Production Diary: Poisoned Pawn

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The Fortnightly Update Issue #1                      (3/18/15)

 

How do we open one of these?

Welcome?
Hi?
Forward $10.00 to my PayPal account if you want more updates?

I'll let you pick but whichever you choose to accept, we're here! Personally, this is a project I've had to hold close to my chest. I've had a few questions from fans of Tex as to what we've done, the scope of the project and even wanting to know what my role is. Sadly I've had to dismiss you all by using the old "non-disclosure" clause. But, to each of you I did promise that information was forthcoming and today is that day.

What is Poisoned Pawn?


Poisoned Pawn is both a revisit but also the next step in the Tex Murphy legacy. Yet again, both fans and newcomers alike will have the opportunity to experience the origin story of Tex Murphy. Yes, this is the third time this story will be told. That's why it's important to make the gaming experience unique and not just repaint something you have played. Essentially, this is a remake of Access Software's final (and perhaps most underrated) Tex Murphy adventure, Overseer.

By far, Tex Murphy: Overseer was the most noir of the 1990s Tex Murphy interactive movie adventures . The game adopted a cynical, hard boiled tone while eschewing many of the sci-fi elements that dominated Under A Killing Moon and Pandora Directive. The emotional gravity in the Overseer story is intense- second perhaps only to Tesla Effect. In addition to its excellent writing, the game also features outstanding performances from Michael York, Clint Howard and Henry Darrow.

Released in 1998, Tex Murphy: Overseer served as both a sequel and prequel to Under a Killing Moon and The Pandora Directive. The story is told contemporaneously to Chelsea from the perspective of Tex. However, it is here that similarities to Overseer's two predecessor's end because the story Tex tells is of his first ever case before coming to Chandler Avenue. Tex Murphy: Overseer was technologically groundbreaking for it's day, as with the two previous adventures. Not only was it one of the early titles to adopt what was then the latest CPU technology (Intel's MMX Processor) but was also one of the first games to be released on the DVD format, a technology which would eventually place the final nail in the VHS coffin.

Despite these innovations, in 2015 Overseer has not aged well due to compatibility issues with contemporary systems and their operating systems. This is where we come in.

Our mission is to remake Tex Murphy: Overseer in its entirety on the very recently released UNITY 5 engine. Along with the all the original cinematics, puzzles, conversations, story and settings, Poisoned Pawn will feature new and expanded settings, brand new puzzles and even more immersive gameplay. Hence, Poisoned Pawn is truly a step forward in the evolution of Tex Murphy in that it will take the lessons learned from 2014's Tesla Effect and build upon the technology which made that title a success. Best of all, the project has the blessing of BFG, including Chris Jones with a special thanks to Steve for initial support of the project.

An official fan project? How?

Yes, this is more than a mere fan project. It is a fully fledged release intended for the gaming market to build upon the exposure to Tex Murphy as achieved in Tesla Effect. Although classic films such as The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Star Wars, Blade Runner, Casablanca and Raiders of the Lost Arc should never be remade, the same cannot be said for classic video games. Unlike films, games are aged and worn by time and technology. But, through the process of remaking, video games have the best potential for reinvigoration and to be made better than ever (unlike classic films). The timing for this project could not be any better. In the advent of upcoming fan remakes such as Super Mario 64, Black Mesa (a remake of Half Life), Deus Ex: Revision and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, both Big Finish and the small team working on Poisoned Pawn feel that Tex Murphy's origin story is worth retelling for both long term and newly arriving fans. If your first Tex adventure was Tesla Effect, then Overseer is ideal for you as this is the chapter that leads directly into the events portrayed in Tesla Effect and features two of Tesla's major characters in a substantial role.

Who we are.

