Thursday, 15 June 2017

Blackenrock Late Summer + Updated Map + Gamescom


Good News (for a change)! Blackenrock (TLC2) is coming late Summer, after a lifetime of stop/starts.

Currently the game resides on Steam, but boxed copies will be available too, if we get our timings right. Other digital stores are likely too. Also, if you're a preview writer, or want to feature the game, do let me or Iceberg Interactive know. The latter is best, as they are the official publisher, so get in touch! ;-)


I'm looking to push for a few localisations for the game, because our last game release only had one! It was a good one though, thank goodness. It was only subtitles and the in-game gfx, but it looked nice and was made and tested very well. The 'half localisation' is much cheaper than a full vocal cast translation (obviously!). So, I believe there should be a few languages, at least. A good subtitle translation can go a long way. So, make some noise if you want an official translation in your language, as sometimes they just don't happen. Or worse, they do, and never get released.

Case Point: I heard from someone recently offering to translate TLC1 for me, in to Czech. A bit ironic, as a Czech version WAS made, but it seems to have disappeared without trace. It's a shame, 'cos it was finished. It just never saw the light of day.


I'm at the play end of Gamescon this year; but all play and no work makes me poor, so I'm looking to extend my dates backwards. So, if you see me (I'll be wearing Nigel's cap), do say hello and DEMAND some answers! Or, better still, come and have a play!

Also Lost Crown related, the (very) old interactive map was updated, using Google Maps, to include all the new locations. It's handy if you are doing the Crown Trail, or if you just fancy seeing what the places look like in 'real life'.




Thursday, 5 January 2017

Dark Fall - Storm Warning - A look at British Piers

Here's a couple screens from the next Dark Fall game, Storm Warning, as well as some shots from 'behind the scenes'.

Rusting and ruined, the pier still has a bit of charm.
Lots of memories of Hastings Pier are/will be evident in the new game, which has a certain level of nostalgia infused throughout. Pier fans may recognise the ironwork from Penarth Pier, in South Wales. I didn't nick them, honest!, but recreated the style after visiting the pier a couple of years ago.

Penarth Pier, South Wales

In the middle of nowhere.
There's also quite a lot of Brighton's old West Pier in Storm Warning. West Pier collapsed in the 00's, but there's loads of photos online, as well as a few YouTube video tours. It looked very cool, back then, feeling quite ghostly and decrepit. I'm trying to summon a similar feeling, especially during day time scenes. Romance rather than terror, during the day at least. Night time, when the storm sets in... that's when the horrors come out.

The scissors are back... they have some trimming to do.
We've been to a few piers, on the way to making this game. It makes sense to visit the source material, as I'm a bit lazy when it comes to reinventing the wheel. If it was good enough for the Victorians, then it's good enough for me. Unfortunately, West Pier and Hastings are no more, but Penarth and Paignton are good examples of what I was after. Both are quite a bit smaller than Bazalgette's, but they are perfectly formed. Paignton had a big facelift recently, leaning more towards a retro classic look, which was great. We had good fun during Storm Barbara, last month!

video

STORM WARNING - in this case, Storm Barbara 23rd December

There are a few arcades, here in Looe, one of which is quite a cavern of noise, lights and dodgy prizes, so nothing has really changed since the 80's. That is the last time the Bazalgette Pier was open, before being cosed for good. No-one wanted the responsibility, after what happened. Since then it's passed between several agents and council authorities, but to no avail. The pier will fall, lost forever, if an owner/descendant is not found. Perhaps that person is you?

Bingo! Bazalgette's last attempt to lure them in, back in 1988.
Be seeing you.

Jonathan

DF4 - Storm Warning - Take a stroll along the pier...



Dark Fall - Storm Warning

We have made great progress on Dark Fall 4 over the Christmas period. Now officially called Dark Fall - Storm Warning, the new ghost hunting adventure is looking and sounding super, in full 3D. The game is set on a faithful recreation of the Bazalgette Pier, on the Dorset coast, with an emphasis on the paranormal and lingering nostalgia. In terms of tone, it's most like Dark Fall 1, with a mystery to solve, while exploring the beautiful, but derelict ruins of an old Victorian setting.



