Early Summer Update: Environments, Characters, Music, and Insanity!
Summer’s greetings, dear cultists!
From up here in the attic, where, with the air conditioning plus a huge metal fan (heh) on we can barely convince the temperature to come down to a tolerable 27 C / 80 F, we hope you’re enjoying a great summer. And what better way to do that than with a nice, cool, and breezy graphical update to refresh you (am I using the Oxford comma right? I never can tell). We’ll show off some backgrounds, sneak a peek at a few characters, and update you on how the game’s coming along. Let’s jump in.
There are very few moments more satisfactory in an artist’s life than seeing their work brought to life within a game, and I am so excited about it! Also, maaan, does it take some time go get everything to look just right. We really upped the ante in the VFX department. Some scenes that don’t scroll horizontally or vertically, have little dynamic lighting or limited character movement might only take a couple of days to properly put in the game, but doozies like our harbor scene might take Nicu and I more than a week of work just to implement.
At a quick glance: boats bobbing up and down, which we animate manually in Unity3d, fishing nets, leaves and other vegetation swaying in the wind - achieved through tweaked shaders; dynamic lighting, water reflecting both surroundings and the sky in real time. Oh, and the clouds - I really didn’t want to have boring old clouds always scrolling horizontally, so Nicu wrote a script that makes them emerge from behind the horizon and actually come towards the view, which is a very neat tool that we’ll be using in more scenes throughout the game. Here it is at 4x speed:
Here's the original VS the in-game version:
Another one of the things factoring into how delicate and meticulous this process is that we change the perspective and walkable areas radically from scene to scene. Remember those games where you move from location to location and they sort of look and feel the same, except maybe some buildings changed? Well, Gibbous ain’t one of them.
You know how clouds moving across the sky alternatively darken and lighten an environment, as they either obscure the sun/moon or let the light through? It’s a neat, very subtle little trick, but it oozes atmosphere, and I’m so thrilled that we can implement it. Again, it’s pretty subtle in-game, so here it is on fast forward:
And here’s a bonus detail of a spooky castle. Hmmm, I wonder where it could be located? Hmmm….
And, as we’ve accustomed you, here’s our scenes progress chart. It might just look like a bunch of mostly green and yellow lines, but thinking back on all the hours that went into them..wow. And it’s almost hard to believe that we are so close to getting it all done, but there it is.
If you’d rather just see all this in motion, here’s a quick video summing up everything above. Please keep in mind that I’ve captured it at a slightly lower resolution than in-game, and that all dynamic light will be subject to another polish phase farther down the line.
It’s always tricky to present characters for an adventure game, because you really don’t want to rob the player of the experience of first meeting them, finding out what their names are, what their idiosyncrasies are, what they sound like, what makes them tick. Therefore, I’ll just reveal a tiny bit about one of them, and let you guys speculate about the others.
This is Luca, the coachman. Let’s just say you might require his services!
I think it’s a kitty? It suuure doesn’t act like one, though….
A fastidious clerk, that’s got to be it!
Hey, it’s a cute little girl!
Remember back in a previous update when we said we’d add more characters so that the world feels lived-in? Well, we made good on that promise - there are now 57 characters in the game, the majority of them fully voiced. Of these 57 only 9 have not been fully designed and animated yet. For reference, there are 29 characters in Monkey Island 2.
Having a background in animated web series with a 2 week turnaround has helped me and Cami a lot in being able to quickly populate Gibbous’ work with moving dudes and dudettes. Some minor characters will only take a day to start existing in-game, from concept to rough animation to exported final frames! We try and give them all cool little animations, so they feel like real people and not cardboard cutouts, and it helps a lot - you really start to care about these little guys!
The Music Of Erich Za… Uhm, Cami Cuibus, acutally
Don’t worry if you didn’t get that reference, it’s a great Lovecraft story (you can read it here, it’s very short and creepy). But back to our Cami, who’s taken to heart the task of making music for the game, and make a lot of it she did! There are now 29 musical pieces made by Cami alone, plus the ones I’ve been working on. You can listen to a couple of them:
Early August we actually start re-recording them with live instruments! We. Can’t. Wait. We’re also happy to have our friend absurdcus, who made the music for the documentary, help us out tremendously by recording foleys, edit sfx and generally help out in the sound department. It’s good to have talented friends!
Speaking of Cami, if you're interested in keeping up with her art, here's the link to visit!
An unusual headline, sure, but when it comes to adventure games you really want them to last more than a couple of hours, right? Weeell, I do. We recently put together a string of 17 scenes with nothing but the game-advancing interactions and some examine options implemented, and just going through the puzzles and checking a description here, a special case animation there, took me more than 2 hours.
Again, this was (obviously) knowing exactly what to do and only stopping to check on stuff, and that’s 17 scenes out of around 50. We really wanted the game to feel like a real adventure, not just in the sense of the genre, but in scope, too. You travel to very different locations around the world, talk to so many different characters - the sheer amount of different accents throughout puts a big smile on my face whenever I think about it.
Staying On Target
There were a lot of conferences and trade shows that we could have taken Gibbous to show off to, plenty of opportunities to get eyes on the game, but we got together and figured out what the priorities were for you guys, as backers, and for us as makers of the game. And we realized the priorities coincided: the most important thing is to just keep working like crazy on the game and getting it done as soon as possible, and worry about visibility and marketing a bit further down the line.
Until Next Time!
That’s about it from the Attic HQ for now. It’s been a crazy productive year so far, we got so much stuff done and we’re so excited about what’s still coming up. We’ll be taking one week of vacation starting this Monday and then we’ll return to the dark and quirky lands of Darkham, Fishmouth and others. Regular daily Twitch production streams will return Thursday, July the 13th, so we’ll see you online.
So, this was our early summer update, hope you enjoyed it! If you’re still working, we wish you productive days; if you’re going on vacation, we hope you enjoy your time off, and we want to thank you guys again for making Gibbous possible.
Love y’all, see you next update!
It wouldn’t be a Gibbous update without sharing some cool indie games with you guys, now, would it?
Chronicle of Innsmouth is a pretty faithful adaptation of my favorite Lovecraft novella, The Shadow Over Innsmouth. I didn’t get a chance to put more than an hour into the game, but it’s very HPL and Monkey Island inspired, so that’s cool. Click the pic below to go their Steam page.
We have a couple of friends, both named Alex, who are currently raising funds on Kickstarter to make their game, The Underground King. They both quit their AAA jobs to follow their dream and make it happen, so if it looks like something you’d be into, don’t hesitate to kick a buck their way, they’ll really appreciate it. By the way, it was the very last game on Steam Greenlight! Click the pic below to go their campaign.
And finally, A Room Beyond is a very recently released adventure which I didn’t get to play yet, but it looks like a combination of Alone In the Dark, The Last Door and general cosmic spookiness, so what’s not to like about that? Click the pic below to go to their Steam page.
And that’s it! See you next update!