Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy new year

It's monday the 31st, and I now see no way that ASA releases in december 2012 ! Despite the fact that the game is ready to launch, I'm still waiting for an approval on the selling platforms. It's just a matter of days, but Christmas holidays have been slowing things more than expected. I can now say that ASA will release early 2013, and let's hope it will be very soon. Things don't depend of me anymore :)

I wish everyone an Happy New Year !!!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

IndieDB / Desura

You can now view the game page on IndieDB (part of Desura) with the new icon in the right column

ASA: A Space Adventure

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

ASA first impressions

Today, I'm glad to share this article by Indie Statik, an indie magazine who gave his impressions after playing ASA for a week-end : http://bit.ly/10ePmXP

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Space ! :p

ASA has never been so close to the final release : the game is uploaded since 2 days, and I'm waiting for it to be approved !

Saturday, December 22, 2012

ASA upload

Good news ! After running into some difficulties, ASA is now 100% finished and currently being uploaded. It will take a while with my (very) slow connexion, so you'll have to wait a little more :)

I will share all release informations soon !

Edit : 
Currently, I'm trying to upload it (900+ MB). It may take 2 days or more...
Once uploaded, it will need 1 - 4 additional days for validation on the selling platform (probably more with christmas and holidays).
And then I will share the link with everyone.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Small issues with windows 8

ASA is near to release, but I have to fix a few problems linked to windows 8. As long as I can't fix them, you will have to wait a little more before playing "your" Space Adventure. Thanks for your patience ;)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

No news = good news

Hey everyone,
maybe you were wondering why I didn't post the usual daily news this week ? To make long thing short : I'm a little tired, and.. I am still busy with the game ! I'm trying to polish it, and I'm preparing the way for the release this month. I've not decided of the exact day yet, but it will be soon.
Meanwhile, you can still read the old articles and see if you missed something !

Saturday, December 1, 2012

ASA full OST : available

Special news on saturday : the full OST of ASA: A Space Adventure is now available. You can listen to it for free on the bandcamp of Karreo. Or you can buy it if you want the files on your hdd. This is also a good way to encourage the musicians ! ;)

I particularly enjoy the main theme "A Space Journey", and the theme of planet Kepler "Odd arrival" (try it at 1:50 ;)

Friday, November 30, 2012

ASA full OST release : tomorrow !

December the 1st : that's the day you can listen to the full OST of ASA, an album composed by Stélian Derenne. If you liked the Cobalt-5 "light" album, don't forget to check this blog to get all the info about this release !








In the meantime, you can still listen to the Cobalt-5 album below, or directly on Soundcloud via the cover on the right.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

ASA in numbers

I announced it yesterday : the production of ASA is finished. I'm still busy trying to fix some bugs here and there, but I am less stressed ;)

Yesterday, I played ASA from the beginning to the very end for the first time ! I can tell you that, going through the game peacefully, and solving the puzzles by heart, it took me 4+ hours. In my opinion, that's quite a good result.

ASA in numbers :
 
- 10 hours is the estimated life of the video game (5h if you know it already).
- 108 videos for a total of 25 minutes (including all videos : menu, options, in-game, credits, etc...)
- 970 pictures, used in 1 138 frames in AM
- 20 music tracks
- 19,8 GB occupied on my hard drive
- 5+ months of production = 160 days = 320 cups of tea (0 coffee !)
- 1200+ hours of calculation (rendering) for the 3D videos = 120 nights without sleeping for my notepad!
- 6 hours on writing the full walkthrough... grrr...
- 60+ bugs (or things to improve) detected during the beta... and yet to fix ! argl !
- 1 death : my 250 GB (2,5”) hard drive ! RIP

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Production is completed

The (main) production of ASA is finished ! All that is left to do is some minor improvements and bugs fixing. The game is still to be released in december (forget the previously announced "november" : it was before my hdd crashed).

I take this opportunity to remind that the ASA Original Soundtrack by Stélian Derenne will release the 1st of december ! Stay tuned !

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Maintenance room & Cobalt-5


Today I decided to show the "Maintenance room". I don't want to say too much about it : there are good reasons for it to be closed at the beginning of the game and unaccessible before long.

This area has two levels, and the most important part hides something huge. You can't see it in these pictures, because the story of the game turns around it.

 
And because I didn't show many pictures lately, I also share 4 shots of Cobalt-5, the satellite which was the starting point of the adventure of P. Forté
 



Monday, November 26, 2012

Reactions to friday's article

Friday, I posted an article about "rendering times" in 3D, which is also a time constraint during the production process. I think it was not always well explained - it would have been easier for me in french - but I had the good surprise to receive some reactions by e-mail. I decided to answer some questions here :

50 days of calculation for 20 minutes only of videos : are you serious ???
Yes ! And I think that "only" 20 minutes is quite a good result for a single dev ! Of course, these videos aren't stunning, don't wait for some Pixar... lol

When you say that studios use a renderfarm and that it makes things much easier, then why don't you buy one ?
Hmm... This idea crossed my mind (joke). No, honestly, that's impossible. Think of the price !  I'm not a studio, I can't afford buying one.
You could have sent your renderings on a webiste specialized in this !
Yeah, I could, but that's again a matter of cost.

