Friday, 22 November 2013

Doctor Looe - The TARDIS arrives in Cornwall.

As a celebration of 50 years of Doctor Who, I snapped the TARDIS in and around a few Looe landmarks and locations. I've been watching the show since I was a nipper, 40 years ago. The good Doctor has visited Cornwall, on a few occasions, like The Stones of Blood, The Smugglers (filmed at Lizard and St.Grada Church) and Battlefield. The BBC also filmed a few non-Cornwall set stories too, such as Colony in Space and Curse of the Black Pearl. But, today, the Doctor popped by for a longer visit, to enjoy some sea air and fish & chips.

Arriving in the back streets of East Looe, the Doctor was puzzled why the air had a strong smell of English Breakfast.

'It's the lingering smell from the breakfast shift' said Sarah.

The Doctor looked puzzled, and frowned.

'Everyone eats English breakfast? At the same time?! That's very odd' he ruminated.

'The B&B's, Doctor! Bed and Breakfast. Egg's, bacon, toast.... Sausage?' teased Sarah.

 Time for a spot of shopping, on Fore Street.

'Crystals, pasties or shoes' thought the Doctor.

After arguing with himself for sometime, the Doctor opted for 'none-of-the-above', and bought a pipe, instead. Sarah, meanwhile, enjoyed a chocolate torsade in the coffeshop, and wondered when cafe grub got so fancy.

 Having purchased a pipe, of considerable size, the Doctor sought a nice open fire, to rest his time travelled bones, and contemplate life, the universe and everything. This not being the 1970's, both Sarah and the Doctor were surprised to discover that smoking was banned, and, more disappointingly, there was no open fire either.

'That's it!' cried the Doctor, 'I'm off..."

Chasing him back to the TARDIS, Sarah wondered where they would end up next. The TARDIS often seemed to have a mind of its own.

With a familiar wheezing groaning sound, the TARDIS dematerialised from West Looe.

 ... and rematerialised on the planet, ummm.... nope, that's still Looe.

'We appear to been trapped in this time, this dimension' said the Doctor.

'Well, I'm going to sunbath' stated Sarah, briefly forgetting it's bloody freezing, 'while you work out what's put the mockers on the TARDIS'.

Sarah marched from the TARDIS, wearing her best fur bikini, deciding that she wouldn't let the Doctor spoil the chance of a quick holiday. Being shot and chased by bug-eyed monsters was really quite stressful.

A few hours passed, as Sarah shivered in the November chill and the Doctor tinkered with his time machine.

'Some unknown force, or technology, is keeping us here... but why' puzzled the Doctor.

Attempting to make a 'short hop' and escape their predicament, the Doctor was delighted to arrive on the planet Aridius...

'Yes!! Ha ha!!! We've escaped' cried the Doctor, in delight.

It was at this moment, that the big curly haired goon realised that he had left Sarah behind.

 Resetting the TARDIS controls, the Doctor returned to Looe to search for his companion. The sun was beginning to set, over West Looe Hill.

'I had better hurry' worried the Doctor, 'because THEY come out, after dark'.

In a flurry of Time Lord activity, the Doctor searched every corner of the small harbour town, but Sarah was nowhere to be seen. Not in any time, or any place.

 Eventually, knowing that he had but a few minutes to rescue his friend from Happy Hour, the Doctor bellowed from the bridge.

'Sarah Jane Smith... you hairy legged feminist, where on bloody Skaro are you?!'

Sarah, who was riding a massive sugar high in the Pick'n'Mix, was incensed by the insult, so marched up to the Doctor (her Andy Pandy outfit betraying the seriousness of the situation).

'Of all the confounded cheek! You bohemian, boggle eyed, crazy, alien...'

The Doctor interrupted her, simply by using his disarmingly massive grin. Sarah pouted, knowing she had been deflated.

'It's good to see you, Sarah' said the Doctor, cheekily, 'Did you get me some Jelly Babies?'

'Oh, you... you...' she struggled to find the right insult.

'Listen... I know what's wrong with the TARDIS' said the Doctor, in a whisper, 'come on, I'll show you'.


Happy Birthday, Doctor Who! You did good.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Making Cover Art - The Halloween Haunting

Cover Art - The Halloween Haunting

I had a bit of fun last night, coming up with some ideas for 'cover art' for The Halloween Haunting.

It's a digital download game, but it still needs a face. Of the experiments I liked, I found myself torn between two very different themes.

