A unique adventure with Exploration, Drama and Music! Be a composer, a producer, a conductor, a detective...
A unique adventure with Exploration, Drama and Music! Be a composer, a producer, a conductor, a detective...
Trois Jeunes Tambour modernistic essay by Pablo Cortez
The sad days of 1871 romantic improvisation from Matias Brum (on the Refuge's Collard & Collard fortepiano from 1838)
Trois Jeunes Tambours flute by Gérard d’Aubri
Trois Jeunes Tambours viola da gamba by Gérard d’Aubri
Trois Jeunes Tambours violin by Matias
Trois Jeunes Tambours Trio-sonata by Gérard d’Aubri, interpreted by Maria, Gérard, Pablo and Matias
Trois Jeunes Tambours “air de cours” by Gérard d’Aubri
We play tribute to the French quartet Les Quatre Barbus and Lucienne Vernay who in the middle of last century created a serious of marvellous vinyl recordings of (dramatised and illustrated) traditional French songs for children.
You will need creativity, spirit of enterprise, charisma!
The primary entity of the gameplay is what we call an attitude - an expressive set of gestures, mimics and speech. Attitudes, either isolated or linked to a character or a prop, are organized in scripted Takes.
A PERCEPTION MODE can be triggered at any time, to observe and select items.
Gameplay jumps freely between FREE MOVEMENT, CINEMATIC and CREATIVE states.
In FREE-MOVEMENT STATE the player will move around freely using traditional movement.
In CINEMATIC STATE the player is passive and his avatar (and a cinematic camera) is driven by the script to fulfil expressive attitudes according to the storyline (and the intrusion of dreams, visions, and memories).
In CREATIVE STATE the player will follow five alternative modes:
These modes, evoked at any time, mimic the natural succession of distinct operative states of mind.
In EXPLORING mode the player will interact with the space around, through a set of 9 extra attitudes typically after perceiving and selecting scene objects:
- To squat
- To lean
- To sit
- To lay
- To kneel
- To climb
- To pull
- To push
- To grab
II - UNDERSTANDING - Exploration attitudes give place to "understanding"; There are 9 different cognitive sub-modes:
- To analyse
- To identify
- To recall
- To evoke
- To evaluate
- To question someone's or something's origin
- To question its history
- To question its utility
- To question its integrity
8 Thematic Puzzles - To “understand” means to complete 8 large THEMATIC PUZZLES. Mont-de-Castel game is a repository of information on the 19th century culture, covering 8 topics:
- The "Beaux-Arts"
- The "Belles-Letters"
- New Technologies and Inventions
- New Ideas, Politics and Conflict
- The Dawn of Natural History and Archaeology
- Old Rural traditions of Europe
- Mont-de-Castel (fictional) reality
The player will have the opportunity to master this information.
Receiving, discovering, providing the answers - UNDERSTANDING attitudes assume 3 outcomes (dependent on context and trumps awarded):
- The system provides the answer to the player
- The player is engaged in a discovery sub-task
- The player will respond (TALKING mode) using collected information
EXPLORING + UNDERSTANDING will permit to assemble the key information to play the CHESS OF MYSTERIES
III - TALKING refers to interacting with the characters' personalities (a battle to be fought between the 5 company colleagues at the psychological level). Nine attitudes:
- To explain
- To agree / accept
- To contradict / deny
- To chat lightly
- To attack / insult
- To seduce / praise / flatter
- To defend
- To mock
- To show off / peacock
Talking mode will be played in trios, quartets, quintets (at dinner, rehearsals...).
The 8 topics of the thematic puzzels will be used for the discussions, thus a good UNDERSTANDING of these subjects will be essential.
The Player’s statements will follow three forms at choice:
- The game-traditional multiple choice selection from a set of possible answers
- Collecting phrases from the 8 THEMATIC PUZZLES
- Choosing expressions to be used modularly (derived from pre-defined LEXICS of mode expressions ascribed to the attitudes)
Arguing will give place to PRESTIGE SCORES.
Trumps gathered during the gameplay can be used to access “freely” the appropriate “answers” from the 8 THEMATIC PUZZLES. TRUMPS will be in the form of playing cards, within 8 thematic card decks - the higher the card, the stronger its unveiling capacity.
TALKING will permit to get key information to play the CHESS OF PERSONALITIES.
IV – COMPOSING means to “compose” the 3 Chessboards Matias will use to solve the 3 mysteries, to gain leadership and to produce the musical show. These chessboards are templates for puzzles with multiple layers of pieces. For composing, 9 attitudes will be used:
- To move
- To append
- To insert
- To combine (overlay)
- To tune
- To weight (emphasise / minimise)
- To paint
- To stretch
- 9) To hierarchise
Matias will gather (iconologically) clues and interpretative schemes to help solve mysteries along 8 days of “exploring”, “talking” and “understanding”; Although one should not reveal much to avoid compromising surprise, we’ll say that underlying each square of each mystery chessboard there will be a sort of comic strip story. It describes key events to be unveiled by the use of the right combination of gathered pieces, linking and interpretation schemes.
