Category: Allgemein (page 1 of 2)

German Dev Days!

Hello there!

Don’t get scared! The blog got a small visual update. It was caused by the fact that the previous theme required an update that… destroyed everything.

Beyond that the work on the game was paused for one month. A little travelling, a nasty flu and a move to another flat (as well as walls that still need painting) and then a few more days where I just took a breather and spent my free time doing nothing.

Now there’s the good news that Timo and I are writing the last two of 35 chapters! I ignored that originally only 20 were planned.

More than 150,000 words have come together in the meantime and in the end it was the darkest and strangest parts of the story that were missing.  

In the meantime, I had to be very reluctant to translate more chapters into Unity, as now, if everything goes well, we’ll start correcting and translating into English at the same time.  There will be some minor changes and I’m glad that I don’t have to search every flowchart tree for one small dialog branch.

The story is almost finished – a new era begins! It’s hard to believe that the thought “There’s still so much to write” will no longer haunt me like a stubborn poltergeist from now on.

If this wasn’t enough reason for a good mood, I found (on my birthday!) an email in my mailbox. We were selected with our project as Indie exhibitors at the German Dev Days in Frankfurt. In January, Thomas R√∂ssig from Flying Sheep Games, who is always informed about everything, recommended to introduce myself there. Be praised, Thomas! Even more story testers and the experience of introducing the game directly, I’m really looking forward to that. On top of that, I had a deadline for information and print data, which was a bitterly necessary motivation for me.

We even get a big roll up banner printed, that means, we had to decide on a final game title, because Escape… is the title of an extension of the Cthulhu-Pen&Paper.

In the end I chose The Innsmouth Case, which best summarizes the adventure and also fits the book cover. And in loving memory of our old webcomic, our codename as game maker is Robot Pumpkin.

Until next time!

Caro

So much text

Happy New Year!

I postponed the January update for a long time, but I swear, I haven’t been lazy.

Our work on the story is drawing to a close. We now have 32 chapters and are in the process of tying some loose ends. The biggest part, the twisty “main mission”, is finally finished and now we’re having some fun with side stories.

Apart from that, I discovered Twine’s “Story Statistics” feature and the current state of the project is 145000 words. 145000! Wow! That’s a bigger book size than the 2nd part of Lord of the Rings, “The Two Towers”, only with fewer orcs and epic battles, but more fish cultists and inappropriate flirting. Still, I’m starting to realize why all of this took so long to create.

In the coming weeks I will build in the remaining 32 chapters (urg), while Timo will 1) continue with the side stories and 2) will take a closer look at my stories and expand them.
Then I have to test & improve what I can do. Since my Christmas vacation I have had to do all this work in addition to a regular 40 hour week, so I won’t be able to go that fast, because Innsmouth is still a project I’m working on in my free time.

The main cause of countless nervous breakdowns will soon be text corrections and the insertion of an English version. Further up on the priority site: a final game title! Escape from Innsmouth is a small expansion of the Cthulhu tabletop and I’d rather play it safe than get into potential trouble.

In the last weeks I have posted backgrounds and characters on Instagram from time to time, but these will become less, because I really don’t want to reveal too many encounters.

Posted artworks are among others

Have a great week!

9. Gametreff NRW

Last Thursday my fellow writer Timo and I dared to visit the 9th Gametreff NRW, of which I had learned by pure chance.
Fortunately someone had posted in the Cologne Game House that they were still looking for prototypes or new Indie games, which should be exhibited and tested in the so-called Gaming-Area after 2 lectures.

We had assumed that it would be at least one big room where many small teams would present their games – in fact there were only 2 projects, including Innsmouth. Gulp.

Funnily enough, the other project was a colorful 3D platformer. I think with our monochrome presence we created a strong contrast…

Since drinks and pizza were provided by the organizers, the event was well attended and we were able to take home some valuable feedback from our testers.

Last weekend I had changed a lot in the first chapter (some small effects that were missing for the final version) and on top of that I finally wanted to test an early version of the timer.
A timer bar runs along the options when the player only has 3 seconds to choose an option (usually only 2 or 3 choices).
An example of this is suppressing nausea. Yep.

