Archive for October, 2008

Modern Day Morality Tales

October 9th, 2008 by Auriea

More than anything else we’ve ever worked on, we’ve looked to film as a source of inspiration for our work on The Path. Not so much because the game will be anything like a movie but more for some kind of contextualization. We were asking ourselves constantly: “what is horror?”, “what makes something scary” and while we have our own ideas about that it seemed a good idea (and fun also) to plunge into the long history of horror genre productions in movies. So, we’ve been watching lots of movies!

At the same time we’ve been reading up on our fairy tales, we are considering our interpretation of this story we have chosen, Little Red Ridinghood. Ultimately, fairy tales are told to teach us something. They are lessons wrapped in beautiful metaphor. In our case we hope the “telling” is something which is acted out by each player via interacting with the characters in the game. And somehow it seemed inevitable that we would tell this story through anxiousness, surreality, surprise. What is it about the horror genre that makes it particularly suitable for the telling of these kinds of tales?

A series of podcasts by Mike Dawson for his Left Field Cinema blog ties all of these considerations up nicely. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or find the mp3s at his site where there are also transcripts of each episode.

He analyses films like The Exorcist, Silence of the Lambs, Friday the 13th, and Se7en to determine if they are in fact modern day fairy tales and if so in what way are they in that tradition. His conclusions are most interesting:

Morality tales can be seen as using a cowardly method of making a point; science fiction and fantasy use the method because they can make commentary on current events and climates and avoid criticism for their views by claiming that one has nothing to do with the other.

oh really? Fascinating, as we try, in our way, to make a Video Game as modern day morality tale. ;)

Opening Pandora’s Box…

October 9th, 2008 by Michael

Our understanding and respect of the games industry is growing every day. How they can ever create these immensely complex AAA games is beyond me. The Path is only a fraction of the size of such a game but there is so much to do! Today I discovered that the absolute minimum time it takes to finish the game is 2 hours. And that’s when you’re either very lucky or use some cheats only available in the development environment. And of course if you skip over everything that is not absolutely essential to make progress (which, in a Tale of Tales, means most things in the game ;) ). To do everything in the game will take several times that amount of time. And we need to do everything in order to check it and make sure it works. And when it doesn’t (which is often at this point), we need to fix it. Where are we going to find the time to do all that?

It’s fun to play around with the game in its current state, if you’re careful and know what you can and cannot touch, or know what errors to ignore, or have special cheats to get you out of tricky situations. But as soon as you start lifting the lid of that pretty colourful box, it’s like hundreds of bugs swarm out! And fixing one of them produces ten new ones. It’s like they use being fixed as a form of procreation :lol: . The amount of work to do is staggering. Most of the new issues I encounter, I take a note of. Because I don’t want to be distracted from the task at hand. This way I am producing a gigantic to do list. Several lists, in fact.

First of all there’s my schedule of the month, which is basically composed of the most important issues discovered the month before, divided in one or two day packages. The things that didn’t make it to the schedule are arranged in four lists entitled “Essential”, “Optional”, “Desirable” and “Very desirable”. My schedule is extremely tight so there’s hardly any time to do anything outside of it. In fact, there’s always things that I can’t get done on time. This produces another list: things from the schedule that weren’t done in time, divided in “Essential”, “Optional” and “Weird bugs” :? . And while I’m working on other things, new problems present themselves. These are mostly added to the “Desirable” list, unless they are “Essential”.

There’s also a list called “Removed”, but so far it’s very short. The Path is a very minimalist design. So there’s not much that can be removed. We just need to get it done. Somehow. There’s no way I will be able to take care of all the things on my lists. There’s just too much. So it comes down to smart prioritizing. That’s one of the good things about not being able to deal with problems immediately: it gives you some time to think and decide carefully what is important and what is not. Perfection is something we’ll leave to the experts. ;)

Forcing myself not to work

October 6th, 2008 by Michael

When looking at the game, it’s so tempting to try and fix each and every little thing that could be improved. It’s really hard to resist. “Let me just fix this little thing and get it over with. Instead of thinking about doing it every time I see it.” But I know that if I start down that path, there’s no end to it. And the game will never get finished as a result.
That’s why I make prioritized to do lists. I need to take care of the really important issues first. And at this point in the production, those are issues that can literally break the experience. Really serious bugs or logic errors. Those need to be fixed no matter how much cooler the game would look if that one particle effect was a little bit more orange…

The Making of Ruby

October 3rd, 2008 by Auriea

Well, well, well, now we’ve come full circle. She’s the one you’ve seen the most, if you’ve been paying attention round here. But what do you *really* know about dear Ruby, eh? “You think you know me?” as she is fond of saying with a sneer (okay, at least in my imagination.)

