Ghost of a Tale - All News
Thursday - March 31, 2016
Ghost of a Tale - Development Update
Seith has once again delivered a development update of Ghost of a Tale, in which he talks about the wrong choice to try and move to Unity 5.4, optimizations and table decisions.
Since the game doesn’t use baked lighting at all (every light is dynamic) it presents some optimization challenges. Casting shadows is very expensive in Unity. And baking shadows is quite limiting and would really bog down my workflow.
So I had to come up with ways of keeping nice visuals (shadows are a big part of it) and yet not burn the framerate budget on things that wouldn’t be seen.
It took a lot of work but I improved on the system I already mentioned in a previous update. Before, the lights visibility distance were subordinated to a unique value; an absolute distance all the game’s lights followed.
I changed that so each light now has a specific visibility distance, depending on its location and visibility. That level of granularity keeps lights looking the same, but they’re smoothly turned off by the game as soon as they’re not needed anymore.
It makes a very big difference in the framerate. Before, in the jail, I was around 45-50fps. Now I’m mostly around 70fps (oscillating between 65fps and 82fps). The courtyard is another matter though and I still have a lot of work to do there.
On top of this optimization work I also started using a different LOD system (called AutomaticLOD) for some of the game’s assets (models are getting simplified the further away they get from the camera). It allows the poly count to go down without any noticeable visual drawback. I’m still putting the asset through its pace but so far it works brilliantly and the developer is both helpful and reactive, which is extremely important!
Tuesday - March 08, 2016
Ghost of a Tale - Beta Coming Soon
In the latest update for Ghost of a Tale, Seith mentions that the beta should be available in the coming weeks.
Which brings me to the crux of this update: if everything goes well (and it’s a big “if” of course) we should go to beta within the next couple of weeks. The beta version will contain all of the pre-release’s features but some will be incomplete (as they’re still being worked on). Place-holder asides though it should give us a good idea of the game’s actual state.The goal for us is to get feedback from people who never played the game before. And hopefully we won’t have any bad surprises! On that topic, we already have a short list of potential testers so I think we’re all set on that side…
In addition the update also shows the graphical enhancements the game has gone through in the 3 years it has been in development.
Saturday - February 20, 2016
Ghost of a Tale - Interview @ Tic Podcast
Tic Podcast interviewed the designer and producer of Ghost of a Tale:
On this episode of OTRC, we speak with creator, designer and producer of Ghost of a Tale Seith from SeithCG. This is one of the most interesting titles we’ve seen grace the ID@Xbox program. The game was 1st shown off in 2014 and from then complete silence as we all wondered what happened. With TiC podcast on the case however, we we’re able to finally get Seith on the show to talk about his vision, design & hopes for Ghost of a Tale.
Monday - February 08, 2016
Ghost of a Tale - Development Update
The development of Ghost of a Tale to reach an early access release on Steam is moving onwards as the latest development update for the game shows.
Welcome to this new Ghost of a Tale development update! It should come as no surprise that hard work continues, more intense as ever; Cyrille and Paul are toiling away on their task list and we still have to implement quite a few things before we’re ready to start beta testing. I mean we do test constantly of course, but this time it should be with people who never actually touched the game before.
Here’s a picture of Tilo exploring the sewers. Ooh lookie, he found the Red Ranger’s hood (the Red Ranger is a folklore character in the game’s world)!
Jeremiah also has a lot of work ahead of him to compose all the tracks needed for the pre-release. But he’s as fast as he’s good, so I’m not worried. Instead I’m excited to be the first one to discover his work!
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve done a huge amount of work in animation, 2D art and coding. I’m currently squashing A LOT of bugs which is actually pretty nice because that means hopefully you won’t find them in the game (no, you’ll find completely new ones! ).
I’ve also started implementing in-game tutorials. As you know it’s a tricky task to trigger them only at the right moment and location. I personally hate it as a player when a tutorial message interrupts the game just to tell me something I’ve already figured out. So that shouldn’t happen in GoaT!
Monday - January 18, 2016
Ghost of a Tale - Feature Freeze
The development of Ghost of a Tale has reached a feature freeze.
We’ve reached feature freeze! Simply put what this means is from now on we stop adding new features. This is so we don’t fall into a loop of “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we did this…”. It is always very tempting to add little (and sometimes not-so-little) features and get caught up in what’s called in development terms “feature-creep” (which itself can ultimately lead to “vaporware”).
We now have a very clear idea of what the pre-release needs to be –as well as what it can live without. So rather than attempting to cram in every idea we have, we’re going to make sure that each feature which gets into the pre-release actually works as expected. I prefer the early access game to feel solid rather than overly ambitious and half-broken.
The update also provides more information about the development status of the game.
Wednesday - December 23, 2015
Ghost of a Tale - Christmas Update With a Gift
Seith has updated the Ghost of a Tale page again with a development update and a gift.
Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been very busy transitioning to the latest version of Unity. A move which proved (at least at first) to be pretty much a catastrophic one and generated quite a lot of stress.
It is a transition I dreaded but unfortunately there was no choice; we needed the bug fixes and the new features. Long story short; after the upgrade almost all the game’s shaders broke, resulting in a “pink screen” (Unity’s way of letting you know in no uncertain terms that your shaders are broken).
So with the help of Joachim (the developer of Shader Forge, a great tool to create shaders in Unity) I had to manually fix each of the game’s shaders (and materials) one by one. After which everything (at least visually) was back to normal.
There were also a plethora of issues with other third-party assets but I only have praises for their developers who responded very quickly to my cries for help (a special mention to Stephan, the developer of TextMeshPro and Diogo & Ricardo from Amplify) and provided us with stellar support.
And I am indeed quite relieved to say the situation is now back under control!
And now for our Christmas gift to you: how would you like to have your own papercraft Tilo to adorn your desk?
Well Paul lovingly prepared just the thing for you: if you possess a little patience and moderate finger coordination you’ll be able to create this little papercraft figurine of our favorite musical rodent! All you have to do is print out this PDF file and follow Paul’s instructions! Note that this is a revised and improved version of the one he did during Gamescom last year.
Tuesday - December 01, 2015
Ghost of a Tale - Pre-release Details
Seith provides a new update for Ghost of a Tale in which he talks about the development progress and provides some details on the pre-release of the game.
Now regarding the pre-release, if I take a step back and look at my charitable wish of doing it within the upcoming three weeks I have to say it looks REALLY tight. Not only because of the amount of work left to do, but also of the required time for playtesting and subsequent bug-fixing. And I’m certainly not about to start taking any shortcuts.
This feeling is compounded by the overwhelming wave of support that you guys have been expressing over the last couple of months which can be summed up as “please take your time, don’t rush it, make it good”. And I’m very grateful for that indeed.
Alright, so when the initial pre-release is made public, what exactly can you expect from it? In terms of content it’s roughly 20-25% of the final game. It sports a little less than thirty quests (including both main and secondary ones) and lets you explore two main areas, both indoors and outdoors.
As I was saying, some game mechanics will not make it into the pre-release. But what’s there will give you a very accurate taste of the game’s atmosphere and scope. In terms of playtime we can’t be certain yet but it should be at the very least a couple of hours.
In terms of localization, the pre-release might be English-only at first but rest assured we will localize it as soon as possible (basically when money allows it). We’ll add French, Italian, German and Spanish to start with. Then we will expand to other languages after that (I’m hoping Polish, Portuguese, etc..).
And that about covers it for this update. In the next one I’ll talk (among other things) about the minimum and required specs for the game. As usual if you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to post them in the comments.Oh and one last thing: I can’t go into any details about it yet but for you guys wondering if Sony is aware of the game and if they’re interested in helping us bring it to their newest console… the answer is “yes” and “yes”…
Tuesday - November 03, 2015
Ghost of a Tale - Is Coming to Steam
No Greenlight phase needed - Steam wants Ghost of a Tale:
This is going to be a very short update but I wanted to share a critical announcement with you: I was in the process of setting up the game’s Steam Greenlight page in order to start the required voting process. But in the middle of it I had to stop.
