Monday, 3 November 2008

Halloween Horrors, Time Travel Phones, Fire and Pigeon Famine.

Crikey, what a month! It's been a while since I jotted down any blog entries, so I'll dig through the murky cupboard, that I call my memories, and dig out some news from Gorgeous Cornwall and the Darkling Room.


Blaze Rips Through Harbour Town

Arsonists destroyed some of Looe's (rather ugly) fishing huts, a few days ago. I was playing a shooter on the PS2, at the time, and only noticed the whizzes, bangs and explosions during a level load. Ha ha! I had been impressed by the game soundtrack, up until that point! So, taking a look outside, it was alarming to see a huge blaze making its way down the Quay Side. I grabbed the camera, and rushed out to get some pics and video.

Click to read Article.

It was a nasty blaze too; several propane gas cylinders went up, creating (what I can only describe as) a huge Bunsen Burner in the sky! The heat was rather intense, and the flames threatened to spread to the nearby restaurants, pubs and homes. (I was very worried. I'd booked my Christmas Day lunch in one of them!) Anyway. The fire crew from Looe were soon on the scene, and the flames were extinguished. Watching the gas-masked figures wander among the smoke shrouded buildings was incredibly atmospheric. Like something out of the Blitz. Some of my photos made in into the morning papers, which was nice. Click the image above for the article, and I've uploaded a video to YouTube, for pyro-fans. Actually, I can't joke too much, as there's been another fire...just outside, perhaps Looe has a resident arsonist?

Dark Fall III Ideas

Game news; Dark Fall III progresses in ways which surprise even me. There's a real creepy feeling to many of the locations, which comes from a subtle, and specific use of sound and lighting (or lack of lighting). Dig out those torches, flash lights and matches, as the next game is as black as a November night. The games are called Dark Fall, after all. Lots of time travel elements too, which I love. Although, the inspiration can come from surprising places, and events...

...I dropped my mobile, the other day, while sneaking through the back streets of town. Blasted thing now has a fatally cracked LCD screen. I've got a picture of Talland Bay Church, as a 'wallpaper', for some strange reason. Some will know the place from The Lost Crown. It was Ulcombe Church. Weird thing is, each facet of the LCD has turned a different colour , or tone. There's a sepia section, a black and white section and a garish, full-colour section. The effect is pretty strange, and illustrates something that I've always been interested in; fractured time. Locations which have no fixed time period. An obvious example, from the game fiction, would be somewhere like Dowerton Hotel, from Dark Fall 1. Is the place firmly based in the 2000's, (when the fiction was set), or do certain rooms remain operational from the 1940's? Not so much a haunted location, more of a time-slip, in which the player may appear ghost-like to the long dead game characters.

Some paranormal enthusiasts have theorised that haunted locations do not have ghosts; instead, we see through cracks in time, and catch glimpses of people going about their everyday business, oblivious to our observations. It would explain why some ghosts appear to walk through doors, or walls, and ignore the shrieks of those who see them, or the persistent questions of the celebratory psychic. Do we also appear to those in the past? As gods, angels or demons? We must look as strange to the people of the past, as they do to us. Maybe even more so... for an interest in ghosts and the paranormal is fashionable, right now, whereas you could be burnt alive for such visions during the nastier periods of history.

As a theory it is an exciting one, and fits the Dark Fall mould. The first character you meet, in that train tunnel in Dark Fall 1, is unsure which one of the two of you should be there! It works particularly well in old locations, which haven't 'moved on' for some time. The old personalities of the place have yet to be replaced by newer, modern personalities. It might explain why old locations seem to boast more impressive paranormal events, rather than the local supermarket, or bus stop. But, we should always keep in mind what once stood on that location, long before the supermarket. Great Britain is a great place to explore those themes, given how tiny the place is, in comparison to the landmass of mainland Europe or the US. Virtually the whole landscape of Britain has been moulded and changed by human behaviour. Even vast, wild areas like the moors, or the Lake District are, essentially, unnatural.
People have been there. Lived there and died there. That means, to some extent, that the whole Island could be haunted by those who went before. Which brings me to Halloween...

Local Interest

It looks like Halloween stirred up some local interest in The Lost Crown! Great stuff. It did seem a bit of shame that the county had ignored the games release, back in July. Especially given the obvious, and vital, role played by Cornwall, in the games inspiration and creation. So, it was great to answer a few questions, and see the game appear in the press. Simon Parker, of The Western Morning News was the most interested. He really had no idea that adventure games existed. Like many non-gamers, he presumed it was all knockers, cars, nazis and killing. (Well, ahem, we do play quite a few of those, don't we!) So, I was more than happy to witter on about adventure games for an hour or so, and put the record straight. The finished article is good fun, although I'm not sure all my quotes are my own! No matter, the result was several emails from local people, looking to purchase the game, or sell it in their stores. Excellent. There will now be a local stockist for The Lost Crown based in Polperro...the village which started it all. About time too!

Click to Read Article.

A second article appeared in, the wonderfully titled, The Cornish Guardian. Makes it sound like an old Celtic god, don't you think? It's a nice concise article (again, Click the image), written by a Looe-vian, the daughter of our local ferryman. Which was nice. A few people have stopped me in the street, to say 'well done', which I'm not too proud to say is a marvellous experience. It's great to know you are liked by your local community, especially when you rely on them for inspiration! I'm still hiding from the 'real' Mr.Gruel though...dreading the day when someone tells him about my game. He really is like him, you know. The other day, I watched him tell his little spanial dog that it was "far too cold and wet to play outside, no, won't change my mind, little one...far too wet and cold for you!". Problem was, the spanial dog was a ceramic statue! It's a genuine antique. And there's Mr.Gruel chatting away to it. Creepy!

