Extremis & Rebrand
30th January '19
One of the problems I've had throughout my life is that I tend to get bored quite quickly. This has meant I've had a very diverse career in the 10 years since I graduated from university, encompassing jobs as varied as a school teacher, a piano teacher, a DJ, a pub quizmaster, a magician, a concert pianist, an accompanist, on organist, a conductor, a vocal coach and most recently, a programmer. I actually still do many of these now, though I don't really consider any of them to be my "main job" (if pressed I tend to tell people I'm a "musician" and leave it at that). I often joke that I find it impossible to have hobbies because whenever I get interested in something, I tend to focus on it so intensely that I get to a reasonable level reasonably quickly. I've also been fortunate enough that most of the things I've gotten interested in have some natural way of making money from them, which I very often capitalise on.
What this has meant in the context of Persephone's Chair is that when The Jigsaw House went into alpha in September and I chilled out on development for a few weeks, I needed something to fill the void. So I went a little bit mad at the Unity Asset Store and bought a load of new "tools" to mess around with. Whilst this initially started off as me just sandboxing and creating stuff for fun, it quickly developed into several smaller projects, the biggest one of which was something called Asylum Project. The intention was to make it a small story-driven walking simulator. Whilst I haven't killed the idea and may go back to finish it at some point, it remains, for now, unfinished. However, creating that and another walking simulator called Island Project gave me the tools and skills I needed to focus on something with a bit more substance. Thus Extremis was born.
Some would probably say I'm foolish for trying to work on two projects simultaneously; surely I'd be better off making one the best I possibly can before moving onto other things? I suppose it's just in my nature to want to multi-task (which is why I've never really liked the idea of just having one job/career and am much happier when I'm working for and answering to myself). Extremis has come together remarkably quickly and has the same basic central mechanic as The Jigsaw House; 8 independent puzzles that can be solved in any order, with the added quirk of a finite number of lives and a three hour time limit. It also has more eye candy (but is ironically already significantly more optimised than The Jigsaw House, meaning it is significantly smoother) and more advanced stuff such as AI animals and teleport pods, which I wouldn't have been able to manage 6 months ago. It's shaping up to be really nice and if I can keep the pace up, I haven't fully discounted the possibility of a double release. But we'll see.
In other news, I have had a significant reshuffle of the Discord server and fully rebranded the website to be about Persephone's Chair, rather than about The Jigsaw House specifically, which makes a lot of sense if I'm going to be a multi-game company. The Extremis page is still very scant on detail and content, but I'll hopefully be updating that within the next few weeks with a more comprehensive gallery and a teaser trailer to whet your appetites about what's to come.
In the meanwhile, I've got my mind set on a Q2 2019 beta release for The Jigsaw House. I haven't crunched the numbers yet, but it's very likely that it will be around the £5/$7 mark. It'll hopefully be released on the Discord Store and itch.io in the first instance, with a Steam release at some point later (most likely for the full release, sometime in Q4). I'm determined that the beta release will be a fully playable product, so if you want to support me, please do get it when the beta is released. I floated the idea of a Kickstarter campaign back in October which is still something I'd like to do (or possibly a Patreon page instead), so keep your eyes on the Discord for more information about that.
As ever, Discord and Twitter are the best ways to get hold of me directly (and for more frequent updates/communication), though I also have a company email you can get me on (probably better for press and media features). I'll update the blog again when there's something big to report but until then, thanks again for all the continued support.
17th October '18
Well, I did promise it in my first post that keeping a blog on the website was absolutely no guarantee of keeping it updated! But since I posted a small update into my Discord channel yesterday, today seemed like a sensible time to post an "official" update on progress.
- The Jigsaw House has reached alpha stage (as of the beginning of September). I have a small team of 6 testers who are doing their best to both enjoy and break the game in equal measure. The first round of feedback is due at the end of October, after which we'll rinse and repeat. I'm very grateful to my testers, who come from a variety of backgrounds and capture a reasonable cross-section of the target audience. Let's see if my feelings are the same when they come back with a list a mile long of stuff for me to fix...
- There will be a paid beta version of The Jigsaw House from early 2019. This will get you a full copy of the game upon release and access to the beta channels of the Discord server for more in-depth discussion of the working game. I'm being cautious about an exact time frame because it is really important to me that if I'm asking people to pay money for a product, then the product is in a fully playable state. I don't think that's a strange view to hold and I don't think it's an unreasonable expectation to want something in return for their money. Release details are still sketchy until I'm ready to cross that bridge, but it will be happening. Price is still to be confirmed but the beta is likely to be marginally cheaper than the final release. More details in due course.
- I'll be launching a Kickstarter campaign at some point in the next few weeks. This is mainly for marketing purposes, but will also function as a pre-order system, possibly with some rewards available. It'll also be there for anybody who wants to help continue supporting development in a more practical way. Details to follow.
- Finally, whilst it has been quiet in this last month due to on-going alpha testing, I've actually started work on a slightly smaller scale project, codenamed Project Asylum. It's a very different experience from The Jigsaw House but might still appeal to you. It's a long way away still but keep your eyes on Twitter for some updates in the near future.
Thanks as ever to everybody for their ongoing support; I do really appreciate it. All for now, but stay tuned for more information soon.
23rd July '18
I can't guarantee how often I'll keep this blog updated - I've tried writing blogs in the past and for various reasons it never works out. Additionally, despite my almost professional ability to procrastinate, I often find I'd much rather "do stuff" than write about "stuff I've done". That having been said, it is always good to reflect on the journey thus far. If you want more regular "bitesize" updates, do follow Persephone's Chair on Twitter.
Given I started this project in May and it's now nearly August, it might be an effort in futility to try and sum up everything I've done up to this point, but I'll do my best:
- The architecture of the house is pretty much completed.
- I have all ten puzzles built and functioning.
- After a huge amount of pain and frustration, I think I've got the lighting to a good level.
- The lantern functions and animates.
- There is an "oil bar" which reduces as the lantern is used. Oil can be found at randomly spawning locations around the house.
- There is some basic UI (puzzle title overlays on discovery; use WASD to move, etc.)
- About half of the interactable objects in the house have an animating "hand indicator" attached to them. I've been putting off doing the doors for a while.
- I've started writing the narrator's script and experimented with some audio settings to make it sound suitably sinister.
- About half the puzzles have quasi-placeholder sound effects and the other half have none at all.
- There is a very basic ambient score attached to the project.
That's about it so far. As you can see, half of that is a to-do list! Priorities for the summer include getting the polish and detail into the main puzzle rooms, completing the interactable UI, thickening out the sound effects and score and incorporating a save game system, as well as beginning the marketing campaign and getting the game out there. You can certainly help me with that by following on Twitter, joining the Discord, sharing the website with friends and colleagues and generally just cheering me on and saying nice things to me!
All for now. Hopefully another blog post towards the end of the summer.