Friday, 26 February 2010

The Lost Souls - Find Awards!

There have been two awards for Lost Souls, which is wonderful news! I am especially pleased to receive the ‘Best Sound Design’ this year, as I feel a lot of work, by both myself and Ben Gammons, went into making Lost Souls as detailed and disturbing as possible.

Adventure Gamers Aggie Awards 2009 - 2010

The other award was for Best First Person Adventure! An amazing accolade, given how stiff the competition was this year. A quick glance around the forums reveals how many new adventure games were released last year, (including official boxed versions in the USA, something that has so-far eluded Lost Souls). It’s wonderful to see so many big games appearing, as some factions within the press STILL state the genre is dead. Same old, same old. But, with so many new, top notch productions titles in the pipeline, I hope the genre finally proves it is far from dead.

There seem to be quite a few ‘ghost-hunting adventures’ on the horizon, which is interesting to see. It is not hard to imagine the success of The Lost Crown has generated lots of interest in paranormal games, so I will be looking out for something spooky to play over the weekend. It’ll be really fun to see what others have done with the ‘traditional’ ghost-huinting gadgets, and whether they have bought anything new to the paranormal adventure scene. I’ll play with the lights ‘on’! ;)

Dark Fall - Lost Souls - Coming to Italy

Also, I wanted to mention the forthcoming EU versions of Lost Souls, which are about to be announced, or appear on shelves. First up is a fully translated Italian version of the game, published by the chaps at Adventures Planet! It’s a super translation, full of character and detail, which has been checked and double-checked. Call me daft, but the Italian version sounds so much MORE creepy than the original. Perhaps it has something to do with the latin accents, or intensity of the performances, but I felt goosebumps several times when building this new version. So, Italian fans will want to look out for this one, as I think it’s going to be my best Italian game yet!

Actually, that reminds me, I had a really good ‘telling off’ this week, by an Italian adventure fan, who found the opening scenes of Lost Souls far too nasty, and ‘Silent Hill’ like. I explained that the game was written to reflect some of the recent news items, appearing down here in Cornwall, but realised there’s little or no ‘making of’ material, for the game. I hope to correct that, quite soon, as there are loads of ‘real world’ stories to post, and illustrate how ‘usual’ some of the game content actually is.

Dark Fall - Lost Souls - Coming to Italy

For example, Mr.Bones’ revolting eating habits are based on the ‘Bodmin Badger Eater’ (seen in a BBC doco last year), and a strange, unsolved, case that shocked the good people of Callington, also last year; otters and local pets were found, nailed to trees in the woods, where satanic imagery was also to be seen, sprayed onto trees. I will add that Callington is also the home of ‘Ginsters’, the famous pasty production company…that doesn’t bear thinking about!

Or, how about the news item that greeted my arrival in Cornwall; ‘Warlock Beheaded by Cult’. Seriously. This guy had a small coven, who turned on him after he ‘placed hexes upon certain cult members’. They hacked off his head! Whatever next? Thinking about this makes me want to expand the ‘Horror in Cornwall’ page to include some of these 'real' stories. It could be a bit like Mulder's scrapbooks, but an online version. That way I’d have somewhere to refer to, and also send angry parents, whose teenage kids have been playing Lost Souls...and wetting the bed.


P.s. I found this teaser very interesting: Face The Horror


Saturday, 6 February 2010

Spring in Cornwall: Tis bright and luverly.

Early Spring for Cornwall.

Taking a walk down through Duloe, and Stocks Lane, this afternoon revealed Spring has come early to Cornwall. We managed to avoid the blizzards and snow fall this last Winter, which may explain why everything is sprouting into life, and the bird life is as lively as a bright May afternoon. The sun was warm, leaving long shadows across the landscape, with some hillsides still in total shadow; the sun has yet to touch those dark, damp places, where bracken is stirring into life, and snowdrops speckle the leaf mulch beneath the foot.

A Snow Drop on Stocks Lane

The loggers have thinned the Stocks Wood, so it is no longer the dark, thick pine forest it once was. Some will know these woods as ‘Carrion Woods’, from The Lost Crown, but may not recognise them at all. The trucks and diggers have made a terrible mess of the woods, and lane, carving away old stone walls to make paths for their diesel guzzling monsters.

