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Games Week Berlin!

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Hello everyone!

It’s been a while since we published our last blog post. We are still alive and still working on Unforeseen Incidents, the mystery adventure game you are all so desperately waiting for. We now implemented the second chapter of the game and started testing it. Next steps are writing a blog post about having implemented the second chapter of the game and having started testing it, finalizing the implementation of chapters 3 and 4, releasing the game.

Speaking of… games… we will be at the glorious INTERNATIONAL GAMES WEEK BERLIN next week, showcasing Unforeseen Incidents and annoying people at the Quo Vadis game developers conference, the Making Games Festival and the wonderful A MAZE indie game festival. We are very happy to announce that we’ve been nominated for the Best Of Quo Vadis award.

We will be at the Indie Game Expo of Quo Vadis and Making Games Festival Monday – Wednesday and the Indie Arena Arcade at A MAZE on Thursday.

See you in Berlin!

Mediengründerzentrum NRW 2017 Scholarship

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We are very happy we’ve been granted the scholarship of the Mediengründerzentrum NRW for 2017:

http://www.mediengruenderzentrum.de/aktuelles/news/artikel/pressemitteilung-mediengruenderzentrum-nrw-vergibt-11-gruenderstipendien.html

Mediengründerzentrum NRW Stipendiaten 2017

Mediengründerzentrum NRW scholarship holders 2017

The scholarship provides an extensive range of seminars for founders, a coaching program, and a grant of 10,000 €.

Thank you, Mediengründerzentrum! :)

Call for Voice Actors

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Hello everyone!

During the last months and weeks, we’ve made further progress with the development and are now in search of voice actors for the English version of the game.

We are looking for US / Canadian voice actors for Unforeseen Incidents, preferably with a home studio set up and based in the UK/EU. If you are a voice actor, please send your applications and demos to voices@backwoods-entertainment.com. We will provide more information about the characters via email. The gig is paid.

UNFORESEEN INCIDENTS – CALL FOR VOICE ACTORS

A deadly virus. A chance encounter. A cryptic message.

When small-town handyman Harper Pendrell meets a dying woman in the street, he unwittingly stumbles into a diabolical conspiracy – a mystery only he can solve. An unknown disease is spreading across the country, and between them a scientist, a reporter and a reclusive artist hold the key to stopping it. 

A perilous journey awaits, and every step brings Harper closer to a cabal of dangerous fanatics. Before he knows it, he finds himself in a fight for the future of humankind armed only with his trusty multi-tool. Can Harper find the courage to expose the truth and prevent an epidemic, even if it means succumbing to contagion himself?

Unforeseen Incidents is a classic interactive mystery set in a beautifully hand-painted world. Join Harper and experience a challenging investigation, smart dialog and a rich cast of characters in this thrilling new adventure game from Backwoods Entertainment and Application Systems Heidelberg.

We are looking for US / Canadian voice actors for Unforeseen Incidents, preferably with a home studio set up and based in the UK/EU. Please send your applications and demos to voices@backwoods-entertainment.com. We will provide more information about the characters via email. The gig is paid.

If you know an amazing voice actor, please let them know about the call and tell them to drop us a line. Today.

PS: Yes, there will be a German talkie of the game as well. We are still scheduling the German voice recordings right now. We will open a separate call for German voice actors in a couple of weeks. If you are interested, please follow our updates.

Back from AdventureX

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We had a good time exhibiting Unforeseen Incidents in London this weekend. AdventureX is one of the most pleasant conventions we’ve ever visited. The atmosphere is very friendly and you get to meet a lot of nice people, listen to interesting talks about narrative games and interactive fiction and play many great adventure games, a lot of them still in development, like ours. For the first time ever, we showed the beginning of the game to the public. The feedback has been very positive, which is really motivating. At the same time, when seeing players play sections of the game you didn’t get to playtest beforehand, you get a lot of helpful information for further development. All in all, we had a very good weekend in London, and it was very nice meeting old and new friends of the international adventure games community. It is really good to see AdventureX is growing more and more and that so many people are interested in narrative games.

