Now Is the Winter of Our Extra Content
Why hello there!
Greetings from beyond the veil of time and space! I mean, hi there from the attic. Man, has it already been two months since our last update? Yup, apparently so, so let's dig in and see what our little motley crew has been doing all this time. Lengthy update full of pictures and videos, comin' through!
Where's the update, Stuck In Attic?
Sorry to have kept you waiting! Here's the deal: when you're a three person studio, responsibilities such as PR work and keeping people informed are stacked on top of others, in my case painting, animating, refining puzzles, editing what's already written etc. There are times when we're in a more _conceptual_ phase of making the game, and things are just a tiny bit more relaxed, but, heck, all this art and animation ain't making itself, so right now we are in full swing production mode. That means constantly churning out art, animation, sound, and music assets. And once you get into that groove, it's hard to yank yourself out of it. So please keep in mind that if we ain't updatin' it means we're creatin' :D.
Buuut I also realized that there are some of you out there that would like to be in the know a bit more often about how the game is progressing. So, to tide you over in between Kickstarter updates, we now have a blog! Click below to be transported to it:
...also accessible from our website, too. There's also an RSS feed for the blog you can subscribe to. Kickstarter updates are fun, but they usually entail capturing game footage, editing, rendering, exporting gifs etc. etc. and all that takes me away from production, which is why they don't happen as often. The blog is a simpler affair, but I'm committed to updating it weekly, letting you guys know what we're chugging away at. They'll be nice, bite-size insights into what it means to make an indie game, and if you have any suggestions or inquiries or curiosities or whatever else that's related, please let me know in the comments and I'll try to address them.
Since we were reworking the website a little, we also added a paypal button to it - we know you've already contributed and we are very grateful, but if you happen to want to throw something our way, or you wandered in here and this is the first you see of Gibbous, please know that any donation is super appreciated and will go toward the game - most probably extra voice work.
Alright, that's communications outta the way!
Appalling Case Files Are a Go!
So, you're a good for nothin' Darkhamite criminal and you made it into Don's file cabinet of crooks and mooks, huh? Well, good on ya ! You might wanna check your Kickstarter inbox and reply to our message - the case files are a go, so hit us up with a reply and let's start filling in those dossiers!
As I mentioned in the previous section, we're heavily into production. So, here's a breakdown:
Writing and Puzzles!
The game is written and designed; from this point of view, what I'm doing now is going over all dialogue and editing, clarifying this, shortening that, trying to get the words flowing as smoothly and clearly as possible. The extra writing I'm doing is with regard to some new stuff that I'm adding to the game, but more on that later.
While the majority of the puzzles had already been designed, I've lately been going over a few that haven't been implemented yet, adding an extra layer of complexity I feel they needed. I think you can imagine it's difficult to tell exactly how such a subjective concept as a puzzle will be perceived in terms of difficulty, but a lot of adventure gamers seem to prefer them on the harder side.
I certainly don't want "hard" to mean "I'm making this puzzle as obscure and illogical as possible", and I'm very much aware of games that have - recently or not - made this mistake just to up their difficulty artificially. We don't wanna do that. When you do solve the puzzle, my hope is that you'll say "alright, that makes sense, how did I not see it before?" rather than "that makes no effing sense and I would never have guessed that".
One thing I can tell you for sure is that I belong to the school of thought that says puzzles should be nicely integrated into the story, and should not, in most cases at least, leap at you in their naked form. Rather, they should sensually wink at you in candle light while wearing their fine Story satin pajamas aaand I'm gonna just abandon that analogy right there.
By the way, Here's an interesting video from Pushing Up Roses that is about moon logic in adventure games. While I agree with a lot of it, I still adore a lot of games that are certainly guilty of high treason via moon logic. I'm really curious what you guys think, so if you have an opinion, let me know in the comments below.
Backgrounds and Animation!
Man, I really really wish I could just show you ALL the backgrounds we've been working on in their entirety, but that's the trouble with story-based games: new locations are an in-game reward I'd rather not spoil, so please accept this montage of details along with my sympathy and sincere regrets that I can't show more:
Now, I do have a confession to make. Any responsible game developer knows that there comes a time in a game's production cycle where you have to bite the bullet and cut out stuff because it's just too much and there's just not enough manpower and...
Screw that. Whoever said we were responsible human beings? I can't vouch for Nicu and Cami, but I for one am not one, so instead of cutting environments I've been, ahem, adding more.
I know the amount of work we're taking on is absolutely ridiculous for a 3 person team, but I'll be honest with you - there is nothing else I'd rather be doing than working on the game, and I know for sure Nicu and Cami feel the same. We live and breathe Gibbous, and really don't mind - actually, we enjoy immensely! - spending extra hours so that we can add more to the game.
I'm acutely aware of what scope creep can do to a project, but at the same time it doesn't make sense to throw away something I realized would improve the game substantially. So I really hope you guys are with us, 'cause we are really trying to outdo ourselves and just give it 110% percent and not skimp out on anything.
People will always ask about gameplay length, which is always relative in adventure games. Some goal-oriented players will breeze through it as fast as possible, while some will enjoy exploring more. On a side note, here's an interesting breakdown of the types of video game players called the Bartle Taxonomy, and you can also take this online quiz which determins your player type (but keep in mind the quiz relates more to multiplayer games, especially MMOs). What kind of player did you get? Let me know in the comments.
Anyway, I prefer to think of it in terms of amount and quality of content, both of which are two of our main concerns. I want you to spend quite some time in the world of Gibbous, and, most of all, I want ALL of that time to be enjoyable and held to a high qualitative standard. No cut corners is our philosophy, and that's what we want to shine through in Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure.
