Posts Tagged With: video games

Gossip with Clara.

Clara 2

Rough sketches of Clara.

It’s been quite a long time since I made a post here, and what better way to get back into it than by introducing a new character that you can meet while playing Cedaria: Blackout? We’ve already introduced Josephine, Silas, Edwin and Quentin, and this time around I’ll be having a chat with Clara McRedmond, your go-to source for information in Castellum.

Clara did not want to be a bar maid; she had hopes of becoming a respectable lady of society, but things did not go as planned. However, as a love child her future was doomed from the start.  She was dumped at an orphanage without a backward glance, her background tarnished and her education lacking. No gentleman would even consider putting a ring around her finger despite her beauty, and no employer would hire her even as a scullery maid or a waitress, and… whoops, maybe I should let her take the floor, she’s looking rather cross.

Clara: About time you noticed.

Me: Clara, you are looking lovely today!

Clara: Fat load of good that has done me. You’d think beauty would be a decent currency around these parts, but nope. Nobody wants to be associated with the love child. Thank goodness I was able to find something useful to do with my life.

Me: Gossip.

Clara: I resent that word. It reminds me of fat old ladies chattering about who married or divorced who over tea and crumpets. Please call it confidential information.

Me: Got it. Where do you get your confidential information from then?

Clara: I have my sources. Don’t expect me to share them with you though, you could drive me out of business.

Me: Oh believe me, I have no interest in taking over your job.

A full body sketch of Clara.

A full body sketch of Clara.

Clara: That’s what they all say. Why wouldn’t you want my job? I earn a lot of money for every piece of information I give, people are careful never to annoy me so I wouldn’t start spreading rumours about them, the Delanty brothers love me…

Me: Those mafia dudes?

Clara: They are gentlemen with habits that do not fit the norms around here. But really, who are we to decide what’s normal? People like me should be normal, they shouldn’t be shunned and discarded like a piece of garbage. It’s not my fault that my parents were stupid and careless! Why should I be made out to be a villain just because they couldn’t own up to what they did?

Me: I am sensing that you feel strongly about this.

Clara: *rolls her eyes* How do you figure? I’m worn out now. Do you have my money?

Me: But you didn’t tell me anything!

Clara: You thought this interview was for free? That’s cute. Now pay up.

And that was Clara; she can fill you up – either with information or liquor – and run you dry at the same time. I’m sure if her circumstances had been different she would’ve turned out a completely different person… but that could probably apply to anyone. We are all products of our own environments.

Clara wasn’t inspired by anyone in particular. I just liked the idea of having a sassy bar maid with a dark background and a definite purpose, and thus Clara was born!

What do you think of this new character? =]

P.S. We have launched our new crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo! We are also having a giveaway, so do enter for a chance to win a copy of the game!

Tomorrow we will be having an AMA for the Reddit folk, so if you have any questions for us, start getting them ready now. 😉 We’ll be announcing the start of our AMA via our Twitter!

Categories: Characters, Design | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The lessons we learned.

One of the most important things I learned through this agonizing month of Kickstarter is that chocolate is my best friend. When I used to look at the small amount that we raised and compare with other projects, I found that munching on chocolate can help alleviate the general sadness of it all.

I also learned that it helps you put on some unwanted weight, but I digress.

Maybe someone in the process of making their very first Kickstarter project will come across this and benefit from our experience, so I thought I’d share some of the important things we learned.

Socialize first, ask for money later.

Our biggest mistake happened on the social media front. We only activated our accounts on Twitter, Facebook and the rest of the SM gang on the first day of Kickstarter. Not the best idea. We struggled to gather followers at a time when we really needed backers, and a lot of time and effort went into building our social media base when we should’ve really been focusing on Kickstarter updates and trying to keep our backers happy.

Put your best foot forward.

I am damn proud of our content. I think we have a cool idea with wonderful characters and awesome art, and I’m not being biased either. However, the problem lies with the fact that we did not present it in the best  possible way. We did try to amend this along the way, but the damage was already done by then, which brings me to the next point.

Make sure you’re 100% ready.

Unless by some chance you happen to be the unluckiest soul to ever tread the surface of the earth, Kickstarter won’t be going away anytime tomorrow, and even if it does, there are other crowdfunding websites out there. So before you hit that Publish button, make sure you’ve got everything down pat. Do all the necessary research, shoot a great video, prepare a great  pitch and get everything in order. Review, review, review. When you’re confident that you’ve created the best campaign possible, then you can publish it.

Have something to show for your work.

You know you have a good game, we might know that too, but until you show us just how good your game is, chances are people might not readily believe you… especially if you’re new on the scene. We had little in-game footage, something which made people think twice before backing us. The game seemed cool, but they couldn’t be sure unless they saw some videos of the game, which we unfortunately could not provide at that time.