 Design One -

The Haunted House is the main location in the game; known as Keeper's Cottage, it's the only domestic building on Blackenrock Island. It was built for a slightly well-to-do landowner, who reared various breeds of sheep on the isolated lump of old Ulcombe. Some say those 'Ulcombe lot' were a bloodthirtsy bunch, enjoying a splattering of country pursuits; such as hunting, shooting, fishing. I imagine quite a few young lambs were enjoyed in the dining room of the small, Victorian house.

As a design idea, the abandoned house at Kynance Cove certainly looks like a 'haunted house'. Lots of people find the place quite fascinating, hidden away in one of the prettiest coves in Britain. I photographed the house, a while back, when I visited Lizard. Several of the Peninsula's buildings will feature in the 'Crown' games. The area has an atmosphere like no other.

To bolster the house, and make a photograph a design, I added 'mirrored' design elements (like the trees and sky) as a reminder of the Lost Crown's strange reality and title sequence. Lots of the photographs used in The Lost Crown were flipped, mirrored, distorted and changed. Some locations are barely recognisable.

Design Two -

Then, next up, a more landscape orientated design effort. I like it a lot, but feedback suggested a much more scary vibe, rather than a creepy one. Also, the moth vs. skull elements had some thinking about Silence of the Lambs (not intentional!). My thinking came from experiences on the moor. Bodmin Moor to be precise. More often than not, I find cattle bones up there during my rambles, amongst the gorse and rocks. It's not like the moor is littered with bodies... no! Just a few here and there. Most skulls and bones are from animals that died from exposure, (I say to comfort myself), but a few would definitely be bloody victims of THE BEAST.

You see, it's not a fictional or mythical monster! That would be silly. Wouldn't it? Then again there's no evidence in that article to confirm it was definitely a dog attack. Perhaps Matt Clark's Beast of Bracken Tor is closer to reality than we would think. Grrr.

But, after a bit of thought, I decided that the cover idea was far too SCARY, suggesting pagan horror, and bloodthirsty sacrifice or Satan worship. None of which feature in The Halloween Haunting. It's a ghost-story, pure and... well, not simple. Not at all. But, there are plenty of cliches to please ghost fans. Grandfather clocks, rooms haunted by nursery rhymes, candles that light themselves and, of course, the all important creaking floorboard. Keeper's Cottage aches with ghostly references, but that's not surprising, given that Mr.Nigel Danvers is telling the story, from the safety and warmth of The Bear. But, thinking back to his time in the Cottage, still makes Nigel shiver. There is a darkness there, the like of which he has never seen before.

So, coming to a decision, I decided the ghostly haunted house would be the face of The Halloween Haunting. I've just finished the final artwork.

Combining elements of the two ideas resulted in gestalt design; haunted house, mirrored elements, a much stronger landscape and room to add the sheep from Design Two. I also thought it would be nice to include Nigel and Lucy, approaching Keeper's Cottage for the first time...

... as will we, very soon.


Monday, 7 October 2013

Halloween - Good News and Bad News / Bad News and Good News.

With Halloween rapidly approaching, it has become obvious to both myself and Iceberg Interactive that we need more time to successfully promote The Last Crown, something which cannot be rushed. I'm also still hoping to record a couple of characters this autumn, who have so far eluded me. For example, Saxton Museum would not be the same without Mr.Oogle! Would it.
So, instead, I am more than excited to reveal a dedicated and new 'Crown' story specifically for Halloween 2013.

We enter the story on Halloween, inside The Bear Inn on Saxton Harbour. Night has fallen, the pumpkin jack-o-lanterns have been lit, Morgan has turned off the music and lit a roaring fire. Nigel is about to tell a creepy ghost story to those huddled in the bar. Those present, including ourselves, wait patiently as he begins the story.

'The Halloween Haunting' is a brand new ghost-hunting adventure, for Nigel Danvers and Lucy Reubans. It's a sizable game, with lots of locations, scattered across the Island known as Blackenrock. Part of the 'last of Ulcombe', Blackenrock is a rocky, desolate place, inhabited only by the ghosts of the past and a few, hardy sheep. 

A terrible tragedy occurred, on the Island, over a hundred years ago.  The inhabitants of 'Keeper's Cottage' met a horrible end, with some vanishing from history completely. Father, mother and one of their children, Edward, were found dead. The maid, and the other twin, Peter, disappeared, never to be seen again. Some say the maid, Anne Whittle, was a witch! Others suspect the master of the house, Mr.Bellamy, was conducting unnatural experiments involving the supernatural. Who was the 'gentleman' who visited Mr.Bellamy, at midnight, most evenings? What dark deeds did the two Victorian fellows discuss?