Vfx and Polish
While me and Cami are at work on painting and animating Gibbous' world and inhabitants, Nicu is going over already implemented stuff, such as the area of the game that is in the demo, and adding in the cool technical art stuff we've shown you before - the real time light system and dynamic weather. Man, it's looking better and better each time I take a peek over his shoulder!
Here's a taste:
Characters and Extra Content
Last I mentioned this, there were around 35 speaking roles in the game. Well, as with the backgrounds, that number might grow quite a bit. Some of them have to do with the newly added puzzle content, a lot of them will be there for world building, comic relief and just believability in general.
I love adventure games, but I find them a bit lacking, in general, population-wise. I don't think every NPC has to provide quests, items, or even clues. Some of them can just be there so that the world feels more alive.
Here's a recording of a character creation stream I did a couple of weeks ago. It's three hours or so compressed into five minutes. These are just exploratory sketches, and they may or may not make it into the game (if they do, they'll probably look significantly different):
Here's what's required for us to add a new character to Gibbous:
Concept art, animation, writing: all this I can do myself. Since I'm also handling the puzzle side of things, integrating them into gameplay itself comes naturally and is pretty easy to do.
Voice acting: this is where it gets a bit tricky, because this is stretching our budget, but we could always lose a couple of bucks if it means that the game world is a little bit more alive. I don't believe in people working for free, unless they specifically volunteer their talent as such.
So, ups: all it takes for another character to appear in the game is some extra hours we are willing to put in at night or during the week-ends (which was happening either way). Downs: they tend to add a little financially - stretching out a budget that is already super thin for how ambitious this game is.
We're considering adding more NPCs to the world, to make it feel more alive and populated. It isn't a super top priority at the moment, but it's something I really feel would add significantly to Gibbous.
But this is your game just as much as it is ours, so we'd love to hear back from you. Are you Ok with us taking a bit more time and fleshing the world out more, adding extra bits of art and backstories and characters? Would you rather the game come out as early as possible, and maybe give up on some extra content?
As stated before, I err more on the side of making the game as awesome as can be, since this is our labor of love, but me, Cami and Nicu would love to hear your thoughts on this.
Good news is that not only do me and Cami now have much more powerful computers, but I now have a borrowed Cintiq at home, too, which is awesome! It means I don't have to drive all the way to the office every Saturday to work in a veeery slowly-heating empty building, I can work from home in my pajamas (NOT satin!) so productivity should rise quite a bit :D
Twitch Art Streams and the Twitching Hour
We've been having a bit of webcam issues lately but now it's all solved, so the streams are back on over on our Twitch channel.
I've been doing quite a bit of art streams, and have been trying to commit to at least one scheduled art stream a week. That's a little tricky, because having to wear so many hats means it's hard to predict when I have to do something completely different... The best thing is to subscribe to our channel and enable live notifications, so Twitch will let you know when me or Cami are live working on the game!
In other Twitch news, we've started uploading the VODs of our Twitching Hour streams to our YouTube channel, which you can also subscribe to. These are one hour-long team streams we do every two weeks in which we discuss the development of Gibbous. You can check out the most recent one below (no Nicu in this one, sadly - he had a doctor's appointment).
And here's a sped-up version of a three hour stream I did exploring Lovecraftian Bizarreries. Some of these may or may not make it into the game:
Hopefully you'll enjoy these sneak peeks into how a Gibbousian (yeah, that's a real word now!) character comes to life.
Three Point Oh
Ruling over us lowly peasants, as is the way of things.
We are in the thick of it, and loving every minute of it. Again, we couldn't be more grateful to you guys for making this dream of ours, to work on the game full-time, a reality. It's our number one priority in our lives now, and as a great poet once said "You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow / This opportunity comes once in a lifetime"... We're going all in, and it feels good to know you have our backs. We'll make a super rad game together, you can count on that. Woot!
Amped up and caffeinatedly yours,
I don't think I did a shout-out last update, so let me tell you about a couple of things we care deeply about. First off, games!
Memoranda is a surreal point and click adventure inspired by Haruki Murakami's short stories that I've been super excited about ever since I first saw a trailer quite a while ago. Now, to be quite honest, there's nothing that puts me to sleep quite as fast as Murakami's writing, but the game looks, sounds and feels fabulous. I haven't really formed an opinion yet, since I only got to mess around in it for less than an hour, but if it seems like something you'd enjoy, give it a whirl! Click pic below to go to its GOG page.
Second off, animals!
If you've been around for a while you probably know we are big animal lovers. We already told you in a previous update about a friend of ours who is basically dedicating her entire free time to caring for stray and sick cats and doggies from our town. Here is the shelter's facebook page (warning, some pictures of animals that were abused previously, nothing very graphic but still heart-wrenching).
We contribute every once in a while, and if you feel like you could spare a buck or too, you could do that, too. We can personally vouch for Ramona that every cent goes toward the welfare of the unfortunate animals that are abandoned or sometimes mistreated. She takes so many of them into her shelter and treats and takes care of them all by herself, it's impressive - it's quite the undertaking.
If you feel this is something you would like to be involved in, you can go here and pledge to donate 1 Euro per month for the animals in the shelter.
You can also donate any amount to her paypal. All the money goes toward the welfare of the animals:
And, even cooler, you can also adopt a cat from a distance!
This handsome tomcat below called Oscar is my adopted kid. As you can see, he's been doing better lately :D
That's about it, looking forward to hearing from you.
Stay safe, and see you next update!