  • Holger Kreetz - UndyingSpite
  • Matt Jones - DrMerlin
  • Justin Greene - JustinGreene
  • Peter O'Rourke - Marinedalek
  • Darren Sebire - Stinkypelmet
  • Joel-Alexander Lowther - TryWhistlingThis
  • Mat van Rhoon - Cubase
  • Domink Reth - Onlinegamer
  • David Guttridge - Mr_Cyberpunk
  • Piergiorgio Cardone - Gufino2

 

This edition's special focus: HOLGER

In each edition, we're going to introduce you to a member of our team in detail. This will be an opportunity to get to know each member of the team one by one, issue by issue. Some you may know and some you may be reading for the very first time. I'll hand this over to Holger:

"My name is Holger, I'm from Germany and I'm working as a software engineer in the energy industry. My programming skills are: C, C++, C#, Java, JS, Delphi, VB. I'm a fan since 1994. My first Tex game was UAKM which was a gift from a friend and i didn't know what to expect.

I've started with Unity in early 2014 and my ambition was to make a Tex Murphy remake. In Summer 2014 I begun to work on the first fan-remade demo (UAKM) and in fall 2014 on the second one (Overseer, Big Surf Lodge) with the intention to find other people to make a remake of one of the older games. I got in contact with Steve from BFG and he suggested that I should write a mail to Chris Jones for BFGs official permission. The first member who joined the team at that time, was Matt Jones. After 3 month of brainstorming, blueprints, tremble and hope we finally got their permission at the end of January 2015. Then I begun to contact all the people who were offering their help. "The Poisoned Pawns"

Stay tuned to meet a new member in Issue 2!

 

Sneak Peek:

Also, in every edition, we will give you an exclusive sneak peak into some of the work done. This may be along the lines of an FAQ, screenshots, video, audio, interviews or maybe a game play video. To kick off our debut issue, some screenshots and audio.

 

Working on the conversations:

      

Recording music and working on voice-over:

           

Roughly mix, not done yet.  Listen Here:

 

Building the locations:

     
 

In-game screens (very early stuff, work in progress):

     

THANKS FOR READING, STAY TUNED FOR ISSUE #2

Please leave your comments, thoughts, suggestions in the 'Production Diary - Poisoned Pawn comments' area.


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Steve @ BFG
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  The Fortnightly

 

 

The Fortnightly Update – Issue #2                    (4/2/15)

 

Writing the fortnightly update is proving to be more of a challenge than I originally thought. With a bi-weekly publication you need to tread the fine line between spoiling the project by giving too much of it away before release and saying absolutely nothing at all.  Thank goodness I didn’t recommend that we launch weekly!

If the classic era of 3D Realms and the production history of Duke Nukem Forever was to only teach the gaming community one thing, it would have to be that even major development studios, it’s an uphill battle to keep things on schedule.  That’s not me getting on my high horse or using this blog as an opportunity to take a jab at them, I happen to be quite the fan of theirs. But even as a fan, amongst all the drama, creativity and excitement surrounding their output back in the day, you can’t help it feel that (despite their talent) perhaps they had set the bar a notch too high.

This gives us, The Poisoned Pawns, some very serious and nerve racking questions of our own to answer.

So where does that leave an officially endorsed fan project? The truth is that I have no idea at all. Much like a development studio, we’ve set goals and milestones along with an overall projection of what we’d like the project to be. Each of us come from different places in the world with different time zones and personal commitments. We’re career people, we’re students and at least one of us is a father and husband. So how on earth do you balance the demands of real life against a project that, at least for now, has absolutely no physical parameters to it? Well, you bring one thing to the project that perhaps some major development studios overlook: passion.

That’s why we’re doing this which is how the project is coordinating so brilliantly so far. Did I also mention that we’re still open to contributions from people who want to have involvement in the project?

 

Where things are at with us:

We’re progressing steadily. My tasks so far have included, alongside the running of this blog, going into the original game and recapturing all of the levels and items in the game. This was actually a little more tedious than it sounds and if I really had to be honest, it felt like a chore toward the end of it. For those attempting to run Overseer on Windows 8, you’ll know precisely what I’m referring to. This goes back to what I was discussing in issue # 1 where the game is practically unplayable in terms of its inability to integrate with contemporary operating systems ad hardware.

The game continually crashed to which the only solution to this issue was to reset the PC because any attempt to return to the game would be barred. Worst of all, the crashes were irregular. There was no pattern to it. It would just crash pretty much when it suited it. The time allotted to the tasks were basically tripled. But, the good news is that all locations and items have been captured so when they are replicated in the gaming environment you can be sure they will absolutely resemble the look tone and feel of the surroundings experienced in Overseer. These elements are obviously very informative of the overall “level” outlay of each location to which we are very meticulously integrating into UNITY 5. For those who have a background in programming in C# and Java or gaming development in general, incorporation of objects and assets needs to be planned from the outset, it’s not just something which can be done on an ad hoc basis as you progress along.

