Good morning, my moldy duckies. Sit down comfortably, whack out your hot cocoa and welcome back to another spicy developer log, in which I trick you into becoming interested in our projects so when the time is right, you shower us with your hard earned money to buy our games.
Another good week this week. A bit of everything, we got some concept art back, reached out to a couple 3D modelers, completed some proxy meshes and we’ve been finishing up our pitch document to ship around to publishers we believe can handle the vision and brains behind AVANT GARDE INVESTIGATE.
Even though I have just spoiled the whole developer log right there, who cares. Let’s dive in and figure out just what the hell has gotten done this week.
— — —
Stage #1 — Concept Art
I think the best place we can start this week’s developer log off from is the concept art. We reached out to a boatload of talented artists to bring our concepts to life and once we’d threw them all into a giant bucket — we sat around like hungry sharks picking them out, chewing them up and throwing them away until we found the right artist for the job.
And find one we did! I’ll go ahead and show you the two concept arts we’ve received thus far, which I think you’ll agree fits AVANT GARDE INVESTIGATE quite well.
Well, of course, you can’t agree because you haven’t seen much in terms of the design of the project but that was me trying to be “friendly”. I’m sure you’ll see more of the design documents and good stuff as we go deeper into the project.
On that note actually, whilst I’m in this pseudo-ranting state, I put out a call on the social media channels to ask if people wanted us to open up our development workflow and pipelines. Where we’d post anything and everything in terms of design, production and all that good stuff for AVANT GARDE INVESTIGATE.
So far, we haven’t received word back from anyone. Not sure whether to take that as a “No, we don’t want this” or if our social reach just isn’t that big yet. We shall see. If it is an idea that interests you, please let us know. If not, no big loss for us. The idea though of giving back to the industry in some small form is definitely something that excites us in all the wrong places.
Anywho, back to the feature presentation — the concept art. So far, we have received concept art for two of the characters from AVANT GARDE INVESTIGATE. Robert Bobstein and Violet Huntingdale. To be as mysterious and avant garde as possible, I’m not going to be telling you what role these two characters play just yet but we’re really happy with how the concepts turned out.
Image copyright: AvGaHo
Prior to meeting the concept artist, we also decided on an art direction. You’ll see that this highly influenced the concept artists we actively sought out and the style of work we received.
Concept art for Violet Huntingdale, created by the concept artist we’re working with.
Image Credits: AvGaHo
What cemented the fact we had found the right concept artist for the job was the fact that all we had sent them in terms of reference is a short bio of the character, a bit about the title and what kind of music and films the characters liked.
From this, the concept artist was talented enough to visualize the characters almost exactly as they were designed behind closed doors. Needless to say, we were super impressed and can’t wait to see the rest of the concepts that the artist creates for us.
Stage #2 — Herbert and Json
This was another week we put Herbert to work. As we discussed previously, we have been doing a lot of the dialog design work within Articy Draft. That is still happening (In fact, I’ll provide an update later in this post about all that fancy stuff) and so Herbert went to work playing around with the .json output of Articy Draft, creating a python beast to clean it up and prepare it for automated (well, as automated as possible) insertion into Unreal Engine 4.
The idea is that we can spit out what we need from Articy Draft, click a button or two and then the dialog or whatever we need from Articy Draft will be imported into a nice, clean Unreal Engine 4 data table, allowing us to use the design data in production to automate character conversations and the like.
I’m happy to report Herbert, as usual, did not disappoint. The python beast is functional and ready for me to break, much to the probable dismay of Herbert and his hard work. I will update you on how the tool works and how many tears I have managed to extract from Herbert at a future date.
Stage #3 — Pitch Document
Most of the week was spent finishing off the pitch document, which we have sent to a select few publishers. As I have alluded to before, this isn’t our first rodeo. For example, the person who is typing right now is real but me, Pigface Jackpots, is simply a virtual character of fiction.
