Feb 252017
 
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Hello all! Yes, Ghost of a Tale will be present next week at GDC! Paul will be there in person with a build of the game featuring a new forested area for you to explore!

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I’m starting to be happy with the overall result. Still got to create a few more assets to nail the look but it’s definitely getting there.

Also from the forest you can have a good look at Dwindling Heights’ tower peeking through the canopy.

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So feel free to come by and say hi to Paul! He’ll be at a Unity booth (#1402).

(Speaking of Unity, a well-informed source tells me they’ll show off their new timeline editor with a special guest: a minstrel mouse called Tilo)

Xbox One

The Xbox One version of the game is coming along very nicely. We’re ready to submit to Microsoft for certification. Recent performance improvements allow us to use temporal antialiasing which looks really nice on a big TV!

Speaking of performance, we’ve once again optimized the game a lot in order to reach a stable 30fps on Xbox One. Which means, as I mentioned before, that the PC version now also runs faster.

It really is tricky because the game is primarily developed on a gaming PC and framerate drops from 120fps to 70fps are virtually invisible. But on a console that means the difference between a playable 30fps and a painful 21fps. Thankfully Unity has a handy profiler.

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The level of detail granularity is nice, using sharper textures. And you’ll be able to see all those little details since the main difference between the Xbox and PC versions is the resolution.

Better Night Sky

I improved the look of night skies. Before the fog was so thick you couldn’t see a thing.

The only cheat is by a full moon you wouldn’t be able to see the stars twinkling of course. But they’re so nice I cheated. 😉

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Assets Improvement

I implemented dynamic vegetation throughout the game and since I was at it I also redid the grass assets. The previous version was alright in game when the camera did NOT look down at it. But as soon as it was, the dreaded “razorblade” effect was kicking in. But no more!

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And the grass interacts with Tilo in a much more natural manner, while being more or less exactly the same number of polygons as before (if you can believe it)!

There’s something to be said for testing your assets in the worst possible conditions (using unflattering contrast); if you manage to make them look nice in those cases you can be fairly sure they’ll look good in-game.

I also recently started using Substance Designer to create textures for the game. I used to be a doubter (since I usually do all my texture work in Photoshop) but after having invested time in watching tutorials and trying it seriously I’m now a believer.

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So in a nutshell development moves on and we can’t wait to show new quests, characters and locations. But we won’t until they’re ready for prime-time!

Meanwhile if you wish to support us then please download the latest version and help us chase pesky bugs. Thanks again for your continued support and see you in the next update!

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…