Dark Fall News & GhostWatch 2

Oiling the wheels of the (cottage) Industry.

I’m glad to say all the pre-ordered Pins & Needles have made their way out into the big wide world. Packaged with care, carried to the Looe Post Office and taken away by the man in the red van. Goodbye all you pins; goodbye all you needles!

It’s been a fun process, putting the units together and sending them on their way. I debated, with myself, whether it was necessary to include a shrink-wrap...around the box...but then thought about how wasteful it was. You know about shrink-wrap, it’s that annoying cellophane that you struggle with on DVD boxes. It’s horrible stuff. But, I do remember, back in 2001, a man on a well-known Adventure Forum complaining that his game had arrived but “it isn’t shrink-wrapped, I want a NEW copy”. I thought it was odd at the time, but have grown to realise that Shrink-Wrap = New. It’s not actually true...it’s actually just shrink-wrap...but, who can fight just strongly held opinions. Plus...

I’m trying, with some success, to keep packaging down to a minimum, and use ‘recycled’ wherever possible...but it is hard. My initial plan to have the game ship in a chunky, rough recycled sleeve went out the window, when the only place to get them turned out to be Oregon! (http://www.stumptownprinters.com/)
It would have been ironic to have them shipped over, place the DVD and CD inside, and then ship them back to the US again. Imagine that Carbon Footprint. It would be huge. Even Big Foot would quake at the size. So, instead, I hand stamped the CD’s and CD sleeves for soundtracks, and designed a new piece of artwork for the DVD sleeve.

Why Scissors? Why broken scissors?!

Many have asked “why the scissors?” but I am reluctant to say, exactly. The scissors play a big part in the next game, so I’m a bit tight lipped right now. But, memory masters will remember a pair of dangerous looking scissors in Dark Fall: The Journal. They were stabbed into the wall of Hotel Room 2A. They looked cool at the time, and a little unnerving, but now they have their own purpose. They, along with light, will be you main allies in Lost Souls. I’m not saying you stab anyone, or anything, but they are used throughout the game. A knife is a knife; a nasty weapon in the right/wrong hands, but there is something domestic, and familiar, about a pair of scissors. To use them, in the wrong way, or to protect yourself, suggests panic. If you expected trouble, or expected to cause trouble, you’d take a better weapon...but no, you’ll have to pull those scissors out of the wall, on Hotel Room 2A. Great stuff!

Production Line, from Workshop to Post Box.

It’s been a funny week. I haven’t actually got that much work done of Lost Souls. Instead, it’s been a repetitive, but relaxing, process of signing and numbering artwork, slipping the artwork into sleeves (in white gloves!), duplicating CD’s and DVD’s (thanks Rick, at http://www.beehivesounds.com/), packing them into the postal packs and then standing in the Post office for over an hour each day (or Matt did). I love it! It’s so real. So personal. So realistic. It’s been a real pleasure to watch the orders come in, and think about who, where and why people are buying my games. I guess a few years of official ‘publishing’ has meant I get less contact with actual gamers, but I did miss it.

It’s almost impossible to get correct (read: honest) figures from publishers, so I never get to know which countries buy the games, and who my demographic are. I guess that information should be forthcoming, but it never has been. So, this last week has been an eye-opener. There are gamers all over the place! And Dark Fall Gamers at that! From Korea, to Australia. From Olso to Athen’s and back to Yorkshire. Then on to Italy and Germany, via France and South Africa. And, of course, the USA, where 99.9% make their way. Amazing! The Darkling Room Shop is such a tiny little enterprise it is truly amazing to see how far the interest goes. It’s very humbling, and encourages me to make the next game extra special...and totally horrible, at the same time.

Lost Souls are forming.

I’ve got loads to look forward to, this next two weeks. I am re-building some of my favourite places from Dark Fall. They include the Train Platforms, The Public Bar and that old Barn, hidden out in the woods. It’s a real delight to return to the locations, and visualise how they might have decayed, even further. The barn, as it happens, has also acquired a rather carnivorous Owl. He’s a nasty blighter. You will be dealing with him, come release, in an unusual way. And ‘no’, don’t worry, you won’t be using the scissors. He’s a bit of character, from the time when the woods were lovely, dark and deep. Now the woods are tatty, ramshackle and filled with the detritus of modern life. The woods hide Dowerton’s biggest secret...the hotel and train station itself. Something happened there, just recently, which has darkened the place more than ever.

A 'missing persons' case can upset a community, and Dowerton’s disappearances are no different. Everyone likes to think the Missing will return, show up or be found, miles away in some unknown place, but the town of Dowerton knows different. People go to that old Hotel and never come back. No-one enters that uninviting wood, for they know what lies on the otherside. It’s a great place to set a ghost story (or 5!), and I think you’re going to love it. Just make sure you find those scissors!

GhostWatch 2 IS happening this Halloween!

There are developments. Thank you to ‘Javier’ in Spain, for reminding me about the plans to do a ‘live’ Ghost Hunt this Halloween. Well, things have moved on. It IS going to happen. The place has been scouted, the permissions have been granted, the presenters are getting their teeth whitened and the ghosts are rehearsing their best wails....but....it’s going to be a 'radio show'. Images are nice, I know. But, radio could be a much better medium. Much spookier. I have no idea what will happen, if anything, but I do believe that the audio medium could be an effective way of drawing you all into the show. At this moment, I am chatting with Emma Harry (yes, THE Emma Harry of Barrow Hill fame) to re-prise her role and host the show...my intrepid investigator, alone on the woods, with only a mic and a soundman for company. (Actually, she’d probably quite like that.)

