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.).