Posts Tagged With: videogames

The End of Kickstarter.

Our Kickstarter campaign was a smashing success! We got 332% funded and are now going to produce the best and most epic game in the history of video games! IT IS GOING TO BE AWESOME.

… is what I wish I could tell you. The sad truth is that the Cedaria Kickstarter failed horribly. We were so enthusiastic about it at the start, but as the days passed it became clear that we were not going to receive the money necessary to make the game the way we want it to be. It is rather disappointing, and many a days at the office were spent wallowing in ice cream and other chocolatey goodness to cheer ourselves up, or giving pep talks to remind each other that Cedaria will happen, with or without the funding.

The thing is, we do need the extra funding to include some necessary elements and help speed up the production process and avoid cutting back on some cool stuff we wish to include. So for that reason, we’re not really giving up just yet.

We made some mistakes along the way, we realise that now. There are a number of things that could’ve been done differently, but there’s no point in lamenting at the moment. In fact, that’s the last thing we’d think of doing now that we’re busy preparing for a second crowdfunding campaign! Yes, you heard that right, we’re coming back with a new and improved campaign within a month’s time, and we will be definitely more ready.

In the meantime, I am going to continue posting updates and information about the game, but at a slower pace given that I’m plenty busy creating NPCs and storylines at the moment! ūüėČ

With that out of the way, all that is left to say is… thank you for your support! =D

 

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Of Inter-religious Marriage and Star-Spangled Lovers.

In the previous post I covered the different clans we have on the island and some of the underlying tensions between them, and I did mention that the reason behind using the different clans is to address sensitive issues in a sensitive way. One such issue is inter-religious or inter-group marriage.

In Lebanon in particular and the Middle East in general, unions and marriages between members of different religions and different ethnic backgrounds are somewhat frowned upon. A Muslim who marries a Christian (especially a Muslim woman) may be shunned by their family; a union between a white man and a black woman (or vice versa) is considered odd; and even marrying a foreigner (regardless of whether they are from another Arab country or not) may be frowned upon. Traditional norms and values regarding the family and marriage are¬†so ingrained in the society to the extent that it is almost considered “taboo” to breach it.

We wanted to tackle this issue in Cedaria without touching upon any specific religion and risking offending anyone, and the best way to go about it was by developing relationships between members of different clans, the prime example of this being Valaina, daughter of the Kythein leader, and Jeremy Cain, son of the mayor of the Vaytori population (mostly concentrated in the Castellum). The romance of these two lovebirds is something strictly forbidden, especially with the Kythien law that condemns Kythien-Vaytori unions, mostly due to clash of ideals and for more personal reasons that will be discussed later on when you get to meet Edraele, the leader of the Kythiens.

The relationship between Valaina and Jeremy didn’t happen out of spite; they were merely two people who looked past their differences and fell in love, and in normal circumstances that should not be up for speculation. However, due to the social norms imposed by the citizens of the island, they are not meant to be… as cheesy as it sounds. Hey, you gotta have some cheese. Cheese is good. In moderation. I promise you the cheese doesn’t get overwhelming.

One of the things the player will have to do in this game is to find a way to allow those two people to be together under safe circumstances. Of course, if you’re so inclined, you may wish to tell their parents about their relationship, but can you do that without making life miserable for them? ūüėČ

For more information on the different clans, do make sure to visit our Kickstarter page, or else go back one post if you’re too lazy.
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The Others.

Have you watched that movie? Don’t you just love that incredible twist at the end? Yeah… no, we’re not going to talk about horror movies now; I have enough horror on my plate now that I’m reading Stephen King’s¬†The Shining.¬†But that’s an entirely different story and you probably have no interest in the nightmares this book has been giving me. No, you’re probably interested more in learning about the different clans we have in our game.

From left to right: two Thunes, two Ozars, two Kythiens and two Vaytori.

From left to right: two Thunes, two Ozars, two Kythiens and two Vaytori.

For Cedaria, we decided to step out of the box and create clans (or races) different from your typical fantasy races, and went with the Vaytori, Kythiens, Thunes and Ozars. We could’ve avoided the trouble and went with just humans or something, but having different groups allowed us to highlight more issues and present them more strongly than we would’ve been able to otherwise. ¬†Plus, it enabled us to incorporate the concept of acceptance of the “others”. See what I did there? ūüėČ

Uhm. Anyway. *clears throat*

You have your Vaytori, who came to the island first and thus believe they are more entitled to live on it than any of the other clans, and would’ve industrialized the entire island had it not been for the Kythiens, who care about the environment and prefer a more traditional way of living. Then you have the Thunes, who want to dominate the island’s resources, and the marginalized Ozar refugees who escaped their homeland hoping to find a better life, only to be met with rejection on the island. Continue reading

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The best characters…

… are the flawed ones. It’s kinda ironic, though, isn’t it? In real life, people strive to be perfect, and yet they hate seeing perfect characters in books, movies and games. They flag them as Mary Sues or Gary Stus, they wrinkle their noses at the sight of them, they wonder what the writers were thinking, they give the book/movie/game bad ratings… of course I may be just generalizing here; some people happen to like these characters and to those I say… well, you like what you like.