When we had to decide which character to make first, I said it immediately, Ruby is the one! Through working out her character and style we solidified what all the characters would be…. how can I say, Before her, we had no idea what we were making. Ruby helped us figure all of it out. What’s more, she’s the girl who, for me, totally epitomized what I felt about my time growing up. What happens to her, could have happened to me. She’s like a friend I never had but still remember… or a long lost sister of my dreams…. Anyway, all that is to say, she’s been through a lot during the long process of getting here. To a final image.


gothred ThePath-RubyBillboard

The process started with lots of looking around on the Internet for images and inspiration. I found her absolutely in the short skirts and red knees of Fuco Ueda‘s girls and the undulating necks of Audrey Kawsaki‘s fantasies, pretty and distant. But, what kind of girl was she? Had to figure that out. Then I sketched around on paper and in computer til I had her.

Ruby_paper_sketch_1 ref-gothred ref-gothred_inspirations gothred02 2007-01-06
superhyperworkinprogress-Ruby 20070209-in_quest-15

Ah, nostalgia ;)
There are the usual beauty shots of her in the gallery, and some other things will be showing up on flickr. I made a strange and unusual image of her for your desktop, hope you like it!

The Path —— Status Report October 2008

October 1st, 2008 by Michael

We’ve worked so hard in September! We get up in the morning, do some work, have brunch, do some work, have tea, do some work, have dinner, watch Star Trek, do some work. Day in day out. From 8-9 am to 1-2 am. Apart from the weekends when we force ourselves to rest. And despite of the stress and the routine, it’s fun! In an ideal world, we’d probably want to spend much longer on the game and add all the elements that we imagine while playtesting. But it’s probably a good thing that practical circumstances forbid this. Otherwise The Path would never get done.

I’ve been able to do most things on my to do list for September. Only a few things have been cut, or pushed down to the “desirable features” list. For me, the door is now closed on adding new features, and now I’m shifting my attention to tweaking and fixing everything that is in the game. There’s a lot of work still to be done!

In the asset creation area, Grandmother’s House is starting to look very very nice! But there’s still some work to do. So we didn’t quite make the asset creation deadline -again. And after the Grandmother assets are done, we still need to work on animations and visual effects. So that will be an important part of the October workload. After which Auriea can get back to the forest and finalize the graphic elements there.

In September I was able to implement a few nice and fun things that will definitely add to the enjoyment of the game. For the first time, I’m also really starting to see (and feel) its artistic potential and emotional effect. I must admit that I was a little bit disturbed. It’s one thing to say that you’re making a game in which you lead your six avatars to their deaths. It’s kind of funny and provocative to say such things. But to actually do this, and see the effect. Is chilling. Even for me.

It made me think that the developers of all those violent games must have a real talent of transforming that pain and death into lighthearted entertainment. If you show these things in their plain and dry state then I imagine the emotional effect can be devastating. I think politicians who complain about violence in games now haven’t seen anything yet. I think all those developers are holding back!

I was actually worried that The Path would be too extreme. Not in terms of blood and gore, but in terms of psychological and emotional tension. But then I reminded myself of the fairy tale aspect of the story. And that everything in The Path is a metaphor. Maybe there’s even a reason why you would want these girls to die…

Anyway, October will be a lot less fun. Now is the time to make sure that the most essential elements of the game work properly. Ranging from controls and game flow to the user interface and the save system. It all needs to work well and be clear to the player. After that, hopefully, finally, we well get to play a bit with our doll house and author the more artistic aspects of the game.

Almost all collaboration with other people has stopped. Laura has finished all animations. Marian is making some final versions of the new logo. Jarboe & Kris are adding some extra elements to an existing composition. And Hans has helped a bit with Grandmother’s House. Soon it will just be Auriea and I, tweaking this bag of feature into a lovely experience.

We hope to squeeze in some play-testing too, this month. But we can only really do that when the game works reasonably well, technically. And that’s not entirely the case yet. Too many unwanted weird things are still happening. But I feel quite confident about fixing them. A lot more confident than I felt last month. I think the biggest issues were taken care of in September. The rest is easy. ;)

undead, undead, undead

October 1st, 2008 by Auriea

this has nothing to do with The Path really, i just like it. and so does our next Red Girl ;)