Saturday, 23 May 2015

From the past to the future…

Here's a new shot, from The Last Crown - Blackenrock, for #screenshotsaturday

Ulcombe Church, along the coast path from Saxton, where Nigel Danvers will face a dilemma. And a ghost.

An eclectic work-load at present. I always think this part of a game dev project is a little like moving house; most things, important things, are neatly packed and catalogued, but there's always a random collection of odds and ends, which defy categorisation. This is the moment the LISTS get deployed. Lists of everything. Missing sounds! Missing gfx! Missing cursors! Missing characters! Yes, there's quite a bit of wrapping up, but it's steady, satisfying work, with the finish line in sight.

Hello to new friends. Sorry for radio silence this last week. Got my head down, completing a lot of script to screen.

Looking towards the future, both the Crown and the Dark Fall games will benefit from some brand new, totally unique art objects. A new found fascination with 3D objects is partly inspired by the Ethan Carter blogs, but mostly from following Matt Clark [Shadow Tor Studios] around the moor scanning standing stones and barrows (thanks Matt!).

The image shows the remains of the Gold Mine, on Bodmin Moor, with Twelve Men's Tor in the far distance. A day on the moor is never disappointing, especially in dramatic weather. Drama that day was supplied by clouds and unbroken views for several miles.

The archaeology work is great, and very scientific, but I like fiction! So, it'll be interesting to photograph some well known, maybe even over familiar, sites and give them a new, dramatic setting in an adventure game. The Crown games will remain 2.5D till the (very) bitter end, but the next Dark Fall is 3D, with eyes on VR, so I need beautiful and creepy things to look at. As a one-man-band most of the time, it's really daunting to imagine creating a whole worlds worth of STUFF. So, let's see what the real world can offer…

Captured some lovely urns today, a lot of detail you don't notice with the eye.

We've been experimenting with 3d props a lot in recent weeks. It's great to be able to pick a suitable object, from landscape and buildings, and capture it for use in narrative. It sounds like a cliché, but you really do see more detail once an item is singled out, so dramatically, from the world.

I'm looking to travel a bit, next year, and capture some stuff. 3D scanning is really good now.
After some basic experiments, capturing urns and statues at Mount Edgcumbe, we've moved onto bigger things. Whole chunks of landscape, like the rocks at Hannafore (Pinnacles, TLC1), and detailed statues and memorials like Old Nick (Sir John Colshull, Duloe) are really impressive in 3D. It's also a bit creepy too, to know that they're real items and places. I don’t know why, but I find it quite eerie. 

3d scans allow me to present familar objects from any angle, both these views are impossible with a convential cam.

Beautiful day in Looe. Spot of gardening while Old Nick sorts out his 22 million pixels. Then, poly crunch time!

It goes without saying that you really can see things from a different perspective, with a 3D version. As the DOP, I suppose, on the TLC games I am always looking to photograph things to maximise impact, to create something picturesque. So, being able to jiggle things around, and transpose objects is a real plus.

Matthew, where is Charlotte, and wherefore has she flown? For you walked out together, and now are come alone.

Lastly, I've let this pic slip to the bottom, as I thought I'd include the poem/ballad that inspired it. It’s a dark tale of murder, on the Cornish Moors, beautifully written with a few dark twists. I know the Ager and Crown legends are Anglia based, and Cornwall has NOTHING to do with it, but I'm being honest when I say that Emily's unfortunate death, in the Saxton Caverns TLC1, was very much influenced by this sorry tale. It never fails to give me goosebumps.

The Ballad of Charlotte Dymond

It was a Sunday evening
And in the April rain
That Charlotte went from our house
And never came home again.

Her shawl of diamond redcloth,
She wore a yellow gown,
She carried the green gauze handkerchief
She bought in Bodmin town.

About her throat her necklace
And in her purse her pay:
The four silver shillings
She had at Lady Day.

In her purse four shillings
And in her purse her pride
As she walked out one evening
Her lover at her side.

Out beyond the marshes
Where the cattle stand,
With her crippled lover
Limping at her hand.

