30 Strange visit to a place at night--moonlight--castle of great magnificence etc.
Daylight shews either abandonment or unrecognisable ruins--perhaps of vast antiquity.
* * *
Updated November 26 with some great new music from Devin Dominguez. No more of my placeholder MIDI piano nonsense anymore. An excerpt from the report of "Strange Visit" by the Aspen Street Private Investigators:
Through our investigations, we have concluded that the video entertainment software "Strange Visit" was developed by a singular Mr. David Pittman for the express purpose of being entered in the esteemed TIGSource Commonplace Book Competition. We assert that, inasmuch as it has been inspired by the thirtieth entry in the commonplace book of one Howard Phillips Lovecraft, it is an experience of wondrous horror and terrifying revelations!!
Strange Visit was designed as a bit of a mood piece, a short game of exploration and atmosphere. Its development also served a secondary purpose as a practical test of the engine I've been developing for a while now.
* * *
A DirectX 9 video card is required; shader model 3 is recommended.
Controls (can be changed in the options menu):
F: Use (open doors)
* * *Development notes follow...
9:01 PM, October 18: Blocking out a back stairwell in the castle. Working on a real level has been shaking out some bugs in my engine, so I've also been fixing those today. I've also plotted out the castle (more of a small manor house, really) on graph paper. I kept it small because of the tight deadline, but since the nice big extension, I'll probably build out the exterior a bit more so there's a nice scenic approach to the castle facade in the moonlit snow.
10:30 PM, October 22: Progress is slow. Fable II hit me hard
yesterday and today. Castle is nearly all blocked out, just gotta finish up the last series of rooms. I'm finding that in practice, it's almost never useful to share meshes for visible and collision meshes, especially because I'm tending to subdivide finished meshes to capture lighting details better (I've got vert lighting in my engine instead of lightmaps), whereas I want the simplest possible representation for collision. So I'll probably have to do a pass to replace all shared visible/collision meshes with separate ones.
1:24 AM, October 25: Proxy materials on a balcony inside the entrance. The castle interior is walkable from start to finish. I'll either start building out the exterior next or start setting up entities like doors to try to get the level playable in some fashion. I haven't been making as good progress as I'd hoped, given that I expected I could finish this within the original 2-week deadline, but I'm learning a lot about how to work with my own engine, so that's something.
4:16 PM, October 25: Today I've built the terrain surrounding the castle and blocked out the tops of the towers, which had been giving me some trouble. On the code side, fixed an endless recursion bug that could manifest when tracing rays through portals.
12:13 AM, October 29: A big part of this project for me has been learning the workflow for building levels efficiently using Blender and my engine. To that end, I spent a few hours this evening refactoring my Blender meshes so that I only need to load one library per world (instead of the 89 that it had grown to) and don't have duplicate materials on every mesh. It took a while, but it will make future changes much faster, and more importantly, I know how to do it right next time. I threw some proxy normal maps on every surface (seen in the image above) to give a better sense of directional light.
9:57 AM, November 11: Project is still alive zomg! I've been slowly cranking through art-type tasks, getting rid of proxy textures and aligning UVs and fun stuff like that. There's a lot more decoration needed to make the world look pretty and believable, but it's getting there. Then I need at least a bit of sound and music to set the mood. And a tiny bit of UI art. But the end is in sight!
9:22 AM, November 13: I'm approaching a shippable build now. Almost all texture alignment problems are fixed, holes in the world are all patched up, the menu doesn't have proxy textures anymore. I've got a dwindling list of bug fixes and a large list of polish items to crank through as time allows in these last two weeks. I feel good about this project--it's taken a bit longer than I expected to reach this state, but I'm definitely going to finish it.
3:44 AM, November 16: I've put a beta build up top. Almost ready to call this thing done. I did a big audio pass today and touched up a few more assets. I'd like to add some more decoration before the deadline (trees outside, paintings and tapestries on the walls, more ruined assets in the second half), and I'll probably revisit some of today's audio work after I've had some time to sit with it.
10:30 PM, November 17: I built a release candidate this evening, then found a bug in my portal code that should have been caught eons ago. So I fixed the bug and built a second RC, but there might be more lurking horrors in my codebase. Plus I haven't yet touched any of the things I said I might revisit, so there's stuff I could do if I felt like it. Or if I don't get around to that, I feel comfortable with this as the final product. But in any case, I'll wait to mark it finished and bump until the deadline.