Aug 192015
 
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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
 
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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!

Jul 062015
 
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Hello everyone! After having developed the game’s quest system I’m now mostly done with the dialog system; the interface which lets you communicate with the game’s Non-Playable-Characters. Such an example of NPC is Kerold, an old inmate in the bowels of Dwindling Height’s prison (don’t mind him, he’s a bit mad 😀 ).

ScreenShot 2015_06_10 23;39;06001_cropped2

The dialog system of course deals with displaying the NPC’s dialog on screen (as there are no voiceovers in the game). Text is supported by a 2D portrait of the character’s expressions and sound effects. It’s a pretty tried-and-true approach which works quite nicely in the game.

But the dialog system also has to fulfill many other functions. In fact it can get pretty tricky to manage in the long run and it’s very important to make it modular and simple enough to maintain and/or expand. Here’s an overview example of a dialog tree structure (just a few branches actually):

ScreenShot 2015_07_03 09;34;59001_cropped

NPCs can greet you with several different lines depending on the current situation. But through dialog they must also be able to interact with the game’s quest system I mentioned at the beginning.

They can query the state of some quests or tasks (quests are made of a certain number of tasks), they can start a new quest, trigger the completion of some others, check if Tilo has some items in his possession, or even give him some items, accomplish an action, etc…

codeSmall2

At the heart of the dialog system lies a test-machine parsing many different conditions and displaying dialog nodes depending on the results. Dialog nodes are only revealed if their conditions are fulfilled and some nodes should only be displayed once and never again. The system needs to keep track of all this information and it is obviously crucial that everything stays synchronized!

Paul and I have spent a LOT of time talking about finding the “voice” of the characters and Paul has already written quite a few spiffy dialogs. So I have to say that adding at last this level of interaction to the game feels great… :)

Jun 222015
 
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Hello and welcome to a new Ghost of a Tale update! I have recently implemented fire interaction in the game. It’s something I was thinking of for a while but hadn’t come to work on yet.

In this GIF you can see it’s never a good idea to jump into a brazier. I’m pretty sure Tilo would agree with me… :)

burnBanner
 

You’ll also notice that the banner catches fire when Tilo runs close to it. Some objects can be set on fire this way, although not everything in the game is combustible of course.

Anyway as we’ve seen in a previous update there are much safer ways to burn things (usually any open flame will do the trick). No need to set yourself on fire!

But if it comes to this Tilo can put out fire by jumping (or hiding) in a water container (basin, barrel, etc…). Also some items you’ll find in the game offer varying degrees of protection against fire.

On the topic of performance optimization (but still related to fire): in the picture below, center frame at the end of the corridor you can clearly see the stages into which a torch comes alive.

torchExample
 

(Please note that for the purpose of this demonstration I have drastically lowered the distance settings on that torch in order to clearly display the different stages)

  • Stage 1: The torch flame is not visible at all.
  • Stage 2: Only the particles become visible. No “real” light involved yet.
  • Stage 3: Light is on but it doesn’t cast any shadows yet.
  • Stage 4: Light now casts “dancing” shadows.

You’ll be able to set the light distance in the game’s Graphics options menu. People with a good gaming PC can use higher values while those with a more modest rig can lower the distance at which lights appear. It can make a big difference performance-wise as Ghost of a Tale doesn’t use any baked lighting; it’s all “real time all the time”… 😉

And that concludes this update. As usual, please don’t hesitate leaving your comments and/or questions below!