Click to read Article.

Also, thanks to Richard Clark, for pointing out a genuine 'Missing Cats Mystery'. Over 50 moggies have vanished! No remains have been found, but some collars have been located. Exactly the same MO as Mr.Gruel.

Here's the news item:

The RSPCA is investigating the mysterious disappearance of a large number of cats in a town dubbed the Purr-muda Triangle.

More than 40 pet cats are reported to have vanished from homes in Stourbridge, West Midlands, over the last eight years.

The RSPCA has been investigating the disappearances but said to date, no cat remains had been found.


HALLOWEEN; A Sub-Urban Nightmare!

This Haunted Land were invited to investigate an unusual location, this year. By unusual I mean mundane; a suburban house, built in the 1980's. Obviously, it's not the most traditional of ghostly locations, and I was quite prepared for disappointment. How silly of me.

It was great to investigate something a bit different, to be honest. THL fans will know that I love haunted forests, Inns and castles...but, this was a bit quirky. A poltergeist case in Snores-ville. A small, pleasant cul-de-sac of houses, built in the early 80's, which looks immaculate (read: Boring) and totally safe; a haven for families, the elderly and first time buyers. So, you can image my surprise to hear from a young family, who were honestly claiming that their lives were being terrorised by a poltergeist.

Click to learn about GhostWatch 2.

Many of you will be familiar with films such as Urban Ghost Story, or Poltergeist itself, when it comes to cases such as this one. Paranormal activity is not unheard of, in fact and fiction, in the safe zone of suburbia. So, the opportunity to investigate the activity was a brilliant one, and will be written up for THL in the near future. I can't say what happened, just yet, but you will notice that we are still alive, and news of 'Ghosts Are Real' has yet to appear in the, there were no major revelations. But, there was enough to inspire, scare and shock, so watch this space. Much of the recorded material was uploaded directly from our mobile unit, which got me thinking...what would be needed to do a 'live broadcast'. I've always loved the idea of the live paranormal investigation, ever since being spooked by GhostWatch, back in the 90's.

Click to learn about GhostWatch 2.

GhostWatch was a TV show, a screenplay, created to fool the audience into thinking they were watching a genuine investigation, which goes horribly wrong (or horribly 'right', if the intention was to find ghosts), and broadcast to a gullible public on BBC1. At primetime! Great stuff. Anyway. It stayed with me, throughout my teens, and twenties, and was there, in the back of my mind, when creating the characters of Polly White and Nigel Danvers, for Dark Fall 1. I think they were supposed to do a 'Live' radio broadcast on the night of the event (April 27th), but fail to do so for reasons made clear in the fiction. It's a shame they didn't get to make that broadcast, as I would have loved to hear it. I think an audio-only GhostHunt could be quite chilling...far more effective than the pompous, studio excesses of MostHaunted, which are more about ego than supernature. Don't get me wrong, I do find MostHaunted entertaining, but I gave up hoping to see paranormal evidence a long time ago...right about the same time as their 'resident sceptic' started making money from the MostHaunted Ghost-Hunting Board Game, and other such merchandising. (Ooops, sounds like envy!...moving swiftly on). Anyway. Again. I do like the idea of doing a 'Live' broadcast, for next Halloween. It could be an audio Stream, via the internet, or even a full colour, cast of thousands, TV all depends on the interest, the case and practicality. If anyone wants to get involved, swap some ideas, or Star in a Halloween Haunted Broadcast for Darkling Room then please get writing. I'm really excited about it, so I'm hoping something happens. The Suburban investigation, which I'll call The Hill View Haunting' generated some great clips (both audio and visual) and features several members of the team, and the owners of the locations. It could have made really interesting, anything is possible.

Quite a few visitors

I finally got round to placing a 'Hit Counter' on the Darkling Room website. To do so meant looking up, via my domain server, how many unique visitors I've had so far. Over a million and a half! That's crazy. I had no idea it was that many. I thought it would be in the 10's of thousands, based on interest in the games, but never expected that kind of figure. It really blew my socks off...and made me feel guilty for not updating the pages more often. It's something I will be looking into. But, a million and a half...can't believe that!

Pigeon Friends

Lastly, just a quick shout to my pigeon buddies, here on the Quay Side in Looe. There's two of them, and I promised I'd say 'hello', in pigeon language, so here goes...

"Cooo, coo, coooooo"

They've been pecking at my window, and nibbling my sandwich crusts, for over three seasons. They arn't half plump now! Thing is, they now know when I'm indoors...even with the blind down! How to they know these things? Can they smell me? Hear me?

Whenever I creep into the room, there's this mad pecking and scraping at the window, like a small Gremlin trying to ravage an unsuspecting Mogwai. With me being Mogwai, thank you very much. It makes me feel like a Zoo animal...a bit...a tiny bit...'cos I sit here in the dark, with the blinds drawn, hoping that the creatures don't come to watch me all day...what happened? When did the tables turn? What am I to do? I think they even have chicks now, in the roof. They'll be more of them soon... many more. I'm gonna need a bigger boat....

See you again soon. JB.