Meanwhile, the cinematics are a work in progress due to the challenges involved in both upscaling the quality of the video and incorporating into UNITY 5. But we have Mat Van Rhoon. That guarantees two things: it will work and we’ll have no say at all in it.

Have I said enough? Too much? Too little? 

See you in two weeks!

 

This edition’s special focus: DR MERLIN

My name is Matt Jones- I've been a Tex fan since 1989.  I grew up in Utah (about 10 miles north of the Big Finish offices).  I moved away for a while, but recently have moved back.  I am a Software Engineer- doing a lot of "DevOps" recently, but I do my fair share of programming both on and off the clock.

I was starting my own fan made Tex game in 2010 or so.  I had realized how much I missed the Tex series and thought I could find others to help me bring it back.  I made a bit of progress and was definitely thinking a lot about Tex when the announcement about the Kickstarter announcement dropped.  I donated to and evangelized the Kickstarter as much as I could.

I have been a 3D/VR nut for a long time- so when the Oculus Kickstarter dropped a month or two after Tex, it seemed another one of my dreams was coming true.  After getting a Rift, I became convinced that Tex games would be a perfect match for VR.  I pestered BFG until they allowed me to volunteer to do the VR integration for Tesla Effect.  Hopefully releasing soon!

I got to work the Tesla Effect VR booth that BFG put on at SLC ComicCon in September 2014 where ~1,000 people tried out Tesla Effect VR.  I also did the 3D printing for the Tex statues.  That didn't take a whole lot of talent- just a 3D printer and a love of Tex.

I am excited to continue my part in keeping Tex alive.  I am very excited about the Poisoned Pawn remake, and can't wait for people to see more of what we've got in store!

 

Ingame screens (very early stuff, work in progress):

           

 

THANKS FOR READING, STAY TUNED FOR ISSUE #3

Please leave your comments, thoughts, suggestions in the 'Production Diary - Poisoned Pawn comments' area.

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The Fortnightly Update –

The Fortnightly Update – Issue #3                    (4/16/15)

 

Where things are at

More dialogue trees and segments are being completed along with some more of the gaming environments that you’ve possibly experienced are being constructed. As for me, I’m personally getting to know Val Davis. Who was it? What did they like doing in their spare time? What were their hobbies? What did Val’s house look like? I have a floor plan of Val’s house that may or may not answer all of those questions. I hope the team go for it.

Subtitles are also being worked on as well as experimenting with some new prototype puzzles. Not only are we rebuilding all of the puzzles from the original game, but we’re looking to incorporate some new ones too. This way, older fans who felt they have already played the game to death will have some new features to look forward to while newcomers will have even more content to discover for the first time.

This week also marks yet another significant milestone in the project with the introduction of a three brand new team members –Jonmatifa, Yuval and RedStar. Jonmafita will be bringing his expertise in sound effects to the game while Yuval and RedStar will be yet another contributor to object modelling (you can never have enough of those – especially talented modellers).

 

Twitter

We're on Twitter!  @TMPoisonedPawn  We stealthily launched the account a little more than a week ago, and have been posting links back to our Fortnightly Updates, and a few other things.  We have already been found out by a few intrepid followers- but now we invite anyone following the Fortnightly to also follow on Twitter.  Twitter won't replace the Fortnightly, but it will probably be the best way to know as soon as another Fortnightly has gone up.

 

This edition’s special focus: Justin

My name is Justin Greene, I am 31 years old and I live in Solana Beach California.

I have been playing drums in bands for most my life.  My older brother Jon Greene and I grew up playing music together.  We have a studio here in San Diego called Electric Orange Studio.  He has recorded and produced a lot of influential San Diego bands... Crocodiles, Dum Dum Girls, Heavy Hawaii, Soft Pack (The Muslems), Barbarian, Low Lands, and Buddy Banter to name a few.

