Archive for November, 2009

The (Fake?) Sound of Progress

Posted in Blog on November 30, 2009 by Lewis

I feel like a bit of a plonker, if I’m honest.  I realised I’d need someone to do the music.  A soundtracking company had been in touch, and I was talking to them about the possibility of working on Post Script.  And I’d also been talking to an old friend of mine who worked on Neptune while I was at the helm (and, um, still is working on Neptune, I’d assume).  And then I’ve probably annoyed the hell out of them both by thinking, actually, I’m actually a musician (ha!) myself.  Why not keep this a complete solo project?

So. I’ve been recording the music and sound effects.  This is because THE TOWN BUILD IS BASICALLY FINISHED.  I’d have liked to expand upon it further, but by keeping certain areas locked off for now, I’ll be able to allow for further exploration in future episodes.  There are a few bugs left to iron out, a final art pass to run through, but it’s pretty much there.

It takes around five minutes to explore the whole place, another three minutes to get to that point.  I’m guessing the finale should be about three minutes, too, meaning I’m bang on my target of ten minutes per episode.  I suspect canny players would be able to race from the start to the finish of the town section in, ooh, about 30 seconds.  Only, you wouldn’t be that canny at all.  Because you’d have missed most of the content.

Anyway. Sound design. I think it’s going okay…

Music for the final scene. Which should be pretty awesome.

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Pretty as a picture

Posted in Blog on November 27, 2009 by Lewis

Things are progressing rather quickly indeed!

I’ve been working on the town.  The story called for there to be a pond on the outskirts, so I started building that yesterday.  I made it too big, so it turned into a small lake, but I like it that way, so I’m keeping it.  Adding detail, I decided to generate some thick foliage in the surrounding area.  This area of the game world has now ended up turning into The Path.  Goodness.  I hope it doesn’t end up being too plagiarised.  Then again, I’d give anything for Post Script to be that good.

Detail added, a lovely warm fire in the middle and so forth, and it’s ended up looking like this:

The lake. Was supposed to be a pond. Oh well.

Then today, I started putting some detail on the building interiors.  I haven’t actually finished building all the exterior yet, by any means, but I wanted to get a feel of how everything was going to work together.  Played about with lighting for a while – wanted to have this building so the sun came in through the windows and cast some nice shadows – but the sun’s angle was wrong so it didn’t work.  So it’s nasty old electric lights for this one.

I might add something to this, at some point.  My only worry is how detailed it’s all getting, when it’s one giant sprawling map.  It seems to be running smoothly enough at the moment, but the town’s only half-built, and if every building’s as detailed as this one on the inside, I could be asking for trouble.  To be honest, though, as boxy as this looks, I think it pretty much works.  In context, there would be no reason for this building to contain anything else.

It looks like this:

Cosy.

I’m also brainstorming for some little atmospheric touches to litter the game: music, sound effects, visual effects etc.  I’ve been playing both The Path and Dear Esther for inspiration, since I guess – despite some substantial differences – those are probably the closest existing titles to Post Script.  The ways those two use sound in particular is fantastic.

So I’ve been trying out a few similar things.  And, well… to heck with it.  I whipped up a mini-trailer incorporating all the stuff I’ve been doing.  Enjoy!

UPDATE: That second screenshot was a bit iffy. I went back and added a chimney, and now it seems to look prettier. It is above.

Bricks and Mortar

Posted in Blog on November 25, 2009 by Lewis

So I’m doing two things simultaneously at the moment.  Well, more than that if you count literally everything I’m doing.  But in terms of Post Script, two tasks are taking up my time.

The first is writing a particularly interesting character who’s sort of evolved out of a piece of dialogue with another one.  She’s a mysterious, unnaturally verbose type that I’ve managed to write as being quite accidentally poetic, yet quite obviously a bitch.  It’s funny – she wasn’t initially on the list of characters I had in my head, but trying to segue from the narrator into something that resembles in-game dialogue proper (which is all text-based, by the way, as I don’t want any voice acting problems fucking up the game), I wrote a line that… well, that pretty much defined the character from the outset.

I’ve written little bits of her dialogue so far, but am refining as I go along, and as I properly build up her character profile.  The nature of Post Script’s story means it’s all about little incidental things; the broad story arc is there, but pretty much downplayed in favour of a snapshot of these characters’ personalities.  So I’m trying to work in some subtle answers that can be woven into the game, a few secrets that players dedicated to uncovering every inch of the world can discover.

That’s a point, actually: you probably get out of Post Script what you put in.  You can quite literally, with one exception, walk from the start of Episode 1 to the end of it without interruption.  But all you’ll get is an introduction to the main story arc. And that’s a shame, because Episode 1 is all about this one character, and you can find out a lot about her by just being patient and hunting around for clues.

The second thing I’m doing is building the town in which much of Post Script takes place.  Episode 1 will probably be quite frustrating to create, as I’m telling a story that only relates to certain bits of it, but obviously an environment like that can only work when – y’know – there aren’t big chunks missing from it.  So there’s a lot of incidental detail that I’m having to build up, which is a bit of a long slog – and the nature of how I’m doing it means long stretches of building without anything really becoming playable.  It’s kind of an iterative design, as well as one that’s growing naturally as I tweak it.  But compiliing it so it can render in-engine means “sealing off” the map, and while this works for purely technical testing purposes, having a giant set of walls, or an impossible skybox, surrounding what I’ve done so far doesn’t really serve a purpose when it comes to seeing how it actually works in-game.

The town so far, in-editor. Anyone familiar with Source level design will, I'm sure, be able to spot plenty of terrible habits there.

In Post Script, you’ll be able to wander freely around much of the town, but each episode different things will happen, and in some cases new areas will be open for you to explore.  Triggered events occur at specific times, and that’s going to be a difficult thing to get right.  While it’s unlikely players will sprint from one trigger point to another, hidden one, nothing’s to say someone definitely won’t try, so it needs to be literally impossible for the player to trigger the new event before the old one has finished.  Which means somehow blocking the player from doing so.  Which is really tricky to do without artificially constructing the environment so you have to take a convoluted route around, or making the whole place so impossibly huge that it feels sterile and unnatural (and shoots several holes in the framerate).

I’ll be thinking of some ways around this in the next few days, continuing to plug away at building the world, and trying to get Episode 1’s script finished.  Hopefully I won’t become enormously busy in the next few weeks (though it’s very likely) and can get something into proper testing in the reasonably near future.  Once Ep 1’s environment is fully built, it means substantially less design work for future releases.  Hopefully that will lead to at least a semi-regular release schedule.

Man! Hello!

Posted in Blog on November 24, 2009 by Lewis

So, I’m writing a post on a makeshift website blog thing. I guess that means Post Script is sort of launched. Hooray!

What is Post Script? It’s exactly what it says on the About and FAQ pages! But, condensed exclusively for this post, it’s a series of very short “computer games” exploring the stories of a cast of intriguing characters, and set after the second apocalypse.  Aside from a few minor puzzles, there’s very little typical gameplay; you walk around, explore an environment, and try to piece together the clues to form a coherent idea of what happened to this place.

Each episode will be released When It’s Done, and I’ll be detailing various bits of progress along the way, I would imagine, along with some commentary next to the releases when ready.  For now, there are a few concept renders over on the ‘Media’ page. Have a look, if you want.  And be sure to check back soon.