Heart and Solstice: A Winter's Update
Winter Solstice's greetings to all!
Actually, that's two days away, but who's counting?
We hope these words and moving images find you backers of G:ACA ( that's the game's first official acronymization right there!) in good health and spirits, living out the remainder of your pointless existence while patiently awaiting the Old Ones' inevitable return and subsequent crushing of our planet, way of life and all remembrance.
But enough warm and sunny thoughts, let's get back to eldritch monstrosities and how the game is coming along, shall we?
First and foremost, here's what we've been keeping ourselves busy with for the past couple of months.
Tons and tons of characters, and their respective animations.
There's a lot of them.
Seriously, there's a bunch of them.
Oh, God, what were we thinking?!
...and many more.
We are past 60 NPCs at the moment. This will be one populated game!
We haven't had the time to count yet, but only these past couple of months we've drawn thousands and thousands of frames of animation.
We're really grateful for your patience, and as you can see, it's being put to good use. As much as we love adventure games, sometimes their worlds feel woefully empty, and we really appreciate the opportunity to bring this amount of crazy, unique characters into Gibbous' world.
The Location Implementation Situation
We're super happy to say that 40 of the game's 50 expansive locations are in the game! Did I mention that all background art for the game is done? I hope I did, 'cause I scarcely can believe it myself.
The way we approach implementing the heaps and heaps of graphical and text content G:ACA will sport (starting to like this acronym business more and more!) is thusly:
Phase 1: We import all graphical assets and painstakingly build up every scene, define the walkable areas, set up the parallax scrolling, work in the lighting.
Phase 2: Also known as the soul-crushing bit, all descriptions and possible interactions are copy/pasted from my messy, frantically scribbled in the moonlight notes and attributed to hotspots.
Nicu is particularly happy about not having to do all this work by himself - thankfully, for the past couple of months he's had an apprentice, Orsi, providing a helping hand with coding and content implementation. She's been extremely helpful, and we're very fortunate to have her.
Phase 3: All characters, their respective animations, and their dialogue are put into their corresponding scenes.
Phase 4: Implementing game logic - that is, putting in all the conditions that make the game tick and make sense, allowing the player to progress through it.
Roughly half of the 40 scenes have all phases implemented, the rest only requiring the last phase. For such a small team, we've taken on a pretty, pretty big game, but every moment spent on it tells us it was worth it.
Thank you to everyone who was interested in playing the beta and giving us valuable feedback! We've already squashed some nasty bugs thanks to you, and we're carefully considering your suggestions (and some of them were really, REALLY good!).
Also, you guys who've played it seemed to really like it! Whaaat? That was unexpected! *Wink-wink*
Don't forget that you can still opt-in by sending an e-mail with the subject "HAIL CTHULHU!" to liviu at reea dot net.
Also, our Discord channel discord.gg/gibbous is now verified and has a special #beta-feedback channel where we can talk about it. The beta, that is. If you do discord, come hang out!
There's a stereotype about us Transylvanians - apparently we're kind of slow. This year we reinforced it a bit - we were late to sign up as exhibitors to the best narrative games convention in Europe. We went anyway, traveled all night, switching between buses, trains, airplane... And we almost didn't make it in. Limited number of attendees due to safety regulations, and it seems that people are really, really interested in adventure games!
Thankfully, we valiantly stuck to the head of the queue for a bit over an hour and made it in, and it really was an excellent experience.
We know it's a pretty universal situation, but especially here, in Romania, it's hard to come across people who know about, let alone are passionate about adventure games. AdventureX was ALL adventure gamers, ALL around. Madness! Talks were excellent, and we met so many people we knew and admired from the internet alone. And games! So, so many good games, and so many regrets for not having the time to play them all.
Here's a short video courtesy of our friend Alexander:
While we weren't, ahem, official exhibitors, we sort of happened to plug our laptop into a socket and people happened to stop and check it out.
The Space Quest Historian also made a lengthier vlog of the event, and you can catch me hyping up Gibbous at around the 9:30 mark:
The picture above is from Stephen Brown's article in Adventuregamers.com about the games present at AdvX2017, and, plot twist, we're in there too!
Speaking of Adventuregamers.com....
We're on the Hype-o-Meter™!
This is such an honor. We're right below Dave Gilbert's Unavowed, who by the way gave us an excellent sign-posting suggestion after playing Gibbous. Thanks, Dave!
Gibbous backers are best backers
It's such an incredibly pleasant surprise every time one of our backers sends us something nice in the mail! Toiling away in relative isolation can sometimes make you forget that there are excellent people out there who care about Gibbous, and these incredibly nice gestures are really heart-warming, and they motivate us to work even harder. Crystal, the kitty and tentacle phone stands are great, but the letter was the best part! We also appreciate you almost burning down your kitchen in the process - Kitteh approves of your sacrifice.
Probably the video game character me and Nicu quote most often, Warcraft 2's peon has the right idea: "Mo' work?". Yup! As 2018 comes along we'll finish animation work and move into final stuff such as voice and instrument recording.
While as far as in-game animation is concerned, we're finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, there are important plot points that we want to punctuate with cutscenes. These are already storyboarded and color scripted, but they constitute major spoilers, so I sadly can't share them here. Here, have a Kitteh pick-up animation instead:
So, what is next for us is two days of celebrating the holidays with our loved ones, then getting back into the saddle working on implementing what's left to implement, tweak what's left to tweak, and so on, and then into 2018, the beginning of which will see us recording tons of voices and music, and using nights and week-ends to bring Gibbous' cutscenes to life.
On a personal note, I want to share with you that I am amazed - by my reaction to this project, mostly. I've been a professional digital artist for the better part of 13 years now, but never before in my life have I dedicated this much time to one project without burning out, or getting sick of it, or just wanting a break. I honestly didn't think it was possible to work like a madman for months on end on the same project and still wake up every morning excited to go to work, having to force myself to stop late in the evening - and the same goes for Nicu and Cami. We've gotten some super nice compliments from the people that have played the beta, but by far the one we cherish the most is "Wow, you can tell you've really put a lot of love into it." We have, and are, and it's awesome that it shows.
Thanks again for your continued support and patience. 2018 shall be the year of the Gibbous moon!
Liviu, Cami, Nicu and Orsi.
PS: Shout-out Time!
Ooh, it feels so good to be able to shout so many good adventure games in this section, now that we've played them and had a pint or two with the creators!
Guard Duty, Bertram Fiddle, Lamplight City, Growbot, Du Lac & Fey, K'nossos, Purgatory, Silent Streets, Selling Sunlight... Too many to mention! You can find info and links to all of them inside these two articles. Adventure games are alive and kicking!
See you next update.