Localization

Bonjour,
our translation into English has started: the proofreading and simultaneous translation of our adventurous concepts of grammar. We were able to win the miraculous Annegret as a translator & proofreader, who has supported us with translations in the past.

Annegret has not only mastered the English and German language, she is also working on becoming Dr. Monster at King’s College London. Yes, you heard that right.

Together Annegret & I will work through the story, from beginning to end and I will add all 37 (yes, there are at least 2 more…) chapters into the game. Annegret might talk about our well-planned process in one of the upcoming posts. In the meantime, you can follow this Twitter thread she has started. It’s a bit niche what with it talking about German grammar in translation but being niche hasn’t stopped us before.

All the while, I’m getting a bit teary-eyed, overwhelmed by the sudden realization that we’ve finished everything, and also because I can already see the many evenings that we’ll have to sacrifice to complete the upcoming work.

I thought I’d spoil you with some nice visuals again! Our amazing Desi has conjured up a postcard motif which I’ve added as a loading screen into the game just before the German Dev Days.

The only issue: even on my old steam powered Google Nexus Tablet from 2012 (yes, they were steam powered) it only takes a maximum of 1.5 seconds to load a chapter. Unfortunately that’s is not enough to appreciate the splendour of Innsmouth in summer plus the posing Ms. Innsmouth Crabs

Never thought I’d complain about that: Loading times too short!
I guess it could be worse…

GDD Part Deux

I write this message with the last ounce of my strength. That’s because the German Dev Days were an exhausting, but also fabutastic event for us! The German Dev Days are a two-day event held annually in Frankfurt. The main organizer is Stefan Marcinek from Assemble Entertainment.

Early Tuesday morning we not only had a banner (we now have a BANNER!), but also a prepared stall waiting for us, a bunch of tech goodies we hadn’t expected, and ahead of us two days of never-ending talks about indie games, engines, Lovecraft and, of course, our game which was tested eagerly.

As always, it was worth it! In addition to a couple of grammar slips, which had weaseled their way into the text recently, one of our testers discovered a logical error. One of those in which the protagonist knows something he couldn’t possibly know. Argh!

To all indies who are thinking about participating in such an event – do it! The feedback from wild strangers is the best ever. You are confronted with what is perhaps not quite fleshed out in terms of content and technology, but you also get confirmation for what is already working in your game.

Many thanks again to everyone who visited our stall and of course to the organizers (especially Stefan) who keep this ingenious event going. We are still astounded by the care of the organizers and the big crowds.

And, most importantly, I now have a physical reminder in my living room nudging me to finish all the chapters…

German Dev Days!

Hello there!

Don’t be scared! The blog got a tiny visual update. It was caused by the fact that the previous theme required an update that… destroyed everything.

Also, the work on the game had to be paused for a month: a bit of travelling, a nasty flu and moving to another flat (with walls that still need painting) and a few more days in which I just took a breather and spent my free time doing absolutely nothing.

Now the good news is that Timo and I are writing the last two of the ultimately 35 chapters! I completely ignored that originally we had only on writing 20 chapters.

Blimey!

All in all we’ve written over 150,000 words and in the end we produced the darkest and strangest narrative threads in this last push.

In the meantime, I had to hold myself back from putting more chapters into Unity, because now, if everything goes well, we’ll start editing and translating into English at the same time. There will be some minor changes and I’m glad that I don’t have to trawl through every flowchart tree for one small dialog branch.

The story is almost finished – a new era begins! It’s hard to believe that the thought “There’s still so much to write” will no longer haunt me like a stubborn poltergeist from now on.

If this wasn’t enough reason to be in a good mood, I found (on my birthday!) an email in my mailbox. Our project was selected as indie exhibitors at the German Dev Days in Frankfurt. In January, Thomas Rössig from Flying Sheep Games, who is always informed about everything, recommended that I introduce myself there. Be praised, Thomas! Even more story testers and the opportunity to introduce the game directly – I’m really looking forward to all of that. On the plus side it meant that all of a sudden we had a deadline to provide information and print data. A bit of motivation I had been in dire need of.

We’ll even get a big roll up banner printed, that means, we had to decide on a final game title, because Escape… is the title of an extension of the Cthulhu pen-and-paper.

In the end I decided on The Innsmouth Case, which best summarizes the adventure and also fits the book cover. And, in loving memory of our old webcomic, our codename as game makers is Robot Pumpkin.

Until next time!

Caro

So much text

Happy New Year!

I postponed the January update for a long time, but I swear, I haven’t been lazy.

Our work on the story is drawing to a close. We now have 32 chapters and are in the process of tying some loose ends. The biggest part, the twisty “main mission”, is finally finished and now we’re having some fun with side stories.