One last thing – do not expect too much. Building up your expectations is only setting you up for potential disappointment that you really can do without. All my empty chocolate wrappers are testament of that!

And hey, never be afraid to try again. That’s why we’re relaunching in less than a month. 😉

Categories: General | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sneaking out with Quentin.

In most games, male characters tend to be depicted as strong and foolhardy and just overall cool… which is good and all; who doesn’t like a stoic hero? However – and maybe this is just me – I do like seeing a sort-of tortured/repressed personality when it comes to males, and feel it serves to humanize them a lot more and makes them relatable. For my third character, I thought I’d introduce Quentin Gordon. You’ll find that he’s a bit reserved compared with Josephine and Silas, but I still find him just as interesting.

Quentin portraitQuentin: That’s really kind of you to say.

Me: Ah, it’s nothing. I hope you won’t get in trouble with your father for sneaking out to meet me?

Quentin: My father believes I am studying in my room and would not disturb me. I think we have a few spare minutes before dinner.

Me: Great. I really think it’s ridiculous that he still tries to control you like this. You’re 20, for goodness sake. You’re allowed a few freedoms.

Quentin: Well, you know what he’s like. Not one funny bone in his entire body, if that’s not already evident enough by the fact that he’s forcing me to study law. It is the single most boring subject I can think of. But of course all he cares about is our social status.

Me: You could always say no.

Quentin: Ah, well… maybe, but I prefer to avoid that argument.

Me: And every other argument.

Quentin: -looks visibly embarrassed- It’s better this way. He gets what he wants and doesn’t get create trouble for me or mother. And I can still sneak out when he’s not looking. It must be nice, being able to go wherever you want, but… oh! The archaeologists are really making some headway in their discoveries, were you aware of that? I was able to help them yesterday. They discovered this slab with some weird writing, and it turns out I have a book on the subject!

Me: But do you really want to continue sneaking out like this? I thought you wanted to be an adventurer.

Quentin: Ah… well, there’s always time for that. I can do it later.

Me: Later as in when your father snuffs it?

Quentin: Don’t put it so bluntly! Besides, I… uhm, acquiescing to this willingly for the time being because of a… er, certain person.

Me: Quentin, are you blushing? Who is she?

Quentin: Well, she… oh, will you look at the time? My father will be checking on me soon. I must depart! Climbing up the wall to my room is not as easy as it sounds.

Me: You coward. 😛

So… Quentin. I feel sorry for him, but yet I sympathize with him completely. I speak from experience when I say that there are still many kids – girls and boys alike – whose parents try to map their lives out for them. Quentin has always wanted to be an adventurer, but his father had other plans, caring far more for status than his son’s happiness? You think Quentin’s “Nancy boy” appearance is a choice? Think again. Quentin needs to maintain a proper attire simply to buy his father’s approval.

That really was my inspiration for him. Since we are aiming to deal with all sorts of issues faced by people – whether young or old – in Cedaria, I thought it would be ideal to include a character who was under the control of their father, and to spice things a bit, I opted to make him a male.

Now, we haven’t gotten around to doing the 3D art for Quentin yet, but you still get to see some of the earlier versions of him.

We were still deciding on how his face and hair would look like.

We were still deciding on how his face and hair would look like.

Quentin would probably hate me for the next picture. We had him in… uh, tights initially and he was none too happy with it, so we made them a little looser, haha.

It's subtle, but the loose pants look soooo much better.

It’s subtle, but the loose pants look soooo much better.

Categories: Characters, Design | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Of Kickstarter and Internet Woes.

According to Murphy’s Laws, when you really need something, its either not available, or can’t be found, and when you don’t need it, its either available, or lays around in plain sight. Here’s one thing I should mention about Lebanon before anything else: we have (probably) the world’s slowest and most unreliable internet. And terrible customer service; to get your connection fixed, you would have to wait many hours or days at a time. I’m not even exaggerating. The one good thing about the internet here is that it allows you to go with the excuse of, “Hey, sorry I couldn’t meet my deadline. My internet was dead last night.” 

Yesterday was a pretty hectic day for the entire team because we wanted to submit a Kickstarter campaign for Cedaria. There were reward tiers to be filled, descriptions to be written, proofreading to be done… and that’s without mentioning all the other things we’re preparing for the official announcement of the game. Then, suddenly, right in the middle of proofreading the campaign details and double-checking the reward tiers, my computer tells me I don’t have internet access. Just when I really, REALLY need it.

I was quite ready to flip my laptop. Hey I'm getting a new one in a couple of day; I'm not fussed about what could happen to it.

