Funded! This project was successfully funded on September 26, 2013.

Update #20

12 Angry Beetles

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To those who dream of centipede trains,

Our progress was a little slow this month, at least when compared to the previous one. We realize that the last few updates show a similar pattern of promising the demo soon, but then getting delayed for a variety of reasons. We owe you an apology and an explanation. Just like you, we want to experience the authentic Octopus City Simulation as soon as possible. So we set somewhat optimistic estimations based on what we already know, and then things take longer than expected. While our small team works on Octopus City Blues almost all the time, there are always many more things to do. The good news is that progress is definitely happening, and that we're learning to estimate better and resolve the issues we come across.

For this month, the time scheduling system we talked about last time proved to be a little tricky to implement. We'd like the system to be flexible, efficient and robust compared to similar systems found in other Octopus City Simulations, and that's not as easy as it sounds. We wanted to share a video of the system in action in this update, but there are still some weird corner cases that we have to iron out. Hopefully we'll be able to get it all together soon and we'll have another Kickstarter update to showcase the system. Art progress slowed down as well because our artist had some problems with her PC, but that has been resolved now.

On the bright side, the artwork for almost all the areas required for the demo is complete, with only two more left to go. Music is more or less done with the exception of one more song. Once the scheduling system is implemented then the only remaining mechanic needed is the inventory system, but that shouldn't take a long time. (in theory...)

Would these delays impact our estimated release date of December? It's still early to say. Internally our projected release date was actually in September, but we chose December in the Kickstarter to give us more time to handle delays. We are still working to release the simulation by the end of the year, and might get additional help to speed things up later on. In terms of art (where most of the budget goes), the demo compromises over 40% of the simulation, and we've spent less than 30% of the Kickstarter funding so far. (not including KS/Amazon fees)

As we produce more scenes, future scenes will become easier because we can reuse the art.  So don't worry your little heads too much, and trust Ghost in a Bottle GmbH's board of directors when they tell you that they know what's best for you, and that everything is going according to the plan...

If you really want to play a cool and dark adventure game, check out the Kickstarter for Dead Synchronicty; it looks great, and unlike the incompetent but endearing Ghost in a Bottle, they already have a demo out!


Update #19

The City That Never Sleeps

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Beloved Octoblood™ Junkies,

The talented team of Ghost in a Bottle imagineers continues to work on the world's first and most authentic Octopus City simulation demo. The demo is about 80% complete in terms of content and coding, and is an important milestone for the overall product. Octofans will have to wait a little more than expected to get their feelers on the demo, but it will definitely be worth the wait as they'll finally be able to experience novel mechanics such as the spin dash and a large variety of octopus puns. If you're wondering why this is taking a long time, please remember that Ghost in a Bottle industries is led by an incompetent team of baboons who are trying to play Pokemon at the same time. We see good progress overall, but sometimes they spend all day running around in circles instead of adding more purple shades to Kaf's room.

Time in Cephalopolis

One of the systems we've been working on is the NPC scheduling system. As we mentioned in the Kickstarter pitch, almost each NPC in Octopus City has their own schedule. Time progresses in Octopus City, and while there is no visible distinction between day and night because of the setting, people still go to sleep and places are open at different hours. Time is represented by a 12 hours clock divided into four periods (morning, afternoon, evening, and night). A full day in Octopus City is about 1 hour of real time, but this could change in the future. NPCs can have different schedules and activities for each period. Furthermore, there is a distinction between even and odd days, allowing for some rotation in NPC schedules. Some events and schedules are triggered every X days, allowing for regular festivals and dynamic events.

Time doesn't usually advance during story quests and dream segments, although NPC schedules might still be important for triggering them. You can always advance time by sleeping or playing arcade games. While Kaf can stay awake for a few days, sleep deprivation has negative consequences and might cause Kaf to eventually pass out. Sleep debt is accumulated over time, but there are still ways to stay up longer (e.g. coffee). Sleeping in the wrong place could get Kaf robbed or arrested, and the combined effects of sleep deprivation, guilt, and Octoblood addiction can have severe effects on Kaf's health.

So please be considerate and handle your Kafkaryan with care. If you stay up for days and then wake up shirtless in the Robot Graveyard then you've got nobody to blame but yourself.

Bonus: Kaf's Sprite in Hama Beads by Marina


Update #18

Once Upon a Time in Octopus City

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Dearest tentacle fondlers,

We are delighted to let you know that the official tentacle count in Octopus City is now over 50 individual, animated tentacles. We've promised you that our simulation will have more tentacles than the competition, and as part of our transparency policy we will keep you updated as the number rises.

There has been a lot of progress since the last update. Support for OS X and Linux was added in addition to fullscreen mode and gamepad controls. Several new scenes are completed along with the needed art and music.

However, things weren't going as smoothly as we expected; certain scenes took longer than estimated and supporting other platforms proved to be a little tricky. We are a very small team and we are learning as we go. We have discussed these issues and talked about how we can speed things up while maintaining the simulation quality. We also revised our project plan with more detailed and realistic estimations based on our progress so far.