Why? Because Valve just contacted me to let me know they’re willing to skip us straight past Greenlight and land us directly into Early Access.
HOW TOTALLY AWESOME IS THAT!!! And completely unexpected I might add. I mean this is just mind-boggling (hence my quoting the late Vizzini in this post’s title)!
Besides the rarity of such an occurrence (to my knowledge at least) it’s going to save us a lot of precious time and energy that could have been better spent on developing the game.
If you’ll allow me a personal aside here; game development, contrarily to certain misconceptions, is not just fun and games. It is demanding work. Each and every day (and sometimes night) you have to fix broken things, find a way to bypass limitations, deal with frustrating technical issues, etc… So when something like that happens it feels good, believe me. It does. :)
Finally a big thank you to Matt and Tom from Valve, without whom this post would not have been possible! :P
Tuesday - October 27, 2015
Ghost of a Tale - Getting Closer
In a new update for Ghost of a Tale, Seith feels confident he is getting closer to an early access release on Steam.
Development keeps moving forward at a brisk pace! We have reached a symbolic milestone: all the quests and dialogs for the pre-release are playable in-game from start to end. Which is super awesome!
Now of course there’s still a lot of work to do in order to insure nothing breaks along the way. But it feels great to see everything coming together. We are clearly moving closer to a stage where we’ll be able to put the game in your hands. Which is both scary and exhilarating.
And it made me realize a simple thing: Ghost of a Tale is not really a game you “beat”; it’s a game you should get immersed into. It’s about discovering things, exploring the scenery, talking to the characters, etc… In a nutshell: taking the time to enjoy it. Although Ghost of a Tale is a small game (compared to juggernauts like Skyrim or The Witcher), please believe me when I say that I’m doing my best for the experience to be a very nice one indeed.
Oh and recently I came around to implementing bendable grass; which is grass that physically responds to Tilo’s presence. It’s a subtle detail of course, but seeing that the game is aiming to achieve a certain level of immersion (without going overboard) I hope you’ll agree it does hold some value.
Friday - October 09, 2015
Ghost of a Tale - Reality Check
Seith brings us an update of Ghost of a Tale in which he details where the game is as far as development goes.
Hello all! Please bear with be as today I would like to give you all a candid look at where we’re at in terms of development on Ghost of a Tale. Keep in mind that all those progress bars relate to the pre-release, not the final/complete game.
Another very, VERY important notion to understand is these bars you see are NOT all equals in terms of workload and time needed to complete them.
Now that the caveats are out of the way, let’s start the tour…
As you see there’s still some work left in the animation department. That includes a couple of animations on Tilo, some enemies and idle cycles for the NPCs.
Character models are really getting there and the props include skinned and dynamic clothes as well. I’ve been using a different export technique and the result is a much better framerate!
Environments still require some work to make sure everything is complete and works well with the streaming system and the quests.
Following this are several other overviews of development status related to elements in the game.
And then this about the release date:
The question that many of you will ask is “What’s the release date?”. As I said last time the goal is still to do a pre-release before the end of the year. We are going to do our best to make it happen but I won’t hide the fact that it is going to require a tremendous effort to both achieve that goal AND be happy with the result.
Because ultimately, as I said before (and I will say time and time again) I will never put out something that feels broken or rushed. Even if we’re just talking about a pre-release (by definition a non-complete game) I want what’s there to be thoroughly enjoyable.
Wednesday - September 09, 2015
Ghost of a Tale - Improved AI
In a new update for Ghost of a Tale, Seith talks about the effort he made in removing the old AI of the game and implementing a better one.
A few weeks ago while testing the game, I had to face the fact the AI (the artificial intelligence driving the enemies) was simply not good enough. It had become extremely bloated in terms of code complexity and yet was not quite delivering the quality I wanted.
So I decided to redo the entire game’s AI system from scratch, this time using a different behavior-tree technique.
It was a scary decision as during a few days the game wasn’t even playable; first I had to unplug all the actors’ “brains” and then I started again, slowly building up their new behaviors, piece by piece. I knew exactly what I wanted so I was able to get to the point rather quickly. But this time while I worked I hid away all the models, the animation, etc… and only used capsules.
Friday - August 21, 2015
Ghost of a Tale - Dress a Mouse
Seith has provided an update for Ghost of a Tale, about the clothes that make the mouse.
Since the inventory is now functional I recently I did a final pass on the dynamic props system. And I’m quite happy with its versatility. Basically Tilo can find a lot of wearable items that give him various resistances and boosts. Those items can be equipped on his ears, head, face, chest, waist, etc…
For example here you can see him dressed as a famous pirate (I won’t spoil it too much since it’s related to a specific quest).
And when wearing a complete costume set Tilo receives a further skill bonus. These costume items can be found all over the place (well actually some of them are quite hard to get) and are often related to the game’s folklore figures or even past Dwindling Heights prisoners.
The interesting thing is the NPCs will react differently depending on how Tilo is dressed (reflected in the dialogs). The possibilities of mix-and-match are also super nice; you can really create different (and rather unique) looks for Tilo.
He also mentions that he is planning to go to Early Access at the end of November.
Friday - July 24, 2015
Ghost of a Tale - Development Update & Interviews
Seith provides a new development update for Ghost of a Tale, in which he also mentions an early release on Steam happening in the not too far future.
Just a couple of development news: Paul has been hard at work on writing the game’s dialogs and it’s all shaping up very nicely. I’ve even added queries into the time-of-day system so NPCs can greet you while mentioning the proper time of day (ie: “Good afternoon!”).
I’ve done a pass on optimizing the UI and that paid off; I was able to shave off a handful of frames-per-second by reworking the entire system and separating each canvas into its own prefab.
Incidentally the UI system (inventory, dialogs, main interface, etc…) is starting to come into its own and feels more and more consistent.
So things are moving forward at a steady pace! The amount of work left to do is still rather daunting though. I think that within a few weeks I should be able to accurately assess the situation with regard to an early release.
Of course release plans have not been finalized by a long stretch yet but it is looking more and more like we’re going to do an early release of the game on Steam. In any case I will post many more details about that in an upcoming update!
The game runs on the Unity engine. I feel very lucky that I started using Unity when it took a turn towards better visual fidelity. I had heard of the engine before and was very far from convinced (based on the quite outdated visuals). But within two years it became an excellent engine capable of outputting AAA graphics.
I love the simplicity of development; it’s mostly based on individual components/scripts which is (in my opinion) a very flexible approach. I know hard-core coders usually prefer C++ but I’m primarily an artist (although I do have experience coding tools using Python). So I learned C# in order to code in Unity and I never looked back. Unity is not perfect of course (no engine is) but in my opinion it’s getting freaking close! I believe the thing that still hinders Unity is based on the fact that it’s not quite yet used by many AAA studios. But as things evolve I think it will continue improving and add features that are really useful for larger, more technically demanding games.
One such feature I’m waiting for is a robust way to manipulate multiple scenes at once, which would be useful for games like Ghost of a Tale which rely on streaming parts of the world to keep things smooth.
Monday - July 06, 2015
Ghost of a Tale - NPC and Dialog System
In this update for Ghost of a Tale, Seith talks about interaction with NPCs and the dialog system.
Hello everyone! After having developed the game’s quest system I’m now mostly done with the dialog system; the interface which lets you communicate with the game’s Non-Playable-Characters. Such an example of NPC is Kerold, an old inmate in the bowels of Dwindling Height’s prison (don’t mind him, he’s a bit mad).
The dialog system of course deals with displaying the NPC’s dialog on screen (as there are no voiceovers in the game). Text is supported by a 2D portrait of the character’s expressions and sound effects. It’s a pretty tried-and-true approach which works quite nicely in the game.
But the dialog system also has to fulfill many other functions. In fact it can get pretty tricky to manage in the long run and it’s very important to make it modular and simple enough to maintain and/or expand.
NPCs can greet you with several different lines depending on the current situation. But through dialog they must also be able to interact with the game’s quest system I mentioned at the beginning.
