20161226

Mirage of Dragon: Opening video and new logo

 This month was active. Finished the opening video:
 

Also, I have started redesigning a lot of stuff (already...). New logo will be this:
 
It's much more fitting for the game's mood. 
More stuff to come in January (by the end of it I should have a micro demo).

Ark

20161221

Mirage of Dragon: New areas in progress

Since nobody cares I won't comment anything. Here's the proof I still exist (as well as my new project):


Here goes "page 2" (the resolution is smaller than original):

 I have some time left til 2017. I'll continue my work. 2016 was horrible.

Ark

20161208

Mirage of Dragon: Environmental battle system

I'm a super active blogger these days :). It won't become a habit, but these days it just happens that I have stuff to say.

I'll try to explain what this "environmental battle system" of Mirage of Dragon is.
See the picture below:

Have in mind: it's only a concept art!


The most basic example of a good environmental battle would be the Bowser fight in the very first Super Mario Bros on Nintendo. The key difference is: you don’t attack the enemy directly; instead you change the state of environment using a certain “switch” object. You don’t kill the enemy – you create a situation in which the enemy can die naturally.

As you can see on the picture there are several Prince of Persia style buttons on the ground – you activate these just standing on top of them. Each has a certain effect. It can be anything, but the standard “reactions” can be categorized as:
*Attack

*Counter-Attack

*Resist

*Move

It’s like implementing your normal RPG-style menus directly in the environment. You don’t choose “fireball spell” in the menu – you run and jump to “attack button” on the ground, which creates a fireball for you. “Resist” type buttons can create various shields or walls even. “Move” type can create a teleport or extra platforms (this will be used often...). Some buttons can transform you or summon creatures. The number of all possible reactions is nearly infinite.

The “switches” can be anything too. In a science fiction game I would swap the buttons with some kind of energy fields. There are many ways to use it.

I think this system is perfect for puzzle platformers (or any other puzzle+action combos). Mirage of Dragon won’t be able to show you even half of its potential, but as an introduction to this battle style it should work well. (I got to leave something for the sequels :)).   

Ark,
X-mas coming...

20161205

Mirage of Dragon: new cover art and story intro

First of all, I have a new cover art, which is this:

<*[X]*>

Mirage of Dragon. Second month in development. Probably a good time to start talking, even if there is no one to listen. I’m used to this more than anybody, so it’s OK. Besides, I need to prepare some text for the art book (I love art books).
  
<[!]>

*Story (I).

>Post-apocalyptic fantasy.
I wanted to tell a story about a period in between the so-called “high fantasy” and the so-called “low-fantasy”. A painful period of a dying fairy-tale… The time, when all the magical creatures become extinct naturally – like trilobites and dinosaurs on earth. 

 Meeting the last elf, fighting the last dragon, finding the last magical weapon… this “last”-ness (if that’s a word) makes everything much more significant and dramatic.

“...most people don’t even believe in these things anymore – just surviving is enough”.

...but of course there is one idiot left who believes. He (or she) is our perfect protagonist, chasing the mirages of the past. Supported by no one, crazy and noble as Don Quixote, saving nobody and changing nothing in his quest. Unwanted and unforgiven hero in the time of cowards and conformists.

This is what the Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy is all about. 
It’s about eternal frustration of a man who wasn’t given a chance to save a world from an ultimate evil.
Because of this natural frustration, video games became so popular I believe. Most of us would give everything to have a real 30-second fight with an actual dragon. But no… we are boring people, building some cheesy democracy stuff that never works.

 Arghh… the frustration.

To express this frustration I’ve started working on Mirage of Dragon, a video game set in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world.  

*
(To be continued…
(I hope now it’s easier to see why it’s called Mirage of Dragon… 

Ark,
story-telling...

20161120

Mirage of Dragon: concept arts

Finally I have started working on my new project "officially". It is in the earliest development phase now, so I don't have much to show at the moment. I have started working on: 
-November 1 2016
And I intend to finish it on: 
November 1 2017.  


