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 272015
 
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Welcome to this new development update! While working on the environments I have recently finished converting the shaders to proper physically-based ones, thanks to Shader Forge’s newest release (thank you Joachim!) which supports the latest Unity 5 features in relation to lighting.

Here is a screenshot showing the result; Tilo seems positively fascinated with the fire… 🙂

ScreenShot 2015_03_27 11;42;43001

A nice side-effect of this shader update is that the framerate is now super-smooth on my machine. The main phase of optimization for the game will only come later in the development cycle but to be able to run around in those environments in such a smooth way is soooo nice.

Here’s Tilo exploring one of Dwindling Height’s collapsed towers. It is safe to say the keep has seen better days. Indeed many years ago Dwindling Heights sustained a large attack by the Ferrets of Saltar and it’s been falling in a state of disrepair ever since…

collapsedTower

On a different topic, sometimes I get asked “How can I support Ghost of a Tale”? And here’s the short answer: for now, the best way to support the game is to talk about it to your friends. On Facebook. On Twitter. Spread the word. Awareness is going to be the most important thing when the release date nears.

Currently, the plan is to begin letting people financially support the game within a couple of months. In return you will be able to download and play the beginning of the game (on PC). Of course, if you were an Indiegogo campaign backer you will access all this (and the final game) at no additional cost.

This early access period will help in catching bugs that would have eluded QA and also of course start to provide some much-needed revenues. The final price for Ghost of a Tale is not yet set, but will be announced later on.

The release date of the game (on PC) is planned towards the end of autumn (hopefully with the Xbox One version not too long after that). As soon as I have more elements I will post a definitive release date.

That’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed the update! 🙂

Apr 142014
 
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Welcome everyone! As promised this update is going to focus on the game’s lore, an aspect which has mostly been kept under wraps until now. As you all know Ghost of a Tale takes place in a medieval world inhabited by animals, each species ruling over its own kingdom. And among those kingdoms the Rats are considered one of the most powerful species. Although creatures far more fearsome exist, it is a well-known fact that, through sheer force of numbers, the Rat Army is capable of defeating almost any foe.

Today some say the Rats’ influence is so wide and far-reaching that it is more empire than kingdom. The origin of the Rat’s powerful influence can be traced all the way back to the War of the Green Flame, many centuries ago, when the world was teetering on the edge of the Bright Abyss.

Fresco

No one remembers where the Green Flame appeared first. A force without conscience or thought, it killed and consumed all those standing in its path. The fallen would then grow the ranks of its army, becoming soulless puppets of the necromantic power. The great battle has passed into myth and legend now – but some facts are indisputable: the mighty Badgers of Baladhon fought and lost and even the Hawks of Halenvir fell from the sky. None of them could turn back the foul invasion.

When the news of the advancing army of the Green Flame reached the capital of each kingdom there was much debate. Some believed the Green Flame could be subjugated, used as a source of power. For others it was capable of nothing but death and decay. These quarrels took far too much time to resolve and when the Council of Asper finally stood together at last to face the Green Flame it was all but too late.

The Mice, fearing the end of their kind, attempted to send an emissary to negotiate surrender in exchange for revealing weaknesses in fortresses they had helped to design. Their actions were rightly perceived as a betrayal by the other creatures and the Green Flame laid waste to the mouse kingdom all the same.

It was then that the Rats took matters into their own hands. King Rodgar-the-First, seconded by his general Jahrlan (whom some say was the war’s true hero), led his soldiers into battle against the Green Flame’s army. There the Rats made their stand, single-handedly defeating the greatest threat the world had ever faced. Jahrlan did not survive the battle, but had he done so he would have had a chance of becoming king himself.

After the war most of the mouse lands were annexed, and Mice were never again allowed to bear arms. Nor did they ever formally regain the right to sit on the Council of Asper. There are some who say enough time has passed and that Mice should not today have to bear responsibility for their ancestor’s actions. But Rats are not known for their forgiveness.

It is interesting to note that the only trace of what might truly have happened in those long-forgotten days can be found in the oral tradition of the Myghlar Magpies, the Truth Sayers, who now inhabit the ancient tower of Periclave. To this day they scour the kingdoms, bartering in the only currency they respect: stories – facts, mostly, but also legends and songs. Yet even in their account of the War of the Green Flame one can find only glimmers of truth – the mere ghost of a tale.

One could also wonder where Tilo, the humble minstrel mouse, fits in History’s grand tapestry. After all he is merely a tiny stitch made with a single thread. But it only takes a snag in a single thread for the whole tapestry to unravel. And Tilo’s own story will be the subject of an upcoming update… 🙂

Aug 312013
 
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Hey guys, game progress is going smoothly! 🙂

The story is now locked (thanks Paul!) and that’s going to help in figuring out exactly what’s needed for the game. There’s so many different elements that need to fit in that it is sometimes a bit dizzying. And remember that Ghost of a Tale is not going to be a huge game by any stretch of imagination. But still, it’s a tremendous amount of work.

I would say at this point that the game is still in pre-production in the sense that I’m still designing the game. The next phase is about actively creating all the areas and character assets and I hope to be able to move on to that stage within a couple of months at the most.

On the programming side I’ve added debugging features that are going to make my life easier. Basically that debug interface gives me access to some useful information related to the player’s animation and the camera’s status.

Debugging in Unity

As I mentioned a little while ago gamepad support has been added. But what I should precise is that the controls now adapt on the flight to the proper camera/locomotion configuration (keyboard or gamepad). As a result the controls always FEEL adapted to your device because the camera and character actually behave differently in both configurations. Of course, that’s transparent to the user.

There are so many other things I would like to talk about but I’ll keep that for an upcoming update… 😀