Older readers (!!) will remember my interest in a Dark Fall pier game from a few years back. Hastings Pier had just been destroyed by fire, an arson attack, which was very miserable. I have very fond memories of the pier, from childhood, so the new game is infused with my own nostalgia, rose tinted by time and saddened by the truth of the piers demise. It's a perfect place to set a Dark Fall game. The ghosts are still out there, you see, waiting on the pier. An 'anniversary haunting' if ever there was one.

Ghost Hunt - Bazalgette Pier, 2005

http://www.darklingroom.co.uk/darkfallgames/darkfall4/ghosthunt/bazalgettepierghosthunt.htm


A group of (strangely familiar) ghost-hunters took part in a 'less than legal' experiment on the Bazalgette Pier, back in 2005. There are few documents or evidence files, but what does exist is pretty creepy: evps, poltergeist activity and an impressive time slip (my favourite).

Take a look.

2017 - Line up

Blackenrock is up first (sorry! I had kidney stone issues in December), then Shadow Tor's 'Bracken Tor' (now a more logical follow up to Barrow Hill, thanks to Matt's 'The Dark Path'). We really must get the older productions out, and done, before DF4 can have its big splash, but it's certainly something to look forward to. If you like ghost stories, old abandoned places and adventure games then you're in for a cool spooky experience. It's the sort of game that I wish there was more of, as a lot of the supernatural games fall back on demons, gore and weapons. 

Lost and now found: old contact sheets show paranormal phenomena
DF4 is all about experiments and time-slips, with a strong sense of dread rather than outright horror. But, it's still going to have plenty of spooky bits, very much like the first Dark Fall. You could see this new 3D instalment as a re-launch of the series, using new technology with an eye on PCs and consoles. It's time to face the future, by diving into the past. 

Jonathan

Friday, 22 April 2016

RAF Davidstow Moor -Texture Harvesting

I really enjoyed my afternoon in North Cornwall, yesterday. The mission was to gather some new textures for Dark Fall 4. To build a pier, I need a lot of rusting metals, rotting wood and... well, anything, as long as it's decaying. The mission was a successful one, I'm pleased to say.

The abandoned WWII airbase at Davidstow Moor was a perfect place to go, especially on a dull day (shadows are the enemy of any budding texture artist).


The area is huge; a massive expanse of open pasture, with views out to Rough Tor, Brown Willy and... not much else. It's a place that reminded me of Denge Marsh, at Dungerness. That barren place has a nuclear power station, breaking the sky line, where as Davidstow has, you may have guessed, has the 'Davidstow Cheese Factory' at it's centre.


The other place that sprang to mind, while meandering the rancid old bunkers, was The Zone, from the Stalker games. I liked that world a lot; a fetish for rust, rot and abandoned buildings certainly helped, so the air field was a quite cool to explore. Like a real-world version, without the radiation (I hope!), and no Snorks.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Blackenrock Trailer and Steam Listing go live!



"...the Crown was only the beginning…"



I took inspiration, for the trailer, from a Pathe News clip featuring real-world Polperro (in-game Saxton). It's a crackling, fuzzy old film, from a bygone time, with that curious vocal delivery and script that seems to define an era. It's fun to browse those old clips, especially those featuring village life or a haunting! I did, initially, think about splicing the old Pathe clip with Nigel's message, but decided to film a new one, in-game! It makes the trailer a very curious thing; a period film for a town that doesn't exist. Or does it?

Pathe News feature: Polperro 


The new theme is something special too. A folky update of the original drifting soundscape (vocals by Jonathan Geer), with guitar by Ben Gammons. There's a pace, a mood, to the new theme. If the first game was a dense mystery, the new one is more like an old TV thriller. Quite a few of the existing characters appear, in the video, lost in the fog, like Nanny Noah, Bob Tawny, Lucy Reubans... et all.



But, there are also new faces, characters you have yet to meet. It's a long story, Blackenrock, with all the characters having individual stories, motivations and development. In many ways, it's more like a paranormal Soap Opera, or Supernatural serial, with all the dramatic twists I could muster.

Jonathan



Friday, 5 February 2016

January Blues... and lots of grey.