Here’s the simple, still undesigned version I had built in.

Screenshot 2018-12-16 11.29.54

Theoretically 3 seconds are barely enough to skim 2 options and hastily make a choice – but one of our (glorious!) testers correctly noted that the sudden time pressure had caught him cold as a player.

That’s understandable, of course. Actually, it’s all about reading through our Lovecraft insanity, relaxing and having fun. Such a sudden stress factor doesn’t fit in well with the concept.

Solutions would be
A) To announce the upcoming time event in the text a little more clearly beforehand, so that the reader can prepare himself mentally.
B) To increase the time window to maybe 5 seconds, so that the stress factor is slightly lower
C) To take out the timer completely and to leave the choice of how stupid the player character behaves to the player.

At any rate, it has been shown once again:
It’s damn important to collect feedback and such small events are perfect to find some testers!

Thanks again to everyone who tested the game if they read it here. Yes, especially you 3 are meant. You were great, we’ll think about your feedback (and add the missing punctuation, cough) and our baboon hearts are inflamed with new motivation to put us back into action.

Ta-ta!
Caro

Story & Achievements

We are approaching December and my promise to have the game ready by the end of the year has been reduced to the content being ready.
There will be 30 chapters, a story walkthrough consists of 8-10 chapters, depending on which way you choose and how stupid you act (i.e. if you die inbetween!).
I took a screenshot of the Twine stories. Each small dot is a text passage of any length.

stories

According to the text editor, each chapter has between 5000 and 9000 words, which won’t be a lot to read per game, because you simply can’t see the whole chapter. But thaaaat’s why it’s worth to go through it again to do something completely different.
I wrote some of the stories a year and a half ago, because of the forced breaks (a move abroad and all that), currently I go through older texts to revise or continue and some passages and choices make me chuckle. I think that’s a good sign.

The most important Achievements/Endings can be found here as an overview(3 are still missing), I think I can post that without spoiling anything (well, you can probably imagine some things)(Tentacle-Tentacle-Tentacle-Tentacle)

symbols_05

I have finally resumed work on the characters, which I animate now and then after work, but I’ll post them another time.
The hardest part right now is to continue with new backgrounds because it’s been 2 months since I worked on them…

Gnargh. See you next time!

bb

Robot startups & cleaning dishes

Hi everybody!
With my broken Wacom tablet, I’m still in a forced pause in terms of drawing, but I’ve continued to write one of the last chapters of the detective mission. The most exhausting thing of all is when the player character doesn’t just die, but his story has to be told to the end…

But probably it doesn’t make sense to complain about too much text in a text adventure.

Besides some nice horror impressions from the Fantasy Film Fest I wanted to get more inspiration for storytelling and choices. So finally I started playing Detroit: Become Human! It looks wonderfully pretty! But! I got skeptical when my fingers stroked the touchpad in rhythmic movement so that the Android character – a housemaid – could clean dishes properly. Maybe even more so, when a Detroit apartheid bus, including an Android Compartment in the back, showed up.
I’ll still keep playing it, because I’m an idiot who loves interactive stories and I enjoyed the character interactions so far – but… oh boy.

Kein Witz

I wasn’t joking

Choice of Robots is quite different. I only discovered it yesterday and I’m already completely hooked! In my first playthrough I lived a happy life and died in the circle of my family (mechanical&human) of the Algernon(!) brain disease, the second one I started this morning before work is already moving dangerously fast towards a Terminator scenario.

Frakking toasters.

Basically, the game consists of being an up-and-coming young robotics expert (m/f) and assembling your very own little robot. Depending on how you treat him and what you teach him, the AI will either become more independent, compassionate, skilled, or competent in the military field. These game mechanic values are visible to you the entire time, alongside your fame & wealth. On top of that, you’ll also have to decide for yourself which career path to take. You can start your own startup, be hired by the military, accept a dubious offer from China, or join an existing company.
Whatever you choose, your first robot will accompany you, learn from you and possibly question you (if you have given it this ability). Really philosophical, sometimes unpleasant, sometimes heartwarming questions arise, which I didn’t expect from the rather cheap presentation.