To be clear, and answer the 2 previous questions, ASA is a very personal project. When I say it's an indie game, I do mean it's an INDIE game. I could almost say it's a personal experiment. I have NO budget, I don't use Kickstarter or anything like that, and I don't give money to anyone to help. The few people (and many thanks to them) who participated in making ASA possible with me made it for free, because they trusted in the project. That's what I call a great adventure :) Not in Space, but in "making things together" !

Does it mean that the game could be better if you had money ?

Yes, of course, undoubtedly. 
I made my choices during the creation process : the graphics of ASA are nice (I hope so), but not great : most 3D models I made for the environments are quite low poly, the character animations might be sometimes irritating to the eyes, and the result himself may seem more amateur than professional...
I made these choices, because I knew the amount of work that it would represent to make ASA in its entirety. And instead of starting a greater project that I wouldn't finished, I chose to concentrate on the most important in order to go to the end. 

Now, I don't want anymore questions about money : I didn't make this game for a matter of money ! :)
 
Is there a way to make rendering times shorter ?
Yes and no. Of course, you can make pictures look less detailed (3d models, textures, lighting...). But I think I found the best compromise for such a project. The grahics of ASA have already been too much lowered in quality. And you know, 15 minutes of calculation per picture (which is the maximum I reached) it's a very small time compared to many professional projects. It's not surprising when you reach 1 hour per picture !

That's all for today ! Thanks to those who asked, and thanks for reading my articles !
Don't hesitate to write me if you have questions about ASA. You can find my contact infos on the right of this blog.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pre-calculated graphics

ASA is a "slideshow" adventure game : it means it doesn't use realtime 3D. Using pre-calculated graphics was a choice to make the development easier, depending on both my skills and the fact that I work on my own.

Pre-calculated 3D is a powerful way to make beautiful graphics in a game. Remember the Final Fantasy series on psx (7 to 9) ? The backgrounds were made of static pictures, and I believe that most people found this stunning. That was the same with most slideshow adventure games, including Myst and its sequel.

When you make a game in realtime, you spend a lot of time on adjusting and optimizing the number of polygons displayed, the quality of textures and shaders, the lighting... You really depend on technical restrictions, that is to say the power of the processor, the amount of memory, etc... For example, most "gamers" are familiar with terms like anti-aliasing, which is a technique to make the realtime 3D look smoother, but is also asking a lot of hardware resources.

If you make pre-calculated graphics, you don't really have this problem. You don't need to care about the amount of polygons in your scene, you can use more realistic lightings with better shadows, etc... That makes things much easier for me, of course, because I can concentrate on making the game, not on technical restrictions... but there's a downside ! All these parameters have to be calculated at a given time, and that's a step called "rendering".

Rendering is somehow "going from the 3D software to the final picture". You can see it as a "compilation" of the "settings" of your 3D scenes, and these "settings" are what I talked about earlier : the polygons, the textures, etc.... And when you want to obtain this final picture, the computer has a lot of calculations to do, so you'd better optimize your 3D scenes a little, in the end ;)

The problem of these calculations is that they require a huge amount of time. Of course, that depends on your work. For a single picture, it's quite fast, but for a video, it's something you have to take in account in your production process. A video is composed of a succession of single pictures, you know it. In ASA, you have 25 pictures per second in the videos.

Now, imagine that "rendering" a single picture can take from 1 to 15 minutes for me (15 is a maximum that I try not to reach). In average, it was something like 3 minutes per picture. Maybe you think it's not an enormous amount of time ? Then you should try to report these 3 min of rendering per picture to the total number of pictures in the game :

ASA counts approximately 20 minutes of video. We said there was 25 pictures per second. That makes us 1200 seconds for 25 pictures/s = 30 000 pictures to calculate !
Still not convinced it's a lot ? Remember, the computer needs an average of 3 minutes to calculate one single picture.. and it had 30k ones to render. That means my poor laptop PC of 5-years old worked on calculating the ASA movies during 30 000 x 3 = 90 000 minutes, or 1 500 hours, or 62 days ! (In fact, it's more 50 days, because I used some tricks to make things shorter)

This is enormous : it's almost 2 months, that is to say almost half of the time I spent on developing ASA (5 months). And the worst is that, when the computer is calculating the final renderings, you can't do anything else !  You can't work ! Because all the resources (processor, ram, graphic card) are required by the calculation !
So, this rendering step always happens in the night. And every night since I started the 3D production, my poor pc is heating up :) Not surprising the hard drive died recently, when you know it has been making all sorts of renderings since the beginning of 2008 !

Note that the rendering times can be reduced significantly if you have a very strong computer. Most societies working with pre-calculated 3D (games, cinema, advertising...) are using "render farms", which are like a network of powerful computers dedicated to the rendering step !