Mid January, it was a pleasure to contribute to an article for The Telegraph, especially an article about games, rather than trying to sell them or promote directly. The article is about how personal experience manifests itself in games, whether it be part autobiography, tone or, in my case, inspired by my adventures in Cornwall.

The Telegraph


 --

Meanwhile, in the darkest cell of HM Sedgemarsh Prison, the Catnapper is planning to wake the dead...

Jemima's version of the Turin Shroud, will she be back? From the 'dead?!


Finishing up work, at last. January work swelled by my desire to include H.M.Sedgemarsh. I wanted Gruel and Jemima back in Business. It's been fun to build a whole prison, based on the old jails at Lancaster and Bodmin, with a whiff of neglect.

Nigel Danvers wonders what life would be like, banged up in Sedgemarsh Prison.


Not long now Ghost-Hunters!

Jonathan



Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Laptop and Widescreen 'Midnight Horror' now available. Goodbye black bars!



Midnight Horror has been updated (again!) to include a new 16:9 monitor ratio option.


Laptop and Widescreen Version available from me, here.

https://shadow-tor-studios.dpdcart.com/cart/add?product_id=121648&method_id=129535 


What does that mean?

Laptops, wide-screen monitors and big screens can now display the game FULL SCREEN with no black bars left and right. Also, laptop owners, with a maximum height resolution of 720 can also now play the game. 

Sorry it took a bit longer than expected, but we decided to 'kill two birds with one stone'. It also means Blackenrock is now being converted to the new system, which suits all, saving complications later on.

This new version is available from me, DRM-Free + Soundtrack, with a STEAM update planned for next weekend.

Why the sudden change?

It became obvious, after launching Midnight Horror, that no-one (well, it seemed like no-one) uses 4:3 monitors or TV's anymore. I must be really old fashioned, because my eyes still see my work in 4:3. It's been quite liberating to ditch the old ratio, and go BIG full-screen. 



I played through the game with my parents, last weekend, on a widescreen, using the brand new STEAM Controller. This might sound silly, but it felt like I was playing a proper big game. The picture was huge, crisp and full of detail, and not using the mouse stopped the experience feeling like work. Sitting on the sofa is much nicer than sitting at a desk. 

So, my plan is to look into adding more controller functions. Quitting close-ups, puzzles and converse with a controller button is quicker than scrolling across screen, menu should come up when you press 'start' and so forth. Also, don't panic 'mouse' fans; the games won't be ditching the older control methods. It'll just be good to offer a more modern alternative.

And next…

The plan is to release Blackenrock ASAP, December or New Year, depending on how fast we work.
After that, I'd like to release GHOST/watch, as it's been lingering (hauntingly!) on my machine for over a year. It's probably one of the weirdest casual game experiences you'll play, with an emphasis on 'expect the unexpected' when spying on ghosts.

Also in the New Year, there's Shadow Tor's 'Bracken Tor' to release. If you're a fan of classic point'n'click games like 'Shivers', 'Myst' or, in fact, 'Barrow Hill', you are in for a treat. It's a puzzle driven, spooky experience, like the first game.

After that, I'm off down the old seaside pier for some creepy ghost-hunting fun. Dark Fall 4 will be in full 3D, using Unity 5 to present something both familiar but totally new; lots of nostalgia, plenty of exploring (quite UrbEx in places) and tons of puzzles. I love puzzles, they stop games being Walking Simulators. I've got nothing against virtual strolling, but with noting to actually 'do', I find it hard to justify the time wasted spent looking around a virtual space. Maybe if I had more time? Who knows, but DF4 is narrative and puzzle driven, with an emphasis on ghost-hunting, detective skills and physical exploration. I'm really looking forward to it.

Then, after that (!!!), I guess Hallowed Isle is still lingering in the mist. Two Crown games in a year sounds like a bit much, after years of nought, but they're quite different games, in terms of story and tone. I know this because I've got 5 years worth of voice-acting on my hard-drives! There's a lot to get through, and produce, so… without further ado, I'm going to get back to it!

Thanks for reading, and to those who enjoyed Midnight Horror a bigger thanks! It was great to finally beat the curse of Halloween and move on. 

Jonathan