Considering the amount of work it may seem impossible for a normal human being, but not for me. I'm not normal. The only thing that can stop me is the damn financial difficulties - I always have them. I hoped to improve the situation with my previous project (which is an adventure game Ghostdream), but I was too naive about this probably... Well, I'll be looking for some other ways to fund myself.

*Here's the Cover Art Version 1 (I'll do another version later):
One of the angels above and the young version of Akeem below

*The very first sketch of Dragon Castlefuse - literally a fusion of a dragon and a castle. Naturally it's the final boss of the game. I'm not going to spoil the actual thing even in the final trailer, but this first sketch is OK for the suspense:


*Demonic Da Vinci Tank as one of the early bosses of the game:


That's all I have for now. + Some early screenshots on the game's page (you can see it on the right>).
Not bad for 3 weeks. It was intense. I'm tired.


Ark,
the ultimate. 

----------------------------
*UPDATE 2016/12/02:
I have decided to concentrate on the dragon bosses only, so no Da Vinci tank this time unfortunately. That's a cool boss fight to have in mind for another game...  


20161114

Ghostdream: The Book And The Guide


This is probably my final post related to Ghostdream. Already have some stuff to show from my next game, so I hope my blog will be more lively the following year.

>The puzzles in Ghostdream might be difficult, so I have written a short guide for it on Steam - you can read it here:
Ghostdream Short Guide

>In case you want to read the game's book and you haven't found it on the Steam page (I had difficulties finding it myself to be honest...) here's a link:
Ghostdream Black Book

Ghostdream Black Book Cover
 ~<<XXX-X>II<X-XXX>>~

That's it for now. 
No need for parting speeches or hyper-emotional postmortems - I will make a prequel in about 3 years from now on. I hope this next time I'll have all the time I'll need.
It will be awesome,
telling you.

Ark

20161028

Ghostdream and Paranoia


Well, Ghostdream is finally released and can be found on Steam. I don't know yet how good or bad it goes - I'm too paranoid to check it myself :D. But I will check it today. After that I will update the game's page, add the links, etc...

You see, I'm used to bad stuff, so I'm always expecting something even worse to happen. That's why it's hard - I need some time to get myself into my fighting stance and I can't say I enjoy the process... Paranoia is a tough enemy.

Ark Vertical,
awesome regardless


------------------
UPDATE P.S.:
Just checked the game's page on Steam. Well, it is nearly invisible. Invisible as a ghost. 

20161012

More Ghostdream Stuff...

Hopefully, Ghostdream will be released soon. The game is finished, the contract with the publisher is signed, so... all I can do now is wait, while working on my next game (I'll upload some stuff soon... this time I want to be "online" from start to finish.). But for now I would like to add some more Ghostdream screenshots. Also the trailer. Here it goes...

Enter the "drawn world"...

The Darkness...

Meeting "God"...

My favorite "little corner" in the town...




Ghostdream's trailer (in a tiny tiny window... I have no idea why):

 
Ark Vertical,
so tired of these strange compatibility issues...

20161009

GHOSTDREAM Article Part II

*This is a duplicate of the same article I posted on my Indie DB page some time ago. For the sake of logic I'll put it here as well (you'll see - it will make sense later...).


This is the second part of my “Ghostdream in Progress” article.

The remaining contents are:
>>Story
>>Game-Play
>>Extras


>>Story
First rule: no human world connections. My characters are ghosts living in a dream world. They know about their past life experience about as much as we know about ours. They are blind kittens with no history. When I write the dialogues I imagine 5-7 years old children (only if they would knew more words to express themselves). My ghosts are in fact even younger than 5 years old and there are no adults to tell them what they must do.

I want the story to be the same way. I imagine a kid leaving his house to buy some candy in the shop, but half way this kid sees something peculiar on the other side of the street and simply forgets about the candy. Then he meets another kid, who tells him “Hey, I know a cool place! Follow me!”. And once again the kid forgets about "peculiar thing" and runs to see the “cool place” he knows nothing about. Imagine how far this kid could go if he would have an absolute freedom (the kind of freedom only ghost can have). That’s the kind of story I want to tell.