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Making ASA

Today I wanted to summarize and share my experience on making ASA, even if it’s still in development. As I’m a single developer, it's quite hard to compare with what a team could have done on a similar project.

First thing I made was the short film 2011: A Space Adventure (see tuesday's article), which received good criticisms, and it encouraged me to make the game a few months later.

Having this film done was a very big help because :
- I knew what people liked/disliked
- I can use it as an opening movie for the game
- It gives me a strong background and a beginning for a scenario

Of course, when I made the film, I just didn't imagine that the project would go so far ! 2011ASA (the short film) released in november 2011, where the production of ASA (the game) only started in july 2012 ! And between them two, I had no project of making this game... The idea went suddenly in june, when I thought of the best way to use the original scenario.

Speaking of scenario, this short film was based on a small book I had written in self-publishing. I don’t say it was a qualitative novel, but I had a strong idea, at least.
Then I developped the game scenario from this point, and didn’t start the 3D production before I had finished the writing ! I know it’s hard to resist to the temptation of going into 3D modeling, but the writing step is very important.

When my scenario was complete, before starting the real prod, I thought for a long time of the best software for programming. I have to be honnest, I’m not good in programming, that’s why I chose to make a slideshow game and that’s why I chose Adventure Maker. That’s probably not the soft everyone would choose nowadays, you know ! But the author and the community are very nice people, and they really helped.


From this point I just made some rough sketches of the world of ASA (the main ship, the planet). And when I say rough, I mean rough ! I didn't draw some great artworks : just made plans in top view, and started placing my main puzzles. The aim was to precise the main idea, and start knowing where the puzzles/enigmas would bring the player when he solves them. That’s how I built ASA. I have drawn it into sketches, from the starting point to the end (or almost… ). Easy when you have your scenario ! Of course, this step was not accurate, and the final game changed a lot compared to my sketches, but I don’t imagine how you can create an adventure game without this step.

That's how I finished the most important and could conclude the "pre-production process" by designing the characters and environments once and for all. Personally I started the real 3D process/programming at this point, and I met no real problem then. I just imagined the final puzzles gradually, depending on what I had made in the environments, in order to integrate them well. The biggest thing was to stay motivated until the end !!!

To make long things short, here is how ASA has been produced, chronologically :
- writing main ideas, searching for references
- scenario
- sketches of the world (top view map) including the place of the main puzzles/steps
- choice of softwares/tools
- pre-production 1 (drawings : characters/environments)
- pre-production 2 (3D : chara modeling, setup, etc…)
- production, including puzzles, 3D and programming
- finalisation (sound, music, videos…)
- beta-testing

If things go well, you just have a few short weeks to wait before the official release !

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

ASA & Windows 8

When my hard drive died (recently) I had to reinstall my system. Before, I was working on Windows 7 and everything was working great, I was happy. Seven seems to be quite appreciated by everyone, and I think it deserves it.

In order to be sure that ASA will work on the new Windows, I jumped at the chance and bought the Windows 8 update. Honestly, I was skeptical (I was afraid of the Vista syndrome), but my first surprise was very positive : it's really cheap at this time (30€, but the offer is limited in time) ! The installation went well, and I could install my usual programs without any problem. Even better : all my peripherals were immediately detected and the drivers installed without asking me anything !

And now, I can confirm that ASA will work perfectly on Windows 8 ! Good news, uh!

Maybe you want to ask : what about Win8 itself ?
Well... How many times did I read in the press that "Win8 is the new Vista" ? That it's just "an awful joke from Microsoft" ? That "you'd better stay on Seven until Win9 releases"


What I can answer to this for using Win8 on a normal PC (not a tablet) is that it's a good Seven ++.
That's simple : "8" is exactly the same than its predecessor, but it's better (with better ressource usage, more security...), except for the now well-known Start menu which won its new interface, and some functions here and there that will ask you a bit of time to adapt... for the best. 

So when I read that the new start menu is a sacrilege, I have to disagree, and I even say "thanks" to Microsoft. That's simple, I always thought that the old grey start menu was horrible, unuseful, poorly thought, and absolutely needed an update. Now, you have a nice panel with all the icons you want, colors, and you can go back to your desktop anytime ! It's not perfect yet, but I like the progress.

So I don't see the problem... Really.  Windows 8 is nice.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

2011ASA & Blink

You probably read somewhere on this blog that ASA (the game) is based on my short film from last year, 2011: A Space Adventure. This film, originally posted on Vimeo, got over 30k visitors from the first day online, and now shows proudly the "Vimeo Staff Pick" logo ! Thanks to the nice words from the visitors, I was encouraged to continue the Space adventure, and that's how the short film became a game later.

A few months ago, I have been contacted by Juuso from the all new site blinkamovie.com. It is a kind of vimeo/youtube clone, but it's specifically made for short films and their authors. There are various funtionalities that you don't find on other sites, like the arena or the theater, which help you to discover new short films everyday. There's much more to come on blinkamovie.com : the site just opened to the public, and they say it's still in development. I can only wish them good luck.

