Aug 192016
 
twittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

Now that the dust is settled I can at last find time to post an update! What an experience it’s been! :)

Ghost of a Tale has been out in early access on Steam and GOG for more than three weeks now. And it’s been both exhausting and exhilarating. Some days we worked nonstop around the clock with only 4h of sleep so it was rather intense, but in the end it was all worth it.

I want to thank Cyrille (Cosmogonies) and Paul (FakeNina) for answering emails and replying on forums while at the same time toiling away on the game. If Ghost of a Tale’s launch wasn’t a total chaos it’s all thanks to their constant dedication and hard work, for which I am immensely grateful.

Thank you also to all of you guys who took the time to send us your saves, screenshots and bug reports! You have truly made the game better for all those who will come after you.

To say the reactions to the game have been overwhelmingly positive is an understatement. Here’s a typical example of a player’s reaction about the game:

ScreenShot 2016_07_26 16;29;18001

I’m really glad we tested the game beforehand as best we could because it actually paid off: Ghost of a Tale was called one of the best example ever of a game released in early access. For some reviewers it even set a new standard in terms of quality of a pre-release. Which is music to our mousey ears! :)

Of course there are still bugs remaining and we’re working tirelessly to squash the most annoying ones as quickly as possible. We also added requested features and players were sometimes amazed to see we genuinely cared for their feedback.

We’ve got some great suggestions (regarding AI, game mechanics, etc…) which will make the game even better than it is while keeping the original vision intact.

All in all I’d say the game has attracted a really nice crowd, with a lot of good will and a genuine desire to help. And that’s probably one of the most welcomed achievements of the game as far as I’m concerned.

How did the game do in early access?

It did alright! The sales are not fantastic by any measure but it should allow us to finish the game as intended. Now for any slightly bigger studio that level of revenues would without a doubt spell the end of the project. But not in this case, rest assured the game will get finished!

Early access games are rarely a smash success and we released Ghost of a Tale without any publicity whatsoever. I didn’t even have time to do a proper new trailer, Microsoft couldn’t provide any marketing support since the game is not yet out on the Xbox One and almost no journalists were aware of the game’s pre-release. Talk about a hard sell!

Anyway the uptake is a lot of players went “This looks really nice, I’ll wait until it comes out of Early Access!”. So if Steam’s dashboard is to be believed we have ten times more potential buyers waiting for the game to be finished than the actual amount who already bought it. Which seems to indicate the game should be fairly successful when it gets officially released.

So what now?

The very first step is to take care of all the remaining bugs to ensure the early access is basically as bug-free as possible, since the systems and game mechanics will be used in the final version.

The second phase involves tweaking the gameplay, integrating more feedback from players, etc… Then early access will be deemed complete in the sense that it procures a thoroughly enjoyable experience to players new and old. Development will then branch out to what will become the full (final) version of the game. We are currently nearing that stage.

On that topic, a quick message to all of you backers who got access to the Beta version of the game on Steam: you can now switch back to the default branch. The Beta branch is going to be used mostly for experimental builds, where we introduce tweaks or changes not yet ready for prime-time.

So if you’d like to provide us with feedback about new features (and potentially new bugs) please stay on the Beta branch. If not, then simply opt out of it in the game’s properties.

What about consoles?

We are currently working on getting the Preview version onto the Xbox One. I will of course post here whenever there are related news.

Regarding the PlayStation 4 we don’t have anything to announce yet, besides the fact that Sony is indeed aware of the game and would like to see it come to their console. Once more I’ll let you guys know as soon as there’s anything new to report. :)

Will the game be available on the Humble store?

Yes it will, thank you for your patience! It will also be possible to buy the game directly from this site through the Humble Widget. I’ll post an update when that’s ready to go.

Alright, I have to get back to work now. And I’ve still got hundreds of emails to go through. So please be patient, it will take me some time…

Finally I simply want to thank again all of you backers of the Indiegogo campaign who chose to give Tilo a chance three years ago. It looks like you won’t have to regret it! 😀

Jul 182016
 
twittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

Welcome everyone! The early access version of Ghost of a Tale is nearly upon us! So it’s now time to talk about specifics.

The game is going to be available for PC in early access on Steam, GOG and this very site (with the help of the Humble widget).

If you’re a backer of the Indiegogo campaign you can look forward to an email from us within the next 24h to 48h. You’ll be able to choose which key you’d like to receive and when you get that key it will let you play the game right away! :)

For everyone else, although you can’t yet buy the game you can still access the store pages by clicking on either of the pictures below.

steam_logo

Console versions will come at a later time since the PC release must be done before anything else is possible.