We will bring the new demo to more exciting locations in 2017, but before we get to that, it’ll “come home” to a very familiar, but not less amazing gathering once more: Tuesday, December 6th, Talk & Play #22, Games Science Center, Berlin. It’s the last time we show it this year, so come by if you’re in Berlin!

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Together with our publisher Application Systems Heidelberg, we showed Unforeseen Incidents and Alasdair’s Nelly Cootalot

AdventureX

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In two weeks, we’re going to be at the narrative games convention AdventureX in London. We’re showing a demo of Unforeseen Incidents. AdventureX takes place 19 – 20 November at Goldmiths University of London. If you are in London that weekend, come by and have a look at a lot of great adventure games currently in the making. Check out the line-up of AdventureX right here. See you in London!

Behind The Scenes: #1 – Importing the Sprites

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In ‘Behind The Scenes’, our new, very accurately named series, we’d like to give you people out there some insights into how we get a finished drawing of a scene into our game and make it actually playable. Attention! This means there are going to be a few somewhat technical posts. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Are you ready? Still there? OK!

Implementing a finished Photoshop scene is one of the less creative and more annoying tasks we face while working on the game (so why not share that experience with you, right?). Once we finish the scenes we can’t simply drag & drop them into the Unity engine (I wish we could). Firstly, the scenes consist of lots of layers. Secondly, the images are huge. We create the graphics for the game in 4k resolution. To support all graphic cards on possible target devices, we have to cut the images into smaller images. We’re working with a 2048×2048 px restriction.

This means: in each scene image, we have to slice the layers wider or higher than 2048px into smaller pieces, then export all layers separately, then bring them into a format that our game engine can work with and import and implement them there. A format like this would be a sprite sheet – collections of parts and layers in new graphics not bigger than 2048×2048 (I feel like I’m repeating myself. But then, maybe that’s just the spirit of background slicing. Doing things over and over again. Making mistakes. Doing everything again and again and again).

Luckily, we have some tools that help us with all these (annoying) steps. Imagine we want to implement the following scene:

c2r02_jervisshack_004_layers

This graphic is has a size of 3840 x 2880 px. What?! 4:3?! Yes, which part of the image gets displayed is depending on what kind of device/display one uses to play the scene. Usually, the game will have a 16:9 or 16:10 (again, depends on what you use) resolution. Parts of the image will be cut then.

This picture consist of a number of different layers, because you need to be able to interact with the scene in the game – the door can be opened, the phone can be picked up, the fire is animated. The characters should be able to walk behind the desks. The layering of the scene in Photoshop looks like this:

bildschirmfoto-2016-09-22-um-22-11-24

img_2078You can guess that some of the layers might be too big for our 2048 px restriction. At least for the layer ‘Background’ you can tell without checking – it must be too big. Now we need to slice those layers into smaller ones. We wrote a little Photoshop script that helps us out. It finds all layers that are wider or higher than 2048 px and cuts them into smaller pieces. This little script saves us hours of work. It not only slices the layers, but it also makes sure they have a slight overlap. There’s some kind of floating point precision error inside the Unity engine that causes non-overlapping, clung 2D layers to flicker when the camera moves. Since we don’t want flickerings in the game, we let the slices overlap with a few pixels. After the script ran, the layering looks like this:

bildschirmfoto-2016-09-22-um-22-27-23

In this case, ‘Background’ was the only layer that needed slicing. This is different in other scenes that have bigger objects or more layers than this one. The background in our scene now consists of four parts. To illustrate the result, here’s a spaced out version of the new four background layers:

bildschirmfoto-2016-09-22-um-22-29-47

What’s next? To create a sprite sheet, we firstly export all layers into separate PNG files. The newest version of Photoshop has a function to export layers, but it automatically trims the layers. We don’t want that, because we want to keep the positions of the objects in the room. So what we use is a script that was included in old versions of Photoshop. It’s called “Layers to files” and does exactly what you’d assume:

bildschirmfoto-2016-09-22-um-22-35-00 bildschirmfoto-2016-09-22-um-22-40-33

It saves all layers into separate PNG files (and keeps the positions). In the next step, we use a little software called TexturePacker to create the sheets from these files. After feeding it with some information about how we want them, it helps us creating the sprite sheets. For this scene, the outcome looks like this:

bildschirmfoto-2016-09-22-um-22-46-00

These are now seven new PNG files which work perfectly in our engine. Since TexturePacker works really well with Unity, all we need to do is click one button to export those sheets into our project. After adjusting the import settings in Unity, we’re done importing the sprites. As you can see, TexturePacker now trims the sprites – but it remembers their original position by setting up a pivot point that refers to the previous center of the scene. All objects will be positioned in (0,0,0) in Unity and then appear in their original position. Pivot points in (0,0,0)??! Stay calm, stay calm. If we want to rotate an object properly, we can parent it into a new Game Object that functions as a rotation pivot point.

All these steps need to be processed for each of the ~60 scenes of the game. Fortunately, a lot of work is automatized, which makes the whole thing less error-prone. The photoshop actions and scripts can be executed with just one click for all scenes of the game (batch processing). Then we need to do some manual clicking and waiting in TexturePacker, but it could be much worse, right?

Next task after importing the sprites is getting the backgrounds in objects in an actual scene in Unity. This is something we will cover the next time. Until then, let’s be happy we successfully managed to import that beautiful scene into the engine.

 

Update!

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Hey everyone,

when we started this new blog we promised to make more frequent updates. You see how that worked out. Well, times were kind of stressful, we had to finish that Gamescom demo, we had to be at Gamescom, we showed our game in Berlin and then we had to catch up with all the work we didn’t get to do while doing all that other work instead.

So what’s the state of the project right now? Tristan is busy making music mockups and Marcus and Alasdair are still working on dialog and puzzles. At the same time, the game is getting implemented more and more and it is fun to see Harper walking around our scenes in Unity. There’s still a lot of work in implementing the puzzles and all the scripted cutscenes of the game.

Matze is still creating background art for the game, he’s currently working on art for chapter 3. Here are two scenes he created for chapter 2 (click to enlarge) which takes place in the big national park Graystone Woods:

Unforeseen Incidents ScreenshotUnforeseen Incidents Screenshot

We’d also like to point at a Kickstarter campaign for the annual adventure conference AdventureX – a small convention about narrative games taking place in London. We visited AdventureX for the first time last year and can really recommend it to all fans of story-driven games. After two days on Kickstarter, AdventureX already achieved its goal of 2.500 £. They added a lot of stretch goals and are currently very close to making a documentary film happening! So go over there and spend some monetary units. They are well-invested.

AdventureX Kickstarter page: http://kck.st/2c9asmW

Gamescom

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We’re currently working on a little demo we’ll be exhibit at this year’s gamescom in Cologne. That’s right, it’s the first playable prototype we’re going to show in public. That’s very exciting and disturbing for us at the same time. Exturbing. We’re going to show a three-room-demo which means people will be able to visit three scenes of the first chapter of the game. There’ll be puzzles to solve, items to pick up, characters to talk to and spoilers to get angry at. Visitors will be able to get a first glance and impression of the atmosphere and feeling of the game. We now have two weeks left to finish this little demo – very fun and stressful at the same time. Funfull. It’s a lot of work but we hope to will make it in time.

We’re looking forward to gamescom and see a lot of your faces at our booth, all the parties (come meet us at the somewhat legendary Adventure-Treff party on Friday) and of course the Indie Arena Booth that should be visited by each and every one of you people who are in Cologne in August.

For those of you who wish to visit us and take a peek at Unforeseen Incidents: We’ll be at the Baden-Württemberg booth in the business area: Hall 3.2, booth C10/B11. We’ll be with Application Systems Heidelberg. Press people: for appointments, please send an email to presse@application-systems.de.

hallenplan640x452_EN Kopie