Finally, I wanted to share the [short version of the] mail from Juuso that I received a few weeks ago, when blinkamovie launched officially.
2011: ASA is on blinkamovie, of course ;)



Hello friends!

We are proud to present – www.blinkamovie.com!

The site is finally open and I hope to have you all with us from this day on. We opened today with 100 free films. 
Anyone who gets this mail will be on our hall of fame for the first directors/producers who started with us.

I can’t overstate how proud I am of this selection of films. Within this year I’ve started to watch maybe 10,000 different short films, I’ve sent about 800 requests for the best films and you were the ones who answered and sent their films first. Even as a cynical and overworked Scandinavian I can truly say that you are a most talented group of individuals and I hope the possible success of the site will boost your careers also.  

And also if you and your friends have more films coming up or in the reserves, I’d love to have them.

Hope to bump into you in Blink Arena!
Juuso

PS : There are three different ways of watching films:

- Regular: You can watch films by yourself like in any other place.

- Blink Arena: You can enter a social cinema where films are shown 24/7 in a continuous stream. There you can also chat with people from all over the world and ask them to be your movie friends. In Blink Arena there’s also a Blink button, a kind of a virtual applause, which you can use if you like a particular moment in the film you’re watching.

- My Theater: You can create your own private show where you can choose a selection of short films to show friends you can invite via Facebook or email.
  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Greenlight : still orange...

The release of ASA is getting closer, but the votes on Steam GL are still stuck around 50%...

I'm sure that most of you, dear visitors, already upvoted the game, but I'd like the others to think of it seriously : if you're not sure of what ASA is, visit this blog to watch pictures or videos of the game, listen to the music, and try the demo. You can also "downvote" ASA if you don't like it!

What's important is your vote on Steam ;) Thanks...

Friday, November 16, 2012

ASA on GOG ?

Good news : ASA has chances to be sold on gog.com, and I do really hope so !
"We think that ASA looks interesting and we’d like to learn more about it."

I remember buying Resonance on GOG for a low price, and that was a great surprise to get free bonuses with the game. ASA would have its own bonuses too : wallpapers, music and the original short film, for example.

But for the moment, nothing is certain !

Thursday, November 15, 2012

3 words from the Beta-testers

Today, I decided to share the words of 3 beta testers who currently play the (almost) full version of the game.


<< ASA captures the isolation of Space in a furtive way; it uses an audio particularly eerie. Simon has created an experience, though subtle at some points, and obscure at other points, which reminds me of that first time playing Myst. It's up to the player to seek out the clues and story to move forward. In that sense ASA is a refreshing experience, supported by a very strong visual/aural foundation working in tandem. >> Matthew


<< ASA is a game that keeps you on the edge of your seat, because you dont know what's next ! It is a bit on the hard side but if you liked the Myst series, you love this game! >> Peter
 
<< I'm really glad that I'm part of this great game's beta team, because the game deserves it! As long as Simon proceeds with his work, this will become a great "professional" game, that would almost deserve a publisher! I like the fact that it's a point and click adventure, because it's one of my favorite genres. The in-game movies are awesome, they really are a great addition to the gameplay. I also like the music, it gives a nice ambient to the game.Really good work Simon! Keep it up! >> Deki

And as a bonus, you get a new picture of the game... and I won't tell you more about it for now :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Demo update

Small changes in the demo of ASA. You won't be concerned if you finished it already.

You can download the updated demo 0.82 via the usual link, on the right of this blog -->



Note that the following updates will also be available in the full version of ASA :

 

 - Videos have been reencoded. I abandoned Xvid for a standard mpeg-4 codec which doesn't require codec installation on Vista, Seven and 8 (on XP I'm not sure, I couldn't test. If someone tries, I'd be interested to know !)

Note : the previous version of this demo (0.8), released in october, contained a file called "silent.exe" which was detected as a possible virus by some protection softwares. It was NOT a virus : silent.exe was a program to install the Xvid codecs silently. To avoid this problem, I released the demo version 0.82, which doesn't use Xvid anymore and so, doesn't contain the silent.exe file. 

- The overall compression of the game has been optimized. The original demo was over 250 MB, where the new updated one is less than 150 MB.

- Added a sound effect when you push the buttons on the digipad near the door.

- You can't skip the in-game movies anymore with a left-click, and the mouse cursor is now hidden while they play. You can still use Esc. to skip the videos.

More updates will be available in the full version, like the possibility to switch fullscreen/windowed any time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Game release delayed

I'm back to work, after almost one week of troubles and fight with my computer, after my hard drive died suddenly. I could get back most of my data from backups, including most of my work on ASA. Unfortunately, there were losses too.

Because of that, the release date of ASA will be delayed in december (officially announced for the end of november). Sorry...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The death of a hard drive

Very bad surprise yesterday evening : my PC refused to boot. After some research, I now know that my hard drive is definetely dead... I hope I can find a way to retrieve some datas, I couldn't save everything, including some ASA files (not all).
I will be offline for an undefined period, as short as possible...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Wallpaper #7

Today's new (and last) wallpaper is much more dark, so yor desktop icons can be more visible !

