As promised I’m writing now the first of every second month. ;)
I wish you a good new year, a steady new year and a constructive new year. A better year or a year the same, a year where you feel well.
So what have I done in the last month with Viggo? I’m experimenting with a system that might result in a more dynamic experience when playing it. The past years I’ve had invisible choices in the game, to make sure that they player isn’t totally aware of choices – but I thought – why not have both? I’ve been feeling a long time that Viggo needs to feel more interactive, while still holding the linear storyline set.
It’s system that’s introduced in chapter 2 (chapter 1 is more about apathy and not really about choices).
It works like this: The main character Steve has a certain amount of choices every chapter. These choices doesn’t necessarily open up now ways or scenes but the main focus is the change of dialogues and how Steve and other characters talk to each other.
Example: If Steve brews some coffee in order for Karen to wake up, he gets a +1 in the system (of course invisible) and their conversations are a bit more constructive. If Steve makes a decision that seem to be good for himself and his own wellbeing (like doing 20 extra pushups at the gym – he can view the general world and describe things a tad more positive for some amount of time. Note that the choices are not always obvious and you won’t always know if it affect the relationships or not – it’s not like Viggo has a set way to play it - and it’s up to the one experiencing it. This relationship scale is set in 5 different phases. I’m still experimenting with it and trying to see if it seems to enhance the dynamics, and portray the relationships of the family as more fluent.
Other than that I’m doing right now a little scene where you take a cerealbox out of a cupboard in the kitchen and pour yogurt in a bowl. Image is alot of work in progress, still figuring out if I should photograph it with real yogurt or wooden glue together with the paper cereal. :)
It was a long time ago since I made a post about the project and I've been busy making progress. I was planning to post a month ago but Christophe and I wanted to show the stopmotion puppet in the new post – and of course the animation studio in Denmark was booked and they extended their time a bit extra. I've decided to post at the first day of every second month starting January. It's only right to keep you in the loop with updates even if it's small or big ones.
I would like to adress the amount of time regarding this project, and the reason for that is that the project has been fleshed out alot. At first in 2014 it was a real rollercoaster and I felt that I wanted a publisher/development team to come and help me out. Like I mentioned, the scope of the game grew alot. Where each chapter were orginally planned to take the player 15-20 minutes to play through, the chapters grew five times that size (which was good, to be able to portray the important themes of the game more thoroughly). After 1,5 years of collaboration we decided to go separate ways, much because I didn't want to compromise my vision of the project (I still love the publisher though, and we parted on good terms).
So after that it has been mostly me on the project working while keeping the big scope (except for a few friends jumping in and out). Guess who bit off a bit too much? No matter – I'm confident that the project needs this big scope to fully portray my vision. I've been working 6 years on this project and I'm extremely grateful for all the patience you have given me, and I want to repay that by giving you a personal and interesting experience. I wish I could show you my gratitude for you being so patient and kind in another way as well. If you have any ideas, let me know!
The first chapter is out now this week for a small amount of people here, where they test functionality and help me squash bugs. Later on I will invite more to focustest on the emotional value, if it feels genuine or if it needs more tweaking on that aspect.
So what happened these last four months? Quite a lot. The main character is built and ready to implement. I've been testing a lot of different character designs during this project, and I've been picky in my vision, and now I have two final options. Christophe (the puppetmaker) just made a walk cycle to show you. IF the character stopmotion is extremely time consuming to animate in a classic way I have another good option. I've invested in the bone animator program CrazyTalk Animator where each character have limbs – so there's a nice option to cut up images of the puppet and animate it with bones (also their store offers a lot of predefined movement animations that impress me). Right now I plan to use placeholders on all characters for the whole game before I implement the final look on them. Functionality first of all.
While I've built scenes you've not seen during this time, here's a little one I built last week. This is in Chapter 3 where Steve is at his friend Robert's apartment, where a party is taking place, and he needs to take a moment for himself to contemplate on the balcony. The song here is called ”We are all werewolves in the night”. This is where the first snow falls.