When I set about designing the characters for Cedaria: Blackout, I wanted to make them as realistic as possible, characters that the player can easily identify with. I didn’t want them to be cardboard cutouts or have cookie cutter personalities. And since the game is supposed to be inspired by the world we live in, I just took a look around me.

People watching is interesting; it’s amazing how much you can tell about a person just from observing them for a few minutes, and before you say anything; no, I am not a stalker!

Let’s take Quentin, for example. I cannot tell you how many Quentins I have met in my life; those who want to go down a certain route but are too intimidated by their parents to actually try to chase after their dreams, those who live to please their parents at the expense of their own happiness.

Or let’s look at Josephine. While I’ve never met an actual female mechanic, I don’t see why it should only be a masculine job. Being female doesn’t make one any less of an expert when it comes to machines or cars. One thing I’ve noted in Lebanon is that men tend to automatically assume that the “bad” driver ahead of them is a woman, and okay, okay, they’re mostly right, but that doesn’t mean you get to lump all women in the category of bad drivers. That just plain irritates me. And god forbid a man ever use public transportation conducted by a female.

And there are several others… the corrupt politician, the tomboy, the pompous git, the sneaky merchant… these are all examples you can find in your everyday life. Any given person might know a Quentin or a Josie, maybe even a Silas… though I do feel sorry for those people especially if they’ve been robbed by him. The best kinds of books, movies or games are those that have characters that can make you feel something, and it’s something I hope to achieve with this game.

How do you like your characters? Flawed, or perfect? How do you make sure that you’re not creating a Mary Sue?

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A Whiff of Westlock.

I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to like the antagonist/villain in the story more than the protagonist/hero. There’s always something that sets them apart and makes them more interesting, never mind they’re less than redeeming qualities. I am especially fond of the villains I write, to the point where I actually want them to win rather than the hero. Thankfully my voice of reason (almost) always stops me from letting the villain “win” in the story.

EdwinCedaria has its share of villains, and the first one to be created was Edwin Westlock III. He is an industrialist who got the short end of the stick when the Phoenix broke down, and that made him more bitter and immoral than he already was. I could tell you more about him, but I’d rather just show you… hello, Ed!

Edwin: Do not call me Ed. My name is Edwin. You had better have a good reason for calling me here and wasting my time.

Me: I just want to introduce you to the masses, you should lighten up a bit. What, had another argument with your wife?

Edwin: My personal life is none of your concern. It is true that Elizabeth is dim-witted and an eyesore, and her money is the only thing that  compels me to share a roof with her, but I still refuse to divulge any information regarding our comings and goings.

Me: You actually told me more than I need to know.

Edwin:¬†Are we done then? I have other matters to attend to. People rely on me to get them to different places, whereas you… what is it you do?

Me: I created you, so you will sit here and give me a few minutes of your time.

Edwin: I do not appreciate your tone. You may want to think carefully about what you say to me. Many a person has wished they could take back their words after I dealt with them.

Me:¬†You don’t scare me, Ed. You may talk big, but I know that right now you’re in a tight spot and in no position to make any threats. How’s your business coming along, by the way? I saw one of your ships in Angel Wharf this afternoon… looks like it’s starting to collect some dust. Won’t your father be proud when he sees it? Won’t he be proud when he knows what you’ve been doing in the shadows?

Edwin:¬†Don’t bring my father into this, you insolent little girl.¬†¬†Or talk about things you know nothing of, for that matter. That old man is dead and Westlock Industries is mine now, and I am free to run it the way I wish, and I will not have someone like you lecturing me about the¬†error of my ways. If I wanted to thieve and kill my way to the top, then believe me I shall, and nothing anyone does can stop me. And since you refuse to remove yourself from my sight, I will now bid you farewell and good riddance.

A bundle of sunshine, isn’t he? He’s been more twitchy than usual, and stupid as she may be, I think Mrs. Westlock has slowly started to realise that her precious Edwin didn’t marry her for love and now he has been forced to pretend all over again. Plus, he gets absolutely furious when anybody talks about his father; he’s not fond of him you see, and – though he won’t admit it – feels inferior when compared with him. That said, Edwin is quite easily agitated, it’s just a matter of knowing which of his buttons you should press.

I didn’t draw inspiration from any specific source; Edwin is just the bad boy of corporations who will stop at nothing in order to maintain his financial security and social status, and these are of course abundant in our societies.