Apart from that, I discovered Twine’s “Story Statistics” feature and the current state of the project is 145000 words. 145000! Wow! That’s a bigger book size than the 2nd part of Lord of the Rings, “The Two Towers”, only with fewer orcs and epic battles, but more fish cultists and inappropriate flirting. Still, I’m starting to realize why all of this took so long to create.

In the coming weeks I will build in the remaining 32 chapters (urg), while Timo will 1) continue with the side stories and 2) will take a closer look at my stories and expand them.
Then I have to test & improve what I can do. Since my Christmas vacation I have had to do all this work in addition to a regular 40 hour week, so I won’t be able to go that fast, because Innsmouth is still a project I’m working on in my free time.

The main cause of countless nervous breakdowns will soon be text corrections and the insertion of an English version. Further up on the priority site: a final game title! Escape from Innsmouth is a small expansion of the Cthulhu tabletop and I’d rather play it safe than get into potential trouble.

In the last weeks I have posted backgrounds and characters on Instagram from time to time, but these will become less, because I really don’t want to reveal too many encounters.

Posted artworks are among others

Have a great week!

9. Gametreff NRW

Last Thursday my fellow writer Timo and I dared to visit the 9th Gametreff NRW, of which I had only heard about by pure chance. Fortunately, someone in the Cologne Game House had posted that they were still looking for prototypes or new indie games, which, after the two keynotes, could be exhibited and tested in the so-called Gaming-Area.

We had assumed that it would be at least one big room where many small teams would present their games – in fact, there were only two projects, including Innsmouth. Gulp.

Funnily enough, the other project was a colorful 3D platformer. I think with our monochrome presence we created a strong contrast…

Since drinks and pizza were provided by the organizers, the event was well attended and we were able to take home some valuable feedback from our testers.

Last weekend I had changed quite a few things in the first chapter – some small effects that were missing for the final version – and, on top of that, I finally wanted to test an early version of the timer. A timer bar runs along the options when the player only has 3 seconds to choose an option (usually only 2 or 3 choices). An example of this is when the player has to decide whether to try and suppress their impulse to vomit. Yep.

Here’s the simple, still undesigned version I had built in.

Screenshot 2018-12-16 11.29.54

Theoretically, 3 seconds are barely enough to skim 2 options and hastily make a choice – but one of our (glorious!) testers noted that they had been between the eyes by the sudden time pressure.

That’s understandable, of course. Actually, it’s all about reading through our Lovecraft insanity, relaxing and having fun. Such a sudden stress factor doesn’t fit in well with the concept.

Solutions would be
A) To announce the upcoming time event in the text a little more clearly beforehand, so that players can prepare themselves mentally.
B) To increase the time window to maybe 5 seconds, so that the stress factor is slightly lower
C) To take out the timer completely and to leave the choice of how stupid the player character behaves to the player.

At any rate, it follows: it’s pretty damn crucial to collect feedback and such small events are perfect to connect with some amazing testers!

Thanks again to everyone who tested the game in case they read it here. Yes, I’m referring to YOU three in particular. You were great, we’ll think about your feedback (and add the missing punctuation… cough) and our baboon hearts are inflamed (don’t ask, it’s a German thing and everyone’s fine). We’re full of motivation that will put us back into action.

Tata!
Caro

Story & Achievements

We are approaching December and my goal of having the game done and dusted by the end of the year has been adjusted to having at least the content ready.

There are going to be 30 chapters and a story walkthrough will consist of of 8-10 chapters, depending on which way you choose and how stupid you act (i.e. whether you’re going to get yourself killed at any point…!).
I took a screenshot of the Twine stories. Each small dot is a text passage of any length.

stories

According to my word processor, each chapter has between 5000 and 9000 words, which won’t be a lot to read per game, because you simply can’t see the whole chapter. But thaaaat’s exactly the incentive to through it all again and take a completely different route. I wrote some of the stories a year and a half ago. And because of the forced breaks (a move abroad and all that), I’m currently going through older texts to revise or expand and some of these passages and choices make me chuckle, so I think that’s a good sign.

The most important achievements/endings can be found here as an overview – three are still missing. I think I can post them without spoiling anything. Well, you can probably imagine some of them anyway. (Tentacle-tentacle-tentacle-tentacle.)

symbols_05

I have finally resumed work on the characters, which I am currently animating in the evenings after work, but I’ll post those another time.
The hardest part right now is to continue with the new backgrounds because it’s been two months since I’ve worked on them…

Gnargh. See you next time!

bb

Robot startups & cleaning dishes

Hi everybody!
Due to my broken Wacom tablet I’m still on a forced break in terms of drawing, but I’ve continued to write one of the last chapters of the PI mission. The most exhausting thing of all is when the character doesn’t just simply die, but their story has to be told to the very end…

But it probably doesn’t make sense to complain about too much text in a text adventure.