Meanwhile during this time I also worked with the software Spritelamp and shadercoding to the puppet to see how it works with simulated 2D-lighting. Basically it means that each side of the character is handpainted. Up to 5 versions of every angle; how the light would look if it was set a certain way. Spritelamp then mashes it together and creates a normalmap. The developers of the engine I create the game in just helped me out with developing a shader, so I might be able to use dynamic lighting on the 2D-characters – it all depends on how efficient it is to create the lights, so it could sure need a bit more experimentation.
Also David (another friend who's helping out building scenes) just built this piano which we photographed for you last night. So things are happening! Like I said I will keep you updated every second month. As for a release date I can't say yet, but I want you to know that I really love working with this project and I think it will be worth the wait. :)
It's been a while and I feel that it's time to keep you in the loop. The development is going well and betas for chapter 1 is soon out for some people (betatesting is done in with a few people in each group, since each group needs certain instructions when testing). Meanwhile, the other chapters are progressing in an organic pace. A lot of the work is jumping around in different areas, everything from implementing shaders in Visionaire, to animating and building new scenes. I know the development takes a lot of time and is well over any deadline, but I want to make it exactly the way I want to make it, and I want to make it good. That's why it takes much more time than anticipated. I'm extremely grateful for your patience. :)
David is a nice builder, and he's very precise in his constructions, So I'm just in love with the scenes he builds. The pipeline is usually scetches and advice from me – he builds and makes his version of it – then we photograph it together. It's a nice workflow.
I also have an additional animator on the team. I've been contemplating alot regarding the characters, and the first vision of having real stopmotion-build and animated characters. Right now the animator Christophe Peladan is building the characters with puppets and it looks good (and if everything works as I hope it does we will go back to stopmotion-characters but with lesser angles). Recently he have been working with the creator of Wallace and Gromit on this new movie Early Man https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDBJ8o5fZZE . So he's good stuff. :)
He also makes alot of stopmotion-commercials for Lego. With 21 years of experience I couldn't ask for a more experienced stopmotion-animator.
And here is his current process of the real doll Steve.
So the project is still fun to work with. It takes time, but it's gotta be just the way I want. After 6 years of development I will continue to strive for my vision. :)
Time for a new update! It's been a while since the last one here on Kickstarter so it's certainly time for a new one.
And a happy one I believe. I feel envigorated by the project right now because everything is moving forward in a pace I like (still can't tell you an ETA but chapter 1 is out for betatesting really soon for a few people here). The reason why it's moving in a good pace? I'm not sure, but the I've come back to the feeling when I started to work with the project, that feeling of experimental lust. I've been in it all the time, but.. I don't know, it's like I have more energy. I take creative decisions regarding characters, story and aesthetics without being afraid all the time, and I enjoy working on everything. Working on new scenes that I haven't worked on before and continuing progressing is motivating.
Recently I've been composing with a cellist named John, and we gig together and rehearse the soundtrack, and planning to record it in a studio soon. Here a quick video of a part of ”Slender Waltz”.
As for Palle, the soundman, he's working and doing great things as always, right now working on ambient sounds for a small chapter between chapter 4 and chapter 5 (a bonus chapter where the family goes camping in the woods). We kind of jump in on different areas of the game to work with and it seems to put gas on our fire.
Rhett is continuing to translate/globalise old and new dialogues and texts, so he is steady as a rock.
What else is new?
The workflow is more efficient due to a new program called XnConvert (which converts alot of images to the right size, optimised, in the right format) – which helps a bit, since stop motion is alot of frames.
My friend David, who lives in my village, has started to also work on modeling scenes (I've been keeping my eye on him for a while because of his expertise in crafting). A very driven person, that likes crafting for the sake of crafting. He even has his own studio for these kind of things. This is David:
I've been thinking the last couple of days, that I want to push out more updates regarding Viggo, but often the updates might be short – or a bit technical and I feel that updating the Kickstarter-page with every detail all the time might be boring (some backers just want to have updates in a general broader sense and not about smaller details). So I've created a blog where I intend to update it once a week every friday, where I write what I have been up to each week with the development of A Song for Viggo. The good and the bad and the things in between. That way you can follow the process a bit closer if you're interested. :)