They can query the state of some quests or tasks (quests are made of a certain number of tasks), they can start a new quest, trigger the completion of some others, check if Tilo has some items in his possession, or even give him some items, accomplish an action, etc…
At the heart of the dialog system lies a test-machine parsing many different conditions and displaying dialog nodes depending on the results. Dialog nodes are only revealed if their conditions are fulfilled and some nodes should only be displayed once and never again. The system needs to keep track of all this information and it is obviously crucial that everything stays synchronized!Paul and I have spent a LOT of time talking about finding the “voice” of the characters and Paul has already written quite a few spiffy dialogs. So I have to say that adding at last this level of interaction to the game feels great…
Wednesday - June 24, 2015
Ghost of a Tale - Fire Update
In an update on the Ghost of a Tale site, Seith informs us that he added interaction with fire to the game.
Hello and welcome to a new Ghost of a Tale update! I have recently implemented fire interaction in the game. It’s something I was thinking of for a while but hadn’t come to work on yet.
In this GIF you can see it’s never a good idea to jump into a brazier. I’m pretty sure Tilo would agree with me…
You’ll also notice that the banner catches fire when Tilo runs close to it. Some objects can be set on fire this way, although not everything in the game is combustible of course.
Anyway as we’ve seen in a previous update there are much safer ways to burn things (usually any open flame will do the trick). No need to set yourself on fire!
But if it comes to this Tilo can put out fire by jumping (or hiding) in a water container (basin, barrel, etc…). Also some items you’ll find in the game offer varying degrees of protection against fire.
Also additional information on performance optimizations related to how a torch comes to live in the game depending on the distance of Tilo to that torch, is provided.
Tuesday - June 09, 2015
Ghost of a Tale - Interview @ BGU
How many people do you have working on Ghost of a Tale, and what sort of previous experiences in gaming or other forms of media do members of the team have?
I’ve already mentioned Paul and Cyrille but there’s of course the very talented Jeremiah Pena who is the game soundtrack’s composer. And for anyone interested in the details you can read this breakdown of the roles here: http://www.ghostofatale.com/who-creates-ghost-of-a-tale/. To summarize Paul is a published writer dans game designer, and Cyrille is a professional coder. They both have experience in the gaming industry. Paul is a veteran all the way from Traveller’s Tale and worked at Namco and Cyrille has developed a couple of mobile apps (although his professional experience is closer to the feature-animation industry). Jeremiah already had worked on a couple of games before he contacted me. And I think you will hear about him (and his compositions) in the years to come.
What sort of impact does feedback from the community or Indiegogo supporters have upon the development process? Do you consider it to have been a very open, or quite closed development process?As a result I would say Ghost of a Tale’s development is a very open one; I post regular updates on the progress of the game, talking about everything from the technical aspects to character design decisions, etc… I put a fine point in never concealing anything in case of issues related to the development. From the beginning I have been frank and open about the process and anyone with a modicum of interest can come in, read and ask anything they want.
The campaign backers have a great influence on the game’s design (even though many of them do not realize it). The biggest example being when I started the campaign; in the initial trailer I had Tilo hitting the undead rats with some sort of weapon, like a straight-forward action game. Even though I knew back then that this was a mere place-holder (before figuring out more satisfying ways to interact with the world), the reaction of the backers helped cement the idea in my mind: it would be much more interesting to use Tilo’s specific mouse skills rather than fall into the more expected hit-a-monster-until-it-falls routine.
When are you aiming to release Ghost of a Tale?
The release date has not been announced yet and I will post the information on the site whenever I get a better visibility on the topic. Let’s say I’m hoping for an autumn release on PC but it is still too soon to confirm that.
Sunday - May 31, 2015
Ghost of a Tale - The Interface
The Ghost of a Tale site has been updated with information on the 2D interface of the game using animated GIFs.
Hello all, welcome to this new update! Lately I’ve been hard at work on the UI side of the game. Which comprises the inventory, the 2D interactions with the world, textual feedback, etc…
For example in this animated picture (ed: not showing animated images, please click the link above) you can see Tilo looting the contents of a chest. As a player you can choose which item you want to take or you can take everything in one go.
You’ll also notice that the chest remains slightly ajar when Tilo’s done, which is a visual indication (useful at a distance) that this container has been emptied. This way if you don’t remember you looted the chest you don’t need to come and check again. The mention “(empty)” is also added so there’s no confusion as to why you can’t access the contents anymore.
Seith also mentions in this update that the game will be one year late compared to the date mentioned during the Indiegogo campaign, which isn't really a surprise.
Thursday - May 14, 2015
Ghost of a Tale - The Creators
Seith explains in this latest update for Ghost of a tale, who besides him are working on the game.
Ghost of a Tale is often called a one-man game. While in a sense this could be considered as true (as in “if I didn’t work on this game it would never exist”), I wanted to give a detailed breakdown of who directly participates in the creation of Ghost of a Tale.
Starting with Paul Gardner, who is the writer for the game. He puts up valiantly with all my nagging regarding finding specific “voices” for the characters. But Paul’s role is not “just” writing for the game; he’s also a professional game designer (having worked on quite a few titles at Namco and Traveler’s Tale).
So we talk a lot about ideas, back and forth several times a week. Our discussions range from game mechanics to dialogs to back-story to level design. And I never move forward if he disagrees strongly with something. If Ghost of a Tale is anywhere near what it is today it’s thanks to Paul’s steadfast collaboration.
On the technical side I have the considerable benefit of receiving help and support from Cyrille Paulhiac who is an experienced coder. As I mentioned previously Cyrille has created a couple of amazing tools that allow me to concentrate on creating the game itself rather than dealing with technical tediousness. His work often remains “behind the curtain” but is nonetheless very cool.
As a concrete example during the weeks leading up to Gamescom last year I had to manually model all the tessellated environment colliders (using Maya) for the demo. Which was a thankless, time-consuming job. Since then, Cyrille has coded a tool which creates those colliders in seconds with just one click, directly within Unity!
Monday - April 27, 2015
Ghost of a Tale - So Far, So Good Update
A new update for Ghost of a Tale was released by the games developer Seith who talks about a new magazine preview, and shows off some new graphic renders.
Hello everyone! Here’s a quick development update. Everything’s advancing as smoothly as possible with new and exciting in-game improvements I’m VERY happy about. I’ll talk more about those in upcoming updates but suffice to say the game is really taking shape.
On the technical side Cyrille recently developed a super-simple tool which allows me to concentrate on creating the game’s environments without slowing down my workflow. It’s basically something that lets me import/export locations from the game with a single click. And it’s awesome!
Especially because, as you know, Dwindling Heights (and everything around it) makes for a rather large environment with secrets passages and both open-air and subterranean areas. This way I can concentrate on specific locations while not being slowed down by having to display the entirety of the game’s environments at once.
Friday - April 03, 2015
Ghost of a Tale - Day and Night
A new update for Ghost of a Tale surfaced in which Seith informs us that he has added a day and night cycle to the game, which was originally not planned.
Hello everyone. Just a quick update to let you guys know that I’ve recently integrated a Day/Night cycle into the game (thank you LuckyMouse!). Initially I had thought it would be too difficult and time-consuming to implement but as I started working on the look of the landscape and the sky itself I felt it would be a worthy addition (and Paul agreed).
As I showed the result to Cyrille he pointed out that this was a very elegant solution to bringing variety to the visuals. There are still things to iron out and bugs to fix of course but here are some time-lapse screenshots from early morning to night.
Thursday - March 12, 2015
Ghost of a Tale - Environment Update Posted
Developer Seith released a new update this month for Ghost of a Tale this week. This time we get a look at his work the game environment. It looks good in my opinion.
Hello everyone! I’m still hard at work on the game’s environments and things are moving forward smoothly, although it’s quite intense; balancing artistic ambitions with gameplay layout and technical feasibility…
While I was going through my stash of screenshots I found some old ones (well they’re from last year) and it was quite the eye-opener to see how far the project has come.
