Aug 192016
 
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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:

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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 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:

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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.

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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!

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)… 😛

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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…

Feb 182015
 
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Welcome to a new game development update! This will be a lengthy one, so please bear with me. In order to make your reading more palatable I’ve interspersed a couple of screenshots for your viewing pleasure… :)

The last couple of weeks have been particularly productive. Paul and I met to lock everything in terms of quests, story and structure. The result is an even clearer understanding of the game’s scope.

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Regarding that topic, it is interesting to note how much the game has evolved since the Indiegogo campaign. At the time I only had a very rough idea of what I wanted the game to be, but many important elements were still up in the air.

For example I thought the game would take place on Periclave, this huge island you would roam around, fighting enemies and… well that was about it really. There was no sneaking involved, no interaction with the environments, no detailed story for the world and its characters, no real AI no speak of, etc…

So I decided (about a year ago) the game actually wouldn’t take place on Periclave at all but rather happen on the mainland, in and around an ancient keep called Dwindling Heights. And you would get a chance to know who Tilo is before he embarks for Periclave. So to anyone wondering why the game doesn’t take place on Periclave, here are a couple of reasons.

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First, the story turned out so nice that it simply felt like wasting it by starting the game on Periclave, with no proper introduction to the world whatsoever. Plus I wasn’t sure I could do justice to my ambitious designs for the island. Which brings me to the next point.

Over-ambition will kill even the best of projects and I want the game to be released this year, not linger into the realms of vaporware and pretty screenshots. Biting more than I could chew was a real danger.

But the main reason is this: I want to maintain a very high level of quality throughout the project. From story to coding to visuals. And that means focusing on a smaller (relatively speaking) track of land and making sure everything works there.

Then if the game is successful (which I VERY much hope!), it will be my immense joy to expend the scope in the next game and to do justice to the intricate world of Ghost of a Tale.

But enough rambling. Suffice it to say that despite the huge workload I am indeed very happy with the way the game is turning out. Alright, and now for something completely different!

I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Canal Plus not long ago to talk about the game and I thought French-speaking visitors might be interested in watching the show online here: http://www.canalplus.fr/c-infos-documentaires/pid1829-c-le-journal-des-jeux-video.html?vid=1212596

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It was a fun virtual experience; by that I mean on the picture you can see Fred (the show host) on the left and Fabien (from PastaGames) on the right, but if you look closely on the right hand side I’m visible on a tiny screen. I was remotely controlling a Segway equipped with a webcam from the other side of the country, if you can believe it!

In the footage that was shown you can get a glimpse of the new in-game water interaction (among other things). Here’s a fun little video of Tilo wading through murky waters; I had to develop the shader to get exactly that look. It took me two days, but I feel it was worth it. I like how foam breaks in Tilo’s wake. Of course it looks better when not shot from my handheld phone!

Finally, I’m proud to announce we have a first build of the game running on an actual Xbox One, thanks to Cyrille!

This is great news because the building process itself is fairly smooth and I’m told no computer was hurt in the making of it. And even though the Xbox One version is not the main priority (finishing the game on PC is!) it’s still nice to know Ghost of a Tale can run on the console even though no specific optimization has taken place yet. So big kudos to Cyrille!

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And on those exciting news I’ll go back to work! I hope you enjoyed the update! :)