Oct 062015

Hello all! Please bear with be as today I would like to give you all a candid look at where we’re at in terms of development on Ghost of a Tale. Keep in mind that all those progress bars relate to the pre-release, not the final/complete game.

Another very, VERY important notion to understand is these bars you see are NOT all equals in terms of workload and time needed to complete them.

Now that the caveats are out of the way, let’s start the tour…


As you see there’s still some work left in the animation department. That includes a couple of animations on Tilo, some enemies and idle cycles for the NPCs.

Character models are really getting there and the props include skinned and dynamic clothes as well. I’ve been using a different export technique and the result is a much better framerate!

Environments still require some work to make sure everything is complete and works well with the streaming system and the quests.


I’ve started doing a first pass on the character portraits for the dialogs; still a lot of work there but it’s going fine and it’s a pleasure to do.

The game menus are almost there but I still need to include all the graphical options and the input management choices (more on that later).

The HUD and inventory GUI all work fine. However there’s still some visual polish to do there.


I covered the AI last time and I still have to transfer the new system to a couple of enemies. Cyrille is currently making good progress on the saving/loading system and he’s done with streaming.

Day/Night cycle as well as camera management are fully functional (and have been for a while).

Regarding input support: the game is definitely made with gamepads in mind but because Ghost of a Tale is primarily a PC game it means keyboard and mouse must be supported. But I believe it should only be a matter of a few days to make sure everything works as intended.


Jeremiah is going to write a couple more tracks for the game, most importantly themes for the NPCs that will play during dialogs.

I greatly enjoy creating the sounds effects, alas it’s all a matter of time. I usually create new sounds when new animations are locked, so it usually tends to lend at the end of the process.


Dialogs are also nearing completion, thanks to Paul’s mighty efforts! We still have to do an overall pass to make sure the tone is right, the voice of the characters consistent and that we’re not too self-indulgent with the sheer amount of text. But I’m very happy with where we’re at!

The Misc Writing bar is about all the items descriptions in the database, UI words and sentences, etc… The low 50% completion seems quite scary but again it’s mostly a matter of a few days for Paul to take care of this.

Quests are also almost done. We do some neat tricks with them; for example you’re told to accomplish certain tasks but if you chose to do things differently then new tasks are revealed!

So that wraps up this presentation of the state of things with Ghost of a Tale! Don’t hesitate to ask about topics that are not mentioned in the comments section.

And since I know charts can be a bit unpalatable here’s a look at an animated Kerold, the old pirate frog. Actually this idle animation cycle is an old one and many details are missing (hat’s feathers weren’t rigged, etc…); it was basically a rough blocking pass but I thought you guys might still get a kick out of it. :)

The question that many of you will ask is “What’s the release date?”. As I said last time the goal is still to do a pre-release before the end of the year. We are going to do our best to make it happen but I won’t hide the fact that it is going to require a tremendous effort to both achieve that goal AND be happy with the result.

Because ultimately, as I said before (and I will say time and time again) I will never put out something that feels broken or rushed. Even if we’re just talking about a pre-release (by definition a non-complete game) I want what’s there to be thoroughly enjoyable.

So you can take my word for it; Paul, Cyrille and I are going to be working extremely hard in the coming weeks! Wish us luck and see you all in the next update! :)

Sep 082015

A few weeks ago while testing the game, I had to face the fact the AI (the artificial intelligence driving the enemies) was simply not good enough. It had become extremely bloated in terms of code complexity and yet was not quite delivering the quality I wanted.

So I decided to redo the entire game’s AI system from scratch, this time using a different behavior-tree technique.

It was a scary decision as during a few days the game wasn’t even playable; first I had to unplug all the actors’ “brains” and then I started again, slowly building up their new behaviors, piece by piece. I knew exactly what I wanted so I was able to get to the point rather quickly. But this time while I worked I hid away all the models, the animation, etc… and only used capsules.

Capsules are simple shapes that roughly represent the volume and orientation of the actors. Here’s an example with Tilo as you’ve probably never seen him before: he’s turned into a mix of a minion, a fire hydrant and a cucumber! 😀


(On the video you can see the capsule changing color depending on whether or not it’s in contact with the ground)

The result of this huge endeavor is in the span of 2 weeks I was able to redo and greatly improve the AI that had taken me more than a year to get into a flimsy “mostly-working” state. Except this time it is much more robust and I know exactly WHY it works the way it does.

So although the decision to redo the AI was a frightening one it ended up paying off BIG time:

  • The AI asset I use is quite visual (it’s called “Node Canvas”), so I can see exactly what’s happening in real-time
  • I was able to get rid of hundreds (if not more) of lines of codes, making the maintenance and expansion on the system much more manageable
  • The capsule approach allowed me to focus on the behavior itself without animation clouding the potential issues
  • The AI is now far richer than it’s ever been before and allows for really neat tricks

Here’s a bird’s eye view of what a behavior tree looks like. All the branches light up and change colors according to their state (as you can see in the inset picture).