Monday, November 5, 2012

Interview on Ceiga

Hi, today I wanted to bring back an interview I gave to Ceiga magazine a several months ago. I thought you might be interested, because it was about my short film 2011: A Space Adventure.
Click here to read the interview!

In order to illustrate this interview, you can watch my Vimeo Album which regroups my short films. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Demo walkthrough

This is the day where everyone can end the demo of ASA :)
I have to say again that this demo is not difficult compared to the rest of the game, but the game itself is very hard, which makes the difficulty level of the demo quite high already. So don't get disapointed if you didn't beat it yourself!

The way to solve the puzzles is logic and is based on observation and thinking, even if, in some specific cases, you'll have to guess a part of the answer (but still in a logic way). While reading this walkthrough, I hope you'll think "Aaah! Of course ! I didn't see that !!!  --- Why didn't I try this earlier ?!!!!".
If not, don't worry : the beta-testers will probably tell me to change the puzzles, and it will be a little different in the final version ! ;)

Here we go :

ASA: A Space Adventure
Pre-Beta Demo Walkthrough



*********************************************
*********************************************
DEMO #1 : BEGINNING (teleport station)
*********************************************
*********************************************

---------------------------------------------
Introduction
---------------------------------------------
Watch the opening videos and when you can, click at the top of the screen to stand up.

---------------------------------------------
Teleport station
---------------------------------------------
Notice the 2 teleport pods in the corridor. One is out of service (sparkles).
Next to it, you can find a memory card on the floor with the 1st part of Forte’s diary. Read it.

You can also find an important paper with explanations on number translations. Write down the Anterran numbers on a piece of paper (in real life) with the corresponding “crossed-squares” numbers.

Go near the bright door. The thief closed it. Have a look at the numeric panel on the right, where you have to enter a code. Click on the up left corner of the poster next to it. It will show the door combination in crossed-squares numbers. Go back to understand these squared numbers : on the left of the wall of the first teleport from the door (outside wall), you can see a small graffiti. It learns you that a crossed-square means 5, 2 crossed-squares mean 10, etc… That’s a way to count : each side of these squares counts for 1, and they're additive.

Translate the door’s code (from the poster) with the Anterran numbers you found earlier and enter the 5 digits code. The door opens.

---------------------------------------------
Central room
---------------------------------------------
From the central room you can reach 6 new areas, but the demo ends here.



*********************************************
*********************************************
DEMO #2 : SUNBATH (planet Forte)
*********************************************
*********************************************

---------------------------------------------
Introduction
---------------------------------------------
Watch the opening video.

---------------------------------------------
Second island
---------------------------------------------
Go down the platform via the ladder to reach a 360 view. If you go straight away, you reach a pond with a small boat made with the shell of a giant fruit (you can see a tree somewhere with these fruits). Back in the 360 view.

Look around the pond : it is sourrounded by 2 bigger rocks. Visit each of them to see 2 lists of colors. They correspond to the way you have to follow with the boat.
The list on the left is : yellow, red, green, green, red, red, yellow.
The list on the right is : red, white, white, green, yellow, ? [= white, hidden], purple.
[the hidden one must be guessed in situation]

Go back to the boat and get onboard. Click on the colors adjacent to the boat to move, and choose the colors you think good from the combination you found on the rocks. The correct order is :
[list from the right] + [list from the left], which gives :
red, white, white, green, yellow, [white], purple, yellow, red, green, green, red, red, yellow.

If not successful, a trap is activated and you have to try again.
If you made it correctly, you reach the other side of the pond. One more click and the demo ends.



Thursday, November 1, 2012

Head out of the stars!

Hey, maybe you've seen here and there one of my other projects : Mon Village est Magique (My Village is Magical). Maybe you're wondering what this is, because it's all in french, and because it has nothing to see with ASA. Am I right ?

Then, this is a beginning of answer :

Mon Village est Magique (MVEM) is a big project I began in 2009 and that is still under development. On the contrary of ASA, it's not a game and it's constantly changing : MVEM started as an amateur book for children, counting a fantasy story which takes place in the french countryside. It tells the story of little Seb and Tommy, two brothers aged 8 & 5, who live in front of the ruins of a castle. The story is very focused on the life in this french country, in an isolated village where the family of the heros lives in harmony with nature. But everything changes when a story of monster in the castle's ruins is reaching the ears of Seb and Tommy. Magic suddenly becomes a part of their life, and they will be drawn into a great adventure !

From this book, MVEM became a project of comic strip, which was abandoned a few month later. Then I decided to continue to write the story, and it has become a series of books in self-publishing, in 5 volumes at the moment, but not ended yet. In parallel, I made a lot of work to bring the books to the screen. With my graphics research, I made a full storyboard for an animated movie! But for a matter of costs, this was abandoned too, and I'm very sad.
Fortunately, I'm working with Chrysalide Studio in France in order to try making a TV series for children! For the moment, we've not done much as we really need to find investors, but I still believe that Seb and Tommy will come to life !