But before I continue talking about the early access let me say this: I recently looked at the last trailer (from 2014) and was really surprised by the difference in visual quality. So I captured a frame and tried to match it roughly to the same angle/time-of-day. First the 2014 version:

ScreenShot 2016_07_17 15;10;55001_2014

And here’s with what the game looks like today. I really need to start working on a new trailer!

ScreenShot 2016_07_17 15;10;55001_2016

So much has changed since then. And I don’t mean just the graphics! 😀

But let me go back to the topic of the early access. Actually instead of boring you with a dry litany of information let me break it down into a series of questions you may ask yourselves.

What are the technical requirements for Ghost of a Tale?

Well, you need a gaming PC of course. By this I mean essentially a graphics card that can run modern games. Laptops which are mostly used to browse the web or play older games probably won’t cut it.

On the CPU side an Intel i5 @ 2.5Ghz is the minimum. On the video card side, see if you can locate your card on this chart (available on videocardbenchmark.net) and look at its score:

ScreenShot 2016_07_16 19;03;23001

In a nutshell, here’s what to expect (assuming your CPU is not the bottleneck in your machine):

  • If your video card is well above 7K you’ll have a grand old time, period!
  • If your video card reaches 4K or more, you’re hunky-dory; that would pretty much warranty 1080p at a solid 30fps.
  • If your video card is between 2K and 3K you might have to lower the resolution to 720p in order to maintain 30fps.
  • If your video card is well below 2K I advise you only buy Ghost of a Tale with the understanding that you will not get a smooth experience unless you bring down the resolution even more.
  • If your video card is well below 1K then I advise you do not buy the game as I cannot guarantee it will run as intended.

Do I have to use a gamepad to play Ghost of a Tale?

No. However, while the game fully supports mouse/keyboard it is fundamentally designed with a gamepad in mind (I use the Xbox One’s).

Since Ghost of a Tale is a third-person game where body-awareness is fairly important it’s just nicer and more precise to use a Gamepad. But in the end it’s your choice of course.

What can I expect from the early-access version?

A beautiful place to explore, NPCs to encounter, secrets to discover, dialogs, quests, etc…

If you intend to immerse yourself in that world and try to do each quest then you’ll have quite a few hours of enjoyment ahead of you.

The early access represents roughly 25-30% of the game (at most). But by a lot of aspects it only shows a VERY LIMITED slice of what the final game will be. We removed some mechanics, enemies, and systems and walled off several locations linked to quests that are not yet available.

Eventually you’ll be able to explore the whole of Dwindling Heights and meet all of its denizens; this is just a portion of it.

(One last note: the “fancy hat” edition will arrive later on, either as an update to the early access or with the final version of the game…)

Is the early-access English-only?

Yes. For now. Dialogs and quests will evolve until the final game is complete, so if we translate the game now a lot of work is going to have to be completely redone later on. And at the moment we simply cannot afford to do this from a financial point of view (more on that later).

Here’s a screenshot to provide some breathing space. Look, the sun is about to rise over Dwindling Heights…

ScreenShot 2016_07_07 09;29;07001

Why should I buy the game now instead of waiting for the final version?

That’s a fair question and the answer revolves around money: there’s none left.

Successful games’ crowdfunding campaigns can reach a few hundred thousand dollars, sometimes even close to a million. The campaign for GoaT brought roughly $40K of effective budget.

As some of you know I’ve been working on Ghost of a Tale each and every day of my life for the last three years and I’ve paid myself $500 per month. The rest of the money went to buy hardware, licenses and of course to compensate my collaborators.

Note that I’m not complaining at all; no-one is forcing me to create Ghost of a Tale!

Now we could very well start a new crowdfunding campaign but it would require quite a lot of time and energy and it would push back the game by as much. I prefer to put that effort into development. And given the advanced state of Ghost of a Tale I think the early access route is the best for everyone.

That being said I totally respect players who would rather play the game when it’s finished and prefer to wait for the final version to be released.

If however you choose to buy the pre-release version, know that you are actually making the development of Ghost of a Tale possible. Plus you get a better price while the game is still in early access since the final version will likely be more expensive when it’s out.

And if I’m still not convinced…?

Well, what can I say. How many games let you play as a minstrel mouse in a world that looks right out of a fairy tale? Which doesn’t expect you to slaughter anyone and instead appeals to your sense of wonder…? :)

If you believe in the game then please, spread the word! Let your friends know that the pre-release is coming very soon!