Initially we considered reducing the scope of the demo and removing certain scenes and features, but we want the demo to give a proper introduction to the world of Octopus City. What this means is that you'll have to wait a little bit more for the demo; we expect to release it in late February. We'll try our best to make it worth the wait. The estimated delivery date for the full simulation and other rewards is still the end of this year.

We are very grateful for your support. Beta testers can expect one more alpha version next week and early access to the beta version in February. It's never too late to become a tester!


Update #17

Octoblood Is The Best Blood™

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Progress Report

Dear Octofans,

We at Ghost in a Bottle and Sons wish you a dark and twisted holiday season to match your dying mechanical heart. Our diligent team of world-class engineers and artists has been burning the midnight oil as we approach the planned release date of the public demo. Things are going according to the plan for the most part, with a few delays that are offset by amending our plans to stay on schedule. We've released 2 alpha versions to beta testers since the last update, and are currently working on porting the game engine to Linux and OS X. The latest alpha introduces Clock Tower Plaza, Octopus City's central hub and largest scene. You might remember this area from one of our earlier updates. Our Senior Tentacle Artist, Marina, has spent a lot of time working on this huge and animated scene, and has described it as the largest piece of pixel art she's ever worked on. Now that this scene is out of the way, the remaining scenes are all much smaller and more straightforward. The Plaza is important because it links the various areas together and serves as the main location for most of the dynamic events we talked about earlier. Feast your eyes:

Knowledge System

The knowledge system is one of the essential gameplay mechanics in Octopus City Blues. We briefly described it in the Kickstarter pitch, but the system has evolved since then and became even more important. As Kaf observes and talks to people in the city, he learns certain factoids that are added to his journal. These factoids are very similar to items, and can be acquired by various means including conversation, observation and reading books or newspapers. One special type of information is the schedules of various NPCs; by following an NPC around town you can learn their daily schedule. You can also learn things by overhearing NPC conversations.

Knowledge is very valuable in Octopus City. There are plenty of people who trade in rumors and news. Kaf can simply walk up to any NPC and share a factoid with them. He can also use the knowledge he has acquired to influence dialogue choices; generally speaking, knowledge unlocks new dialogue choices and can get you out of bad situations. Facts can also be updated and extended. As you learn new things, old factoids get obsoleted, updated, or augmented with more information. Accurate information is more valuable, and trying to pass gossip as legitimate news can get Kaf or others in trouble.

For a practical example, Kaf can follow a salesman around to learn his daily schedule. Kaf notices that the salesman visits a certain woman every few days. This is acquired as a factoid which Kaf can tell to the salesman's wife, implying that her husband might be cheating on her (and getting the husband in a lot of trouble), or he can alternatively use it to blackmail the salesman.  However, appearances could be deceiving and Kaf can inquire more about the mysterious woman or the salesman. It turns out that the salesman is an Octoblood junkie and the woman he visits is his supplier. Kaf can then inform the Rat Kings, Octopus City's largest crime syndicate, of this 'illegal' supplier's activities, earning Kaf favor with the syndicate. Alternatively, he can blackmail the supplier to get cheap Octoblood.

This example is a little bit convoluted, but it illustrates the power of knowledge and the ways it can be used. Complex scenarios of this system are found in the main story quests, where you have to learn all about your objective and unlock new dialogue options. One of the major ideas behind Octopus City Blues is that each NPC is important and that most of them hide dark secrets. The knowledge system allows us to explore the lives of different NPCs and to give players a lot of different choices when carrying out quests.

You can expect to hear more about this system and to see it in action in a future update. You'll also get to try it out in the upcoming Demo. That's all for today, happy holidays!


Update #16

Calling All Guinea Pigs

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It's been a while since the last update, but October was a slow month for us. We've received your hard-earned money later than expected, and we've been busy making adjustments to our lives to allow us to work on Octopus City Blues full time. We are now ready to dedicate most of our time to OCB, and we have a solid plan for the demo.

Speaking of the demo, we're going to push the expected release date to January 2014 instead of the end of this year. In addition to the aforementioned delay, we've added some new scenes to the plan to make the transition between certain areas smoother. For example, the initial plan had an almost instant transition between Kaf's apartment and a back alley, but we now have the apartment building floor and reception area as well. The dream segment is longer too as we've met the stretch goal for extended dreams.

Before the demo, we're going to release some alpha and beta versions and get some feedback from people who pledged at the TESTER tier or higher. We've set up a small forum where you can find the first alpha release. This release is very basic, consisting of just two maps with nothing to do but examine things. The idea is to make sure that the engine works on different configurations. To try it, register at the Ghost in a Bottle Forums. A moderator will have to approve your registration, so please use the same email you use on Kickstarter or PayPal (or if you can't do that, send us an email at contact@ghostinabottle.com). Registration approval could take a day.

As I mentioned earlier, forum access is currently limited to the TESTER tier and higher, but we might have a public forum in the future. Going forward, we want to release a new alpha version every 2 weeks, and we will have a public Kickstarter update every month at the very least.

That's all for today. Until next time!

PS. You can still pre-order the game if you've missed it the first time, or if you want to increase your Kickstarter pledge.


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