Note: Le jeu sera aussi disponible en français!
Welcome to the crowd-funding campaign for "Ghost of a Tale", which is a small game where you play a little mouse on a quest in a medieval world populated by animals.
At this point it might be good for you to take a look at the video, if you haven't done so already. It's a bit rough, with missing assets, temporary animations and incomplete gameplay of course, but it should give you a feel for the project.
Among the inspirations I could quote Disney's "Robin Hood", the fables of La Fontaine, "Redwall", "Winnie the Pooh", "The Secret of Nimh", "The Dark Crystal", the paintings of Alan Lee, John Howe, Paul Bonner, John Bauer, and many, many others...
Game-wise the inspirations could be found in the early "Zelda" games, "Ico", the "Gothic" series and "Dark Souls". Of course those are mere inspirations; this project can obviously not expect to compete on equal footing with those amazing games.
But my goal is to craft a small yet beautiful game with environments that look a bit like movie sets and characters that have a sense of stylization in their design, while retaining a certain simplicity and immediacy as far as gameplay is involved.
I know it sounds hockey but I'm really trying to recapture the sense of wonder I felt as a kid when I discovered the games from the 80s and early 90s. But with a AAA quality (as far as I'm able) that's very much up-to-date.
Who develops this game?
Well, my name is Lionel Gallat but I usually go by Seith when I'm online. I've been working as a supervising animator in the movie industry for more than 15 years, first at Dreamworks on many movies ("The Prince Of Egypt", "The Road to Eldorado", "Spirit", "Sinbad", "SharkTale", etc...), and more recently as the animation director for Universal Studios' "Despicable Me" and "The Lorax" (yay for the Macguff team!).
"Ghost of a Tale" is a work of love and a one-man project (at least so far). It represents a lot of work. About a year ago I decided to get really serious about it. In consequence I started working full-time on the development. It's a bit scary of course, but I do believe in this project, and it's now time for me to find out if I'm the only one. Which is also pretty scary in itself...
Why didn't you start a campaign sooner?
Well, I have never created a video-game before and I didn't want to come to you guys before being convinced that I could actually deliver something up to a decent level of quality.
I had been struggling for almost a year with a 3D engine famous for its amazing visuals, and I was just going nowhere fast (I don't program in C++). I thought that I would have to accept this was simply beyond my abilities. But then I switched to a different 3D engine and suddenly everything clicked.
So I started again from scratch with a new pipeline and in about 2 months I was able to bang together the alpha you see in the video. And that includes learning a new programming language (called C#).
So what's the game about?
You play as a mouse on an adventure set in a medieval world. At the beginning of the game, you get to the Island of Periclave. Now what is the mouse looking for? What happened on the island? Why are there undead rats roaming around? That will be up to you to discover.
What's known is that the island has long been a disputed outpost for the Army of the Rats. But today, it is reputed to be haunted. And tales are talking about a fabulous treasure high up in the Tower of Periclave. But it would be folly to try and get there. Even for a mighty warrior. And this little mouse certainly doesn't look like one...
Is the game going to be like "Skyrim"?
No, it isn't. "Skyrim" and the "Zelda" games are huge open-world games which required dozens of persons to work for years, backed by multimillion dollars budgets. I work alone on an aging computer and live at the moment on my rapidly depleting savings.
So "Ghost of a Tale" should be construed as a smaller game with a beginning, a middle and an end. If the endeavor is successful however, then it will only be the beginning of a longer story arc.
What about game mechanics?
There will be exploration, running and jumping around, reading journals, finding clues, discovering secrets and fighting melee/ranged combats.
You shouldn't expect a straight monster-bashing action game. Nor should you expect a purely cerebral adventure game with no elements of action at all. The game will be a mixture of both genres (most commonly referred to as "action-adventure with a hint of RPG").
Why are you asking for money?
Because then I could pay the people who have recently offered their help on the project, just based on some screenshots. I would be able to properly hire them. And I can't do that on my savings alone.
Because, as you can hear, Jeremiah did a wonderful job on the music for the alpha trailer and I know he would do an equally stellar job on the game itself. And I don't think he should work for free.
Because I have to buy upgrades for several expensive professional programs/licenses so they're up to today's standards.
Because my computer is 4 years old and my graphic card is definitely not optimized for video-games.
Given all those elements plus the cost for the development itself and the perks proposed, the budget set for this campaign is the bare minimum. Therefore it is set as a "fixed funding" type, which just means that if the minimum goal is not reached by the deadline, then the project won't receive any money at all. It's all or nothing, I guess.
On the opposite, in the unlikely event that funding were to overshoot this goal, then it would mean three things: the game would become even more lush, story points would get developed further (which means more locations to explore, more characters to interact with), and the overall scope of the game would get wider (while retaining its original intimate core). It would also be a sure sign that I am in fact asleep and dreaming.
Can I have any input in the game's development?
I'm open to suggestions and ideas! And even though I do have a pretty precise picture of what I would like the game to be, I always welcome helpful advices and stimulating opinions.
I will also ask questions, share thought process and just plain talk about the different technical aspects of the game's creation. And you should feel free to chime in too.
When will the game be done?
I'm aiming for the first half of 2014. But given my lack of experience in the matter, it could very well be the end of 2014.
In any case, closed beta should happen towards December 2013 at the latest.
Which platforms will be supported?
Windows PC for sure. Linux and Mac OSX could be a possibility, since Unity in theory supports both systems. But I honestly don't have any experience with those. So I would have to either buy computers to run these operating systems, or outsource for a studio to do the conversion.
Regarding "the perks"...
The game won't be burdened by any DRM. If a person decides to enjoy the game without acknowledging the efforts that went into creating it, there's nothing I can do about it. But somehow hindering honest players' experience does not strike me as a viable solution.
The final game will be available in both English and Français.
This is a special extended take (3m45s) of the music Jeremiah Pena created for the alpha trailer video. You should be able to download the MP3 within a couple of weeks after the end of the campaign.
The final soundtrack of the game will also be composed by Jeremiah. It will feature all the themes developed during the course of the game and will be available as a digital download.
A lavish set of postcards from the game's world, beautifully printed on thick glossy paper.
Exclusive funder T-shirt with the game's logo printed on it (following an accurate four-color separation process). The T-shirt itself is high-quality 100% biological fairtrade-produced (not the cheap stuff). You'll be asked for the proper size before they're sent to you.
The fancy hat. Instead of his hood, the main character will wear a one-of-a-kind fancy hat with a feather! Just a colorful minstrel hat to personalize your adventure. Offers a (very small) additional protection against aggressive undead rats.
Skeletal Rat figurine. A beautifully crafted 4-inch (~10cm) figurine of one of the armored undead rats you'll be confronted to during your adventure, complete with shield and axe! Those figurines are difficult to produce, so congrats to Thomas and Elise who worked hard to get the petrified-statue look just right!
By now you probably already decided whether you'd like to help this project or not. So all I can add is that I'll do my best to try and answer any questions you may have in an upcoming update.
Thank you for reading this!Seith