You can watch the books teaser below, and if you speak french, there's the possibility to visit the blog of the project. From there, you can download for free the 1st volume (french, pdf), and if you like it and want to help me, you can buy the sequel for amazon kindle...


Beta-tests

Official : the beta-tests will start monday 5th of november and finish sunday the 25th.
The 11 happy elected ones :
Chistopher, Deki, Giovanni, Juanjo, Peter, Bob, Samuel, Stélian, Mathieu and Matthew, and the last-minute guy : Bruno.
Registrations are now closed!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wallpaper #6 and demo info

Hi everyone! Thanks to all of you who downloaded the demo. I hope you could try it and that it made you curious about the game.
Today, I continue to share some ASA wallpapers and we reached the 6th one ! I think I'll make 7 in total, so you can change your desktop wallpaper each day of the week :p


About the demo : did you notice there are 2 demos in 1 ??? I could read comments about the second demo (Sunbath), but don't forget to try the first one (Beginning). You make your choice in the main menu via the image split.

Some people asked me :

- Is there an ending in the demo, or can we just wander here and there to watch the environments ?
Yes, there IS an "ending" for each demo : if you solve the puzzles, you will see a black screen with the text "end of demo".

- It's too hard, I don't know what to do !
Of course it's hard, it's an adventure game, and a Myst-like :) But these two demos are easy compared to the full game!!!
What I can do is give some advice by mail, so don't hesitate to contact me.
OR best choice : just try by yourself a little more, and wait until friday for I post a walkthrough on this blog !

- I have an error about a 32-bits problem. Or the antivirus says something about silent.exe !
I know, and I apologize for that, but I can assure your computer is not in danger ;) See the previous post !

Finally, I'd like to relay this article about the demo release on AdventureGamers :
http://www.adventuregamers.com/news/view/23200

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Demo issue

 Issue 1 : 32-bits error?

Maybe you got an error message during the installation of the demo about a 32-bits compatibility problem. This is not related to the game, but to the installation of Xvid codecs silently.

If you get this error, the game will run correctly, but :
 - if you don't have the Xvid codecs installed, you need to download and install manually the latest version for windows here.
- if you already have the Xvid codecs installed, you dont have anything to do, the game should run with no problem.

In the case where the codecs are not correctly installed, the videos won't play during the game. So if you don't see the videos while playing, please try to install manually the Xvid codecs !
This shall not happen on 64-bits machines...

 Issue 2 : antivirus notification?

This issue is all linked to the previous one. The silent install of the Xvid codecs is made from a file called silent.exe

Looks like some antivirus think it's problematic. I can assure it's NOT. Silent.exe is absolutely virus-free ! I made it myself, it's a batch file (converted into an exe) with some code to run the Xvid installer silently (calling the /verysilent option), so you don't have to install them manually.

For those of you who had the problem and are wondering what they can do, there are 2 ways to solve this problem. Make your choice :
- you trust me and choose to change the antivirus settings (Norton ?) so it allows silent.exe to make its job.
- or you don't really trust me and you can re-download the ASA demo using the original link. I just made a modification in the installation process and you will be prompted to install the Xvid codecs manually, with the original Xvid installer.

I'm very sorry for the inconvenience, this will be solved in the final release of the game.
Thanks for your understanding.

ASA PLAYABLE DEMO !!!

I was about to post a very short article with the 6th wallpaper. I was about to say : "don't worry, the demo will come soon ! Come back tomorrow to get it".
I had decided to wait for more comments from my friends who had the chance to play the demo already.
I was about to wait one more day, thinking of the quality of the demo.
Is it good ? Not as much as I want. Is it representative of the full game ? No, not at all : the main focus of ASA can't be found in the demo.
So... ?

So I just decided I had to take the plunge, even if that means you could be deceived. You can download the playable demo of ASA here. Right NOW.

download ASA : pre-beta demo
 size : 275 MB

Of course, you can send me your feeling by mail ! You'll find my address on my personal website : http://www.simonmesnard.fr
Have fun ! And thanks for playing !

Demo limitations :
- the ASA demo will only run in windowed mode in 1024x432 (the full version will run in fullscreen).
- save/load function and main menu disabled.
- the sound effects are not implemented during gameplay.
- restricted to 2 short areas of the game with easy puzzles.
- it is a pre-beta version, which means it doesn't include any of the future improvements of the beta-tests.
- english only.

Recommended system :
PC only
CPU: 2 GHz processor
Memory: 2 GB RAM
GPU : graphic card with 128MB VRAM
Free Space: 300 MB
OS: Windows 8, 7, vista

Monday, October 29, 2012

ASA OST : ready !

Today I'm glad to announce that the ASA OST is done and ready, and will be a 18 tracks album. The Karreo team is proud to invite you to the "release event" the 1st of december on their facebook page, here !
If you like their work, and if you want to support the game, just click to say you want to participate to the online event, and spread the word on facebook !






