Belated New Years Wishes
Firstly thanks again for all your support ensuring that Her Majesty's SPIFFING was successfully funded at the end of November. We're hoping to post at least one update a month between now and the game's release later on this year. If you're receiving these updates in your email inbox and would rather savour the surprise when HMS eventually launches remember you can always log into your account settings on Kickstarter to prevent receiving these updates. As with during the campaign we'll try and ensure that the updates are moderately interesting, let us know your thoughts (as ever) in the comments section.
As some of you have noticed we've been a tad quiet on the social media front since our campaign ended. Rest assured we haven't disappeared to Panama with your cash, we've simply been flat out in December organising our development plans for the next 6 months and dealing with a couple of minor crises. The biggest of which was the fact that, regrettably, we had to cast a new voice actor for Aled. The gentleman who provided the voice for Aled in the prototype will not be reprising his role for the full game. This has been quite a hassle as we had recorded the vast majority of his lines already and have had to re-record his part at some extra expense to ourselves. However rest assured that Cpt Frank Lee English's dulcet tones will remain unchanged!
As you are aware the budget we're working with is very fine and we could have done without this extra financial burden. Fortunately, we have been able to secure some additional funding from an organisation called Northern Ireland Screen, which affords us a small safety net for unforeseen costs such as this and has allowed us to recruit that environment artist that we didn't quite manage to fund during our campaign. We'll have more information about the latest member of BillyGoat in a future update.
As you'll remember before Christmas we reported that Peter was working on some character designs for a race of retro aliens that you'll stumble upon during Captain English's adventures, here is a line up of some of the various NPC's you'll encounter.
With the recent talk of John Carpenter remakes here is a Kurt Russell (circa 1981) inspired character.
We've also been moving English about a tad, here is a hastily cobbled together collage of animations rendered in the lest aesthetically pleasing manner!
Another reason for a prolonged radio silence has been our decision to switch over from developing using Unity 4 to Unity 5. Those of you familiar with the game engine may be aware that, while 5 isn't officially available just yet, we've decided to switch over to the new beta version given the raft of new features that we would very much like to work with/ include in the final version of the game.
Unfortunately this hasn't been as simple as simply installing a new version of the Unity editor and hitting go, a lot of tools we'd developed before have to be tweaked and we've completely changed the system we've been using for the game's GUI. Front of house you won't notice a huge difference but we're now able to add more menus etc quicker and easier than ever before.
Something that you will notice is the improved lighting engine and all the advantages that brings to SPIFFING, below you can see a comparison of how the bridge of the HMSS Imperialise looked before and how it's looking now. The new shaders and lighting effects really do make the game look much nicer.
Above the bridge as seen in our Unity 4 build, and below using the updated lighting engine in Unity 5.
We will obviously tweak this scene more so it looks significantly better once the game is finished. So while it may have been a bit of hassle switching over to Unity 5 initially, in the long run the game will be all the better for it.
Out and about
Last week we visited London, England, to attend Pocket Gamer Connects. It was an opportunity for us to speak to a few journalists and publishers about the tablet version of Her Majesty's SPIFFING and bump into a few backers (and see others from afar whom I was to shy to boisterously approach).
It was a great opportunity to catch up with other developers that we've been gradually getting to know a bit better during 'the journey' and it's great to learn of others reaching levels of tangible success (having been familiar with the efforts that they've endured to make their games a reality).
Backer Chelle Destefano was in touch to bring our attention to this beautiful book of haunting illustrations that she is currently working on. Chelle is looking to raise funds to produce a run of books containing her illustrations (offered as backer rewards) and also exhibit a series of paintings from the book in her native Australia. The watercolour illustrations are of various disused environments with ghostly figures painted on top suggesting the people that occupied these spaces before they were abandoned.
Unfortunately I'm signing off on a rather sad note. Many regular adventure game backers here will be familiar with Astrid Beulink, known more often online by her user name Pollo Diablo. Astrid was a very active member of the adventure game community, often writing articles for AdventureGamers.com. Last week Astrid's husband informed us that she had passed away having finally lost her battle with cancer. Astrid was a big supporter of many adventure game developers on Kickstarter and was a great champion for small folks like ourselves.
I had the pleasure of meeting Astrid in person on a couple of occasions and can personally speak of her kind and encouraging nature. She will be sorely missed by her family and the adventure game community as a whole.
From an entirely selfish point of view this news was made worse personally given the fact that I'd received an email from Astrid just before Christmas that, being busy with one thing and another, I had put on an ever growing list of folks that I had been meaning to write back to. Obviously now I'll never get the chance to reply. I mention this simply as a reminder that, as busy as our lives may be, we all need to set time aside to keep in touch with friends and family as none of us know when it'll be our last opportunity to speak to them.
Until next time
Thank you again,