The Graveyard post mortem, part 2

We have finished part 2 of our article about the making of The Graveyard. After part one about how the idea was born, now it’s about getting from idea to realisation: funding and technology. Read all about how we get arts funding for our projects and how we found working with Unity3D for the first time in…

The Graveyard: How to make an idea come to life

The Graveyard post mortem

We are in the process of writing an article about the making of The Graveyard. We will be publishing each part as we finish it. Starting with Birth of an idea, about the concept of the game, where it came from and why we think it’s relevant. Next is a chapter about finding funding and technology. After that we will discuss the production itself, what went right and what went wrong. Then we will talk a bit about the important contributions of the character animator, the music composer and the sound designer. And we will conclude with an analysis of the distribution, sales, press and audience response to the game.

But first:

The Graveyard: Birth of an Idea


Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday. The first day of lent (or “vasten” -“fast”), a period of modesty and meditation, leading up to the return of the light. Probably simply a translation to religious terms of the hardship of winter. It gives a noble significance to the meager foods on the table during this period.


On Ash Wednesday, when I was young and attended catholic schools, we went to church. The priest would put some ashes on his thumb and then draw a little cross on our foreheads. Saying that we should remember that we are made of dust and ashes and will return to dust and ashes.

So we ran around all day in school trying to keep the ashes on as long as possible. We didn’t “remember” much of anything, as kids.

It makes sense to think about death when nature is cold and silent. In our modern age when there is never a shortage of anything, really, we have lost an appreciation of the natural cycles (of which we are still a part with our mortal bodies). Religion reconciled humans with nature. But now we’re disconnected from nature. Or at least we pretend we are.

Memento homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.

Images borrowed from Elevated and Jesterry.


Manetgna: Three Magi
“The Adoration of the Magi” by Andrea Mantegna

Drie koningen found on Flickr
Photograph by Sint-Katelijne-Waver, found on Flickr.

Happy to see some children are still enjoying the celebration of the Three Kings. It’s a tradition that is slowly being replaced here by the better marketed Halloween. I used to do it as a kid: on January 6th, three friends would dress up as the wise men, we’d make a turning star on a stick and go from door to door, singing a song. People would give us money or candy. There’s also a special pie with a bean in it. And the kid who gets the piece with the bean, gets to be the black king. We’d hold a wine cork in a flame and rub it on his or her face, making it black.

The Kiss available for download

The Kiss: Incorporator

We have made the remake of our 2001 project “The Kiss: Incorporator” available for download. This version was made for an exhibition in the Flemish Parliament, curated by Muhka’s Edwin Carels.

“The Kiss: Incorporator” is made with a 3D scan of our naked bodies, kissing. The errors produced by the scanning technology expecting to find a single body, form an essential part of the piece. The result is a single mesh of two painfully stitched together naked human bodies, welded together in an eternal, devouring kiss. “The Kiss-Incorporator” allows you to navigate the cavernous “ocean of blood” inside of this mesh, through a threedimensial soundscape of industrial and natural sound loops and towards the single eternally beating machine-heart, shared by both bodies.

This project was conceived before we had even thought about making games. It was very much a part of our romantic episode with Entropy8Zuper! The body scans that were the basis for the mesh in the piece, were part of a session we did for another piece, entitled Eden.Garden, which was commissioned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and is now gathering dust on their server. It featured Auriea and I in the roles of Eve and Adam, hence the attire, or lack thereof.

Get The Kiss here!


(click for a huge-ish version of this ;))

Happy new year to all who may be reading our blog! Thank you for your thoughts and comments, here and in the forums, over the last year! And big love to all who play The Endless Forest, you’ve made it a wonderful adventure to work on and play in!

An 8 themed card for 2008. I’m hoping that this will be a portend, may we get that project back on track this year!

Tales of Tale of Tales of 2007

2007 has been a very full year, here at Tale of Tales.

Game Developers Conference Museo Tamayo

We crossed the Atlantic Ocean twice. After over 5 years of personal boycott against traveling to the USA, we flew over “for business” to participate in the Game Developers Conference in San Francsico. We showed The Endless Forest and a teaser for The Path in the BGIn booth on the exhibition floor. It was the first time we attended the American GDC. In August we crossed the ocean again, but this time with the much more pleasant destination of Mexico City, where we helped set up our first ever solo exhibition in Museo Tamayo. On the way back, we met with Jarboe, The Path’s music composer, in her black crow’s nest in Atlanta.

The Path demo prototype alpha 1 The Path demo alpha 2

The Path was our main focus this year. In January we implemented Drama Princess in the prototype of what was then still called 144. This marked the beginning of the real preproduction period. In May we had a first playable prototype for internal evaluation. And in October we submitted a second one with revised interaction design to the Independent Games Festival. In December The Path was selected in the “Excellence in Visual Art” category of the festival.
In November, CultuurInvest granted us a loan for the production of The Path. Realizing that there was this large chunk of money that we have to pay back, forced us to take the commercial aspect of the project a lot more seriously. This lead to the decision to release The Path via retail as well, and not just through digital download.

This very blog was started in February 2007. It was a big step for us because it signified our official acceptance, if reluctantly, of “web 2.0” after extensive nostalgia for the good old web of the 1990s that we still miss dearly to this very day. But the blog has been good to us. It allowed us to share our ideas about game design with the world and doubled the amount of visits to our website. In August, 36,000 people vistited this website, a personal record.
The most popular blog posts were Good games, bad games, ugly games, Games journalists and The New Games, Player-created gameplay, our interview with American McGee and the controversial Ten reasons why computer games are not games.

The Endless Forest Phase Three Day of the Dead in The Endless Forest

The Endless Forest continued to grow as well. We proudly crossed the 10,000 players mark in January, only to cross the 20,000 players mark in October, after releasing Phase Three of the project in September (almost exactly 2 years after the release of Phase One). There were several days when over 300 registered players visited the forest, one day even over 500. In November, the Forest turned dark and misty in celebration of Halloween.
Throughout the year, The Endless Forest was also on display in several art exhibitions around the world. There was the big Gameworld exhibition in Spain, curated by Carl Goodman and Daphne Dragona. And there was Rasa’s traveling Pixel Me exhibition for teenagers. There was the show in Mexico city, another one in Novi Sad, Serbia, one in Lleida in Spain, and in Lancaster, UK. We even showed the game in our home city of Gent, Belgium, at the birthday party of Vooruit.

2007 was also the year of Indiecade, with shows in US and the UK where 8 and The Endless Forest were on display.

The Kiss: Incorporator Vernanimalcula

In November, we remade a 2001 piece entitled The Kiss:Incorporator for a Muhka-curated exhibition in the Flemish Parliament (right in the middle of that funny Belgian government crisis). And in the beginning of the year, we released our first piece of corporate art: a screensaver called Vernanimalcula for the National Bank of Belgium.

The Path in Edge magazine Game Connection 2007

In 2007, we had several interesting contacts with the games industry. The double spread feature about The Path in Edge magazine is certainly a highlight. But our personal conversations with people from Steam, Sony, Nintendo and Ubisoft made a big impression as well. Not to mention the marathon meetings at the Game Connection in Lyon with Electronic Arts, Microsoft, THQ, DTP, Buka, 1C, Playlogic and many more.

All of this setting us up for a wild ride through 2008!…

Happy New Year!