Matias is engaged in his fight to gain leadership in the group. He will use this to compose his “talking” strategy and monitor its results. Matias will recall selectively (CINEMATIC STATE) part of the conversations and attitudes of his colleagues in order to grasp their true meaning in terms of emotions and motivations. From this, Matias will plan the best TALKING strategy for next day.
Secrets revealed in this quest into the personalities may give clues to the solutions of the 3 mysteries and vive-versa.
Mont-de-Castel treats Music as a new game paradigm: its process of creation.
To conceive the show means to assemble (pre-recorded) performance elements as modular items which can be “tuned” or “customised”. The items will be part of large collection of diversified elements, thus giving place to almost infinite combinations, creating a new unique opera-show each time Mont-de-Castel is played. The game ends up with the final performance, according to the unique dynamic scripting each player will define through his gameplay and choices. This performance can be saved and presented to the Mont-de-Castel game community for evaluation and glory(!) in the OLDTOWN GAMETALES web site.
Imagine a large puzzle with multiple solutions each piece being a performance item we can call OPERITEM (opera-item) – these could be elements of vocal or instrumental music, declamatory texts, (puppets and singers) facial or body expression, scenery props, etc. OPERITEMS will be conceived (or chosen), supported, ascribed, tuned, mastered, rehearsed and performed on stage.
The OPERITEM maturation chain - Music is simple and extremely intuitive - one single module of four 4/4 measures in C Major to be repeated or combined in Polyphony: Anyone, even without musical education, will have a lot of fun, will learn, and will achieve results, although talented people will take it even further, to the Parnassus!
The SCORE is brought to life through the OPERITEM maturation chain. 10 steps:
- Collecting OPERITEMS in draft (conceptual) stage
- Finding, selecting, assembling and tuning musical instruments
- Assembling marionettes with old puppetry junk
- Gathering scenery and props and making them ready
- COMPOSING the opera score
- Changing expression qualities of OPERITEMS
- Mastering musical instruments
- Convincing and inspiring performers
- Rehearsing the performers
OPERITEMS will thus change; 5 maturation states:
- Made ready
The CHESS OF MUSIC will serve for COMPOSING the opera SCORE. OPERITEMS in iconographic, dummy, or musical script form will be arranged on the board (some overlapping) where its square grid will represent musical 4/4 bars. The location of OPERITEMS on the chessboard will result in different triggering (entry) times for the instrumental music, declamation, or singing to sound, or to launch the animation of actors, puppets, and stage-effects. Tuning, distortion, time stretching, and other effects are allowed!
Previewing - At any time a thematic preview can be made by sections (music, acting, singing, etc…); the player will be presented with the sequential audible display of the virtual performances; Each day at rehearsal time Matias wil have the opportunity to show a complete preview (all sections together) of the show in its state of maturation.
The maturation of OPERITEMS is done through 8 mini-games; These will simulate the challenges of conceiving, equipping, rehearsing and conducting the puppet opera show.
V – INTERACTING - Finally, physical interacting between characters will constitute the fifth mode. This is where Monte-de-Castel joins the tradition of action-adventure games. Nine attitudes:
- To focus
- To greet
- To receive
- To shake hands
- To strike
- To push
- To kick
- To punch
- To avoid
OTHER ASPECTS OF THE GAMEPLAY
Photography - Matias will use his photographic apparatus to take photos to use in his diary
Notebook - Matias will use a notebook to register his discoveries
Scores - The game will account systematically for 5 different states of Matias (mood, prestige, fatigue, sleepiness, hunger) to be monitored at any time. These states will influence Matias' performance, thus there must be time to eat, sleep, joke, or to regain self-esteem.
Musical-Drama in its magic creative moments
In-game Performance Art is a challenge! But our strategy has a secret: We (the musician-actors) recreate the Mont-de-Castel Company by incorporating vividly its members, as if we were possessed - Believe!
- Gérard who is baroque-minded and very French
- Pablo, a fan of Mediterranean ancient folklore and an enthusiastic follower of the rising influence of impressionism in music
- Alfo a furious defender of Italian Opera Singing and an addict of fanfares
- Maria who has a romantic German-Austrian taste but also favours more mundane chansonettes
- Matias who wants music with more innovative (and exotic) approaches
Our long-standing way of feeling Music - as a mixture of acting, singing and playing - is the very same way the Mont-de-Castel Company members create their own work, imposed by the necessity of a poor itinerant puppet opera group, where all must be versatile jacks-of-all-trades.
