A Lost Soul, BH Radio and Thunder!

Summer is here, and it's a hot one! Let's hope the rain holds off this year, so the sun can burn some memories into this muddled head of mine. It's been a busy time, these last couple of months. So, without further a do, here's some news from a humid and busy Cornwall.

Dark Fall: Lost Souls
A Returning Character

Pop open the mock-champagne, for Matilda Fly is back in town. Dark Fall fans will remember Matilda as the ghostly failed actress, holed up at The Station Hotel till the press had lost the scent. She was a rather tragic figure, and a little unpleasant, but people really do remember her quite fondly. I've always wanted to 'do' something with Matilda, anything really, as she seemed so strong, and dare I say it, very adventure game-like. She's one of those cool characters, who come across very easily, with minimum effort from me. So, you can imagine my surprise, the other day, when I found myself captured by her gaze....right here on Looe High Street.

It was morning, a midweek morning, and nothing seemed different about the town. I was making my way to the Coffee shop, to get the first latte of the day. I usually get a take-out, to have on the beach or pier...anyway!...there she was, in the window of the Pet Shop! How bizarre. How Matilda! You see, the thing is, Looe Pet Shop is also a dress hire company (don't ask why, it's a Cornish thing, I am told), but I've never really taken the place in. That's now changed, as I find myself purposely passing the Dress Hire place (and Pet Shop!) a few times a day...just to see if Matilda is still there. The likeness is uncanny, compared to the portraits seen in Dark Fall...and also the impression that I have in my mind. The hair cut is very severe, and the dress is quite vampy...but it is definitely Matilda. I took a couple of snaps this afternoon, which I'll post here. Does anyone remember Worzel Gummidge? It was a children's TV series, from the early 80's, about a scarecrow that came to life for two curious kids. Quite spooky, really. Worzel was in love with Aunt Sally, a sort of woman-sized doll, used at Fayre Grounds, she could also 'come to life'. She really was quite a tragic figure. I always felt there was something utterly depressing about beings that only live when others are present.

I think Matilda is a little like that. She lives to be adored...so, that terrible performance of hers, in The Two Faced Bride of Bodmin Moor, really put an end to Matilda's life. I can't imagine she would ever recover. So, I am hoping you are like me, and want to give the retched creature another go; to have a second chance; another stab at things. Look, what I am trying to say, is that you should expect quite a bit of Matilda in the next game. You might also be seeing a little of her world....the luvvie paradise that was 1930's Theatre Land! Hurrah! Let's pop open another bottle of 'mock champagne'.

Spring Watch

On a more serious note, I will ask; what on earth has happened to Spring Watch?! For those scratching their heads, I'll add, very quickly, that Spring Watch is a 'live' BBC TV show, which for three weeks has been following the progress of several birds and mammals, as they struggle to rear their young, at this, the most vital time of the year. It's always been a painful show to watch, sometimes. Who can forget the sorry tale of the Barn Owl chick that ate his tiny brothers and sisters, 'live' on TV? Ghastly! But, this year was even more unbearable in places. I was particularly moved by the little Plover chicks, desperate to survive, after being deserted by mother and father, and then brutally murdered by a newcomer, eager to have his way with their mother. None of the chicks survived.

It really was quite distressing, but...and this is the big thing...the whole sorry event felt horribly, but brilliantly, natural. New presenter, Chris Packham (no stranger to live nature shows), was great. His attitude remained fixed throughout the three weeks, and was always a comfort to fall back on. Packham, like many, knows that death, disaster and cruelty are always present in nature, yet it survives in so many forms. In the case of the Plovers, their death was brought about by a strong male, eager to make sure that his species survives. Whether the feathery brute was right to think the chicks were weak, in comparison to his future brood, is another matter. There's nothing we can do about it, so you can only watch...either fascinated, or as I was, in floods of tears. It was an emotional time, and the highlight of three spectacular weeks of live telly. When it comes to understanding nature, Darwin wins, every time. Survival of the fittest.