I was quite ready to throw my laptop. Hey I’m getting a new one in a couple of days; I’m not fussed about what could happen to it.

I restarted my router, my laptop, tried just about everything I could think of, but no dice. And it was a bit late, so of course I wouldn’t have been able to grab hold of anyone who could get the dratted connection to work. Thankfully, our producer lives abroad and I was able to contact him and let him know what happened. He was able to salvage the situation; he proofread the entire thing and submitted it before the night was over, earning 200 nerd points and winning the internet (not mine) in the process. Meanwhile, I had fallen asleep over my laptop after staring far too long at the little computer in the corner of my taskbar. I woke up much later to find an email from said producer letting me know that the application has been submitted. phew. Hopefully it should go live within a few days, and then we can get around to discussing all the game elements I’ve been so tight-lipped about!

Things are relatively calmer today – if you ignore the underlying tension that accompanies the wait for the campaign to be approved – and the internet is working! Today we all get to resume our regular tasks after all the work that went to preparing our KS campaign. There are some back stories to be written, gang names to be decided on, and other cool stuff. Personally I’m looking forward to more concept art for my characters! It’s going to be interesting to see what our artist comes up with for the different clans inhabiting the island. 😉

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The Perks of Being a Game Writer.

One of the first things I’ve realised after starting out as a writer for Cedaria: Blackout is that work can actually be fun. Sure, I still have to wake up early (sometimes after few hours of sleep), sure I have a bit of a long commute, sure it’s sometimes a bit hectic, but it’s fun with a capital F, to the extent that it sometimes does not feel like work at all.

Working on Cedaria has been special in the sense that it’s a team effort. Even though I’m the writer, almost everyone can contribute to the way the storyline is going, whether it’s a line of dialogue thrown in by our designer, or a special contraption included by the 2D artist in one of the various concept arts, or a simple suggestion by one of our 3D artists that spawned off an entire town. When you’re working on a book, it’s more or less a solo effort, but when you have everyone brainstorming together and tossing all these wonderful and crazy ideas out, you feel secure in the knowledge that you’re going to end up with a very cool game. It also helps vanquish Writer’s Block quite effectively!

One of the best things that come along with the territory is that you get the benefit of seeing your characters come to life. The first time I saw my characters as ink on paper (or pixels on my computer screen) I practically squealed in delight. You can already see a couple of them – my favourites, actually – in the background of this blog. Eventually I’ll introduce them to you; one of them is practically dying to talk about himself. Honestly, we’ve had to keep him on a leash because he was causing so much havoc.

The world of Cedaria is slowly taking shape now, and it is absolutely exciting to watch it unfurl before my eyes. The various zones are slowly getting populated with various NPCs and points of interest, and of course that means writing a whole bunch of back stories and quests and researching various professions and Victorian and steampunk elements (mighty generators and airships, monocles and goggles, thingamajigs and whatchamacallits!) … and that’s without mentioning everything going into planning the game’s reveal next week!

Things are getting incredibly busy, but that’s okay. As I said, it’s just incredible fun. =D

Categories: General | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Introductions are really not my thing.

I am usually terrible when it comes to introducing myself or any subject I intend to talk about. In most cases I’m all too happy to let someone take the load off my shoulders and just take the stage, to the extent that I almost would not care if they introduced me as a chainsaw-wielding, home-wrecking sociopath, as long as they said something. Anything.

It’s even worse when I want to introduce a project I’m working on. As a writer, people ask me, “Hey, Zen, what’s your book about?” and I just freeze. Yes, it’s my book; yes, of course I’m the one who wrote it, but please do not ask me about it. For your sake and mine, I think we’d both be better off if you just read the synopsis inscribed on the back of the book.

Unfortunately, however, I cannot do that with Cedaria. It’s not a tangible thing, there is no back cover! The first time I had to introduce the game to a large crowd of gamers*, I panicked. I was shaking, shredding a tissue paper between my fingers, my coworker had to practically take my hand and lead me to the stage. For a moment my mind was completely blank and I forgot what I was there to talk about; I was mostly thinking, “Oh my god they are going to abhor me.  They probably think I have no idea what I’m doing. Need to get out. Would they laugh if I bolted to the nearest exit?”

Fortunately, things went pretty smoothly after I managed to form the first few coherent sentences, and hopefully they will go just as smoothly here in the days to come as I introduce you to the video game I have started working on recently. A video game by the name of Cedaria: Blackout, the first ever to combine both Middle Eastern and steampunk elements.

What is it about? Well, for now you will have to settle for the little sneak peak here! 😉

* This is entirely relative. To me, a large crowd comprises 20 people.

Categories: General | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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