I fell in love with Tex Murphy in the 90's when I first played UAKM.  Then came PD and I was completely blown away!  To this day these are still my favorite games!

In order for me it goes PD, UAKM, TE, and OVERSEER

I backed TE on Kickstarter and whenever I would be on tour in SLC I would email Steve and see if it would be ok to stop by and say hello.  On my second time stopping by and chatting with Doug he asked me, why don't we use your music in our game... I was speechless. 

From that moment my brother and I decided to create a new project called Midnight Discotheque and give BFG a track titled Save The World, Get The Girl.  If you find all the candy comics you will find our song ;-)

I am so excited to be a part of The Poisoned Pawns and can't wait to see this project come to fruition!

 

Ingame screens (very early stuff, work in progress):

Overseer 1998 / Poisoned Pawn - Greg Calls Lab & Fresno Office

        

THANKS FOR READING, STAY TUNED FOR ISSUE #4

Please leave your comments, thoughts, suggestions in the 'Production Diary - Poisoned Pawn comments' area.

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The Fortnightly Update –

The Fortnightly Update – Issue #4                    (5/07/15)
 

The Sound of Success

In this week’s issue we’ve felt the need to break with tradition. We know you all love screenshots but if we continue disclosing images at this rate we’ll end up literally giving you a snapshot of the entire game before you even get the chance to play it. Rest assured, the shots so far released certainly will not be the last we ever release. But, for this week, we feel the need to confuse our readers. Scared? “You will be, you will be” as once spoken by an ancient Jedi.  

Overall, the theme for the last month in film and gaming seems to be making old things new once again. We’ve had yet another Star Wars trailer which brings the franchise back to its roots of the 1970s and 1980s. In the world of gaming, May will see the release of a brand new Wolfenstein game. Both projects seem to capture the essence of what made the originals so revered. That is, the visual presentation, tone and overall style. Both of these projects do have the advantage of essentially building from scratch  since they’re not merely importing old assets and making them new, unlike Poisoned Pawn.

This aspect of Poisoned Pawn sets significant challenges for us to overcome because of the source files that weren’t build for 2015. Along the way we’ve had some hiccups and bumps to navigate around, but we’re progressing at a (mostly) consistent pace. Think of the project as trying to update some old black and white photos. You have the originals there from all those years ago but there are certain imperfections that not even the most advanced of digital technology can iron out such as creases and excess exposure to light. Much like the old photographs, the assets of Overseer were fitting for their time and were far more user friendly. Those of you who have purchased a digital version of Overseer (whether it be via GOG or STEAM) would have encountered several compatibility issues. If you think playing Overseer is a technical challenge, just try getting into the heart and mind of the game!

Frankly, it would just be easier to create fresh assets so we can assign our own values and properties to them but there’s a great risk that you’re getting nothing more than a facsimile of the Overseer experience. Ever seen a really dodgy musician cover one of your favourite songs? You see where this is headed. We’re more in the business of remixing and revamping rather than reinventing or re-writing, a balance that doesn’t seem to be achieved by other remakes. I’m looking at you, Goldeneye: Reloaded. It was a shame to be excited for that title, only to begin playing the game to realise that all the remake did was fade the characteristics of the Nintendo 64 classic and serve as more of a tribute to modern military games such as Call Of Duty. The point being, we’re not looking to undo or deprive you of your Tex Murphy memories. Although you’re going to experience Overseer with a change to the temperature and feel of the game, we haven’t forgotten the importance of also preserving the core values of the Tex Murphy style.

 

Where things are at:

We’re only four issues into our publication but we’ve managed to already commit a Tex Murphy sacrilege - we’ve yet to mention the speeder! The good news is we are modeling and shaping Tex’s iconic vehicle and it’s looking great. At this stage we’re not wanting to show you what we’re working on but if I were to sum it up in a word…sleek – I’m only discussing the exterior for now :) 

Onto more significant matters, we have had a major breakthrough with our audio. In the opening for this week’s blog I’ve written about bringing over assets from the original Tex Murphy and the challenges associated with it. While they persist, in this issue we can confirmed that the audio codec for Overseer sound effects and voice over material. Obviously, audio plays a pivotal role in establishing an environment that is immersive in its ability to give life to the gaming environment. There’s nothing like standing in Tex’s office and hearing the speeders whiz past or being at the Anasazi Ruin to hear a raven in the distance. All of that will be there as you once experienced them. No re-recordings or generic sound effects here. The real deal. 