Charlotte walked with Matthew
Through the Sunday mist,
Never saw the razor
Waiting at his wrist.

Charlotte she was gentle
But they found her in the flood
Her Sunday beads among the reeds
Beaming with her blood.

Matthew, where is Charlotte,
And wherefore has she flown?
For you walked out together
And now are come alone.

Why do you not answer,
Stand silent as a tree,
Your Sunday worsted stockings
All muddied to the knee?

Why do you mend your breast-pleat
With a rusty needle’s thread
And fall with fears and silent tears
Upon your single bed?

Why do you sit so sadly
Your face the colour of clay
And with a green gauze handkerchief
Wipe the sour sweat away?

Has she gone to Blisland
To seek an easier place,
And is that why your eye won’t dry
And blinds your bleaching face?

Take me home! cried Charlotte,
‘I lie here in the pit!
A red rock rests upon my breasts
And my naked neck is split!’

Her skin was soft as sable,
Her eyes were wide as day,
Her hair was blacker than the bog
That licked her life away;

Her cheeks were made out of honey,
Her throat was made of flame
Where all around the razor
Had written its red name.

As Matthew turned at Plymouth
About the tilting Hoe,
The cold and cunning constable
Up to him did go:

‘I’ve come to take you, Matthew,
Unto the magistrate’s door.
Come quiet now, you pretty poor boy,
And you must know what for.’

‘She is as pure,’ cried Matthew,
‘As is the early dew,
Her only stain it is the pain
That round her neck I drew!

‘She is as guiltless as the day
She sprang forth from her mother.
The only sin upon her skin
Is that she loved another.’

They took him off to Bodmin,
They pulled the prison bell,
They sent him smartly up to heaven
And dropped him down to hell.

All through the granite kingdom
And on its travelling airs
Ask which of these two lovers
The most deserves your prayers.

And your steel heart search, Stranger,
That you may pause and pray
For lovers who come not to bed
Upon their wedding day,

But lie upon the moorland
Where stands the sacred snow
Above the breathing river,
And the salt sea-winds go.

Charles Causley


Looe Island, today (May 23rd)

Friday, 10 April 2015

Scrapbook Digest - Clippings, Twitter, Blackenrock, Rendlesham UFO's.

 It's Spring; as the barren winter earth comes back to life, a deathly moan is heard across the land...

....when is Blackenrock coming out?

Friday night, working hard, but this chap is terrible company. Moan, moan, moan.

Here's a digest of recent activity, for those who don't use Twitter (or don't check it often). Some bits and bobs: quick snaps and ramblings, mostly game related, (most pics being WIP camera snaps, while I work, rather than official screens).

 ·  Nov 10
These gravestones may confuse anyone who goes looking for them.

Game-wise, things are looking good for next season or, but have a sneaking suspicion that I might actually have a game out for Halloween.

Argh!! I've been here before, I know, but I've got two amazing tech heads helping with some of the programming. If I'm honest, I'll admit that programming takes me ages. I don't have the right brain for it.

 ·  Nov 17
Anyone use one of these, back in early 80's? I had fun re-creating one as a haunted 'ham radio'.

Don't get me wrong, I can script functions in various languages, and have done for over two decades, but I'm slow and chaotic. So, it's been wonderful to see some ACTUAL scenes coming together, at last! I rendered the artwork/backgrounds for some scenes over 3 years ago, so it's been uplifting and encouraging to finally see some action.

 ·  Jan 6
Work wise, I find myself near a well remembered spot. It still smells of fish cuts and skinned cats.
 ·  Jan 6
Activate foliage!
 ·  Jan 6
Almost finished. Layered into a scene, now called 'Lifebuoy Ledge', with the obligatory fog. Seagulls & drizzle next.

This game may have taken an age, but I'm chuffed to bits with it. Re-building Saxton from Scratch has been no small task, enjoyable yes, but very time consuming. The plus side is, though, that once built, finished, I have it to use for ALL the sequels (Blackenrock, Hallowed Isle and First Crown, + any DLC's).

