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!