Here’s an example with the keep’s courtyard you get to explore when you escape the jail (I hope I don’t need to tell you which one’s the new screenshot.
Monday - March 02, 2015
Ghost of a Tale - Large Update Posted
Developer Seith released a new update last month on the Ghost of a Tale website.
Welcome to a new game development update! This will be a lengthy one, so please bear with me. In order to make your reading more palatable I’ve interspersed a couple of screenshots for your viewing pleasure.
The last couple of weeks have been particularly productive. Paul and I met to lock everything in terms of quests, story and structure. The result is an even clearer understanding of the game’s scope.
Regarding that topic, it is interesting to note how much the game has evolved since the Indiegogo campaign. At the time I only had a very rough idea of what I wanted the game to be, but many important elements were still up in the air.
Friday - January 23, 2015
Ghost of a Tale - Moving to Unity 5.0
Seith mentions on the Ghost of a Tale site that he is moving to Unity 5.0 and that he likes the new lighting engine.
Hello everyone! This is going to be a quick update to tell you that I’m currently in the process of converting the game’s project to Unity 5.0 (beta 20). I’m not even using any fancy Global Illumination yet, but the new lighting engine shines through:
This is a rather involved task but it is also indispensable for Ghost of a Tale to move forward. The reason is we’re going to need the new navigational mesh abilities which should allow us to achieve our goal of streaming the game’s environments instead of having to put loading screens at select locations.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Ghost of a Tale is my first game ever, therefore it’s not going to be a sprawling epic tale. In fact, it is the very first step on a longer journey, for us as well as for Tilo.
If the game meets with success then we will be able to keep on telling this story with greater confidence. So this game is going to happen in a single (rather large) location with environments going from subterranean caves to the top of high towers (think “Ico”). And everything is consistent from a spatial point of view.
So it is important for us to be able to tap into Unity 5’s new capabilities regarding pathfinding across several streaming interconnected locations. Plus this new version has a lot of improvements in many domains (lighting, physics, animation, etc…). There are still many issues that I need to fix for the Unity 5 conversion to be considered complete, but I am confident that this the right choice. And I really hope it will pay off in the long run!
In addition he also mentions the new ability to set a banner to fire using a candle and has some pictures showing just that.
Wednesday - January 14, 2015
Ghost of a Tale - New Magazine Feature
The next update for Ghost of a Tale has information form the games developer Seith about his game being covered in a magazine, and shares a few images.
Hi all! And Happy New Year! This is just to show you that the press is taking note of Ghost of a Tale. For example here we have FOUR full-color lavish pages in the latest issue of “The Game” (#4), a French magazine dealing with video games and their creators.
Some of the pictures are from older builds and don’t quite do justice to the current look of the game, yet I believe it serves as a wonderful introduction to Ghost of a Tale for anyone unfamiliar with it.
Friday - December 26, 2014
Ghost of a Tale - Holiday Update
The next development update for Ghost of a Tale has information form the games developer Seith about how keeping the games code compact helps development.
Hello everyone, welcome to this general update regarding the current state of development! Since the end of Gamescom in late August I’ve been working very hard to basically deconstruct a lot of what I had done in a hurry and re-code quite a few things (almost) from scratch, in order to make them much more solid and modular.
Saturday - November 01, 2014
Ghost of a Tale - Design Update
In this development update of Ghost of a Tale, Seith walks us through the process of designing a Blood Spider.
The first question I always ask myself is this one: does this design belong specifically to Ghost of a Tale? Meaning does it have enough personality with the right mix of cute and dark? This question is closely followed by another: did I see this design plastered all over contemporary games? Does it have a modicum of originality?
Now it’s not always possible to make something which stands out from all the other clones you saw in countless games and movies. And sometimes it does seem like the mainstream video game industry puts a fine point in making sure creature designs reference each-other and never stray too far from an accepted norm.
Usually when spiders are concerned in movies and games the designers go for the tarantula (“mygalomorph”) look. A very meaty, brown, beefy kind of spider. So that look was done to death.
My first spider design was okay but it didn’t feel enough like a “real” spider to me. More like some alien monster. And as it stands it lacks appeal. Maybe I’ll end up reworking that approach at some point in the future but I wanted to try something different. So I went back to the roots of any design work: gathering documentation.
Saturday - August 30, 2014
Ghost of a Tale - Back From GamesCom
Seith has posted a new update on the Ghost of a Tale website about being back from GamesCom, and shares a few links to some previews of his game.
We’ve been back from Gamescom for a week now and it was a blast. Of course I was a little anxious as to what the gamers’ reaction would be. As I said in the previous post, up to now Ghost of a Tale was just a couple of pretty screenshots. And from one day to the next it became something real that players were experiencing first hand (even though it was just a demo).
The media coverage was quite extensive and we had articles on many websites (RPGWatch, PCGamer, IGN, Rock-Paper-Shotgun, Gamekult, GameInformer, Destructoid, IndieHangover and many more in many different languages). And that doesn’t even include quite a few threads on various forums like Reddit and Neogaf, interviews by German media and the mentions in a bunch of podcasts and on Youtube.
Basically for a lot of people Ghost of a Tale completely came out of the blue. A lot of them noticed the game during Microsoft’s press conference and went online to find out more about it (and watch the full trailer). So a big thank you to Microsoft for that!
As to anyone wondering what’s the deal with Microsoft: they simply heard of the game and decided they also wanted to see it released on their new console. So they sent us development kits free of charge along with the means to pay for the port of the game. And that’s it. So Ghost of a Tale remains at its core an indie PC game which is also going to be released on Xbox One thanks to Microsoft’s help.
Thanks again to all of you who continue to follow the game’s development. And keep sending us good vibes, they are very much appreciated!
As a side-note I found German gamers to be very polite and thoughtful! Which made for an extra-nice overall experience. We had a lot of people playing the game and on average the demo itself was about 15 to 20mn long. Although some people spent almost 45mn to do everything and Cyrille holds the speedrun record of 2:38 !
Thursday - August 28, 2014
RPGWatch Feature - Ghost of a Tale at Gamescom
I talked to a couple of indie developers at Gamescom. One of them was Seith, who is working on Ghost of a Tale, which features a minstrel mouse, which is a lead character you do not see often in a role playing game. Given that I was looking forward to learn what he has accomplished since the Indiegogo campaign and interview him, resulting in this article.
The game has no combat mode in which you can fight with your opponents. It is a non-violent game and you will need to find other ways than fighting to defeat your opponents. Next to sneaking, running or hiding, you could for example also drop things on them. Not only do you need to use your skills to pass the rats, but you will need it as well to solve other problems. You are after all only a small mouse and many things aren't that easy for you. Like a key that is out of your reach, but can be obtained by dragging a stool from another room to climb on, thus shortening the distance to the key
Thursday - August 14, 2014
Ghost of a Tale - Gameplay Trailer
Here is the promised one minute Gamescom trailer for Ghost of a Tale.
Ghost of a Tale is the adventure of Tilo, a tiny minstrel mouse, exploring a mysterious and dangerous world.
Wednesday - August 13, 2014
Ghost of a Tale - Gamescom Fact Sheet
The developer of Ghost of a Tale Seith has released a new fact sheet for the game.
Ghost of a Tale is a 3rd person action adventure game for PC. Set in a medieval world inhabited only by animals, the story follows the quest of Tilo – a courageous minstrel mouse – searching for his lost family. Combining elements of classic adventure and exploration games with highly immersive visuals, Ghost of a Tale weaves an epic yet intimate story.
Equipped with a mouse’s talents for stealth, quick-thinking, agility and disguise – and a love of music – Tilo must explore a dangerous world, solving mysteries while evading the clutches of his enemies. For Tilo is no great warrior: He can’t fight his huge, lethal adversaries directly!
Sneaky – You can creep through the world almost silently, avoiding the patrolling rats and other predators. But even the sneakiest of mice can be spotted! When an enemy gives chase you must move quickly to find a safe place to hide.