You probably want to hear some extracts before clicking the above "event link". That's why the people of Karreo made a special OST (understand a teasing OST) of 5 tracks here, entitled The Cobalt-5 Album. The name Cobalt-5 may sound familiar to you, because it's the name of a satellite in ASA (the game).








Finally, if you like the music made by Karreo, you can listen to their past works.

Poll deleted

I deleted the poll about cursors, it didn't save the votes at all. Sorry for all of you who took some time to vote...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Wallpaper #5

I don't know what happened with yesterday's poll : looks like for some reason none of the votes were taken in account, and all the stats have been reset to zero... I will leave the poll just in case, but I'm sorry for those of you who voted already. If you wish to give me your opinion about the cursors, you can still contact me by mail. You'll find my address on my personal website (bottom right, www.simonmesnard.fr). 
 
I give you today a fifth ASA wallpaper. It's in 2048x1152 px and represents the hero (you) in front of planet Terra. Terra, your home, the place you want to go back. That's what you can see in the opening movie of the game.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

[Poll] About the game cursors

Today you have a chance to tell me your opinion about something important : some people told me they didn't really like the cursors they saw in the Gameplay video. I can understand that, but I made these little cursors with love and I thought they were nice ! :P
So, what do you think about that ? I added a new poll on the right of this blog, just under the Gameplay video. It will be opened for a week, until the 1st of november. Thanks in advance !

The current cursors are the hand of the hero. You probably recognized his suit.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Working with great people

Today I'd like to make a special article to thank all the people who helped me so far on the ASA project.

- First, thanks to you who read this article, and maybe follow the blog from time to time ?

- Thanks to Karreo, past and current members. They're the music makers of ASA, and you can find several articles about them on this blog !
ASA music is composed by Stélian Derenne and supervised by Jeff K-ray.
Special thanks to Mathieu Legros who gave his opinion several times.

- Robert Neuendorf, a great man who's always willing to help. I even don't know him personally, but his involvment is awesome. He worked with me on the english localization, gave me some contacts and I know he'll help a lot during the beta-tests.

- The Adventure Maker community. All users of the AM forums are to be thanked, and particularly the ones who gave their opinion about the game of course. The AM software wouldn't be what it is now without them.
Giovanni Albanni, creator of the Adventure Maker software, is always trying to improve his produce. His help was and will be very important until the end of the project.

- Special thanks to the Beta-testers for their interest in the game. The job has not begun yet, but I know I can count on you : Juanjo Barceló, Peter Veldman, Stelian Derenne, Robert Neuendorf, Dejan Stanojevic, Samuel J. Venble, Christopher Clews, Matthew Donatelli and Mathieu Legros.


- If everything goes well, Steven Tidwell is gonna give his voice to Philippe Forté for the Diary. I cannot wait to hear it!

- Thanks also to the following online magazines, Adventure Gamers and IGM: the Indie Game Mag, who were the first ones to talk about ASA.

And to conclude, I would like to thank many other people, and please forgive me if I forgot you in the list ! You can contact me via my website if needed (www.simonmesnard.fr) : it will help to complete the game credits for the final release.

Thanks to : The Adventure Gamers community, Nikos Patsiouras, up-voters on Steam Greenlight, Chrysalide Studio (and Tiphaine Renard for her advices), Yves Mesnard, Miao Zhao, all the people on Vimeo who liked my short film 2011: A Space Adventure (including Sam Morill from the vimeo staff), my friends and family who supported me... and all the talented people in the world who give me a lot of inspiration! 

Going back to work, I don't want to deceive you guys, and the game is not finished!
  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Gameplay video

As promised, here's a gameplay video. I'm sorry, I had some issues recording video and audio...


What can you see in this video ? Well, it's a very small part of the game, I still don't want to show too much.

In this part of the game, the hero is on the Ark (a spaceship) and wants to go by step on Planet Forté. So he goes to the teleport station of the ship and uses the device. But the Ark is not in the right place of the Space (Planet Forté is too far) and the teleport station doesn't detect any other teleport pod near the current position.

So, the hero goes to the Bridge and uses a device to change the position of the Ark in Space. He looks for new coordinates in his diary, enters these coordinates, then the whole ship is "transported" to a new area of the Space. Planet Forté is now detected on a monitor. 


The hero just needs to go back to the teleport station, and he activates it. He's finally teleported to Planet Forté.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Demo & video coming (very) soon!

Liked ASA trailer 1, but you wish you could see more ? Good news then : trailer 2 should come out this week, and will be a gameplay video !

What ? Videos aren't enough ? You want to try the game now ? Wow, thanks for your interest in ASA ! Then be aware that I will release a playable demo in a little while ! And it could be this week too ;)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

ASA news : the big summary

Hi there! I know I will be too busy tomorrow to post my daily article, so no news this friday. Which means you have 3 full days (including the week-end) to read all the articles you could have missed ! ;) That's why I made you this short list of the most important articles about ASA !