The 'thinning' pines of Stocks Wood, near Causeland, Cornwall

I was reminded, while passing through, of those early scenes in Watership Down, where JCB’s appear as demonic beasts to the timid bunnies losing their home. But, you can’t be too negative, given that the woods have only been thinned, and not destroyed, so I hope the churned mud, broken walls and ugly plastic water pipes are hidden, in time, by the bracken, birches and reeds. Those plants may be sleeping, but today’s bright sun is bound to have warmed them into action.

A wonderful old post at Causeland Station, Cornwall

Further down the lane, the little train station at Causeland provided a welcome rest, and sit down (and a quick KitKat!). It’s a really pleasant spot, by the stream, and provides a good place to observe the hill, directly opposite. This is a place where Buzzards hunt, fox cubs play and the occasional young deer strays to nibble the fertile flora. We seem to have hundreds of Buzzards! I remember when they were a surprising, and unexpected sight, but not anymore! Pairs of birds swoop low over the fields, or soar above the treetops, no longer fearful of man, and quite happy to perch for a while, and let out one of those wonderful cries. It sounds a bit like an eagle, of the Nevada desert, and provides an eerie sound in the landscape. I can’t remember what the Cornish landscape sounded like, without that shrill cry. Quite haunting.

A knot in a gate post, Duloe, Cornwall

I also got to find some new locations, for The Last Crown. My plan, for the next few months, is to hunt around, and locate some cracking new places for Nigel, Lucy, (and Mr.Tibbs) to explore! I’ve found two great little locations, but feel I am only scratching the surface of what Cornwall has to offer. The plan, as of next week, is to write to the local papers, and request some suggestions from readers. It is likely, given the nature of the game, to interest those with haunted homes and businesses. There are quite a few…including old mills, bakeries and fallen farmsteads, so I think we can all look forward to seeing some lesser known locales, represented in-game, for all to enjoy, no matter what corner of the world you live in. I’ve always liked the idea of ‘virtual tourism’, dating back all the way to Myst, or even Mystery of Arkham Manor!, so the ‘Crown’ games are continuing a tradition, of sorts.

A ladybird emerges from a long winter sleep

I’d also like to get a lot more wildlife into the next game; birds, bugs and beasts! My aim would be to create some wildlife puzzles, as I’ve always appreciated a little education with my gaming, as long as it isn’t too obscure or academic. Identifying creatures in Riven was a great way of introducing the world, and marvel at how much detail and effort went into those early Myst games. There were animals in ‘Lost Crown’, but they were never part of any specific puzzles, or contributed much to the plot, so the aim would be to include more animal mythology and folklore, via Nanny Noah, Bob Tawny (with his Owlish name), and good ‘ol Mr.Russet. There was a lot of animal chatter from Russet, back in the first game, but it didn’t feed the story, and distracted away from the ‘big, black birds’ of Northfield Church. So, alot of stuff got snipped. Russet’s favourite animal is the badger…so loved, and so loathed…by the people of this countryside, in equel measure.

A tiny seedling stretches towards the sun, Stocks Lane, Cornwall

I think he felt some affinity with the old brocks and badgers, so it’s something to develop. Perhaps old Russet lives beneath ground, in his own little set. That’s a nice idea, and would make a lovely location for the game. Hmm, perhaps all the characters should have an animal with which they are associated? Cole Tawny, the dead son of Rose Noah and Bob Tawny, appeared throughout TLC1, in the form of a Grenanback Dragonfly, so it’s not such a jump to imagine all the characters having some form of animal spirit, hidden away inside them, but allowed to wander when no-one is looking, or night has fallen. A kind of ‘double life’. So, what creature would Professor Oogle be, I wonder? A mole? A bookworm? Or an old, wise owl. Ha! It’s going to be great fun thinking some of this stuff up, for use in-game. So, without further ado, I should get back to it.

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

The Sound of Dark Fall Itself, by the Lost Souls.