I’ll do an update to let you guys know as soon as the pre-release is out for everyone. If we don’t discover anything catastrophic during the next few days then everyone will get a chance to experience Ghost of a Tale next week, on Monday the 25th of July… :)

Mar 082016
 
twittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

Those last few weeks have been rather intense in terms of workload but they’re definitely bearing fruits. It’s fantastic watching everything come together. I feel a bit like Tilo, catching a tantalizing glimpse of the outside world! :)

ScreenShot 2016_02_19 22;18;39001

Talking of the outside world, I recently took a field trip with a friend of mine to an old abbey in the south of France. There, I was able to capture amazing new textures to improve the looks of Dwindling Heights and give it a more authentic cachet in some areas. And again it’s one of those rare occasions where I can actually work on GoaT while leaving the house!

It’s hard to believe but it’s going to be three years almost to the day that I have started working in earnest on Ghost of a Tale. How time flies when you’re having fun… 😀

I found an old picture of the environment I showcased during the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign (running on Unity 4.0) and compared it with a recent screenshot (running on 5.3), just for the heck of it (it’s obviously not the same location)…

ScreenShot 2016_03_07 22;51;36001

So much work and experience gathered in-between those two pictures! And great people met along the way without whom Ghost of a Tale would not be what it is today (Paul, Cyrille, Jeremiah, I’m looking your way).

Which brings me to the crux of this update: if everything goes well (and it’s a big “if” of course) we should go to beta within the next couple of weeks. The beta version will contain all of the pre-release’s features but some will be incomplete (as they’re still being worked on). Place-holder asides though it should give us a good idea of the game’s actual state.

The goal for us is to get feedback from people who never played the game before. And hopefully we won’t have any bad surprises! On that topic, we already have a short list of potential testers so I think we’re all set on that side… 😉

An unknown that remains in the equation is we’re going to try and move to Unity 5.4 when it’s released (very soon). The reason is a few of the bugs we still have (and which unfortunately affected a couple of recent Unity games) are supposed to be taken care of. So fingers crossed!

And as always, please feel free to express your support and/or ask questions in the comments section below…

Dec 232015
 
twittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

Hello and welcome to this new Ghost of a Tale update featuring a unique papercraft gift for you! But first some news about the game’s development.

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been very busy transitioning to the latest version of Unity. A move which proved (at least at first) to be pretty much a catastrophic one and generated quite a lot of stress.

It is a transition I dreaded but unfortunately there was no choice; we needed the bug fixes and the new features. Long story short; after the upgrade almost all the game’s shaders broke, resulting in a “pink screen” (Unity’s way of letting you know in no uncertain terms that your shaders are broken).

ScreenShot 2015_12_09 16;59;090012

So with the help of Joachim (the developer of Shader Forge, a great tool to create shaders in Unity) I had to manually fix each of the game’s shaders (and materials) one by one. After which everything (at least visually) was back to normal.

There were also a plethora of issues with other third-party assets but I only have praises for their developers who responded very quickly to my cries for help (a special mention to Stephan, the developer of TextMeshPro and Diogo & Ricardo from Amplify) and provided us with stellar support.

And I am indeed quite relieved to say the situation is now back under control! :)

ScreenShot 2015_11_24 22;49;28001

As you may know Ghost of a Tale uses a couple of third-party assets (AI, C# tweening, etc…) but the way I picked them up is not just based on their intrinsic quality; it is the professionalism of their coders that makes them extremely valuable. And once again, without their help and the genuine concern and support of Unity people (thanks Chris!) that could have been an even more stressful event.

So we’re now back to work, toiling on things like integrating Unity’s new scene streaming system (Cyrille’s got a grip on that), fixing bugs, adding the remaining features and making tweaks. One such tweak included making the sliding door’s levers a little more readable (they used to be smaller and very dark before):

ScreenShot 2015_11_23 23;13;36001

And now for our Christmas gift to you: how would you like to have your own papercraft Tilo to adorn your desk? :)

Well Paul lovingly prepared just the thing for you: if you possess a little patience and moderate finger coordination you’ll be able to create this little papercraft figurine of our favorite musical rodent! All you have to do is print out this PDF file and follow Paul’s instructions! Note that this is a revised and improved version of the one he did during Gamescom last year.

tilo_paper

Finally all of you guys who backed up the game on Indiegogo (starting at 10 euros) should have received by now an email asking for your “credit name” information (that’s your name as you would like it to appear in the game’s credits). I did get a couple of undelivered emails bouncing back (maybe ten or so) but it would seem 99% of them reached their destination.

And that’s the end of this update. In closing, Paul and Cyrille join me to wish you all happy holidays! :)