As with the previous three characters, I have here with me some of the earlier versions of Edwin Westlock. Sadly, we do not have any 3D art for him yet.

We were still deciding just how evil we want to make him appear.

We were still deciding just how evil we want to make him appear.

A sketch of Edwin and a final draft! We decided to make his leg piece - a result of a particularly violent brawl - a little more elegant. =D

A sketch of Edwin and a final draft! We decided to make his leg piece – a result of a particularly violent brawl – a little more elegant. =D

 

 

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A Drink with Silas.

Silas Burcombe was an accident. A delightful accident, but still very much an accident. When I started writing Captain Silas Burcombe, I had an image of a proper, law-abiding aeronaut with a handlebar mustache  and a pipe wedged tightly between two thin lips. The end result, as you will see from my chat with him, could not be any far off from that image.

Silas (1)Silas:¬†And I’m sure everyone is very grateful for that. You were consciously attempting to withhold the magnificence that is¬†Captain¬†Silas Burcombe from the masses. What were you thinking?

Me:¬†I was thinking I’d save myself the headache.

Silas:¬†I know what can cure your headache. A nice, big tankard of…

Me:¬†You’ll get your drink, Silas. I care too much for my sanity to subject myself to your constant nagging.

Silas:¬†-grins- Now that’s a good lass. If only everyone in Wisteria Pier had your brains, they would’ve saved themselves much discomfort. How troublesome can it be to buy a drink for ol’ Silas?

Me:¬†The last time somebody appeased you, you got extremely drunk, smashed ten glasses and two chairs, broke the front door and the pub owner’s nose, ¬†and drove the bar maid to tears.

Silas: She only wept because she had sealed her future with that fool and lost her chance with me. Tales of unrequited love are so tragic.

Me: You are such a braggart.

Silas:¬†Because I have every bragging right there is to have, my dear. I am exceedingly handsome, I am a famous sky pirate…

Me: Ex. Ex sky pirate.

Silas: Do not interrupt the Great Silas as he speaks, please, where are your manners? As I was saying, I was a famous sky pirate, I defeated two ships with one cannon ball once! I am a local legend, really. I have an airship that puts all other Cedarian airships to shame. I can hold my liquor. And I am the honorary member of the Aeronaut Alliance.

Me:¬†No, you aren’t. Captain Winters has yet to approve your application on the grounds of a questionable past and indecent behaviour.

Silas:¬†Maxwell is just being coy. You and I both know he’s stalling because he doesn’t wish to show favouritism. It’s just a matter of time before he begs me to join, and why wouldn’t he? I am the best aeronaut there ever was. ¬†I can easily outfly any of those twits who always try to infuriate me with their membership status. It doesn’t take a genius to…

Me: Then how did you get caught?

Silas:¬†I… well, they… I couldn’t… I was… can I have my drink now?

I will probably regret sending him off to the pub later on but it buys me a few minutes of silence. I love him to bits, but he can get pretty loud sometimes, and the bragging is sometimes just a little bit over the top. But he’s a good guy at heart despite what might be said about him. He could easily just skip town – well not now when there’s no fuel for his ship – but he promised the Cedarians to uphold the law in exchange for his freedom, and law breaker that he may be, he would never break a promise.

Like Josephine, I only realised that Silas reminds me of a certain pirate when I was done writing him. For a moment I was worried, but members of the team told me it was fine and that they all liked him, so we kept him as he is, our steampunkish version of Jack Sparrow. Can you spot the resemblance? In a way this is a bit of a homage, since Jack is one of my favourite fictional characters, and what I believe to be Johnny Depp’s finest role.

Below you can see some of the evolution of Silas during the art process. We wanted him to appear handsome but at the same time rather ruggish, and this is how we went about it.

Faces! We weren't sure if we wanted a young Silas or an older version at first.

Faces! We weren’t sure if we wanted a young Silas or an older version at first.

And here's Silas in his full body glory. Notice how details make all the difference!

And here’s Silas in his full body glory. Notice how details make all the difference!

And finally, the 3D versions! =D

And finally, the 3D versions! =D

 

 

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When the lights go out…

…. creatures come out to play.

A running theme in Cedaria is the blackout; ¬†with the island’s main source of power – the Phoenix – ¬†gone, the citizens are forced to stumble in the dark, relying on primitive means to light their path and trying to avoid getting attacked in the shadows. This was inspired by the power shortage issues faced by the country of Lebanon, on which the game is based.

“Kahraba walla ishtirak?” – is a common (Arabic) question in Lebanon, basically meaning, “Is it state electricity or generator electricity?” Power outages are so frequent that citizens need to rely on generators for power 12 hours every day. The main electricity company in Lebanon is always unable to supply all areas with electricity due to the fuel shortage and debts in the country, and as such distributes power to the different areas (often times unfairly) according to a strict time schedule. Be careful not to use the elevator at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., 6 p.m. or 12 a.m. or you might be stuck! Especially during summer when outages become more and more frequent.