Will your robots become giant mechs, empathizing surgeons or toys?

The game supposedly has a volume of 300,000 words, which is a lot, and the extreme content difference in my first two games has already made it my favorite, ranking above Sorcery, 80 Days & Lifeline.

But what am I writing all this for? You can also play the first 2 chapters (the default is 8 for one run) for free.

At the moment, completely text-based game is far more exciting for me than Detroit: Become Human, but I’ll certainly come back for the nice rain, and… someone has to do the laundry.

CoR

September Update

Now almost 3 months have passed and finally I have the nerves to write an update!

Ok, let’s keep it brief: I have…
…quit my job
…found a new job.
…scrapped my Cintiq by a firmware update
…annoyed Wacom’s customer service.
…created a Github repository (This has once again confirmed my suspicion that there is an internet guide for dummies for absolutely EVERYTHING.)

The story is now 2/3 finished, which is a lot. Oh God, to look at it. For illustration, here the flowchart of a scene called “dinner”. Above is the start, the green marked fields are a few ends or branches which lead to another chapter. Choices includes simple, stupid things to say, but also hard choices with huge consequences.

flowchart
Yuck

After the great and very motivating test run at the Comicsalon Erlangen I was able to convince my long-time comrade Timo to join me again after a longer break concerning writing. Two weird brains are better than one and together we worked for 3 years on the webcomic “Tales from the Couch”, so I expect only the best/worst.

Until my Cintiq has died a horrible death, I also worked on backgrounds and characters, you can never have enough of stormy beaches and dark alleys as you know…
WIP, I hope Wacom lets me finish those
bg_beach
bg_gassen

Demo @ Comicsalon Erlangen

A week ago, the time had finally come.
I had a build of the game with nothing else but the main menu and the first chapter on my iPad Mini and presented it at the Comicsalon Erlangen for people to try it out!
I already had several friends play the twine version of the first chapter, and I used to pass early game versions around on my Android phone a long time ago, but people you know are of course always a bit more gracious than strangers…

A little paper sign invited the people with the words “Test our text adventure” to simply click on “New Game”. I was fascinated to see how much children’s necks can twist when they walk by, near something digital, which of course is not the main focus of the comicsalon.

IMG_20180531_124955350

The conclusion: I am SO relieved!
The simple concept was really enough to really captivate those who dared to play and to make them smile in between. On top of that, people immediately understood how to play and where to tap – apart from an older gentleman who relentlessly tried to swipe the first page…
I’ve decided to be less worried from now on (I’m a pro at worrying), and now just finish everything the way I had it planned.

I’m working on the final design of the endings/achievements, in a week I’ll post the first non-spoiler examples.

Caro!

Demo

In the last weeks, I posted some screenshots on Instagram / Twitter only, so I would like to give a small update again.

For the “Comicsalon Erlangen” I want to prepare a small demo on the iPad, and that’s a good motivation to replace some placeholders – so I will finish the main menu, the city map, some achievements and all assets and animations that belong to the first chapter.

main_Menu_unity

map

At work I finally discovered well-kept secrets of the program Spine . Creating a flexible arm or tentacle out of a straight graphic is really easy, but the way there is well hidden.
I promised tentacles and I will deliver…!

tentacle_spine

Back on track

Hello dear readers!
The Escape from Innsmouth blog has certainly by now disappeared entirely from your Facebook timeline and also cerebral cortex, in fact I’ve completely submerged the last months and wanted to give a small annual update.

To summarize the year 2017: OUCH!

It all started with a car accident. More precisely, at the end of February, when an elderly gentleman drove his car against my bike in the early evening, when I was cycling in front of him and tried to turn left.
I landed on the car’s front and slammed on the windshield, leaving a Caro-shaped hole behind. Miraculously, I haven’t broken anything, so I’ll forever remember this story as “boy, was I lucky”.