 

This edition's special focus: Peter

My name's Peter O'Rourke, but online people usually call me Marine. I'm a bit of an all-rounder; a bit of everything. My main background is producing content for Second Life which involved modeling, texturing, sound design and scripting. I was also into programming for quite a while, and wrote a teletext emulator among other things. Music and especially synthesisers fascinate me; I hope to build a synth of my own design at some point, once I get the time (and money!) but until then I'm using a Yamaha DX7S and (when it arrives) an ARP Odyssey.

I can still recall my first encounter with Tex, which was hearing my grandad playing UAKM in the next room. I heard the words "Oh, kiss me Rudy and set my lips on fire!" "Ok...", and had to go in and see what on earth he was playing! I must have been something like six or so at the time and can remember being particularly scared of the eye-bot in GRS... then when we got The Pandora Directive it was the sheer terror of creeping up on the Black Arrow Killer and then... Roswell... *shudders*.

Of all four FMV games I have to say I like Pandora the best, so I'm hoping this all goes well and eventually we can get around to rejuvenating it too!

So far I've been pinning down a workflow for producing efficient models and textures for Unity, as there are different requirements than those for Second Life. I also produced (with Holger's guidance) the logo for the project and will be working on modelling, texturing and sound design as required. I'm also a bit of a perfectionist, so if anyone needs any QA testing... ;)

 

Sneak Peek:

Conversations/AskAbouts
​Taking source files from 15+ years ago and updating them to current technology:

 

 

THANKS FOR READING, STAY TUNED FOR ISSUE #5

Please leave your comments, thoughts, suggestions in the 'Production Diary - Poisoned Pawn comments' area.

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  The Fortnightly

 

 

The Fortnightly Update Issue #5                      (5/21/15)

 

The Write Stuff

Can story become so detailed in a game that it takes away from the gaming experience?

Over the last two weeks I’ve been playing through the story mode of GTA V to which I am thoroughly enjoying. It’s my favourite entry into the series since GTA II. GTA V seems to have so much more…personality to it. I’m aware this isn’t the best word to use but the last few titles have lacked a certain feel despite each having their own share of interesting innovations. Technologically, GTA V continues the tradition of the franchise’s evolution. The most significant innovation here is the option of being able to play in First Person, a feature which actually sold me on the game. But the characters just feel as though they properly have some context this time around. There are of course some very obvious nods to films and televisions shows such as Heat or Breaking Bad where the source material for the story becomes apparent from the very first scene (a safe heist and getaway). But at the same time there is also a sense of familiarity between the characters too. Each possess their own motivations, personality and overall quirks. While the twists and turns aren’t too difficult to predict, you’re still engaged enough to see how they all get to their final destination as opposed to if or in what condition. The sense of narrative doesn’t supersede the game. But it’s relative lack of depth is also refreshing where lately there seems to be a push to have greater detail into the narrative. But at what point does this overwhelm the importance of the gaming experience?

The interesting part of this question is that all of the Tex Murphy games seem to have had the game written around the narrative. At just about nearly every point in a Tex Murphy game, each puzzle, location or interrogation makes some attempt at furthering the puzzle. Like GTA V, the game play never really fades. Part of what makes this process all the more unique is that unlike GTA V, Tex Murphy games do not use in-game characters to tell the story. It cuts to a cinematic whereas GTA V’s story telling is within the mode of play, not a pre-rendered cut scene. So how is it that a game as story driven as Tex Murphy still retained this feel as being which features two extremely distinct modes of integration with the game. That is, FMV as compared to a computer generated setting for the player to explore. The key is to do with setting.

