Sam and Clement here, as Naila is away sick with some version of the plague.
This week, the team is in a big old “content integration” phase. This means that we’re approaching the end of development on the next update, and are making sure all our work plays nicely inside the game. We’ve got one week left of content work on the update, and after that we’ll move our level design/art/animation teams over to the following update, so our programmers can lock down the next update. That doesn’t take too long, so you can expect an announcement on the date of the next update within the next two weeks.
Hello! This week we made a video about the toxic fog which is an early prototype of a gameplay element created to increase the challenge of navigating during curfew. Please accept my apologies on the lack of realization (aka how ugly it looks) but we wanted to share it with you so you can give us your feedback before investing time in polishing the feature. This will be something new to discover in the next update!
Alex, Narrative Director
I will tell you what I did. I was not satisfied with what we were able to do with one particular character in a recording session with an otherwise wonderful voice actor. Our voice actor is very good at accents, but this is a fairly hard role — a developmentally disabled adult who has to break your heart.
So I fired off a casting call to the UK.
Saying “developmentally disabled character” to the entire pool of agents in the UK is a little bit of waving a red flag in front of the Running of the Bulls. Playing disabled is an artistic challenge, so it shows your acting chops. The clip will almost certainly go on your reel. I got 80 submissions in about three hours late on a Thursday afternoon.
So I got to wade through 80 submissions. One weird thing about voice character submissions is the headshots. They send me headshots. Why would I care about headshots? I don’t care what the actor looks like. All right, it’s nice that Alex Wyndham could actually pass for Arthur if we did the movie, but he could look like Shirley Temple for all I care. When we do the recording sessions, we don’t have the camera on, so I literally do not know what half of my actors look like.
I winnow those 80 submissions to 9 I’d like to hear from; plus I go through my last casting call and ping the agents whose clients were great but not right for those roles. The actors will record an MP3, and a dozen actors will come down to three or four. I’ll audition those guys on the phone.
The lucky actor — by “lucky” I mean “probably spent a decade or two painstakingly learning how to turn his talent into craft” — then gets to record this one particular part for about fifteen minutes, plus a bunch of other stuff for forty-five minutes. And the scene will play for about a minute and a half in the game.
It is a ridiculous amount of work for a role you’re going to see on screen in the first playthrough for 90 seconds. This is why recording voice actors is expensive even for short recordings - you’re not paying for 15 minutes of work, you’re paying for the lifetime of experience that is needed to deliver a great 15 minutes of work.
But if those two minutes break your heart, then they add meaning to the hour or two of gameplay following that encounter. They show us a side of Arthur we wouldn’t know without them. So you care.
I mean, that’s the point of the narrative, after all: to make you care.
So that’s why I was up till midnight on a Thursday.
No matter how dystopian, a 1960s English town should still have a groovy pop star. I’ve been writing environmental for just such a character – his secret song lyrics, his fan mail, his drug journal (because pop stars have a tendency to mix & match), and more.
I’ve also been writing things that flesh out (so to speak) what happens at the House of Curious Behaviours (a k a the Reform Club). As Alice in Wonderland would say, “Curiouser and curiouser!”
You will also soon see a fresh edition of the village newspaper, The O Courant, to help you keep abreast of what’s new in Wellington Wells. (Spoilers: There appears to be a new island!)
The little park is ready and is Downer free! : D
This is my last week working on the shelter. This one will be in the second Village. It has been made using Emmanuel’s brutalism set with some scifi elements.
Hola! This week has been all about pushing the new encounter animations and conversations in the game, tuning stuff, and overloading Level Designers with requests to make everything move a wee bit better!
Have a great week-end.