Sneaking makes Tilo more aware of what’s around him, and the dangers that may lie ahead: Enemies’ footsteps can be heard more keenly, while chests, barrels and other items reveal themselves as possible hiding places for the adventurous mouse.
Smart - Tilo’s world holds many secrets and puzzles for you to solve. You’ll be using your brain and keen powers of observation to make your way past the perils that await you. Sometimes, when all seems lost, you can still count on Tilo’s trusted lute to get out of trouble.
Curious - Tilo’s body language will alert you to useful items nearby that might otherwise go unnoticed. If you look well enough, you’ll find a variety of hats – as all mice do, Tilo has a love for hats – and other articles of clothing scattered around the world which he can wear. Sometimes, dressing in the right disguise will help you to move unseen through the world, and explore seemingly inaccessible areas.
Agile - Mice are famous for being exceptionally nimble! When confronted by danger, you can scamper swiftly away or leap out of reach. You can even use a sharp burst of speed to outpace Tilo’s foes. Skillfully use the environment to slow your enemies or lure them into traps! The choice is yours…
Sorry no links for you guys as this is just a PR statement. You can visit the games web page for more information if you still don't know what the game is about.
Friday - July 25, 2014
Ghost of a Tale - Gamescom Trailer Finished
In a new update for Ghost of a Tale, Seth explains that the Gamescom trailer is done.
Hello everyone! With August very soon upon us this might end up being the last update before Gamescom. I’ve just wrapped up work on the reveal trailer yesterday at 3AM. It was back-breaking work, but it’s done and I’m happy with the result. I want to thank Paul for his indispensable help on finishing the trailer and obviously Jeremiah for his hauntingly beautiful soundtrack.
The trailer is an important element to get right because for a lot of people (I hope at least) this will be the first time they’re introduced to the world of Ghost of a Tale. You guys already know about the game of course, but it’s still pretty much unknown to the wide gaming audience.
It’s a difficult act to balance as Ghost of a Tale is definitely not a AAA game. People expecting the scale of Skyrim or the action of Dark Souls are not going to find it. Instead they’ll find a small game with elements of exploration, action, stealth, adventure, and I hope the charm and heart which I think so many bombastic AAA games lack nowadays.
Here’s a screenshot for you (it’s HD resolution so you can make it bigger). It’s not part of the trailer, just some dark, humid location in the demo.
So now I’ll move on to working on the playable demo we’ll show on our booth (Hall 10.1 Aisle C No: 51). It’s going to be at pre-alpha stage, meaning a lot of elements are not there yet, like the questing and dialog system, inventory, etc… But the mission for Gamescom is not to say “here look at our game, it’s almost done!” but rather to simply raise awareness. And despite the fatigue, the bugs and the long hours I have to say I love how the game is shaping up. What is shown at Gamescom is going to be but a fraction of what Ghost of a Tale has to offer…
Wednesday - May 14, 2014
Ghost of a Tale - Gamescom 2014
The developer of Ghost of a Tale Seith has a new post on his website with information he will be at Gamescom 2014 with a playable demo build of the game.
Hello everyone! This is a quick update to let you guys know that Ghost of a Tale will be officially presented at Gamescom this August in Cologne (Germany). There will be a playable demo so please come by our booth and try the game for yourself!
We will of course announce more details as the date approaches. Just to be clear: the demo is going to be a work-in-progress but it should give a pretty good idea of the finished product.
I won’t hide from you that the amount of work to be done until then is absolutely staggering. It is going to be a race against time on so many levels for everyone involved in this adventure.
Monday - April 14, 2014
Ghost of a Tale - Lore Update
Seith has updated the Ghost of a Tale website with information on the game's lore, of which little has been known up to now.
Welcome everyone! As promised this update is going to focus on the game’s lore, an aspect which has mostly been kept under wraps until now. As you all know Ghost of a Tale takes place in a medieval world inhabited by animals, each species ruling over its own kingdom. And among those kingdoms the Rats are considered one of the most powerful species. Although creatures far more fearsome exist, it is a well-known fact that, through sheer force of numbers, the Rat Army is capable of defeating almost any foe.
Today some say the Rats’ influence is so wide and far-reaching that it is more empire than kingdom. The origin of the Rat’s powerful influence can be traced all the way back to the War of the Green Flame, many centuries ago, when the world was teetering on the edge of the Bright Abyss.
No one remembers where the Green Flame appeared first. A force without conscience or thought, it killed and consumed all those standing in its path. The fallen would then grow the ranks of its army, becoming soulless puppets of the necromantic power. The great battle has passed into myth and legend now – but some facts are indisputable: the mighty Badgers of Baladhon fought and lost and even the Hawks of Halenvir fell from the sky. None of them could turn back the foul invasion.
When the news of the advancing army of the Green Flame reached the capital of each kingdom there was much debate. Some believed the Green Flame could be subjugated, used as a source of power. For others it was capable of nothing but death and decay. These quarrels took far too much time to resolve and when the Council of Asper finally stood together at last to face the Green Flame it was all but too late......
Monday - March 31, 2014
Ghost of a Tale - Development Update
The last development update for Ghost of a Tale was last year, but Seith delivers a new one this last day of March to share with us the status of the development.
And here is a summary of things that are either new or improved (in no particular order):
- AI: I’ve implemented a new detection system for the enemies. Before it was a binary system which wasn’t entirely satisfying: you were either detected (and attacked right away) or you were not. The new detection system is much more organic and takes into account the player’s position, distance, speed, stance and whether you are hiding or not. There’s also a visual feedback icon on the enemy to let you know his level of suspicion (a little like in the Assassin’s Creed games). So now the whole thing is much more skill-based: it’s about how you balance the act of reaching a certain location without getting detected. Bottom line: it’s more fun!
- Music: A while ago Jeremiah composed an excellent “combat” cue (actually several) which is triggered when you get detected by an enemy and I finally got around integrating it to the new detection system. Needless to say it adds a tremendous amount of tension and drama to the experience.
- Animation: I mentioned before the “awareness system” in place for the player character; I’ve now added something similar for the enemies so that when they go somewhere (eg: patrolling from A to B) they actually look where they’re going. I know it may sound trivial but for me (as an animator) it really makes a difference.
- Story: Paul and I worked a great deal on the story. It has grown in depth and scope and we’re focused on making sure we can explore it for all its worth. We’re also working on game design and we are now at a point where we’re testing individual mechanics to make sure everything is working as it should.
- Interface: We now have a first pass on the inventory and the song system. It feels nice being able to actually see what you picked up at last (icon and description). Still a lot of work to be done in that area but it’s starting to take shape. We also have a new dialog system in place (thanks to Tony for the support on his Dialoguer asset) which works really well.
- Visuals: All the game’s shaders have been converted to Physically Based Shaders using the new Shader Forge tool (thanks to Joachim for the support). What does it mean in plain English? Surfaces now look much more realistic in the way they react to lighting: stone, metal and wood actually “feel” like distinct materials.
Tuesday - December 24, 2013
Ghost of a Tale - Christmas Update
The development of the game with the mouse, Ghost of a Tale has a new update.
When I started the Indiegogo campaign back in May I was hoping for some kind of closed alpha to be released right about now but it seems that was a little optimistic, as I’m still putting something together as we speak. I am aware that we live in a time where huge studios cancel or delay their games on a whim, without much apparent respect for their audiences. And sometimes when they do release their games they are crippled by strings of bugs, broken features and half-baked ideas. But let me assure you that I have no desire to follow in those tracks!
Actually, given the fact that this is my first game ever (and that I’m still learning as I go) I’m very happy about the way things are evolving. Indeed I’m slowly reaching the feature-freeze stage where everything starts to gel and game mechanics just… work. Although one of the perks of developing the game 95% on my own is being allowed to change my mind and experiment with things without enduring the wrath of irate team-members. On the other hand if I break it, I have to fix it!
Still, I am glad to benefit from the help of great collaborators whenever the need arises (thanks Paul, Cyrille and Stephane)!
