May 092016
 
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Welcome! At the moment we are all intensely focused on a single goal: reaching closed beta status. Which is the phase preceding the pre-release (at which point you’ll get a chance to experience the game for yourself). There’s still some work to be done but we’re definitely nearing the end of the tunnel!

We’re testing things all the time, making sure one change doesn’t break anything distantly related. So when we do release, bugs will not be of the kind anyone can see within the five minutes of playing. No, they’ll be much more devious than that… 😀

As you probably know, Ghost of a Tale relies a lot on tessellation. Now tessellation is great because it creates micro details based on a texture while the base mesh (the original “flat” model) remains quite simple (and thus does not tax CPU or memory as much).

In the following pictures you can see the base (Maya) meshes for the set. Their density is kept quite low and mostly uniform:

ScreenShot 2016_04_07 14;51;14001a

And here’s the final in-game picture, with textures and lighting (although the torch’s fire particles are turned off):

ScreenShot 2016_04_07 15;18;10001small

One of the issues with tessellation though is that it’s not “stable” by definition. Meaning it constantly re-evaluates the subdivision level, usually depending on the camera’s distance to the mesh.

The result of which can lead to “swimming” textures artifacts; the details created by tessellation seem to constantly morph in an almost organic way. It’s quite distracting and can look frankly rather poor.

But not long ago I have found a way to fix this issue and now all the environment feels rock solid; no more wobbly textures! Yay! 🙂

Here is an example of Tilo walking near that tunnel area.

 

On a different topic I’ve just integrated the new sound effects provided by Nicolas (www.nicolastiteux.com), the foley artist helping on the game, and they sound awesome! It’s a delight hearing Tilo scamper from a ground surface made of earth to climbing steps made of stone to plodding on a wooden floor, etc…

Jeremiah has also been delivering soundtracks and they’re (as usual) terrific; they blend in super nicely when talking to characters and bring another level of immersion.

Finally here’s a little time-lapse type video of the day quickly going by over Dwindling Heights. It looks far better in the game because you can see braziers lit around the tower but I thought you’d like to see it anyway.

 

And with that I’ll go back to work and end this update. Thank you for reading it and for your patience waiting for the game, of course. I think you’re all going to be pretty happy when the time finally comes… 🙂

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!

ScreenShot 2015_04_06 16;32;22001GK

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!

Untitleasdasdd-1

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! 🙂

Mar 312014
 
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Hello everyone and welcome to this new Ghost of a Tale update!

Development is progressing at a very brisk pace. Which is in part why there hasn’t been any update since the last time. As you all know I’m very hard at work on multiple aspects of the game and I always prefer ironing out new features before mentioning them publicly.

To start, here’s a new picture for you:

Tilo at a wooden door

And here is a summary of things that are either new or improved (in no particular order):

  •  AI: I’ve implemented a new detection system for the enemies. Before it was a binary system which wasn’t entirely satisfying: you were either detected (and attacked right away) or you were not. The new detection system is much more organic and takes into account the player’s position, distance, speed, stance and whether you are hiding or not. There’s also a visual feedback icon on the enemy to let you know his level of suspicion (a little like in the Assassin’s Creed games). So now the whole thing is much more skill-based: it’s about how you balance the act of reaching a certain location without getting detected. Bottom line: it’s more fun!
  • Music: A while ago Jeremiah composed an excellent “combat” cue (actually several) which is triggered when you get detected by an enemy and I finally got around integrating it to the new detection system. Needless to say it adds a tremendous amount of tension and drama to the experience.
  • Animation: I mentioned before the “awareness system” in place for the player character; I’ve now added something similar for the enemies so that when they go somewhere (eg: patrolling from A to B) they actually look where they’re going. I know it may sound trivial but for me (as an animator) it really makes a difference.
  • Story: Paul and I worked a great deal on the story. It has grown in depth and scope and we’re focused on making sure we can explore it for all its worth. We’re also working on game design and we are now at a point where we’re testing individual mechanics to make sure everything is working as it should.
  • Interface: We now have a first pass on the inventory and the song system. It feels nice being able to actually see what you picked up at last (icon and description). Still a lot of work to be done in that area but it’s starting to take shape. We also have a new dialog system in place (thanks to Tony for the support on his Dialoguer asset) which works really well.
  •  Visuals: All the game’s shaders have been converted to Physically Based Shaders using the new Shader Forge tool (thanks to Joachim for the support). What does it mean in plain English? Surfaces now look much more realistic in the way they react to lighting: stone, metal and wood actually “feel” like distinct materials.

And of course in addition to the fine people I just mentioned let me thank again Stephane, David and Cyrille for their ongoing help in this mighty endeavor.

The next update I’ll post will focus more on story and the main character… 😉

 

Jul 012013
 
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Thumbnail skeletal rat rises(Un mot pour les francophones a la fin de ce message)

Hello everyone, It is my pleasure today to announce the opening of the official website for the game, located at: http://www.ghostofatale.com

The site has been meticulously prepared and developed by David, who will also serve as community manager on the forums. These forums will present the opportunity for you to express your opinion on all aspects of the game. You can also ask questions and offer suggestions and we will do our best to answer those in a timely fashion. Of course posts will be made on the site’s home page to update you on the game’s progress.

I am still currently working on preparing the perks (post cards) to be sent next month, which will be followed by T-shirts and finally figurines in August. Quite a few of you still haven’t answered my emails regarding postal address confirmation and T-shirt size, so at some point I’ll have to assume you don’t really need those (which is totally fine by me).

Finally, just a quick word to let you know Jeremiah (the game’s composer) recently sent me the first official track for the game and it is fantastic. I’m pretty sure you guys will love it! 🙂 Cheers, Seith

PS: Les francophones parmi vous pourrons trouver une section francaise dans les forums ou il vous sera possible de vous exprimer dans la langue de Moliere!