ScreenShot 2015_08_20 11;43;59001s1

I have also finally come around to implementing IKs for the actors. What this means is the character’s feet are now actually hugging the ground instead of remaining up in mid-air on a virtual flat-plane.

It wasn’t too difficult to implement thanks to a great asset I found called “Final IK”. Integrating the system into the game’s pipeline was painless and it yields very satisfying results! Here’s a quick test video:


(Don’t mind the red cube, it’s just a debug visual for the AI’s target position)

You’ll notice the Rat is really pushing on his legs as he climbs up the slope, contrasting a lot with Tilo who is a much lighter and nimbler character. Your speed (and the ability to sneak) is your main asset in the game; believe me, you don’t want to let these guys get their hands on you, especially without wearing any protections!!

Anyway, that concludes this update. I hope you liked it! Please don’t hesitate leaving your thoughts and questions below… :)

Aug 192015

Welcome to this new Ghost of a Tale development update!

Since the inventory is now functional I recently I did a final pass on the dynamic props system. And I’m quite happy with its versatility. Basically Tilo can find a lot of wearable items that give him various resistances and boosts. Those items can be equipped on his ears, head, face, chest, waist, etc…

For example here you can see him dressed as a famous pirate (I won’t spoil it too much since it’s related to a specific quest).


And when wearing a complete costume set Tilo receives a further skill bonus. These costume items can be found all over the place (well actually some of them are quite hard to get) and are often related to the game’s folklore figures or even past Dwindling Heights prisoners.

The interesting thing is the NPCs will react differently depending on how Tilo is dressed (reflected in the dialogs). The possibilities of mix-and-match are also super nice; you can really create different (and rather unique) looks for Tilo.

Here he’s wearing Tulong’s costume; Tulong was an infamous highwaymouse and donning his outfit does come with some nice perks… :)


Now to the game’s development in general: I know some of you are extremely eager to start playing but quite a few things remain to be done before we can consider going into the pre-release (aka “Early Access”) stage.

As far as the Xbox One is concerned Microsoft tentatively mentioned maybe using the new Xbox One early access program but nothing concrete was decided yet. If, for whatever reason, it is not possible to go down that route then it means Xbox One users will most likely have to wait for 2016 before they can try the game.

On the PC (Windows) front it is my wish to reach early access stage before the end of November (2015). In that regard the next two months are going to be crucial in terms of development. We have made contact with Steam and things seem to be on the right track. Of course I will keep you guys updated with any progress being made.

All this being said, it is downright freaking exciting to see pieces coming together as game systems start to respond and influence each-other. Recently I was revisiting the old jail (the starting area) and it was soooo nice to feel like you’re immersed in this world right from the start…

ScreenShot 2015_08_11 09;38;34001

(Right-click on the picture and choose “View Image” to see the high-resolution)

I really hope you guys like it when you get a chance to take a stroll down those dank corridors!

Anyway, as usual please leave your comments and questions below and I’ll do my best to answer them. See you in the next update! :)

Jul 242015

Hello there, this is just a quick update to let you guys know of a couple interviews/articles about the game that have been published on the web recently.

The first one is in French, and you can find it by clicking on the picture below:

ScreenShot 2015_07_15 07;38;22001_cropped

The second one is in English and you can read it over at 80.lv: http://80.lv/articles/ghost-of-a-tale-journey-from-minions-to-mice/

It talks a little more in details about the technical aspect of creating the game and the Unity engine. For example the use of tessellation compensating for relatively low-rez models.

Although it is worth to point out on the picture below that what you see is temporary whitebox geometry in Maya, NOT the final in-game meshes that get tessellated.

ScreenShot 2015_07_23 12;38;00001

Just a couple of development news: Paul has been hard at work on writing the game’s dialogs and it’s all shaping up very nicely. I’ve even added queries into the time-of-day system so NPCs can greet you while mentioning the proper time of day (ie: “Good afternoon!”). 😛

I’ve done a pass on optimizing the UI and that paid off; I was able to shave off a handful of frames-per-second by reworking the entire system and separating each canvas into its own prefab.

Incidentally the UI system (inventory, dialogs, main interface, etc…) is starting to come into its own and feels more and more consistent.

So things are moving forward at a steady pace! The amount of work left to do is still rather daunting though. I think that within a few weeks I should be able to accurately assess the situation with regard to an early release.

Of course release plans have not been finalized by a long stretch yet but it is looking more and more like we’re going to do an early release of the game on Steam. In any case I will post many more details about that in an upcoming update!