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November 27, 2008

Tale of Tales Goodies

Tale of Tales is the Belgian group led by Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn that brought us the thought-provoking poetic "art game" (for lack of a better term, I suppose) The Graveyard. It was an intriguing piece that generated a lot of discussion around the tubes, much of which was unfortunately negative because many people didn't quite get that it doesn't fit the traditional definition of "game". It was also created with the Unity engine, a very cool 3D game engine/development tool that runs primarily on Macs, and which I came very close to using for Vespers. In any case, I thought it was a worthwhile experiment and I have a lot of respect for what these folks are trying to do.

Of note, Gamasutra has just posted their postmortem on The Graveyard, which I think is a great read. They posted it on their web site a while back, but it's great to see a site like Gamasutra picking it up. There's a lot of good information in it, including the tools they used, their funding sources, sales figures, and their responses to the crtiques. This was the postmortem that achieved some recognition for noting that their sales conversion rate was a "disastrous" 0.34% -- and also that a large percentage of their sales were to Mac users, which was somewhat unexpected. They also include some good information about their character animator (don't get me started), music composer, and sound designer, which is very cool and something that I have been trying to do as well for my project.

ToT also produced a hybrid multiplayer online game/screensave called "The Endless Forest", although I haven't tried it myself since it's Windows-only. They had another fascinating project under development a while back called "8", but development was halted a couple of years ago due to funding issues and it's not clear from their forums if they will pick it up again. My guess is that they will if their current project succeeds and they can generate some financial interest in it. I hope so, because it looks really fascinating.


Speaking of which, their current project, for those of you who haven't heard, is called "The Path". It's billed as a single-player horror game with a unique form of gameplay, where "every interaction in the game expresses an aspect of the narrative." Now that's something I can get into. It looks to have some basis in The Little Red Riding Hood tale, but seems to feature multiple characters, such as Scarlet, Rose, and Carmen. It has a very dark tone and looks to be a fascinating piece, although it looks like it will be Windows-only again. Disappointing, since that means they're not using Unity again -- I believe, from their postmortem above, that they are using Quest3D instead. I'll figure something out.

The Tale of Tales folks are taking a very open approach to their development, and their web site features a lot of goodies including galleries, wallpapers, and their development blog, which has a load of information on their production process. They're in the alpha testing phase right now, and they include short snippets about each of the testers and their experience with the game, which is a nice touch. I'll probably follow their example in this respect.

Recently, they came out with some new screenshots, which look fantastic. The artwork for this piece is really outstanding, dark and stylish which reminds me a bit of American McGee's Alice to some extent. I don't know much about the gameplay or how the interactions will relate to the narrative, but it looks very promising and I'm really looking forward to checking it out when it's available. I'll just need to find me a Windows machine.

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