So far, the mystery has puzzled the people of fens. Like all good mysteries, the truth is out there, but without evidence nothing can be proved. Until now.

Using the brand spanking new 'GhostGadget' the brave ghost-hunters are on the case. They have persuaded Bob Tawny to take his boat, the Wild Spring Rose, out to sea, through the rocky remnants of Ulcombe. Bob really isn't overly happy about it, but with a little help from his ship mates, he successfully navigates the treacherous waters. They are all relieved to see the dark, looming cliffs of Blackenrock begin to appear through the fog. They've made it! 

Disembarking, Nigel is worried that Bob may not be able to collect them, later that afternoon. Dark clouds are forming, that the season alone, cannot explain.

It is a foggy, eerie, afternoon; Nigel and Lucy make their way across the shore to the old, empty house. It echoes with the deeds of the past, but also suggests a present danger. The place is derelict; falling to pieces, but still exudes an air of menace. No-one would really want to spend the night on the island, and certainly not in the old Victorian house. Nigel certainly doesn't relish the idea, even if Lucy thinks it would be great to do an 'all-nighter' (the na├»ve fool!). But, the weather takes a turn for the worse. Bob Tawny is unable to collect the adventurous twosome. 

So, with no means to return to the safety of Saxton, Nigel and Lucy must prepare to spend the night.

The game will be available as a DRM free download directly from me, and selected publishing partners, for $5. All sales will help get Last Crown properly finished and also fund The First Crown, the end of the Crown Trilogy.


P.s. See you at Halloween!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Relaunching the store - Darkling Room and Shadow Tor.

In preparation for the new game releases, this autumn and winter, the Darkling Room and Shadow Tor Studios ‘STORE’ has undergone a streamline and redressing. The page is much leaner, with obvious ‘slots’ for each title, their accompanying walkthrough/companion guide and soundtrack.

The soundtracks themselves have recently undergone a remix too, with Dark Fall and Lights Out bumped up to full album releases. In some cases, I went back to the games to pluck out new material. 

A lot of the music from the first two games was ‘random’, created by the player clicks and the game itself. Those tracks are represented, as well as new ‘ambiance’ from several scenes.
There are PDF booklets for each soundtrack too, featuring artwork from the games, as well as a full track-listing. Here’s a preview.

Dark Fall - The Journal - Soundtrack
Dark Fall - The Journal - Soundtrack
Dark Fall - The Journal - Soundtrack

Dark Fall – The Journal

Several new tracks and remixes, including the haunting ‘Ghost Train’ and ‘Siren Cave’. The album has 18 tracks, which represent a play-through of the game itself, from the murky intro to the melancholy end titles. Listen out, ‘cos there are clues scattered throughout.

Barrow Hill - Soundtrack
Barrow Hill - Soundtrack

Barrow Hill – Curse of the Ancient Circle

Jan Kavan and Matt Clarks soundtrack to Barrow Hill mixes ancient themes and pagan horror. There are familiar tracks, such as the creepy and insidious ‘Climb the Hill’ to the euphoria of ‘The Balance Restored’.

The Lost Crown - Soundtrack

The Lost Crown – A Ghost-Hunting Adventure.

The Lost Crown Soundtrack is still the ‘big one’, running at 35 tracks long. It’s a trippy mix of music, from seaside musak to haunting deep synths. No new content has been added, as it was a pretty packed affair to begin with, but there’s some nice artwork (not including the bacon!) to accompany your musical meanderings.

The Lost Crown - Soundtrack - Digital Booklet

Dark Fall - Lost Souls - Soundtrack
Dark Fall - Lost Souls - Soundtrack

Dark Fall – Lost Souls

Both myself and Ben Gammons worked hard on the Lost Souls soundtrack, conjuring a mood of fallen grandeur and urban decay. The soundtrack is a peculiar mix, with Amy Haven’s creepy songs merging uncomfortably with sounds from the past and rumbles from an unhappy present. Lost Souls is easily the most depressed game soundtrack I have ever worked on. It drips with menace and unpleasantness.

Dark Fall - Lights Out - Soundtrack
Dark Fall - Lights Out - Soundtrack

Dark Fall – Lights Out

Lots of new material, including remixes of the violin tracks and new DEOS soundscapes. Again, a lot of the original game experience was random, with the game picking what we called ‘Classic Creep’ sequences. The new soundtrack features many of these tonal drones and eerie soundscapes.


P.s. More news (v) soon. Samhain approaches.