Success. “The kid’s logic” is there, but I needed to change my first rule once. Some ghosts believe in existence of scary “physicals”, who can possess the ghosts and control them for their evil deeds. Naturally, this “physical possessing a ghost” is the player, controlling protagonist. I think it’s a nice touch, worth changing the rules for. I especially like how the ghosts imagine us. The most bizarre thing about physicals to them is that physicals cannot fly diagonally. Why they believe we can fly vertically I have no idea.


>>Gameplay
At first I was planning it as a “Ghost World RPG”, but very soon I’ve realized the only part I’m really interested in is the town with all of its characters. I still believe it could work well as an RPG – some would even call it unique, despite the archaic game-play, but it seems that “Ghost World Adventure” is simply more inspiring for me to think about.

>Structure of the game
Normally there is one big location in adventure games with all the events revolving around it. Usually it’s a city. Exploring this city you find the paths to lesser locations while constantly back-tracking to some kind of center. Surprisingly it can be very addicting to do this – it feels like you are gradually becoming a part of this world, living and evolving with it. "Returning" is a very important element for building the "atmosphere".

My idea is different. I wanted Ghostdream to be an “Arcade style Adventure game”. I’m not talking about the action elements here – by any means no… All I wanted is to borrow the structure of classic arcade games. That means: game-play consists of several linear episodes (usually called stages), no back-tracking possible, “boss” event at the end of each episode (slightly more advanced game-play element, usually unique).
 
Here’s the plan for the very first stage of Ghostdream:



 >Puzzles
Any puzzle ever made in a point and click adventure game is a disguised password menu, consisting of the two parts: “interface” and “key” (or “clue”). No matter how it may look it’s a sequence of typical actions. Normally puzzle designers are concentrating on the interfaces of their passwords, trying to disguise it well enough for you to never understand it’s a password. My idea is the opposite. Simple interfaces and advanced clues:


You can clearly see it’s a simple password menu and the clue to it is quite complex. Two good things about it:

>1. You don’t need to wander from one room to another just to press a button/push lever/turn a wheel/etc… you simply press the buttons on one compact menu.

>2. If you happen to know the solution, you can input it in a second. May be it’s your second time playing, or you simply don’t like solving puzzles in adventure games…

The most complex clue of Ghostdream is symbolically represented in a structure of the rooms you’ll find it in. For that trick to work I needed to make 9 extra rooms… and just one simple menu with 9 buttons to solve it.


>>Extras
I’m always drawing more than I need just to have some material left for an art book. I’ll start working on it for real right after I’ll finish the game, but I already have enough art to fill the pages:



Another popular “extra feature” nowadays is a so-called “Commentary Mode”. I can understand why people like it – if I love the game I want to know everything about it and just googling it is rarely enough for me. “Commentary Mode” should be the perfect answer, but… why do I hate it so much?
Because it ruins the atmosphere of the game. The worst thing that a game can do is to tell you in the face – “I am a game”. And this is exactly what this commentary mode is doing – each minute or so you hear developers talking about how they created this game (at the time you are playing it!). It’s a horrible experience for me as a gamer.

My answer is: separate commentary mode from the game and put it into… the art book. The only reason I’m calling it “Art Book” is because people can tell right away what it is without any additional explanations. I should be calling it “Commentary Book” instead – the concept arts will be put “into the comments”, not otherwise.

Lastly, if the game will sell well, I have a DLC in mind, but it’s too soon to dream about it…

This concludes my long article.
Good luck and have a nice day!

Alex the Xmas-Maker,
Because why not? 

~<<XXX-X>II<X-XXX>>~


*The rest of this big article is in the Ghostdream Book (it will be released together with the game itself). All that is left is to write the so-called post-mortem. It's too soon for that now, but I'll do it eventually...

GHOSTDREAM Article Part I

*This is a duplicate of the same article I posted on my Indie DB page some time ago. For the sake of logic I'll put it here as well (you'll see - it will make sense later...).