We create our performance art in real sessions of intense drama & music improvisation and rehearsing in our “Music Room”.
Here we are recreating the work of our five virtual friends. Alternative styles will be assumed, tested, played. From the video recordings of these sessions we are rebuilding hundreds of audio files (speech, singing, playing) and acting sketches (video footage for character animation). These files will provide hundreds and hundreds of modular items to be used creatively by the player.
Note that we will end up with contrasting results, from ugly early drafts to highly elaborated performed fragments.
But, wait! Not just ourselves! We could already gain the complicity of many of our musician-friends: They will all come to record their one personal interpretations of the "Trois jeunes tambours" little tune. And the audio library grows and grows...
The five languages of Mont-de-Castel
Mont-de-Castel is spoken simultaneously in the typical western dialect of "Europainish" (English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian) - each character speeks his mother language! The player can chose one of the five languages for captions and help.
To permit our gameplay and arts (featuring our OLD TOWN GAMETALES brand) we built a game-engine of our own - RAM. It evolved from its original form on DirectX9c (in 2007) to its present Version 3B on D3D10/11.
RAM is an action-adventure game-engine in 1st & 3rd Person. Ancient urban cores with their houses, infrastructures, monuments, and the whole paraphernalia of props has been a major topic for investment using massive instantiation and innovative management of levels of detail and occlusion of the scenery.
In the last months we invested in the rendering of house interiors where the same system has been adapted in a versatile way.
A special focus is given to character animation based on a three-fold system of a) scripted animation sets, b) procedural bone animation, and c) facial morphing. Character interface (in duos, trios, quartets, quintets) is the object of special development in our module TAKE - a hybrid system of scripted, finite-state-machine and message-based Artificial Intelligence.
The whole dynamic real-time puzzle of music (and audio) is taking full advantage of the XAudio2 Microsoft API
Modelling and Animation
Most of Mont-de-Castel small town is conceived and reconstructed, although most of urban props are still missing.
A set of native plants of South Europe is modeled at various LODs. Vegetation (on road-sides, backyards, gardens,...) is still to be recreated, but its game-engine support is ready.
The “Refuge Inn” is almost half-way ready; its ambiance must still be fully enriched with more furniture, mobile-art, books, science and musical instruments, bric-a-brac, and tools (cooking, gardening, backyard husbandry).
We have modelled the main personages - Matias, Alfo, Gérard, Montclaro – who are already “rehearsing”; Maria, Florecita, Pablo and the Count are coming…
Secondary characters will include a maid and a cook, the priest, 2 artisans (Horiot and Mère Michèle), the Count’s coachman and his son, and a police-man. In addition a rich set of charactes will be created, to express the social diversity of the town.
Our characters are non-standard NPCs! We avoid to say it in front of them… but… half-real, half caricature, they are our puppets, who play their own puppets…
Alas! Are we ourselves also your puppets?
We fear our team is quite unique in the game-studio panorama due to our eclectic improbable background on Natural and Heritage Sciences, European Old Drama & Music, and Interactive Computer Graphics:
Be sure: The Mont-de-Castel game will be something new - we can’t escape it! ... for the best or the worst …
José Mateus (PhD) with his curriculum on Science, Music and Computer Graphics is responsible for the technical and artistic aspects of Mont-de-Castel. He has been a researcher in Archaeology and Landscape Ecology. He created and directs the Camerata da Cotovia – an Early Music group where he plays a dozen instruments. In the last 15 years he has been mostly concerned with game-engine development. He is the “father” of the RAM engine.
Paula Queiroz (PhD) is responsible for the conception and modelling of most of the 3D scenery (town, house interiors, props, plants). She works with 3DStudio Max (Autodesk), CityEngine (Procedural) and XFrog (Greenworks). She also administrates all the data input to the RAM engine (structures, scripts, geometries, animations), according to our own IO formats. She is a botanist and her long experience on managing research consortia at the University is precious here: Paula administrates the whole production of Mont-de-Castel.
Ken Rigby is CEO and director of MellaniuM and Tele3dworld. With a background of electronics and systems engineering (Hertfordshire), he now spends most of his working time researching, evangelising and developing 3D techniques to aid learning, communications and innovation. His business delivers cost effective VR solutions to clients across the globe.
Stephen Bull is a violinist and a composer. He has directed (as conductor) baroque-music orchestras and was responsible for the recreation of two puppet operas of the 18th century; This occasionally involved the reconstitution of music scores from fragmentary evidence. Stephen is also an actor and has a definitive contribution to the acted sketched sequences used as video-models (background footage) for the animation scripting of the virtual characters. Finally, he is in charge of part of the musical composition for the puppet opera.