In the grand scheme of things, the setting of Tex Murphy was extremely small when you think about it. Ever since Under A Killing Moon, the core setting for the Tex Murphy universe has been Chandler Avenue. The small, intimate and familiar surroundings gave the character context. It operated on what I call  Frasier-Seinfeld Circumambience; that is, give the audience a limited number of characters and assign each to their relative setting. In Frasier, I don’t think there has been an episode where at some point Frasier and Niles meet at Nervosa for coffee in the same way Jerry and George occupy their booth of habit. By having Louie behind the counter at the Brew and Stew or Rook seemingly a part of the antiques at the Pawn Store, Tex Murphy replicated this familiar sitcom format perfectly. No matter how bizarre or dark the stories got, there was pivot within the Tex Murphy universe that it all attached to.

This made it possible for the player to not feel as though they needed to keep up with the story being told because the story stopped to reset and refresh the player with the moments of downtime within the game play. Hence, it was Aaron and Chris’ goal to have a golf simulation in Tesla Effect to add to this intimacy. Could this be why Overseer is seen by some fans as the black sheep of the series? Many fans I’ve spoken to have expressly stated that they simply did not feel the attachment to Tex Murphy in the 1998 release because the familiar elements of Chandler Avenue (the pivot I referred to earlier) weren’t there to ground the experience. It created an element of unpredictability and uncertainty with the perfect ending to keep the player continually falling into this abyss. Although Tex does form a bond with certain characters in this game, they either end up dead or betraying Tex.

Hence, I consider Overseer to be the most noir of the Tex Murphy series which is why I cannot fault the story of the game. Noir is bleak and you need the appropriate tone to reflect that. If Overseer were to feature some of the whacky antics ofUnder A Killing Moon, it would have simply be seen as the far lesser imitator of the 1994 classic. However, it does perhaps answer why the previous few GTA entries have not held my attention for very much – it simply lacks a personal chemistry between the game and the player itself because there’s a certain depth the relationships between the characters that was lacking, unlike GTA V. GTA V’s story is by no means revolution or particularly original, but in keeping the story centralised to how the characters relate to one another and using surrounding events to advance the story, GTA V does its job in entertaining the gamer. The ultimate point is that a story in a game should not try too hard or be desperate enough to writeThe Usual Suspects or L.A Confidential because without the synergy between the protagonist and their surroundings the gaming experience feels uneven and segmented. Frankly, much like Metal Gear Solid where the story telling and game play are as equally as complex as one another leaving the player exhausted.

This is the reason why Tex Murphy can still feel innovative between the shift from FMV to game play because the motivation is not actually seeing the advancement and finality of just the story itself but rather to see the journey that the characters take us on to get there. Yes, much like GTA, Tex Murphy’s  story telling may not be the most groundbreaking since its inspirations are readily apparent very early on (Blade Runner, Maltese Falcon and Indiana Jones) but the gamer is not here to be informed as to why they should like the characters or have an interest in them. That should occur without saying.  So if you are amongst fans, or about to be, of Tex Murphy that felt Overseer did not feel as involving as its two predecessors, you cannot really be blamed because your expectations of Overseer stemmed from the previous two games. Characters like Louie, Nilo and Rook occupied the roles of Dad, grandad and daggy uncle who would always be there. In Overseer, they were nowhere to be seen so the sense of belonging was gone (or reduced). What needs to be kept in mind, however, is thatOverseer was a different type of story that pushed the series further into the noir genre.

If you experience Overseer as a noir detective story rather than just another episode in the Tex Murphy series, you may get something more out of it. There’s nothing wrong with Overseer, it’s just different. This is why Overseer is a great game to begin with. Overseer is Tex Murphy’s origin story prior to Under A Killing Moon. If you play Overseer first followed by Under A Killing Moon and Pandora Directive, you will not feel as though you have had the rug swept from beneath your feet.

I’m also bringing something new into my blog’s with each issue by signing off with a game recommendation (or two) that I feel might help to reflect the theme that I’m writing about. This week’s theme seems to revolve around context and chemistry. Obviously, I thoroughly recommend GTA V but if you’re money shy, head straight to GOG.COM for the recently re-issued Star Trek: Judgment Rites and Star Trek: Anniversary. The two Trek titles build upon the passion of the show where you can hear the chemistry in the voices of the original cast. In fact, it’s even possible that if the 1960s series never happened and the birth of Star Trek was in fact one of those games, it’s entirely possible that the chemistry between the characters would have been there still because there would have still been a setting and common goal between them to help advance the story. Does the USS Chandler Avenue have a nice ring to it?