After 2 months of physiotherapy, I was more or less recovering. From May to August, shit just got real at my day job. The startup I was working in went through a critical period, and during that time, I barely got anything done after work. More specifically, I didn’t want to even look at my drawing board and the computer monitor anymore – during that time I was completely focused on writing. At least it was something different from what I was doing during the day.

The good news is: the story part is 40% finished! Anyone who thinks now “What, only 40%?”, I can assure you, it’s a loooot, because there’s a lot of story!

At the same time, I prepared a small presentation of the Innsmouth game to present it for a state promotion in Berlin. If nothing had happened, I would have had money available to cut back on my working hours and, on top of that, have support for writing and a professional translation. All this was surprisingly easy – I was invited to the Studio Babelsberg and was allowed to introduce myself personally – supposedly a sign that you already have a foot in the door.

Unfortunately, the start-up was less successful in the meantime: at the end of August I had my last working day. Since I was dependent on part-time, I withdrew the application for the promotion then and decided to continue to work in my free time at the game.

I just started looking for a job as a game or UI artist in Germany, when a former colleague asked me to come work with him in Barcelona – where I am right now! Although still homeless and always busy looking for a flat, but at least the sun is shining. It has always been my desire to be the “foreigner” myself, and it really is an interesting experience. From now until next year I should help out with a still secret project. And to start the day with sun is a very pleasant change after 33 years dreary weather in Germany!

My current work space

Barcelona

Escape from Germany

After only 3 weeks delay, my stuff from Berlin arrived – I finally could illustrate and create content.

I’m enjoying painting again. Yay!

From now on I will try again to post more regularly. Still, you can certainly imagine, the plan to finish the game in 2017, might’ve sounded realistic one year ago, but it has become let’s say … very optimistic. Even though everything is on the right track, I will continue to work on it for the coming months.

And hope that 2018 will not start again with an accident …

Technology(3)

It’s time to introduce the extension that made this mess possible!

I discovered the Unity extension ‘Fungus’ rather by coincidence, I can’t even remember when and how exactly.¬†The project is being managed by Chris Gregan, who keeps a regularly updated blog on gofungus.com, a support forum and a showcase site. This man’s awesome.

Download

To sum up what this is about:

If you want to create a game and know Unity a little bit, you can simply place your assets on a stage, the canvas, which will later be displayed on a device. The graphics are being programmed via scripts. You define what a button is and which textfield is showing which text, or which animation should be running where and how often.

All of that is relatively simple for a ‘Zork’ clone, and even there you can lose track of the storyflow if you don’t structure your work. Fungus shows nearly all of its functions on a graphical interface.

02

You define which view (camera) is supposed to be used, which buttons are leading where and much more. In my app project I use a canvas which is scaling with height. If a tablet or phone has a wider display, the screen show’s more of the outer area, but all the text and main functions are always placed in the center frame.

00

The aforementioned ‘much more’ of the functions list includes ways to¬†handle text. It’s incredibly easy to define a few styles for the many many pages of text to come, so that you don’t have to layout every single page.¬†Also multiple choice menus are easy to adjust, and they even react dynamically based on the amount of choices.

The second, even more important feature is the flowchart system, which also represents an important part of the interface. Without this visualization of the dialogue tree, I might have just given up by now.

The flowcharts don’t just show the position of the story, you can also add visual and¬†sound effects that are displayed during the game. The extension offers lots of tools and if you have enough creativity, you can have lots of fun with it. I saw a whole different kind of game in a classical desktop layout and simply moved assets around, so that it would fit my game.

01

It’s possible to navigate and control all the functions of a game via Fungus, but you don’t necessarily need to. You can change a dialogue layer to function as a popup, but you can also create a classic popup canvas in Unity and write a function for it. You can be creative and find a solution for every problem. There are already quite a few¬†indiegames which only use the flowchart dialogue function but come up with the rest by themselves.

Fungus is an open source project and can be supported via donations. If you’re not afraid of Unity, I highly recommend you download it from the asset store and have a look at it. There are already many tutorials which show how to install it (+Unity) and how to create your first narrative game.

Fungus’s official website.

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