 ·  Jan 15
Lashing it down outside; a good afternoon for making moody portraits of Saxton serial killers.

The characters have also taken a while, and cost a pretty penny as well. All worth it, as they are going to be on screen for the next two years, with meaty hours of dialogue recorded in advance. There's a lot of story to tell, as well as Side Quests and mini-games etc etc. I've mostly utilised voice talent from Cornwall, which has been fun. Don't mock, you'd be surprised how many budding actors and ex-drama students there are in a small, picturesque Harbour Town. There are three Theatre groups and a Drama Academy at the school.

 ·  Jan 21
Meanwhile, back in Cornwall, is doing exciting things with the Corvus family. Jackdaws specifically.

Something that struck me, last year after another TOTAL FAIL Halloween, was the simple fact that I'm never going to finish all the games I want to if I don't hurry up! I mean it. I'd be dead before I get to make Dark Fall 13. So, what to do? Get help and move-on seems to be the idea. I'd like to employ some help with the next title (most likely Dark Fall 4, set on a fictionalised derelict Victorian seaside Pier, or Codename: Rendlesham, see below). 

Russet. A quiet moment at Ulcombe. He's a man of few/loads of words. He's salt of the earth, they say.

Right now, I can see where I can outsource some jobs, so I can focus on the bigger picture. But, it's early days; I've got to finish TLC2 first, then look into things with a clear mind and, hopefully, some cash to fund the next title.

 ·  Feb 5
Prop making today. A mixed bag, including engagement rings and a noisemaker. Both very useful, on/in the right hands.
 ·  Feb 13
Hello to new followers! Do help yourself to a jam tart, freshly rendered today. 

He's alive! The Birdman returns, after a thrifty experiment with an online asset.
Had to add a Y.O.C badge as I lost mine, years ago. The local ornithology group was run by Mrs.Bird. She was fab!

Looking into the future, (I used seagull entrails), I'm also rather keen to make an 'alien' game, set around Rendlesham Forest, famous for the 'Incident' in the 80's. I've been fascinated by the story since it happened. But, my interest was piqued back in my London days, when I got chatting to an R.A.F radio operator (in a sleazy basement bar in Soho). I asked, blatantly, whether there was any truth in the story and whether the UK had been visited by aliens. 

"Ask instead if I've NOT encountered a UFO" came the initial reply.

Recent Freedom of Information releases, and several documentaries, have made our/the exchange less interesting, but it's still pretty cool. To get back on the N38 bus, that night, and travel home, knowing that someone has just told me that UFO's exist was genuinely weird.

Of course, there is every chance I was having my leg pulled, or it seemed a good opportunity to wind up a sci-fi fan. But, I don't care. It's just too interesting.

So… Rendlesham. Game-wise, I'd be looking to avoid making a Slender-clone. Obviously, there would have to be some 'running through the pines chased by bright lights', but that's more of an X-Files thing anyway. Detective stories always work for me, especially if conspiracies are involved, and the real-world setting of East Anglia would be a spooky delight to recreate in Unity3D or, maybe, the Unreal engine. I'm looking at both in my spare time.

 ·  Mar 12
Forest, sandwiched between the two military/aircraft bases RAF Bentwaters and Woodbridge.

But, after from being bothered by strange lights, I'd also be looking at the wider area, beyond Rendlesham Forest. There are brilliant game locations just waiting to be built: the creepy 'Nuclear Pagodas', quaint OrfordnessLighthouse, the barren shingle beaches, the misty marshes, two air force bases and the imposing Orford Castle. That's enough locations to make a super game.
So, if you're interested in joining me on the project, come Winter, please let me know via Twitter or LinkedIn. A dedicated field trip to the area is planned, for texture capturing, 3D scanning (thanks Matt!) and foley.

I've got an online space, too, where I deposit ideas, mock-ups, photos and documents. It will be busting at it's digital seams very soon!!


P.s. Currently finishing off the Sleep Walker train. We'll be seeing the interior this time round!

A period train carriage interior, ready for awkward conversations. I've wanted to build one of these for decades!