The people behind the wheel, commanding me like a puppet and all that nasty business have been in the film and video-game industry for a number of years now. We’d like to show off the studios and companies we have worked for in the past, but this isn’t about those people. It is about me, Pigface Jackpots, making obscene amounts of money and amazing video-game experiences.
Anyway, during the tenure in the industry, relationships were formed, babies were had, you get the deal. When writing the pitch document, there were a few places that we had in mind. In case they don’t want to be anywhere near associated with a beautiful mug like mine, I’ll spare their names from here, but it is safe to say there were around 3–4 active publishing houses we directly targeted our pitch document, confident that AVANT GARDE INVESTIGATE meets the criteria for games and projects they tend to publish.
The pitch document itself was not done by conventional means. Rendered in Unreal Engine 4 because why not, it is a beautiful little animated package that informs the publisher of who we are, what we’re doing and why they should give us dollar dollar bills to bring AVANT GARDE INVESTIGATE to life.
I’ll let you know in the future if any of these publishers take us up on the offer but now we’ll have to wait and see. If you’re interested in the pitch document and/or if you have disgusting amounts of capitol ready to funnel into AVANT GARDE INVESTIGATE, please get in touch.
Super pretty animated pitch document. Image credits: AvGaHoStage #4 — Limo (Prologue)
Whilst we sift through the 3D modelers for bringing our characters and props to life, I got to work creating some proxy meshes. You know, so production doesn’t come to grinding halt and all that. I didn’t have much time between the other tasks this week and writing this developer document. However, I did manage to complete the limousine.
For those not in the know, the limousine is the very first location of the game. The prologue of the game takes place in this location and thus is counted as an important place. On that note though, it is a relatively simple location in terms of modeling.
With these two points in mind, I went ahead and created the limo scene. Please note that this only serves as a proxy mesh for now, but it serves the purpose it was created for and means we can race to our first vertical slice to give people a better idea of what we’re trying to create.
This location is simple to draft up and perfect for the vertical slice as it holds some of the key systems that drive the game. Conversations, menu interactions, and various other pieces are all utilized in this opening scene and thus, creating it now allows us to test if everything remains fun and works before we get deeper into the project.
The limousine proxy mesh is completed, is in the game and is ready for the next stage. When / if we switch it out, I’ll let you know. For now, though, it serves the purpose it was needed for and allows us to get some cool stuff done. Radical!
Stage #5 — Articy Draft
Alluded to earlier in this update, we’re still using Articy Draft. It has been a surprising pleasure to work with once we sucked up any ill feelings and just dealt with it and we even updated to Articy Draft 3.
The document feature is super helpful, we’ve used it a few times now to add to the game design document with such helpful documents as “Rigging specifications document” and “Modelling specifications document”.
I know, I know. It all sounds pretty boring but it’s really important stuff that needs to be cemented in place prior to talking to outside people about doing work on this project. I’m happy to report that the important documentation for that sort of stuff has been completed and we’re now reaching out to 3D modelers.
In terms of other article draft work, the prologue and all possible alterations of such due to random variables have been fully designed out. Act #01 has been started (there are three acts all in all) with the first murder completely designed out. The game flow is setup so the first murder does not include a lot of random variables. It is not until the second murder that the system starts to create dynamic murders and victims and whatnot.
At this point, I’d say 11% of the game has been 100% designed in articy draft, ready to be brought into the Unreal Engine 4 project. This 11% will serve as the “vertical slice” that we develop as soon as possible to test out the game, find the fun and show off to publishers. I will update you on how the progress on this vertical slice comes along but design wise, the design for it has been completed.
Stage #6— Logo
The game now has a logo.
AVANT GARDE INVESTIGATE, now with a logo. Image credits: AvGaHo
That’s all folks! I hope you enjoyed the read, plenty to do so I’ll keep this short. Be sure to follow our socials, let us know of any questions, share this with your friends, family and pets and I’ll see you in the next one.