The Dark Fall – Lost Souls Soundtrack CD has finally been finalised. It’s a 23 track collection of music from the latest game, by myself and composer Ben Gammons. The styles are mixed, just like the game itself, so expect some nostalgic soundscapes, urban horrors, and of course, little Amy herself, singing some of her little ditties. It’s a surprisingly coherent listen, given that two of us worked on the soundtrack, and surprisingly relaxing!

My favourite are:

Power Returns: A kind of broken remix of the original Dark Fall theme; back in 2000, it was pleasant piece of harp music, by my friend Kevin MacNaughton, where as ‘Lost Souls’ sees the thing bent into a badly tuned nightmare, all broken plucks and discordant twangs. It’s not an uncomfortable listen; it’s just very appropriate for Lost Souls. Listen out for the whispered words, too!

The Sly Fox: One of Ben’s quirkier tracks, as heard in Gloria’s mad car journey. It’s kind of 60’s spy movie, meets Pink Panther, and is always a delight to listen to. You’ll be humming the base guitar riff for hours afterwards, and creeping around town like an undercover agent. It's damn funky!

Come Closer: A really weird piece of experimentation, this one. It’s Amy doing an improvised skipping tune, combined with ethereal humming, and a tinny, distant version of Silent Night. Again, it’s a surprisingly ok listen, and not the nightmarish cacophony that you might expect. Then again, who am I to say, given my many years of aural abuse and experimentation?

Dowerton Station: One of Ben’s, and a real delight. You hear this in the Station Foyer, hence the title. It’s all crystalline shards and metallic drones. I think it captures the interior of the station really well, and suggests ice particles, (it is November after all), and ghosts, hiding in the shadows. I was tempted to add the ticking station clock to the track, but thought better of it. Music is music, so as soon as you add sound effects it becomes a soundtrack. Plus, if you want the extra Station sounds, you can put the game on!

Amy Games: Quite a big track, this one, with it’s Tibetan chanting! I’m a big fan of the Fatal Frame games (PS2 games, known by the dull title of Project Zero in the EU), so I’ve always wanted to get some Eastern elements into one of the soundtracks, and Lost Souls was perfect. The last two Amy Party Games take place is a kind of no-where world, where candles are the only illumination, and alchemical nonsense decorates the walls. Basically, it’s quite a creepy room, and a bit of chanting can do nothing more than add an extra creepy layer. I just wish the CD version was a bit longer, but, it’s a good listen as it is.

Ok, so that’s the ones I’ve picked out, but there’s plenty more to enjoy, or get spooked by. There are 23 tracks in all, from different parts of the game, so I think it’s pretty good value. The postage is FREE, as always, to anywhere in the world, so if you are a fan of Lost Souls, game soundtracks, or just want some seriously spooky music, give it a go!

It was a real pleasure to work on the soundtrack with a fellow enthusiast, like Ben, as I think having someone else on-board really added something to both the soundtrack, and the experience of making 'Lost Souls'. Getting demos through the post was a treat, as it was odd not having to do everything myself. So, expect to hear more of Ben's work in future titles, by both myself, and others writers!


Full Track Listing:

Click to see Packaging and Track Listing

01 Dark Fall Theme by Jonathan Boakes
02 A Fault In Time by Ben Gammons
03 The Tunnel by Ben Gammons
04 Dowerton Station by Ben Gammons
05 Power Returns by Jonathan Boakes
06 The Hotel Reopens by Jonathan Boakes
07 Abandoned Hotel by Ben Gammons
08 A Guest In Pain by Ben Gammons
09 Gold & Silver by Jonathan Boakes
10 Butterfly Room by Ben Gammons
11 The Sly Fox by Ben Gammons
12 To End A Life by Ben Gammons
13 Come Closer by Jonathan Boakes
14 The Forgotten by Jonathan Boakes
15 Shadowkin by Jonathan Boakes
16 Urban Decay by Jonathan Boakes
17 Haunted Hallways by Jonathan Boakes & Ben Gammons
18 Scissor Room by Jonathan Boakes
19 The Astronomer by Jonathan Boakes
20 Mr Bones by Jonathan Boakes
21 Seance Room by Jonathan Boakes
22 Amy Games by Jonathan Boakes
23 Gold & Silver Reprise by Jonathan Boakes