Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Margrave: The Conjure of the Cut Ticker

Hey nonny nonny!

Along with hot grey clouds and a plague of thunderflies, July has welcomed phase three of the M3 staggered release strategy and we're currently the second highest ranked game across the board! Yes, we've conquered Big Fish and iWin, and we're now top of the Gamehouse charts with an average score of 4.5/5. We're also pedalling up the Pogo charts (number 7 at time of typing, and second highest download rate) and we're receiving superlicious reviews over at Shockwave and Wild Tangent. And best of all... dev costs have now been recouped and it's profit all the way. I think all the localisations are also complete now, so we should presently be threatening Koreans and Italians and Chinese and so forth. (I'm particularly impressed by the Korean take on the Margrave logo :o)

Oh, and I love this witty exchange I discovered on Yahoo! Answers:

Gates Vafa: Hi I just go hooked to playing Margrave: The Curse of the Severed Heart and I wanted to know where can I get Margrave: The Curse of the Severed Heart for free no trial.

Best answer - chosen by voters:

My Neck is Like a Shrubbery: Have you tried using your faith like a mustard seed to teleport a copy from the middle of the ocean to your local sycamine tree. (Luke 17:6 in reverse.)

And another hilarious mutation of my hard-won copy, fresh from the slitted throat of a babelfish:

Wakeless in the Humanities countryside, Edwina Margrave has returned to the cottage where her parents died, impatient to verbalise with the one soul who power remove white on the tragedy - the volatilisable landlady, Missy Prickle. But her sensational revelations are not what Edwina predicted! Recruit the aid of the spirit experience and evade the wrath of a disfigured savage as you explore Margrave: The Conjure of the Cut Ticker, a heart-breaking Hidden Target Teaser Labor mettlesome!

I'm very happy with M4's progress. I finalised the new schedules today and we're looking to hit the first survey a fortnight before Christmas. Ben's scenes get better and better, and Sally has blown us all away with her preternatural ability to nail the art style in under a fortnight. Already she's creating faultless work! Ade's first stabs at ambient music are bumping geese and 3D Raul's new-found adoration of displacement maps has added a lovely organic quality to his latest offerings. And the harder everyone works, the more anxious I become, wondering if I really am shepherding them all towards something special. Or not. If we screw up, there's only one direction that gnarled finger can point. A little piece of sick has made its nest in my gullet.

I'm perpetually tired, and not thinking clearly enough to tackle any of those outstanding topics I recently jotted down, but Sally's monumental task has made me think...

Style is a git. As art lead on Warhammer Online, I had to quickly immerse myself in all things Warhammer. In particular, I remember learning the names of all those lumps of architecture (crenels, merlons, flyers, etc.) and armour (pauldrons and greaves and chamfrons and such). I had to learn the particulars of Skaven weapons and Dwarfen caverns and I had to memorize the number of breasts per any given demoness. It was a leviathan task.
I remember, too, the wonderful biographer Sunny explaining how she had been asked by Peter Cox to change her style, and how it was the toughest thing she had ever attempted.
I recently completed the M4 in-game map (top of post). I think it's still recognisably me, but I examined medieval maps and fell in love with the ridiculous switches in perspective and the intricate cross-hatch techniques and pointillist shading methods. The architecture was all second nature to me, and once I had identified the elements that I thought would work well, and also those I thought would clutter or mislead, it was a relatively effortless task working the piece up. As my favourite art tutor would say: Art is 99% inspiration and 1% perspiration.

Sally faces an even tougher challenge. She is the hand and mind of Edwina, and today we worked through a few of 'Edwina's' sketches. Sally will also become the unnamed engraver and the eight-year-old orphaned girl and the Cyclopean painter and the wood carver and stone sculptor and the creative automaton. At the drop of a hat, she needs to leave her own soul behind and dip into the soul of many other characters. Which is, I guess, one of the fundamental skills a writer needs to master.
Ed's sketch of the goddess of life.

Mostly, it's about understanding the character's state of mind. The eight-year-old orphaned girl is a good example. When she creates her picture of herself with the kind man who took her into his care, what will she focus on? Does she see him as a tall man with big, strong arms and a giant's smile. Does she see his hands as huge? How does she see herself? Small and fragile? Shy? Tall and strong? How will she reveal the space between the two characters? Will they be standing close together or far apart? Will they be dancing together or perhaps she will be hugging him, or him her? We each see the world in our own way, and this changes depending on our state of mind. Several years ago, a police station sprung up on the corner of my street. I didn't notice it for many weeks. I simply ambled past it, presumably lost in thoughts of intricate leaf designs or shopping lists or whatever. I routinely miss big things, but I can easily spot small things. I guess years of showering have seen to that. (I also discovered an inch-long hair growing from my ear hole the other day. Does that qualify as a big thing or a small thing? Man, that's another five minutes to add to my weekly preen.)

Okay, I'm flumped. I'm going to bed to fall asleep to my new favourite album: Max Corbacho's Ars Lucis, which sounds like a bowel disorder but is actually a subtle and sophisticated splicement of boundless sonic phantoms. Sleep tight.


esruel said...

I detected a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm in this post, solvey! It's infectious and makes me wish i could paint and draw stuff. But no, I'll never be that kind of artist. I could say you are lucky, but that would rule out all of the thought, hard work and passion you are evidently employing. And talent; huge talent.
Great stuff! :-)

solv said...

Thank you Es; you're very kind. It's mainly fear: when you're leading a team of amazing talent, you kinda have to justify your position the whole time.:o)
Glad you're infected. Can't wait to read your latest stuff.