My name is Alex and I’m working on a point and click adventure game called “Ghostdream”. I’m nearly done, so it’s about time to return and analyze the whole process from where I am now. The contents would be:
>>Initial Concept
>>Graphics
>>Music
>>Story
>>Game-play
>>Extras


>>Initial Concept
I believe the idea is good if after an hour or two of thinking about it, I manage to express it in just one simple sentence. I can always develop it further later on, but in the very beginning it must be interesting enough for me in its simplest form. In this case I simply wanted to create “a world, only slightly visible through the darkness”. Not stylish black and white Limbo style, but a pretty colorful world, although covered in eternal darkness and so barely visible.

So the first thing I did was this room:

Success. It is more or less exactly what I was imagining.

Now I want to do something similar with the characters too – they must be barely seen, or not seen at all. Ghosts fit perfectly – you see only clothes, but not their bodies – they don’t exist and the clothes are simply their remaining memories, which might be imaginary:

Success.

The world must have the same logic too – it’s there, but barely seen. This actually reminds me of nearly all of my dreams – when I awake I remember only few details – everything else feels like that eternal darkness I’m trying to portray. The atmosphere of dreams is something to always have in mind here – it will probably end up looking like some old surreal art, but that is only natural:

Success. It feels exactly like my dreams… and as expected it reminds surrealism. More than that… it IS surrealism. Fine with me - it’s been a while since my last experiment in this style…

So… we have “a world, only slightly visible through the darkness” + bodiless ghosts + surreal dreams. Nice combo. Interesting enough for me to dedicate some time of my life to it.


>>Graphics
Preferably at least 50% of every room must me dedicated to “eternal darkness”, even more if possible.
Everything must move chaotically all the time. Not a single moment without movement (excluding texts, which must be readable).
Resolution isn’t very big (640X400), so I can’t make it very detailed, but I can work much faster in a smaller resolution. Since I have no budget… “faster is better” – it isn’t even a choice, unfortunately… Still, some rooms have quite big objects in it, detailed enough:

Success. The game looks exactly as I want it to look.

The only problem is monitor settings – depending on the display settings the game can look either extremely dark or too bright on the contrary. And I don’t want to start the game with the annoying “calibration settings”… people are not idiots, they can manage their own monitors without me telling them:




>>Music
Naturally it must be dark… and dark music is my thing. This is why I want to do something different this time. Dark only slightly, but by any means not scary. The spectrum of emotions associated with darkness is much wider than fear – it may also be sadness or even sexual desire. I am much more interested in sadness in this case. Blues is the answer. Classic Blues wouldn’t fit perfectly though – I need a different version of Blues, my own Blues, dark Blues, familiar yet different. Dark but not scary again. At any given moment I want to remind the player – it is dark, but it isn’t a horror game – nothing will appear here suddenly – if something frightens you it’s accidental. Music can serve me well for this matter – you always hear it.



Success. The soundtrack is big and quite rich both in arrangement and melody – I even have a fake chip-tune track for the sci-fi episode (you can have sci-fi dreams, so it works well as a part of the world).
My only problem as always is the sound quality – I’m using some old software and I have no money for professional mastering. I know it sounds exactly as I want it to sound on my equipment and I have no idea how it will sound elsewhere. That’s “hit or miss” unfortunately, but of course – headphones are recommended for this game (or any other game ever made).

End of Part I...


Alex the Xmas-Maker,
Because why not?


 

20161008

INTRO post…



My name is Alex and this is my new “official web-site” or rather… the substitute of one. I am a lone video game developer, known (or rather unknown) on the internet as Ark House (you can confirm it – it’s written on the logo above). My first finished game will be released soon (hopefully…) so I thought it’s a good time to make an “official web-site”. I needed to do this earlier (I had a lot to say), but I wasn’t entirely confident in the future of my project or even my own future as a developer... I wouldn’t say I’m a lot more confident now… In fact the future seems as dark as ever. But “darkness” is my thing, so I’ll think of something… I hope.

Anyway, welcome to my official web-site, whoever all 2 of you are. I’ll add some content soon…

I think I’ll be updating the blog once a month – even though I work alone I am very fast, so I always have some stuff to show and talk about.    

Alex the Xmas-maker,
Because why not?

P.S. It’s called “Ark House Telegraph” because the name “Ark House” is already in use by some other Blogger user… (I tried to google it, but found nothing. Blogger is full of lies.).