The British Indie Scene

Things are looking up for indie developers, this year. After a terrible 2008, (with publishers going bust, and some going bent), there is a light on the horizon. A few lights, actually! I think I'm about to sign some new contracts. The atmosphere is good, and the games radar is looking very healthy indeed. There's a new game from Shadow Tor Studios, the wonderfully named Bracken Tor. From the screens and website, it looks like it'll easily thrill Barrow Hill fans...of which there are a few!
There's also 'Coven' from Arberth Studios, and my humble effort, which is making great progress...with a little help from Matilda. So, the British are offering quite a bit, this year. Three UK titles in one year? That's got to be a record, no? 2009 is the 'big one', for us. I hope it goes well.

Barrow Hill Radio

Speaking of Barrow Hill...I see Emma Harry has been busy, re-launching herself as a 'live' internet DJ? Her radio station featured very prominently, in Matt's first game, and gave the whole thing a good sense of verisimilitude. The station was fun to listen, but a bit camp in places. I can't say that about the new website. It's really slick. There's a whole playlist, games to struggle with (Slider Puzzles? Matt? Honestly?) and a rather revealing Message Board. It seems people have been spotting odd creatures, beasts and monsters all across the country. I'm not too sure how genuine the cases are, (some of the photos look VERY dodgy) but they make fun reading. There's a nice contrast between 'I've seen a monster' and 'shoot these devils' at its core, which again, adds lots of verisimilitude.

If brackentor.com is the place for official screen shots, press stuff and official news, then barrowhillradio.co.uk is definitely the place for gossip, clues and fans to hang out. Please, please, please, will someone try the Slider Puzzle?! I don't want to be the only one on the Scoreboard. It looks sad. I don't play Slider Puzzles! Well, I say that, but it isn't true. There's always a slider hidden away in those Nancy Drew games. I'm about to finish Castle Malloy (not the best ND, sadly), and that had a slider. Yes, an utterly pointless slider puzzle as soon as you start the game. But, you kind of know where you are with a slider. Casual gamers love them, like those Hidden Object Games! I did think about making a hidden object game, set in the lighthouse from Lights Out, but changed my mind. Not too sure why. Perhaps I was being overly snotty, or perhaps I'm just too bogged down with the other projects...who kows. Perhaps I'll give it some more thought, later in the year. One little HOG can't be bad, can it?

Music to my ears.

I have a composer! A chap called Ben mailed me, completely out of the blue, with a delightful cover letter and demo CD. An actual CD! I think Ben has been producing music for some time now, based on the quality, so I was quite blown away. The CD contained tracks specially written for Dark Fall: Lost Souls, based on his impressions from Dark Fall 1. So, I quickly transferred the tracks to the iPod and took myself off to the Kilminorth Woods, for a serious listen. I was there for hours, hidden away by the stream.

I am man enough (read: daft enough) to admit that some of the tracks really spooked me. I was drifting away with Track 3, lost aurally somewhere between the Hotel and the Train Platforms, when I heard the loud snap of a twig. I thought, at first, that the sound may have been on the music, but realised that I'd not noticed it before. So, that meant that either a large animal was nearby (quick, where's that BHR Beast Sightings Message Board?!) or, someone was stalking me in the woods. I moved my hand to the iPod, and paused the track. I sat for a few moments, utterly still, listening for the slightest movement, until finally...a dog, followed by its man friend, came bounding out of the woods. What a Long Tailed Tit I had been! Spooked by a labrador. But, thing is, I walk those woods all the time, and don't normally get spooked (unless, it is dark, and then I scream like a queen! See www.thishauntedland.co.uk for evidence). So, I can only explain my nerves on Ben's spooky score. It's great stuff. We are busy chopping, changing and rearranging, right now, but I can say that the score will be very evocative, and eerie. Not classical, by any means, instead, it is more of a subliminal piece, full of deep reverbs, moans and ghostly sounds. It's going to be great. I just need to make a game as good as Ben's music.

Thunderous World

I've just got back in from a long walk; down through Stocks Lane (Karswell House and Carrion Wood from TLC), and saw some fantastic sights. The afternoon was thundery with occasional heavy downpours, so there were allsorts of birds, beasts and mini-beasts snatching a moment, to feed and flee, in between the showers.

