifty paper Tilo created by Paul and a group of fans who wanted their picture taken with the poster!):

Gamescom montage

In a sense it was trial by fire. Usually when studios or publishers introduce a new game it happens behind closed doors for a hand-picked group of journalists and the demo is carefully conducted by a developer who only shows the game under its best profile. We did the exact opposite.

We put the controller in people’s hands and said “Go ahead, try it!”. It was a little nerve-wracking at first but it quickly proved to be an exhilarating experience for us (and the players seemed to have a grand time too!). So I am personally reassured that Ghost of a Tale will probably turn out to be a pretty good game! :)

I also want to thank Stephane for organizing the logistics of our presence at Gamescom, David for coming up with the idea of the Tilo costume (and wearing it despite the heat!), Cyrille for his help both programming-wise and on the booth, Jeremiah for his kick-ass soundtrack and finally Paul without whom GoaT’s gameplay and story would not be what they are today.

Above ground

The media coverage was quite extensive and we had articles on many websites (RPGWatch, PCGamer, IGN, Rock-Paper-Shotgun, Gamekult, GameInformer, Destructoid, IndieHangover and many more in many different languages). And that doesn’t even include quite a few threads on various forums like Reddit and Neogaf, interviews by German media and the mentions in a bunch of podcasts and on Youtube.

Basically for a lot of people Ghost of a Tale completely came out of the blue. A lot of them noticed the game during Microsoft’s press conference and went online to find out more about it (and watch the full trailer). So a big thank you to Microsoft for that!

Tilo finds a skeleton

As to anyone wondering what’s the deal with Microsoft: they simply heard of the game and decided they also wanted to see it released on their new console. So they sent us development kits free of charge along with the means to pay for the port of the game. And that’s it. So Ghost of a Tale remains at its core an indie PC game which is also going to be released on Xbox One thanks to Microsoft’s help.

As a side-note I found German gamers to be very polite and thoughtful! Which made for an extra-nice overall experience. We had a lot of people playing the game and on average the demo itself was about 15 to 20mn long. Although some people spent almost 45mn to do everything and Cyrille holds the speedrun record of 2:38 !

Thanks again to all of you who continue to follow the game’s development. And keep sending us good vibes, they are very much appreciated! :)



Aug 152014

Hi guys, just a very quick post from Cologne to say “Yay! We’re at Gamescom!”. So far it’s a quite intense but positive experience. We’re basically introducing the game to its potential audience and it’s really cool to see reactions not only to the visuals but to the gameplay as well.

Here’s the trailer in case you haven’t seen it yet:

Microsoft posted this trailer online and showed a glimpse of it at its press conference, which really helped us in terms of exposure (kudos to them).

Finally I want to clarify something: Ghost of a Tale is primarily a PC game which will also be released on Xbox One thanks to Microsoft’s interest in seeing the game on their platform (which is, I believe, a very good thing)… :)

As always, thank you for the continued support and stay tuned for more news!

Jul 252014

Hello everyone! With August very soon upon us this might end up being the last update before Gamescom. I’ve just wrapped up work on the reveal trailer yesterday at 3AM. It was back-breaking work, but it’s done and I’m happy with the result. I want to thank Paul for his indispensable help on finishing the trailer and obviously Jeremiah for his hauntingly beautiful soundtrack.

The trailer is an important element to get right because for a lot of people (I hope at least) this will be the first time they’re introduced to the world of Ghost of a Tale. You guys already know about the game of course, but it’s still pretty much unknown to the wide gaming audience.

It’s a difficult act to balance as Ghost of a Tale is definitely not a AAA game. People expecting the scale of Skyrim or the action of Dark Souls are not going to find it. Instead they’ll find a small game with elements of exploration, action, stealth, adventure, and I hope the charm and heart which I think so many bombastic AAA games lack nowadays. Here’s a screenshot for you (it’s HD resolution so you can make it bigger). It’s not part of the trailer, just some dark, humid location in the demo.

Image of Tilo standing by a lectern

So now I’ll move on to working on the playable demo we’ll show on our booth (Hall 10.1 Aisle C No: 51). It’s going to be at pre-alpha stage, meaning a lot of elements are not there yet, like the questing and dialog system, inventory, etc… But the mission for Gamescom is not to say “here look at our game, it’s almost done!” but rather to simply raise awareness. And despite the fatigue, the bugs and the long hours I have to say I love how the game is shaping up. What is shown at Gamescom is going to be but a fraction of what Ghost of a Tale has to offer… :)

Cheers, Seith