Oct 232017

Welcome to this new Ghost of a Tale update, in which I will talk about the final game (release date, price, etc…) as well as various improvements and overall progress on the game’s development (spoiler: it’s going great!). 🙂

I do wish I had time to post more development updates here but we’ve entered the final stretch to the game’s completion and I tend to not see time whizzing by. Paul is working hard on dialogs and quests and Cyrille still develops precious tools which allow me to streamline my everyday workflow. And at this point of the development the dividends pay up big time!

To start, here’s a screenshot that makes use of a new volumetric lighting asset (not yet in the early access version). But more on that later…

The final game’s release:

A couple of months back I was still hoping we would be able to release the game this year. Even though to this day I’ve refused to give out a specific date out of fear of missing it I’ve been known to say publicly “2017”.

The thing is, now that we’ve got a very clear view on the final stretch, that’s just not realistic. Well, technically the game’s content itself will be mostly done by the end of December, there’s no doubts about this.

So I guess technically you could say “Yay, game done this year!”. But that’s not the way it works. You don’t release a game as soon as you wrote the last line of code and animated the last walk cycle.

When all is said and done we’re going to need a few weeks (we estimate 4 to 6) just going through QA. That is intense testing and making sure there are no outstanding issues (whether it be in text display, animation, mechanics, quests, dialogs, etc…).

After that (well, almost in parallel) we’ll have several people working on translating the 60K+ words of the game into as many languages as we can financially afford. Which is at first: French, Italian, German, and Spanish. We will also try for Portuguese, Polish and Russian eventually (depending on how much it costs). And after that Chinese and Japanese would be great.

On that topic, some studios often go with horrendous Google translate (sometimes because of cost, sometimes because they can’t be bothered) but let me assure you that won’t be the case for Ghost of a Tale. We will make sure the translators know of context and are given the tools necessary to do a great job.

Meanwhile we will reach out to journalists and YouTubers in order to make them aware of the game’s release date (or in some cases of the game’s sheer existence). This phase includes anything marketing-related (screenshots, interviews, advertisement, etc…).

If you remember, the early access version of Ghost of a Tale was released more or less in a void. We can’t afford that for the final release; things need to be done properly in order to insure the game’s completion doesn’t go thoroughly unnoticed.

All of this amounts to roughly 8 weeks after final content is done and locked. Which is why we are aiming for a release in the beginning of March 2018.

Note that this is for the PC version. Xbox One will follow soon after that (barring any technical catastrophe). And finally the PS4 version.

(We haven’t looked yet at Xbox One X but if the Xbox One can run the game, the X won’t have any problem running it much, MUCH better!)

Development Progress:

As I mentioned earlier I’ve very recently integrated a nice volumetric lighting asset in the game, which greatly brings out the atmosphere of mystery that I always wanted to capture.

Technically what it does is it allows for the display of light rays even when the light source is off-camera. In the screenshot below the sun is actually out of the camera’s frustum yet it casts visible volumetric rays.

At night it translates for example to a much more dramatic moonlight. Which inspired me to revisit the overall nocturnal look of the game and I think that you guys are going to like it! 🙂

What’s great is when you explore a dark wood at night and the moon rays fall through the canopy as Tilo runs through them. It just feels so nice.

Final game’s duration and details:

Some of you might wonder how long the game will last. That’s obviously difficult to say but based on the early access it should take at least 15 to 20 hours to finish. Of course it could be much longer if you want to discover all of the secrets and locations.

The final game will have roughly 60 quests, varying in terms of complexity (compared to the 30 or so in the early access). It will also have more NPCs, but let’s not spoil that right now!

The new locations to explore will more than double the area of what’s already available in the early access. Believe me, the world feels much bigger now and you will get lost without a map. 🙂

The price:

The final game will go on sale at $24.99. However, while the game remains in early access, the price will stay at $19.99. Which is a way for us of thanking you for taking a chance on an early-access game and trusting us not to fudge it up!

Character portraits:

Finally I would like to officially welcome Jerome Jacinto to Ghost of a Tale’s (diminutive) team! Jerome is an experienced illustrator who worked on “Tooth and Tail” (where he took care of character design and key art) as well as the digital board game “Armello”.

Jerome is now creating the game’s NPC portraits, which appear during dialogs (the art in the current release is just place-holder if you hadn’t guessed!). This will make dialogs even more enjoyable than they currently are.

Here’s a gallery of some of the characters (no real spoilers as those already appear in the early access).

Of course each character will possess a wide range of poses to match their dialog and personality. Here are only a few of Gusto’s expressions:

I have to say every time Jerome finishes up a new character’s expression sheet it truly is a pleasure to peruse through all of them in anticipation of their use in the game… 🙂

Alright, so we reached the end of this update! Thanks again for taking the time to read all of it. I hope you liked it and now I’ll go back to work. As usual please don’t hesitate to leave your comments below and I’ll do my best to reply. See you in the next update!

Aug 112017

Welcome all! Today I’m very happy because I get to talk about new content added to the early access! 🙂

Indeed we’ve opened up a new location: the Northern Slopes (along with the old armory) but we also worked a lot on the existing Far Tower area. Not only is the location much prettier to look at (thanks to many new assets) but there’s actually stuff to do there now!