As a side note for a couple of months now I’ve been working with a new computer (bought with the campaign’s funds) and the speed at which I can develop the game has been greatly enhanced. It doesn’t look fancy but it’s got 16gigs of RAM, SSD drives and a GTX Titan graphics card. I am so happy about it because it makes the development process so much more effective (and enjoyable!).
In addition there is a new wallpaper to download and peek into the process of creating the game’s sets.
Tuesday - December 03, 2013
Ghost of a Tale - Game Progress
A new update for Ghost of a Tale popped up with information on the progress of the game and a screenshot.
Hi everyone! It’s been a while since the last update but that’s because work on the game is moving forward at a brisk pace. So here are just a few improvements since the previous update, in no particular order:
- Started testing DX11 global illumination asset (called “Dynamic GI”) for potential future integration (thanks Chris!)
- Integrated new camera with auto-corrective behavior (more on this at the end of this post)
- Deepened the lore and background story elements for characters, locations and quests (thanks Paul!)
- Implemented modular Actor AI with shared behaviors and waypoint system
- The crystal crab is now functional (and quite scary)
- Implemented traps game mechanics
- Footsteps sounds now match the ground material under the actors
- Implemented hiding spots game mechanics (really fun to use)
- Implemented faction system for NPCs (player is no longer the de-facto target)
- Stealth behavior is integrated
- Implemented ladder climbing system (yay for verticality!)
- Created new animation assets (player, skeletal rats, crab, etc…)
- Created additional foley sounds
- Implemented new props attachment and equipment system (great way to customize the character’s look)
- Started testing a new DX 11 Unity asset (called “Fluidity”) in hopes of integrating it in the game (for cool pyrotechnics)
Tuesday - October 29, 2013
Ghost of a Tale - Behind the Scenes & The figurines
It has been a while since we have posted anything about the mouse with a lute RPG Ghost of a Tale. The games website has a bunch of a new information for anyone interested.
The figurines are back!
After several tests we’ve found the best way to protect them: we put them in a plastic bag and fill it with what’s called “exfoliated vermiculite”, which is basically powdered/crushed volcanic rocks. That substance is not organic (so it’s fine for international shipping), but it is also very light yet firm enough that it can maintain the figurine safely from all angles and safely absorb the effects of inertia.
Each figurine is numbered and they’ll be shipping early this week. And then an army of undead rats will be unleashed upon the world!
Perks have shipped!
Hey guys, this is a quick perks-related update: you’ll be glad to know the T-shirts and post-cards all shipped. So hopefully you’ll get them fairly soon (please allow the time for snail-mail to reach you before panicking!). I really hope you’ll like those…
Behind the Scenes
Since David suggested I do a post regarding the applications I use to develop “Ghost of a Tale”, here’s a quick breakdown of how my pipeline goes, starting with Maya.
Whether it’s character or environment I tend to begin with very basic poly shapes before I then move on to thinking about details. So Maya acts as a modeling software for very early stage exploration. Of course character animation also happens in Maya. I also developed an exporter for Unity which allows me to export models and/or animations with just one click. Let me tell you it’s a real time-saver!
Thursday - July 18, 2013
Ghost of a Tale - Game Progress
Seith provided a development update for Ghost of a Tale, the game with the mouse.
On the other end, I’m happy to report that the game is making great progress (with the help of a few very talented people). So here are a few things that have been changed/improved since the alpha trailer:
- Gamepad support has been fully implemented. I never thought I would one day utter those words, but I actually prefer using the gamepad to test the game now.
- Several concept art pieces were created (thanks Adam!).
- Player control and animation have been completely overhauled; better collision detection, smooth transitions, new interaction animations, etc…
- Started implementing sneak mode (I can’t say much more about that yet).
- Started implementing dialog/interaction support. This is linked to the game’s UI and is still very much a work in progress.
- Dynamics are on! The mouse’s hood is now completely dynamic, it responds to the mouse’s movements; this saves a lot of work on the animation side and looks really neat to boot (thanks Enrique!).
- New fur (thanks Dariusz!), cloth and environmental shaders with multi-layered POM and tessellation support (thanks Andy!). This allows the texture work to really pop.
- New interactive bending vegetation (thanks Dominik!). Bushes and grass react to the player running through them. It really adds a nice touch.
- Player character awareness system; it’s a mouthful to just say that the mouse is aware of what’s around him, even if the player isn’t. So if you run about and the mouse notices something he’s going to turn his attention to it. In other words his body language will clue you in about interesting features you might have missed.
And that’s it for now…
Of course some of those things you guys might take for granted in games nowadays. But the thing is, in Unity you have to create pretty much everything from scratch. It’s a lot of work, but on the plus side it also means that you can create exactly what you need.
Finally, just a little picture of our mighty hero for you:
Friday - May 24, 2013
Ghost of a Tale - Interview @ Polygon
Polygon has created an article-style interview with Ghost of a Tale developer Lionel Gallat.
Gallat cites Disney's animated films starring talking animals as a major source of inspiration, naming the Winnie the Pooh franchise and Robin Hood specifically. He is also a fan of the Redwall books and The Secret of Nimh, both of which are stories of small mice overcoming hardships in fantastical worlds. Gallat loves these types of stories because they firmly belong to the imaginary world but still contain nuggets of realness to them.
"At no point during [them] do you wonder, 'Okay, is this a real world?' It's different," he said. "It's like a translation of things that we know. For me it's a mixture between something you can believe in, in terms of credibility, like the world, the water, the rocks, the architecture. But it's transposed through these fantasy characters and that makes it more fun, more interesting."
Gameplay in Ghost of a Tale is based on exploration and encourages players to discover what makes the world tick on their own.
"You are thrown into an adventure and you don't really know much about where you are and what you're trying to do," Gallat explained. "I'm not playing the trope of the amnesiac character, but you will have little nuggets of info at some points so you have a sense of what's happening and what your goal is."
Gallat added he wants to keep the interface as simple as possible, and will not add directional arrows on screen or include fetch quests that involve hunting down and talking to people. There may be a "little bit" of melee combat in the finished game, but Gallat is playing up the stealth aspect and wants to encourage players to find their own ways around obstacles.
Monday - May 20, 2013
Ghost of a Tale - Funded
The mouse with a lute RPG called Ghost of a Tale has been funded on Indiegogo with one day left to go.
WE MADE IT!!!
That’s incredible! No, really; it is. Why? Because a month ago “Ghost of a Tale” wasn’t on anyone’s radar. No journalist was aware of anything in regard to the project. The campaign was a text-book cold start.
So you can all be proud of yourselves, because you’ve made it happen. In fact from my point of view that is the single most amazing thing about the whole adventure; to see that you, the backers, decided this could be a special little game worth helping. And that you acted on this feeling.
As I wrote on the main page, one of the reasons I started this campaign was to see if there were enough potential players that could be bothered; it was to be a stern (and very public) verdict on the viability of the project itself. And boy did I get a resounding endorsement!
Thank you to each and everyone of you who have contributed to this campaign, whether from a financial or moral standpoint (and often both). As one of you said in a recent message, I shouldn’t think of this success as a heavy pressure weighting down on me as I work on the game, but rather I should think of it as an huge mark of affection for the project. And indeed I very much like the notion!
I will keep posting here any important updates until I can all direct you to an official site and community forums where you’ll be able to keep being involved in the creation of the game. Meanwhile, I am sure all of you will join me in breathing a long sigh of relief… :)
Saturday - May 18, 2013
Ghost of a Tale - Wallpapers
There are still 3 days to go in order to reach the required additional 4.5 KEuro for Ghost of a Tale to get funded. With a bit of help that should be possible.
In the meantime there are some wallpapers of the game you can enjoy.
Yeah I know.... a newsbit on wallpapers?? It is indeed just a trick to lure you into pledging for the game where you get to play as a mouse.
Tuesday - May 14, 2013
Ghost of a Tale - How to Build a Crab
In the recent days four updates were added to the Indiegogo campaign for Ghost of a Tale, which just requires a little of 10 KEuro more to reach its goal of 45 KEuro in the next 7 days. The updates are about the steps that are required to create a crab from scratch.