"Ijit, ijit!" - an enthusiastic way of saying, "The electricity's back on!"

“Ijit, ijit!” – an enthusiastic way of saying, “The electricity’s back on!”

The Lebanese are fortunate enough to have generators; the subscriptions ¬†are very costly, but it’s better than spending hours in the dark – or worse, sleeping without any fan or ACs during the hot summer nights!! – isn’t it? The citizens of Cedaria, however, do not have generators. Or rather, they have a very limited number of very primitive ones that can barely power anything. And since the island relies heavily on its industry, this only resulted in very dire consequences.

Why can’t they use other resources? That’s where politics come into play. The Thunes who live in the mountains have monopolized the island’s stores of coal, making the precious substance available only to the very rich. The very marginalized Ozar who have always been in charge of the timber industry took this as an opportunity to demand more rights. The Kythiens offered no help because the Phoenix bothered them ¬†anyway. The Vaytori got the short end of the stick, trapped in the middle with no means of securing enough electricity to power up their cities. Thus, chaos ensues.

The Lebanese citizens are helpless in the face of the power outages in their country. However, in Cedaria:¬†Blackout, we want to be able to give the player a chance to change things to the better. Of course, there are many issues in Lebanon that we’ve incorporated into the game, but the outages are considered quite a big deal. ¬†It’s true that by fixing the power problem you aren’t going to automatically solve every problem there is, but… it gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “There’s a light at the end of each tunnel”, doesn’t it?

 

Do you have many power outages where you live? If you were in Cedaria, what solutions would you come up with? What’s the one thing you would miss the most in case of a blackout? Personally, I’d miss my internet!

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A Date with Josephine.

Jo

Character creation is one of my absolute favourite things about game writing… writing up the background, coming up with goals, secrets and conflicts… and dressing them up, of course! So, today I thought I’d talk a little about what went into creating the first female character in Cedaria:¬†Blackout.¬†Actually, Josie happens to be here today, so I’m going to leave it to her to introduce herself!

Josie:¬†For the record, it’s not a date.

Me:¬†Affirmative. I’m engaged anyway.

Josie: Oh, congratulations! Don’t tell my mother, she wouldn’t let me hear the end of it with all her talk about grandchildren, but I do want to get married eventually. The shop comes first, though, as you well know. I’ve got a title to keep!

Me: Cedaria’s sole female mechanic, was it?

Josie:¬†And the best, of course. -winks- I love what I do. I’ve always watched my father mess with all sorts of machines, and every time he brought one back to life I was filled with such delight. It’s like a puzzle. You get the broken machine, and the client is totally clueless about what happened to it. If you’re lucky, they won’t have hit it with a wrench in an attempt to make it work.

Me: But I thought that was a useful trick!

Josie:¬†Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t. It only serves to make my job more difficult.

Me: Duly noted. Though I was curious, how does the general populace receive a female mechanic? I know that proper women are expected to be on their best behaviour and wear fancy dresses at all times.

Josie:¬†I do get weird looks occasionally, but I’ve built a reputation for myself, and many, begrudgingly or not, attest to my skills. My femininity is not a flaw, and I’ll prove to everyone that I’m a damn good mechanic. I want to help fix the Phoenix, if that’s possible. That’ll shut them up.

Me:¬†Pretty ambitious, aren’t you?

Josie: You have to be, especially in times like this. Oh, excuse me, a client just came in. I don’t get much of them these days.

And that was Josie. She’s one of my favourites, actually. I love her spunk, and the fact that she’s doing what she likes, regardless of what might be said about her. One of the things I took into consideration while writing her is the fact that there are many professions that are unfeminine by social norms. With all the talk of equality between men and women, there are still things that are off-limits to both genders, even now when we supposedly live in an advanced society.

At first I didn’t really know what inspired Josie, then when she was complete and I unconsciously started calling her “Jo”, I realised that she reminded me a bit of opinionated, stubborn Josephine March. Of course, Jo March wasn’t a mechanic, but she had the tomboyish steak that my Josie possesses, a trait I find quite endearing.

As a special treat, I’m going to share with you some early pictures of Josie. What happens in the concept art process is that I give Gwen, our artist, some reference images as to what I want the character looks like, and she whips up some sketches before finalizing the character.

First we get to decide what the face looks like!

First we get to decide what the face looks like!

And the full body sketches, both the first draft and the final version. Doesn't she look awesome?

And the full body sketches, both the first draft and the final version. Doesn’t she look awesome?

And here's the 3D model of Josephine. I think our artist did a fantastic job with her!

And here’s the 3D model of Josephine. I think our artist did a fantastic job with her!

 

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