Here’s a lighting test for the time-of-day system which is recorded in the new area:

We’ve added 5 new quests to the existing 28, which brings us to a tally of 33 quests available in the early access version. The new quests range from quite easy to much more involved.

Furthermore we introduce a couple of new gameplay mechanics: among which are the “brisance kegs”. Those are in effect a sort of exploding barrel/nitroglycerin. They are heavy items which Tilo can grab and move anywhere within a certain distance.

And that’s what makes them special: every time Tilo takes a step the brisance bar fills up a little until it fills up completely and as you guessed… the whole thing goes ka-boom! So better not let that happen.

But that’s not all: the brisance is sensitive to shocks so Tilo can also throw projectiles at it to blow it up at a distance.

Conversely, Tilo can light up the fuse of the brisance kegs (using his candlestick or fire steel) to create a delayed explosion. Which will prove very handy throughout the rest of the game, against some enemies and also as a way to affect the environment.

In this update we have added new shortcuts for you to discover, making traveling from one part of Dwindling Heights to another even more enjoyable.

Besides the usual helping of bug fixes you’ll also find long-time requested features like a brightness slider, an LOD slider (for people with powerful machine who just want the game to look as good as possible) and a way to sort the inventory clothing items by costume and/or body parts.

And by the way just to give you some hints: the new quests can be accessed by talking to Faustus, visiting the garden and exploring the far tower area (mind your steps).

The guards now have new attack sounds (coupled with camera shakes when Tilo gets hit) so they overall feel more threatening. Some of them now wear greaves, which means that they won’t slip down on a grease jar anymore.

You can think of it as a rock/paper/scissors situation: some guards wear a helmet so you can’t knock them down with a bottle but they could slip and fall on a grease jar, while some others have no head protection but they wear greaves, etc… So you have to choose the right tool for the right situation.

The map system has also been improved in that the markers that appear on it now visually indicate if the items they refer to are located above or below Tilo’s current position.

Story-wise you can also pick up more roses in the world, which in turn will let you learn more about Tilo and Merra’s story.

Anyway there are too many things to mention here so I encourage you to read the detailed release notes.

With this update we are nearing the 60% of publicly available content. One thing to keep in mind about the whole process is we only publish things when they are ready. In other words out of the remaining 40% about half is already created and the other half is well on the way. Of course for now the “non-public” content is only reachable by us developers and alpha testers. But boy do we have some beautiful things in store for you! 🙂

To illustrate this point, here’s a screenshot of Tilo exploring the catacombs (which are not open to the public yet)…

In terms of availability this update can be downloaded on Steam today, then in a couple of days on GOG and finally (barring any unforeseen troubles) on the Xbox One before the end of the month.

Update on August 18: The new build is now available on Steam, GOG and the Xbox One store!

As usual, don’t hesitate to leave your questions and suggestions in the comments below! See you in the next update! 🙂

Jun 302017

Hello all! In this special update I would like to officially welcome our new Xbox One players!

Ghost of a Tale has indeed landed on the Xbox One store (in the Game Preview section) today, Friday June 30th.

Note: if you backed the game during the Indiegogo campaign and you would like to receive an Xbox One token then please send us a message at: [email protected] from the email address you used during the campaign (that’s important!).

What does “Game Preview” mean?

It is the equivalent of early access on PC: the game is released in a work-in-progress state. In the case of Ghost of a Tale that means the game is roughly 45% complete. When the game is finalized it will include more locations, enemies, NPC, quests, etc…

It also means that as players you get to influence the game’s development by giving us feedback and reporting bugs. And because the game is not finished yet it is of course sold at a lower price than the final version.

Obviously, when the final version arrives your Preview version will get upgraded at no additional cost to you.

Screen Shot 06-30-17 at 11.48 AMRegarding the build that is currently available on the Xbox store:

Update: The new build is live, as well as the free one hour trial! You can now experience Ghost of a Tale on Xbox One as we intended from the beginning.

Unfortunately we didn’t manage to upload the latest build on the servers in time for the launch so what you’ll get at first is an older build (4.0). Since then we have fixed dozens of bugs (both large and small), vastly improved the visuals (textures, lighting, shaders, models, etc…) and done a big optimization pass (framerate stability).

The new build (4.35) should become available as soon as Microsoft can disseminate it to its servers. Which we hope will be done in a few hours.

On a technical note: if you buy the game at launch today, please wait for the game to finish downloading entirely before you press the “Launch” button. If you press it as soon as it appears (roughly at 25% of download progress) then the game probably won’t even start or will freeze before you can start playing.

It’s no big deal though, you’ll just have to quit the game and simply wait for the download to complete. Then you’ll be able to launch it again and everything will be fine.

Please don’t hesitate to post your suggestions/technical issues on our forums.

We hope you’ll enjoy your stay in Dwindling Heights Keep!  🙂

Jun 122017

Hi everyone. This is just a quick update to confirm that the game has passed Microsoft’s certification!

The Game Preview version of Ghost of a Tale will arrive on the Xbox One on June 30th.

584x800 - Branded Key Art

It was a long journey to get there and it’s still far from over. But if you didn’t have a PC to play the game on and you happen to have an Xbox One, you should be a happy camper at the end of the month. 🙂

Stay tuned for more development news to come!