For those of you interested in the more technical aspects of the game’s development I thought I would present the method I used to create the crab model. As a side note, I’ll have to spread that presentation over several updates, as Indiegogo only allows for one picture per update.
Before starting to work on the model, I always surround myself with visual references (photographs, paintings) and make mental notes of aspects I will emphasize in order to end up with a model that’ll be interesting enough.
It all starts with a simple cube (within Maya), followed by other cubes to roughly represent all the body parts and get a feel for the overall volume of the limbs. As you can see, it’s all very blocky and I do not worry about details at this stage. It’s best to check that everything looks as expected now (in terms of overall morphology), as it will become more difficult to change things further down the line.
Then I start to work on the body parts in Zbrush (bottom picture), simply refining the broad shapes. Again, not caring too much about details yet; just roughing in the main volumes. Note that at this stage I already know I’ll have to open the arms of the creature so I can get a better look while sculpting. But starting with the arms folded ensured that the crab would eventually be able to get into that pose later on.
And the result is this:
Thursday - May 09, 2013
Ghost of a Tale - Interview @ Rock Paper Shotgun
RPS: Let’s talk in a bit more detail about the game. What sort of game is it going to be, and what can we expect from it?
Gallat: You play as a little mouse. This mouse gets to an island and this island is populated by undead rats. Something has happened on the island that is not normal. You came to the island for a reason, though, and you have a quest, which is to get to the tower of Periclave, which is the name of the island itself. That’s the underlying struggle. When you get to the island you start to discover what had happened there, and why it happened. I think it will not be too much of a spoiler if I say you are going to meet a ghost. You are going to help him, somehow. It’s really about exploration, about discovering things, and it is not at all focused on combat. In the alpha trailer there is a moment where you get some kind of a weapon and start whacking at the rats, and that was fun to do, but it does not reflect the gameplay that I have in mind. It is about stealth. The mouse is not powerful at all, and it is engaged in a very dangerous adventure, it is perilous, and so it is really a game about exploiting this fact, not about fighting through enemies that are twice your size.
RPS: Can you talk about those gameplay mechanic ideas at all?Gallat: Well there will be puzzles in the sense that you need to find your way through the island. There will be some mechanics and mechanisms which involve discovering things that are not of use at first sight, but when you look, really look, you find out their purpose. There is also going to be a good deal of stealth, and avoiding of confronting enemies directly, because that is not going to work. Indirect methods of confronting enemies will be important. We will have quests and objectives of course, but I think of it more like an adventure than like a Dark Souls or something.
Wednesday - May 08, 2013
Ghost of a Tale - Interview @ IndieGameMag
IndieGameMag has a new interview on Ghost of a Tale. We posted another interview earlier also. Both offer new information so be sure to read both.
If you search for the name “Lionel Gallat” on IMDB, you’ll find the name attached to a number of animated feature films: animation director for The Lorax, animation director for Despicable Me, supervising animator for Shark Tale, and the list goes on.
But more recently, Gallat has stepped away from animated feature films, and started developing a video game…on his own. The game is called Ghost of a Tale, and with one look at a screenshot it is easy to see that Gallat’s artistic skills have easily transitioned into the video game. Ghost of a Tale looks beautiful.
“As an animation director I was responsible for the animation of entire movies, leading 60+ [person] teams,” Gallat explained to IGM. “I was longing to go back to the nitty-gritty of creation; writing, modeling, painting, rigging, programming and… playing. I’ve already been in a position where I mostly tell people what they should do (and it’s probable [that] one day I’ll go back to that position) but today I’m having a lot of fun doing things myself for a change!”
Gallat, who is in the middle of promoting the funding campaign for his debut title Ghost of a Tale, chatted with IGM for a bit about his experience transitioning from Hollywood to the game development scene, his woes with Kickstarter, and why Ghost of a Tale deserves your support.
IGM – What inspired you to start working on a game, and move out of the animation industry?
Gallat - It was a good time for me to do so. I’ve always loved games and I’ve always enjoyed writing stories, creating models and animating them. But I also love programming (I’ve written tools used in production in several studios). So it wasn’t really that far-fetched for me to put the two together.
As an artist who programs I can get lost in a coherent game world and get to look everywhere I want, and interact with things that I created. In a nutshell it’s a lot of fun. I feel like a kid again, when I was programming moving sprites (an achievement!) in Microsoft Basic. It’s a huge amount of work obviously, but so rewarding.
IGM – So if the game isn’t fully funded…is that it? Would Ghost of a Tale cease to exist?
Gallat - Yes, probably. Several people have asked me that same question recently. I’ve been working on Ghost of a Tale full-time for more than a year (that includes changing engines), funding everything from my own pocket. So if I can’t remain financially independent and get a modest budget to pay for a handful of collaborators I’ll have to pull the plug at some point. Although let me tell you in all honesty it would hurt like hell, since I love this project with all my soul; I’ve poured so much time, energy and love into it.
If the campaign isn’t successful I would still try to keep working on the project for as long as I could afford it. But at some point my savings will eventually run out. I’m not complaining though; it’s the risk I took so I’m the only one responsible.
I also have to be lucid on the fact that if there aren’t enough backers maybe it means that there simply aren’t enough people interested in a game like Ghost of a Tale. That’s what frightens me most.
Tuesday - May 07, 2013
Ghost of a Tale - Interview @ Venturebeat
The Ghost of a Tale campaign at Indiegogo has still 2 weeks to go (the duration was increased recently with one week) and is currently at 27K€ out of a requested 45K€.
In the meantime an article style interview showed up at Venturebeat with developer Lionel Gallat.
“All those influences, just being able to put some cute animals … into a situation where they have to really face danger, but also find empathy in the player, so that the player can care a little bit about the characters and understand, even though they don’t look human,” he said. “That’s what I’m trying to do. To be able to show that even though they don’t look at all like us, we can really understand [them].”
“I’m just trying to do something that’s charming, sympathetic, but I’m not shying away from violence or danger or stuff like that,” he added.
Monday - April 22, 2013
Ghost of a Tale - Updates
There are two new updates for the Ghost of a Tale campaign on Indiegogo. It is a fixed campaign, so you will only be charged if it succeeds and it is currently at 16K€ of an asked 45K€ with 22 days to go.
The first update is on simplicity:
I just would like to quickly address the topic of simplicity, since I mentioned it on the main page. It is quite common to see game projects flounder because of over-ambition. Sometimes, in the hope of raising as much money as possible, projects try to cater to too many audiences and end up disappointing a large chunk of their backers. It is my wish to try and avoid this as much as possible.
So let me make something clear: if as a player you MUST have deep statistics and number crunching, then chances are you will be disappointed in “Ghost of a Tale”. I can’t stress this enough: my goal is to create a game that’s beautiful, charming, fun, accessible and straightforward in its approach. This should not however be necessarily construed as “dumbed-down” or shallow; after all you can build fairly complex architectures with simple stones.
Finally here’s a short turntable video which shows the main character you’ll play in-game. It’s the first of a series of videos which aim to give you a better look at some of the characters that were only glimpsed in the alpha trailer…
And the second on the Undead rat
Here’s a better look at one of the undead rats that was seen on the video. This is one of the more heavily armored ones. They’re not very fast, but they can kill you with one well-adjusted blow (as opposed to what you see in the video). Let’s not forget that compared to your small mousy self they are indeed towering giants!
Again, this is simply the game asset directly within Unity, as it appears in-game. No fancy CG makeup.
Keen-eyed ones among you will no doubt notice the royal sigil of the Rat King painted on the shield. Although it’s seen better days. Too much salty water if you ask me… :)
Incidentally, the character’s pose is the one used for the figurine available on the campaign page.
Monday - April 15, 2013
Ghost of a Tale - Interview and Fixed Funding
An interview for Ghost of the Tale, currently on Indiegogo (currently at 1/3th of the asked 45K Euro) can be found at The Verge.