In addition to getting a refreshing dose of horror from the Fantasy Film Fest, I also wanted to get some storytelling inspiration and the different decisions that the character has to take. So finally I started playing Detroit: Become Human! It looks incredibly pretty! But! My skepticism stirred when my fingers had to stroke the touchpad in rhythmic succession so that the android character – a housemaid – would clean the dishes properly. Maybe even a bit earlier, when a Detroit apartheid bus showed up in which the androids had to sit in the back of the bus.

I’ll still keep playing it, because I’m an idiot who loves interactive stories and I enjoyed the character interactions so far but… oh boy.

Kein Witz

I wasn’t joking

Choice of Robots is quite different. I only discovered it yesterday and I’m already completely hooked! In my first playthrough I lived a happy life and died in the circle of my family (mechanical & human) of the Algernon(!) brain disease. I started the second one this morning before work and I’m already moving dangerously fast towards a Terminator scenario.

Stupid toasters.

Basically, the game consists of being an up-and-coming young robotics expert (m/f) with the task of having to assemble your very own little robot. Depending on how you treat the robot and what you teach it, the AI will either become more independent, compassionate, skilled, or competent in the military field. These game mechanic values are visible to you the entire time, alongside your fame & wealth. On top of that, you’ll also have to decide for yourself which career path to take. You can launch your own start-up, be hired by the military, accept a dubious offer from China, or join an existing company.
Whatever you choose, your first robot will accompany you, learn from you and possibly question you (if you have given it this ability). Really philosophical, sometimes unpleasant, sometimes heartwarming questions arise, which I didn’t expect from the rather cheap presentation.

Will your robots become giant mechs, empathetic surgeons or toys?

The game supposedly has a volume of 300,000 words, which is a lot, and the extreme difference in content in the first two games I’ve played has already made it my favorite, ranking above Sorcery, 80 Days & Lifeline.

But why trust me writing about it? You can also play the first two chapters (the default is 8 for one run) for free.

At the moment, the completely text-based game is far more exciting for me than Detroit: Become Human, but I’ll certainly come back for the pretty rain, and… someone has to do the laundry.

CoR

September Update

Almost three months have passed and I finally found time to write an update again

Ok, let’s keep it brief: I have…
… quit my job
… found a new job.
… scrapped my Cintiq by a firmware update
… annoyed Wacom’s customer service
… created a Github repository (- this has once again confirmed my suspicion that there is an internet guide for dummies for absolutely ANYTHING.)

The story is now two thirds finished, which is a lot. Oh god, just look at it. For illustration purposes, here’s the flowchart of a scene called “dinner”. Above is the start, the green marked fields are a few ends or branches which lead to another chapter. Choices includes simple, stupid things that the character can say, but also hard choices that may have huge consequences.

flowchart
Whew!

Following a great and very motivating test run at the Comicsalon Erlangen I was able to convince my long-time comrade Timo to join me yet again after a longer writing break. Two weird brains are better than one. For three years, we worked together on the webcomic ‘Tales from the Couch’, so I expect only the best/worst.

Until my Cintiq died its horrible, decrepit death I had also been working on backgrounds and characters. You can never have enough impressions of stormy beaches and dark alleys as you all know…
WIP, I hope Wacom lets me finish those.
bg_beach
bg_gassen

Demo @ Comicsalon Erlangen

A week ago, the time had finally come.
I put a build of the game with nothing apart from the main menu and the first chapter on my iPad Mini and presented it at the Comicsalon Erlangen for people to try out!
I already had several friends play the Twine version of the first chapter, and I used to pass early game versions around on my Android phone a long time ago, but people you know are of course always a bit more gracious than strangers…

A little paper sign with the words ‘Test our text adventure’ invited the people to simply click on “New Game”. It was fascinating to see how much children’s necks can twist in close proximity to something digital as they walk by, which of course is not the main focus of the Comicsalon.

IMG_20180531_124955350

The conclusion: I am SO relieved!
The simple concept was enough to really captivate those who dared to play and to make them smile in between. On top of that, people immediately understood how to play and where to tap – apart from an older gentleman who relentlessly tried to swipe the first page…
I’ve decided to be less worried from now on (I’m a pro at worrying), and just finish everything the way I had planned.

I’m working on the final design of the endings/achievements, in a week I’ll post the first non-spoiler examples.

Caro!

Demo

Over the past few weeks I have only been posting some screenshots on Instagram / Twitter so I would like to give a small update again.

For the “Comicsalon Erlangen” I want to prepare a small demo on the iPad, and that’s a good motivation to get rid of some old placeholders – so I will finish the main menu, the city map, some achievements and all assets and animations that belong to the first chapter.

main_Menu_unity

map

At work I finally discovered the well-kept secrets of the program Spine . Creating a flexible arm or tentacle out of a straight graphic is really easy, but the way how to is very well hidden.
I promised tentacles and I will deliver…!

tentacle_spine

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