May 142015
 
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Ghost of a Tale is often called a one-man game. While in a sense this could be considered as true (as in “if I didn’t work on this game it would never exist”), I wanted to give a detailed breakdown of who directly participates in the creation of Ghost of a Tale.

Please forgive me for starting with myself but let’s get it out of the way quickly: I create all of the game’s visuals on my own. That includes all the art, characters, models, rigging, animations, lighting, textures, environments, etc…

I’m also responsible for about 95% of the game’s code (including AI behaviors, mechanics, interface, controls, etc…). In other words, if something breaks down or looks ugly, I’m to blame for that! :)

But all this would be rather lonely and daunting if I didn’t get any help. Luckily I do!

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Starting with Paul Gardner, who is the writer for the game. He puts up valiantly with all my nagging regarding finding specific “voices” for the characters. But Paul’s role is not “just” writing for the game; he’s also a professional game designer (having worked on quite a few titles at Namco and Traveler’s Tale).

So we talk a lot about ideas, back and forth several times a week. Our discussions range from game mechanics to dialogs to back-story to level design. And I never move forward if he disagrees strongly with something. If Ghost of a Tale is anywhere near what it is today it’s thanks to Paul’s steadfast collaboration.

On the technical side I have the considerable benefit of receiving help and support from Cyrille Paulhiac who is an experienced coder. As I mentioned previously Cyrille has created a couple of amazing tools that allow me to concentrate on creating the game itself rather than dealing with technical tediousness. His work often remains “behind the curtain” but is nonetheless very cool.

As a concrete example during the weeks leading up to Gamescom last year I had to manually model all the tessellated environment colliders (using Maya) for the demo. Which was a thankless, time-consuming job. Since then, Cyrille has coded a tool which creates those colliders in seconds with just one click, directly within Unity!

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Last but not least I want to talk about the very talented Jeremiah Pena. He’s the composer for the game’s soundtrack and his work gives its auditory identity to Ghost of a Tale. There again I feel very lucky indeed to have been contacted by him just before the Indiegogo campaign went live.

From the get go I used one of his existing compositions to edit the very first alpha trailer. I had even thought of leaving it in, but Jeremiah was confident he could come up with something much more fitting to the game’s mood. And what he did blew me away, obviously. That’s when I knew I could entrust the entire game’s soundtrack to him.

Needless to say I am extremely grateful for Paul, Cyrille and Jeremiah’s continuous involvement with the project.

Of course there are many people who at one time or another generously lent their help (and sometimes still do) to the game, but I hope next time I mention Paul, Cyrille or Jeremiah you guys have a better idea about their respective roles.

Talk to you all next time! :)

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)

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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… :)

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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…

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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! :)