That was unexpected!
We're nearing the end of what has been a crazy 36 days. Our campaign has seen it's fair share of highs and lows, thank you to everyone who has backed and experienced it with us. If truth be told we weren't quite prepared for the events of earlier this afternoon! We're a little overwhelmed.
Thank you so much everyone for your support. I'll write a (concise!) heartfelt update to close us out on soon but for now I wanted to use this update to take you under the hood, as it were, and talk about one of the fundamental features of a graphic adventure game, the dialogue tree.
Our new dialogue system
As many of you know we're using Unity3D to develop our game, inside our scene file we have a collection of 'Gameobjects' (building blocks that we can attach scripts, models etc to). We have a group of these Gameobjects in each scene that relate to the conversations that English can have with various characters. Each hold a file that contains information for a single line of dialogue (the audio file, text for each translation and the reference to the character that is saying the line).
We automatically generate these files using a plugin we developed that searches our entire project to find an audio file, animation file and a line from an XML document (that includes our entire script) tagged with the same name. If we haven't gotten around to making the animation or recording the audio our file still gets generated, we can just add them later when they're done. This plugin also works the duration of the audio clip and splits the subtitles up accordingly.
We attach these files manually to each Gameobject and can set up a conversation chain by choosing which Gameobject should be played afterwords.
When it comes to a point in the conversation were there is a break for the player to choose a response we attach a different script to the next Gameobject in the chain that allows us to branch off in a different direction.
For our prototype, seeing as we didn't have too much dialogue, this was fine and manageable. However this system can be a bit hard to follow so Paul has been working on integrating our logic into another Unity plugin that will allow us to set up these chains more visually in something that looks more like a flow chart or state machine.
Having this more visual editor will allow us to add and edit these conversations in the game quicker. Paul has also been working on an automated lip sync system that tries to work out how open a characters mouth should be depending on the volume of the audio file.
We plan to use this to generate placeholder animation during development until the actual animation file has been created in Maya. We will also use this at points where characters are far in the distance, but we still intend to hand animate the vast majority of the animation in the game.
More character progress
I also wanted to share how Peter is progressing with this new 80's themed character from chapter 2. You can refer to our previous updates to see how Peter has gradually been adding more detail to the character over the last few days. Once it's finished we'll post up a proper render before our campaign ends:
Yet more new reward tiers
As I've said before we didn't expect our Stargazer tier to fill up so quickly. We have been talking in the office about how we could try and offer something similar and have introduced a new reward tier called GOING BUST.
This tier is very similar to the Stargazer tier except rather than include your portrait in the game we will model a 3D marble bust (digitally, of course!) that will feature inside the HMSS Imperialise. Additionally, we intend to create a separate Backers Gallery section outside of the main game where English will be able to walk around all the various artworks based on backers that appear in the game (including the 3D characters). The names of all the backers will be projected onto a wall and we'll spend a bit of time filling this room with various in-jokes and anecdotes that will confuse players that didn't back/ were unaware of our campaign!
We honestly didn't expect to be over the line and to be talking about stretch goals at this stage! However the further we can push our total the quicker we will be able to produce the additional chapters of our game, limiting the delay between The Empire Staggers Back and chapter 2, Lady Liberty.
Very practically, if we can raise another £8,000 we will be able to bring on another 3D artist to help us speed up development. So do keep spreading the word and help us make Her Majesty's SPIFFING even better (and quicker)!
Arguably one of the most beautiful pixel-art game Kickstarters I've seen for quite some time Crossing Souls is a gorgeous action adventure RPG with a unique, 1980s inspired vibe. Their cutscenes look like they've been lifted right out of your favourite 1980s Saturday morning cartoon (or at least how you think they looked, nostalgia can often cloud people's judgement!) and the in-game art will never age. Spanish team Fourattic are doing a great job and I would highly recommend you visit their campaign and support them if you can.
Other Adventure Game News
Obviously there is one particularly large adventure game news story that I feel we don't need to mention (I'm sure they'll succeed without a mention from us)!
I'd just like to remind you of three other adventure game campaigns that are currently running that we've mentioned before. OK, one isn't a graphic adventure/ point and click but it deserves your attention nonetheless!
Firstly I want to mention Blyts' gorgeous and amusing looking time traveling caper Kelvin and the Infamous Machine again. Much like ourselves Blyts tried and failed with Kickstarter before but they have returned with a much more polished looking game with a more wacky vibe. Blyts quote Charles Cecil on their page saying Kelvin feels like the natural successor to Day of the Tentacle and we agree. If that sounds like your kinda thing consider supporting them as well.
Secondly Aussie indies Intuit by Design are hoping to move on from developing casual mobile games to their own graphic adventure, Vincent the Vampire. We can empathise with them and their pitch video certainly hits a lot of the beats that I hope ours did. I'm a big fan of the humour in their pitch and if they can get that into their game it will be something very enjoyable indeed. Check them out if you haven't already.
Finally for now, OK it's not an adventure game in the sense of what we're developing, it's more swords and shields than point and click. Epic Manager is a fantasy tycoon game that puts you in the managerial swivel chair overseeing your team of heros as they venture through the realms fighting orc, dragons and nasty things with axes and alike. Quite a few folks that backed our campaign have mentioned ManaVoid's game in the comments. Again it is a game I'd recommend folks checking out and backing if you can.
Thank you again
Once again thank you for supporting our campaign, we now have the opportunity to do even more than we initially hoped so please do keep spreading the word if you can. You folks are the reason we made it over the line and we are so grateful. Every last person who backed, whatever the amount and whenever you joined, has done more than we could have hoped. Thank you so much, I'll speak to you all again soon!