Apr 232015
 
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Hello everyone! Here’s a quick development update. Everything’s advancing as smoothly as possible with new and exciting in-game improvements I’m VERY happy about. I’ll talk more about those in upcoming updates but suffice to say the game is really taking shape.

On the technical side Cyrille recently developed a super-simple tool which allows me to concentrate on creating the game’s environments without slowing down my workflow. It’s basically something that lets me import/export locations from the game with a single click. And it’s awesome!

Especially because, as you know, Dwindling Heights (and everything around it) makes for a rather large environment with secrets passages and both open-air and subterranean areas. This way I can concentrate on specific locations while not being slowed down by having to display the entirety of the game’s environments at once.

If any French-speaking reader is interested, there’s currently a very nice double-page about Ghost Of a Tale published in “Jeux Video Magazine” (issue #172). The pages appear just after an article about “The Witcher 3″, which is always nice (if only slightly intimidating)… :P

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Finally I’ve started implementing better vegetation in the game. It will improve before the release of course but I thought you guys might get a kick out of knowing that a lot of it comes from the faraway lands of… my backyard. Here’s a picture detailing the process, starting with taking a photograph, then applying it to a model in Maya.

Note the model itself remains very simple since the sheer number is going to convey a feeling of fullness. And finally the look in-game. By the way the most observant amongst you may notice that the area around the well can also be seen on the magazine screenshot and it has really improved since the screenshot was taken!

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I hope you enjoyed this update! As always, don’t hesitate to leave your questions (and/or encouragements) in the comments below, they are much appreciated! I’ll go back to work now…

Apr 032015
 
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Hello everyone. Just a quick update to let you guys know that I’ve recently integrated a Day/Night cycle into the game (thank you LuckyMouse!). Initially I had thought it would be too difficult and time-consuming to implement but as I started working on the look of the landscape and the sky itself I felt it would be a worthy addition (and Paul agreed).

As I showed the result to Cyrille he pointed out that this was a very elegant solution to bringing variety to the visuals. There are still things to iron out and bugs to fix of course but here are some time-lapse screenshots from early morning to night.

(You can right-click on the image and choose “View Image” -although that may differ depending on your browser- that way you’ll be able to zoom in)

ScreenShot 2015_03_28 18;58;26001

As you can see the look and feel really change throughout the day. And I guess it is a perk of not baking lighting at all in Unity; every light in the game is fully dynamic, so I might as well use that strength!

By now you guys know that Ghost of a Tale takes place in one unique location: Dwindling Heights, a keep perched atop a small cliff overlooking Lake Vaelia. But by allowing the lighting to change throughout the duration of a day/night cycle familiar places become new again. Here’s a a previously shown location under different lighting conditions:

ScreenShot 2015_03_28 14;48;51001For me personally it was very inspiring to witness that improvement because for literally a year I’ve always seen the place under ONE lighting condition. So it is truly a treat to rediscover spaces and volumes revealed by changing sun light and shadows moving across the environment.

Oh, and some things in the game will only appear at night, so that’s nice too… ;)

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