Parce qu'il s'agit d'un récapitulatif, vous aurez même droit à quelques mots de français : cette courte liste d'articles reprend les plus importantes infos au sujet d'ASA jusqu'à ce jour. Je rappelle à l'occasion qu'une traduction française du jeu devrait sortir en 2013.

- Video trailer 1 (vidéo de présentation 1)
- Game mechanics (mécanique de jeu)
- Game screenshots (captures d'écran)
- Overview of the areas of the game (aperçu des aires de jeu)
- Understanding what ASA is : the Riven model (comprendre ASA : le modèle Riven)
- A word about the music composers (un mot sur les compositeurs musicaux)
- ASA OST : listen to the main theme (la BO d'ASA : écoutez le thème principal)
- About the author : previous works (à propos de l'auteur : précédents travaux)


The ASA model : Riven

Why speaking again and again of Riven on the ASA blog ? Because people who don't know what ASA is can refer to Riven.

Let me explain Riven, and I think you'll understand ASA.

Riven was certainly my biggest inspiration while making ASA. ASA is an all new game, yes, with a different universe and some new mechanisms, but the way it's built won't disturb Riven fans in any way : slideshow game, beautiful 3D pictures, exploration on your own, a strange universe, few help and a difficult game. Very difficult.You won't beat ASA in a few hours if you're not familiar with Myst clones !

Riven was released on PC in the late 1990s. I'm not sure of the exact date, but I think it arrived in France in 1998. I remember getting the huge 5-cd box from a friend at school, and being quite sceptic on the interest of a slideshow game. I played it and changed my mind. I was totally taken by the amazing graphics and the universe of the game. A few years later I even bought my own version  so I can lend it to my friends and family. Bad luck, my dad broke cd2 and I could never play again the french version of the game...


Riven is difficult, yes. You're left alone in a very strange world where you need to activate various mechanisms and solve puzzles. Difficult, but not impossible if you are patient and observer. The difficulty mostly resides in the way the world is built. I remember passing a full day looking for a clue, and realizing the next day that I missed something obvious that I just didn't see !
Like in the real world, when you're on your own, if you don't take notes on a paper when you know  you won't remember a thing, then you'll be totally lost. That's the point of the game : locate yourself in the world, take good notes, and you'll make it to the end. That's what I did, and I still have my sheet of paper with all my notes !


Of course, Riven wouldn't be the same without its awesome graphics. Just have a look at these pics, and don't tell me they're awful, just because it's not realtime 3D ! I really thought they were some photos taken in an exotic country somewhere on Earth, and transformed for the game ! I never imagined it was in 3D the first time I played it. Sounds funny nowadays, when we're use to see great CG graphics everywhere !



I'd say Riven is an experience, not a game. It's not only for people who like adventure games : everyone can try it. You need to be totally immersed in this universe, and beating the game must become an obsession. Lot of people won't understand this feeling and will stop from the beginning, that's normal. But the others, the one in need of evasion and mental challenge, should persevere. And, honestly, if you're really stuck, it's not a fault to use a walkthrough from time to time. Just don't use it during the whole game !
 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

2 great adventure games to be released soon !

Today, no ASA news, but you want to know more about these 2 wonderful adventure games (after all, ASA is an adventure game !), they're my favourite of the moment.

Ever heard of Lilly Looking Through and Gorogoa ?
If you like cute graphics and great ideas, I suggest you try the demos ! I did enjoy them, and that's why I share the links today !

And don't make an opinion on the static pictures below (particularly for gorogoa, which has an amazing gameplay), they really deserve to be tried out !

Lilly looking through
http://geetagames.com/ 










Gorogoa
http://www.gorogoa.com/ 






Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Space view

Today I have a lot of work... I'll just post a single picture.

Monday, October 15, 2012

About the author

For those who had never heard of me before ASA (which is very likely), I'd like to share some of my personal short films (made on my own during my free time).

In most of these works, I always privileged the artistic approach over realism, which is quite ironic when you know my first job was to make photorealistic pictures. From The Seed to Hunter, I tried to develop a painting or ink effect, and I used it also in A Bug in the Paint. That's only with 2011: A Space Adventure that I started to make new things and went back to more realism, even if it keeps an abstract side due to the "yellow material" (particles).

In parallel, I worked on a much bigger project called Mon Village est Magique (My Village is Magical), thought to become a 3D animated film. It's based on a series of books for children I have written (french only), and I already made a lot of research. There's even a full storyboard of the movie, but the project is stuck for now, and may never be produced as is...

I hope you enjoy the following films. Click on the titles to watch them !
You can also find them on my vimeo : http://www.vimeo.com/gnemix

Huorn (2006) 
 





Ecosystem (2008)
 







The Seed (2009)
 







A Bug in the Paint (2010)
 







Mon Village est Magique (Books Teaser) (2010 - 2013)
 







Hunter (2009 - 2011)
 





2011: A Space Adventure (2011)