Alexandre Mateus is a Master-degree student of Computer Graphics & Multimedia Systems. He is an experienced 3D artist and has been busy on the creation of most our characters and complex models such as sculptured portals and statuary. He is an expert on Max and ZBrush. Alexandre is also a musician (playing the bass viol).
Jacinto Mateus is a pianist and harpsichordist. His broad and long experience as a gamer is precious for his key contribution to the Mont-de-Castel Game Concept and Game-Play. Apart form musical performance Jacinto is responsible for part of the new musical creation. He is also in charge of the audio recording and sound edition & mastering.
Renata Pacheco is a Master-degree student of Computer Graphics & Multimedia Systems. She is an experienced C++ programmer having worked with OpenGL and HTML in game prototypes and web design.
Tanja Šimić Queiroz (M.Mus.) is a mezzo-soprano, recognized for the rich, warm colour of her instrument and strong acting abilities. She has performed many Opera scenes and roles, and she is also an established concert and lied singer. Tanja is also singing and performing in Audio and Video Art works, and maintains a private vocal studio. http://tanja-simic-queiroz.com/
João Canto e Castro is a viola player and an actor, specialised in voice imitation and puppets dubbing. For the last 10 years he gave his voice (under many different imitative transmutations) to many politicians in a famous TV humour series with puppets (similar to the well-known TV programme “The Muppets”).
Robert Rigby is a specialist in Landscape management with a long experience on game development and interactive 3D on-line forums at MellaniuM. His expertise on project management is precious for the production sustainability and global marketing of Mont-de-Castel.
Other creative people (actors, musicians, programmers, animators, modellers, audio mastering experts, game testers) are anxious to participate… but major contributions will come, surely, from kickstarter backers.
Why? Because Mont-de-Castel must be a collective repository of memory references from our recent past in the dawn of modernity. A shared passion for the unveiling our collective memories from 150 years ago, through the direct link of our great-great grandfathers' legacy. The passion for a vivid Archaeology of our senses, emotions, beliefs.
We want you to join the Mont de Castel Company! Your “inherited” memories and references are the very substance of this new game – Playing Our Heritage
Mont-de-Castel is more than half-way into its production. All laboratories (conception, scripting, actors' sketching, modelling, animation, RAM output/input, music & sound) are well established and working at full-speed.
Our team is active since 2003: One interactive multimedia built on a 2D DirectDraw game-engine, and four playable game prototypes for our brand OLD TOWN GAMETALES came out.
The RAM engine is a stable and tested platform. Although not the most sophisticated piece of technology (for AAA action-adventure standards) it suits well our Exploration, Drama, and Music purposes extending enormously the playabilities of traditional point & click adventures.
Terrains, plants and vegetation have been a major topic of interest due to our botany and ecology backgrounds.
Urban structure, common architecture and monuments have been modelled for many years under different approaches and integrated at 3D game-render. The challenge here is to achieve museographic qualities - we are dealing with ancient urban cores (in Europe) where surface detail is crucial (raw materials, production stigma, and patinas).
Drama is always a great challenge in games, and here we are ambitious. Our present investment is in complex interaction between characters (such as a quintet of singers): The player will take part in group discussions, at dinner table, on stage... This is the true battlefield, where Matias will have to master suitable strategies and tactics to fulfil his objectives by persuading, bluffing, inspiring, cheating, or simply by imposing his wisdom, creativity and charisma.
Will we manage? We sincerely hope so…
Another great challenge is Virtual Artistic Performance.
Can he provoke interest in people used to good cinema or vivid theatre? What do we lose? What can we gain? The secret here is that the player should influence alternative NPC responses. And this implies that speech-mimic expression in Mont de Castel is not completely pre-scripted, but, on the contrary, depends procedurally on game casuistic (by the extensive use of real-time IK head-arms-eyes animations and animation-set and morph blending).
Can we master this? You will be the judge. So. be attentive to our Developers Diary and to the on-going progressive results.
Motion-Capture is expressly NOT used. Because we must grasp the essential, we look at human mimics with the mind of the painter, not of the photographer; We prefer to analyse and synthesize virtual dramatic expression, occasionally tempted by the caricature (stressing eloquent features).
Will it work in the end? We hope so... and we are eager to face the challenge.
Musical production (after many years of experience) is very mature and natural both in interpretation and improvisation. We have mastered music rehearsal; sound recording; audio mastering: No risks!
Finally our strength is our weakness (a close circle?): We are a very small team with a completely integrated and coherent working scheme.
Risks and challenges
Risks and Challenges are included in main storyLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (40 days)