Also, I might try to host the ‘Hub’ sections myself (you know, like the 'links' and stuff), but I promise not to talk as s...l...o...w...e...l...y... as Nigel. That’s not possible. (I’m still getting flaming hate mail for not allowing subtitle skipping in TLC. My bad). Anyway. Live Ghost Hunt. Halloween. 2009. In the woods with Emma Harry. A ‘live’ website with pics and ghost-cams. Me doing a shocking job of presenting. And, best of all, a genuine Haunted House in Cornwall to explore with us. The place (which I’ll keep secret for now) has a horrible history. Torrid love affairs, murder, cannibalisation and execution. Nasty stuff. We are going to conduct our experiment on the night, with a small crew, and broadcast ‘live’ via the internet, a little like a PodCast or Internet Radio. I’m hoping a few people will listen in, and have nightmares afterwards, but I guess we are doing it for fun. I’ve never been involved in anything like this, so wish me luck.


P.s. I must apologies to Matt Clark, of Barrow Hill fame. I accidentally (ha ha ha!), mentioned that he is working on a second game, currently going by its working title of Barrow Hill 2. I, Jonathan Boakes, apologise for mentioning it. I just couldn’t help myself! Please can you be in the crew for GhostWatch 2?! Pleeeaaasee.

P.p.s. Does anyone know of a good PodCast service, or site that allows ‘live’ streaming. I’m looking into it right now, so any tips would be greatly appreciated.


adventuredog said…
How busy you have been this week! And you still had energy left for such a long post. :-)

Thanks for sharing the shipping process with us. Must be satisfying to have it in your control again. So glad I ordered Pins and Needles. Can't wait to reexplore the old hotel and lighthouse and delve into all the extras.

Halloween sounds like it will be a blast. Looking forward to hearing more about GhostWatch 2 in the future. More Emma Harry! Good news.

And of course, keep giving us more tantalising hints about what is in store for us in Lost Souls.

And what Matt is up to with Barrow Hill 2 - if he doesn't mind you leaking info. ;-) Catharine
Katie said…
YAY!! Jonathan-I am very excited for the package!! And I would LOVE to watch the streaming over here, if you get it online!!! ;) It would make my Halloween day. Emma, she'd be perfect for that. lol And yes, Matt said you had leaked it, then told me. :P
Anonymous said…
I DO remember those scissors. In fact when I played The Lost Crown and saw the scissors stuck in the table and on Nigel's bed I freaked out a little because they reminded me of the pair in the Journal!
jet said…
I love your blog!!! I can't wait for the next game. Woohooo!
Jonathan Boakes said…
Yes, Ghost Watch 2 will be available globally...on the night. Thinking about it gets me very excited. None of us have ever taken part in anything quite like this, so there are bound to be a few technical hiccups, but that's 'live' radio for you. The time difference, across the globe, is another issue, but it's best to be 'live', as it'll deliver maximum tension. I just hope it doesn't get too tense!

Matt's next game, (I'm not allowed to say Barrow Hill 2 anymore...oh, whoops!), is all secret. Pah! Something to look forward to, I think.

I never thought about the scissors from TLC being the 'same' scissors, but they are. Cripes! It's quite weird how I've put a pair into all the games. I wonder if I am scarred by some childhood horror, involving needlecraft! Haberdashery Horror!

More packages went off today. I do love going to the post office with such exotic parcels...there was one to Qatar today. I had to look it up on Google Earth! It's just a sandy Island, with a massive oil refinery, somewhere in the Middle East. It makes my head spin to think about what the end gamer will make of Edith's recipe for pigs trotters.

Stu said…
Cool. I'll be listening.

Just ordered my Pins n Needles Edition. Can't wait to get back into Dark Fall.
adventuredog said…

Thanks Jonathan! Pins and Needles arrived safely two days ago (April 6th). Loaded very easily (once I turned off my antivirus - duh!) and I have been checking out all the extras you created - lovely stuff. Am immersed back at the station now and getting spooked by all the ambient sounds again. It is fun to revisit Dowerton...... Catharine
Jonathan Boakes said…
I tried to leave Dark Fall alone, as much as possible, in the belief that it really didn't need much Spring cleaning. But, there are some subtle bits and bobs. It's Lights Out that found itself under scrutiny, and had to make way for a few changes. Hopefully, all for the better.
KerryMac said…
Jonathan, I'm just about to dive into your blog having just found it via GuyBrush' very entertaining write up of The Lost Crown. My husband and I adore your work Jonathan and games! We are currently engrossed in the above game, can’t leave it alone. I laughed that Guy goes into the cafe to get another sandwich or wrap or chicken & mushroom pie etc. So do we. It’s the same way I couldn’t stop feeding the damn cat when I played Rhiannon, which is another masterpiece.

Jonathan, my husband and I really admire your work and sense of fun and really appreciate the little touches of magic that you sprinkle throughout your games. I’m not sure I’d like to be inside your head though! :-) You are however a genius and you save us from ghastly moribund television viewing and I thank you.

Kerry xox (From deepest, darkest and mostly empty Co. Leitrim)

PS “My name’s Jemima”
Aaargh get out of my head Mr Boakes, last night my dreams contained your cursors!!!!
Unknown said…
Well done! I would love to get to know more about your work.
Get in touch, ok?

Sergio ( still in Amsterdam )


Take care!
Jonathan Boakes said…
Hey, Sergio! Long time no chat. Still in Amsterdam, eh? Must be something in the air, over there! I popped over last Summer, on a big Cruise Ship. I only had a day in the city, so took in the museum and had a bite at The Pancake Bakery. Good times!