In order to keep the project manageable, Gallat is making Ghost of a Tale relatively small. There will be exploration, combat, secrets to uncover, and even some role playing game elements, but don't expect a game on the scale of Skyrim. You'll explore a haunted island as opposed to a vast world. "My goal is to craft a small yet beautiful game with environments that look a bit like movie sets and characters that have a sense of stylization in their design, while retaining a certain simplicity and immediacy as far as gameplay is involved," Gallat explains.
He began development on Ghost of a Tale last year after a lengthy career as an film animator, starting in 1996 with Dreamworks' The Prince of Egypt and ending with 2011's The Lorax, where he served as animation director. "The set of skills needed to make a game or a movie are virtually the same," he explains. "So for me it doesn't really make a big difference. I feel what I have learned working on movies is absolutely relevant to Ghost of a Tale."
Even still, the process hasn't been easy, mainly due to the fact that — as Gallat explains it — he's not a "real" programmer. Progress was slow early on, and Gallat says that he struggled for close to a year trying to wrangle his ideas into a particular game engine. Eventually he switched to the Unity engine, a popular game creation tool among smaller studios, and things started moving much faster — the alpha was built in just two months, and that includes the time he spent learning a new programming language.
In addition on his Indiegogo page he explains why he went to fixed funding instead of the commonly used flexible funding campaigns.
Lately I’ve been asked about the campaign type for “Ghost of a Tale”. As you know, Indiegogo offers the option to keep whatever money has been pledged, even if the goal is not reached by the final deadline. But as I said on the main page, this is not the case for this campaign. If it is not successful, the project will not get any money at all. All the money that you guys have pledged will be refunded to you in its totality.
Why did I do it this way? Because I couldn’t morally justify the “flexible” approach. If I set a budget goal, it’s because that’s what’s needed to complete the game to a suitable standard. So if the campaign only gets to, say, a third of the budget, I don’t want to go “Oh well, too bad. I’ll take that, bye!”. What would it then mean for you backers? Your money would be taken away and then what? You would have basically paid for a product that won’t be made? Anyway, I’m just speaking for myself and for “Ghost of a Tale”; I’m sure in some cases flexible funding makes perfect sense.
Wednesday - April 10, 2013
Ghost of a Tale - Interviews and Greenlight
The Indiegogo campaign for Ghost of a Tale is currently at €13.7K out of an asked €45K and with more than a month to go it should be able to reach that goal. There were some updates in the recent days, one is that the game is currently in the concept section of Greenlight. the other updates cover 3 interviews with the developer.
"Which brings me to the second point: Time. Animators in video game studios are rarely allowed time to learn, to refine, to improve their skills. So they mostly get better at being faster, more efficient. Which is important of course, but only the first half of the journey."
It's these two factors that can potentially bring video game animation down, Gallat believes. "As an animator it truly saddens me of course when I see bad animation in a game (truth be told it often ticks me off)," he adds. "But as a professional I understand the reasons behind that."
You mentioned this game being a combination between an action/adventure and an RPG. As such, will the game feature more of an open-world environment, or will it be more linear?
Well, the term “open-world” environment definitely seems too big for this game. The game will happen on the Island of Periclave, which is not very big, but that’s the price to pay for not having a big team of developers. All I can say is topography will be consistent. Which means that all the different locations share the same unity of space and time. The game will also be linear story-wise. There is a progression towards a goal. This is not going to be like ‘Skyrim’ where you can spend hours wandering through a huge world with 50 quests going on at all time. Which is why I always emphasize the “small” aspect of the game.
And there is this podcast at Et Tu, Gamer?
Monday - April 08, 2013
Ghost of a Tale - Combat Update
In the latest update for Ghost of a Tale (curretnly at 10K out of an asked 45K, with 36 days to go), Lionel shares his thohughts on combat.
In this update I'd like to focus, mostly, on combat.
But first of all a few words about the plot of the game: at this moment I am purposely keeping the story under wraps. Not because I don't know where I'm going, but because I wish to maintain a sense of genuine mystery. In a manner of speaking "Ghost of a Tale" will be the opposite of "Skyrim" (which is a game I love by the way). "Skyrim" is not about an intimate, compelling story; it's about a huge world where you play a nondescript character that you can mold entirely to your liking. "Ghost of a Tale" on the other hand will be infinitely smaller, with a set story in which you play precisely the character of the mouse and none other.
Now many people have asked me about combat. The most common question being: is it going to be like "Dark Souls"? The answer is no. "Dark Souls" is heavily focused on fighting with dozens of weapons, shields, armors, damage modifiers, various attacks, parrying techniques and offensive strategies, character classes etc... "Ghost of a Tale" can NEVER expect to compete on those grounds: it will be a much simpler game. In fact, combat (as far as the player character is concerned) is still very much uncertain.
Let me explain: as a player, I enjoy pressing a button to make my character attack monsters. It's a very basic, yet satisfying, game mechanic. But as game-designer for "Ghost of a Tale" I am less and less convinced that's the right way to go. By now it has been established that you play as a mouse who (obviously) isn't a warrior and who is thrust into a very perilous adventure. So I may in fact tone down combat A LOT to emphasize the helplessness of the mouse. Which of course means I will have to find fun and interesting alternatives to monster-bashing. This is important, so please let me know what you guys think!
There are many more things I would like to say, and points I would like to address but I'll keep that for a next update! Finally here's just a quick WIP screenshot (no set-dressing yet) that shows a new hood color scheme for the mouse, which makes the character stand out better against the earthy natural environment.
Friday - April 05, 2013
Ghost of a Tale - Launched
Lionel Gallat, a former Dreamworks animation supervisor and given direction to the animation on "Despicable Me" for Universal is also working on a game on his own named Ghost in a Tale. This game is on a fixed funding campaign at IndieGoGo, so he only gets the money when the game is funded. It is currently at 5.821€ of an asked 45.000€.
Here is the video:
And here is the press release:
Former Dreamworks Animation Supervisor Launches Crowdfunding Campaign for Unique Adventure Game "GHOST OF A TALE"
PARIS, France - April 2, 2013 - SeithCG is launching an Indiegogo campaign to help fund the development of its first action-adventure game "Ghost of a Tale". The game is developed by a former Dreamworks supervising animator who more recently directed the animation of Universal Studios' "Despicable Me".
"Ghost of a Tale" follows a little mouse as he sets out on an adventure into a medieval world populated entirely by animals. The mysterious Island of Periclave, which has long been a disputed outpost for the Army of the Rats, is abandoned now, and reputed to be haunted. Of course tales are told of a fabulous treasure hidden high up in the Tower of Periclave, but it would be folly to try and get there, even for a mighty warrior - and the little mouse certainly doesn't look like one. The island is a mystery, rewarding the little mouse's curiosity and bravery in combat with the discovery of great secrets.
"Ghost of a Tale" is past the stage of a mere concept, however, and footage of a playable demo can be seen on the campaign's page. Remarkably, this project is being developed by just one person, yet it strives to combine a visual quality usually seen in big-budget AAA titles with the craftsmanship and emotional resonance more commonly found in independent, experimental games. Its developer, Lionel Gallat, is finally able to bring his years of experience working for Hollywood studios to bear on his passion project in order to deliver a product of the highest quality, and great beauty.
The Indiegogo campaign page for "Ghost of a Tale" can be found here.
SeithCG (www.seithcg.com) is a one-man studio founded by Lionel "Seith" Gallat, based in the south of France. SeithCG's website offers animation tools that have been used in production by many studios around the world, including "poseLib" and "retimingTool". Gallat has worked in the movie industry for more than 15 years, first at Dreamworks on several movies ("The Prince Of Egypt", "The Road to Eldorado", "Spirit", "Sinbad", "SharkTale", "Flushed-Away", etc...), and more recently as the animation director for Universal Studios' "Despicable Me" and "The Lorax". He possesses a wide range of skills rangin
Information aboutGhost of a Tale
Play-time: 20-40 hours
Voice-acting: Partially voiced
Regions & platforms
· Platform: PC
· To be announced
· Publisher: Unknown