My favourite was a huge Buzzard, perched on a fence post, out in the fields trying to dry out. The huge wings were draped down, either side of the bird, shaken occasionally, by the big bird of prey, completely happy to have me watch his private moment. Then, with a piercing cry, it took to the sky, did a circle around my position, and disappeared into the pines. Utter magic. But, I forgot to take a photo! I know, I know, what a dumbo. But, funny thing is, whenever I hear that bird cry I want to say "Shoot straight while the wind blows...". If anyone can guess where that quote is from, I will send you a prezzie...maybe Matt's next game or something! (Ha ha!!) No clues. You'll either know what I refer to, or not. Good luck.

Here's some other pics from the walk. The foliage is all quite fresh - it's early in the Summer, and very wet - so there's a fluorescent quality to the world. I hope some of my adventure comes across in the snaps. I didn't want to turn the PC on, due to the storm, so this was a perfect way to spend an afternoon.


P.s. I'm going to miss Matilda...when she vanishes from that window...never to be seen again. I'll let you know when it happens, so we can have a moments Blog silence.


Meghann said…
I beat your score on the Altar Stone jigsaw puzzle, but I'm not about to do the slider for fun. :)
Anonymous said…
Hi Jonathan, Matilda Fly is exactly as I expected, a little like Joanna Lumley but dark hair,I think she is going to be a whow. June
Jonathan Boakes said…
This is mad, but Matilda disappeared from the shop window the very next day! She has been replaced by a blond, in a blue dress. Not a patch on my Matilda.


P.s. Thanks Meghann! I thought I was going to be alone on that scoreboard forever.
jet said…
Matilda certainly looks the part! Lovely pics from your woody walk, especially the three at the end. What kind of moss is that?
Jonathan Boakes said…
Not moss. Sorry, I named the photo 'moss' which is misleading. It's actually a lichen, which only grows in clean air. Spotlessly clean, in fact. So, I'll be sure to gulp down a few more breaths, next time I am down Stocks Lane!
Anonymous said…
I just want to say I really love your games!!!!!!!!! :x
Jessica said…
Mannequins like Matilda remind me of fortune teller machines with the mannequin inside. When I was little, I used to think they were real people, moving around in those boxes like they were, and I'd always turn around to see if they were still there. Those terrifying things always gave me nightmares!
Jessica said…
Ah! I found the picture of the very mannequin I mentioned. Would you possibly find a use for an unnerving fortune teller mannequin?

Shelly Wan said…
Dropping by to say I just finished "Lost Crown" and it was Great~!! Really really spooky with a very interesting(still many questions) story!! ^___^ I hope your next game would be even more fun!

Jonathan Boakes said…
Thanks for the link Jessica. I see what you mean, she looks uncannily 'real'. I'm sure someone, like your Fortune Teller, could easily make it into The Last Crown. Mystic Morgan is now officially unemployed. Jonathan.
Sarah said…
Sorry to comment on a nearly one-year old thread, but I saw that nobody had answered your riddle you posted about shooting straight as the wind blows, and I couldn't resist the urge to venture that you were quoting from the game "TimeLapse". :)

Jonathan Boakes said…
Well done.

Yes! It is Timelapse! It took me an age to get that arrow through the hole. I played the game before being online, so walkthroughs were not available. I was convinced that I was missing something, or needed to use the 'correct' arrowhead. Something similar happened with the 'Lizard Pyramid Puzzle'. After many nights of frustration, I invited a friend to give ot a go, only for them to find that all important clue, in the basket. I slapped myself. Quite hard. :)

I really wish they'd made that sequel, as Timelapse is one of my favourites...especially the Egypt section. Very clever making that zone one big puzzle.

Sarah said…
*squeals excitedly*

So...what do I win? ;)

In all seriousness, though, TimeLapse was one of those adventure games that very justly deserved the label of "frickin' hard". Beautiful graphics, but man, talk about tearing your hair out. I too was playing it before I had internet access, so no FAQs for me either. The Mayan puzzle where you had to put the skeleton back together was especially memorable to me, if for no other reason than because they included a bunch of bones that were absolutely useless. Grrrr...

Nice photos on your blog as well, I must say! I'll have to visit Cornwall one day.

Jonathan Boakes said…
Oh yeah! That 'orrible bones puzzle! I seem to remember lots of the bones being very similar, and the whole thing would reset if you got them wrong. I guess, back then, we must have played Timelapse, and a lot of other adventure games, for weeks on end. It's interesting to reflect on how things have changed. Jonathan.