 

Where things are at?

This month is a major leap forward in the progress of the remake. We have our very first Unity Demo for Poisoned Pawn. So far, the build we have is an 11 gigabytes. As for the product itself, evidently, the project is in its infancy as we’ve discovered some bugs in the lighting. So, for now our focus is to optimise the lighting better than we currently have it. The tricky part of working in a re-make is that although we’re rebuilding the areas from the ground up, the lighting needs to reflect the tone and feel of the locations. You’d be surprised as to just how much of a difference lighting changes the feel of a game. The best way of putting it is to imagine if a game like F.E.A.R or Doom 3 was bright where the walls and panels were lit in such a way that it gave the areas a look that was too “clean” or “polished”. There’s a grittiness we’re trying to capture with Poisoned Pawn.

Meanwhile, various user interactions need to be defined and mapped out.

So it’s still a very young project but we’re off to a very promising first build.

 

Work Opportunity - Subtitle Translator?

Despite a very consistent development process, the door is STILL open for new team members to join the project. Specifically, we're looking for a subtitle translator. Poisoned Pawn will not only be in English but will also feature subtitles in German, French, Italian and Spanish. We're also open to translations for other languages. But, for now the aforementioned languages are the focus. The project is currently at such a stage where all of the voice overs and videos have been successfully extracted and are implementible into UNITY 5.

Given that we're deep into the development phase of Poisoned Pawn, we will be recruiting on a first come-first serve basis because we intend to allocate a task to the successful applicant within days of joining the team (if not, almost immediately).

So, if your reading and writing skills in German, French, Italian and Spanish are fluent and you are willing to assist, apply within ASAP. Once again, we're also open to other languages too so if you can provide assistance with any other language (excluding American-English or English-English) we'll consider including a subtitle translation for that language too (this could include various Asian languages, for instance).

contact:

UndyingSpite@aol.com

matthewjones@bigfinishgames.com

Spots are extremely limited - DO NOT DELAY

 

This edition's special focus: Darren

Hi there, I'm Darren. Some of you may know me as Stinkypelmet on the BFG and UOTM forums. I've been an on-and-off programmer for many years now and I jumped at the opportunity to help out on this project as I'm currently also studying a Bachelor of Game Design and Development.

My task on Poisoned Pawn is to take all the Dialogue and Ask About components and implement them into the game utilising the tools at our disposal. The first task was to reverse engineer all of Overseer's internal scripting relating to these two features to not only make things easier and not have to manually go through every possible dialogue choice in the game, but to also get access to the inner workings of what happens in the game when certain events occur; i.e. what topics become available when you ask about a certain topic, what hints become available, etc. Maybe in another production diary I'll go into further detail about the process I had to go through to reverse engineer these script files.

It's an exciting time for the team with the first internal pre-alpha demo being released. For me, it means going from having individual parts to putting them into the existing machine. I've been busy with my classes and haven't had a real chance to start, but I've looked at the demo and I think what we're doing is very exciting and makes me proud to be a part of this team and this project. It's not easy to coordinate and effort when everyone is based in different locales but I think that the progress the team has made so far is testament to how dedicated Tex fans can be when they have a real passion for the project at hand.

 

Sneak Peek:

Stave@BFG'Followers shouldn't get too focused on pretty pictures....there is a lot more to a game'

Alright, no pretty pictures this time. Next step:

 

 

HANKS FOR READING, STAY TUNED FOR ISSUE #6

Please leave your comments, thoughts, suggestions in the 'Production Diary - Poisoned Pawn comments' area.


(published on the forum on behalf of "The Poisoned Pawns")

Steve @ BFG
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 The Fortnightly

 

The Fortnightly Update Issue #6                      (6/12/15)

 

Saluting the people of Konami: when one door closes…

The release of this particular piece would have been more timely had it have been included as part of issue #5 but that issue had already been written and was ready for publication. At least by now the news of Konami has broken so anyone with an interest in gaming should know what is being written about. From the various YouTube videos I’ve seen, forum posts and blogs I’ve read there seem to be equal measures of sadness and anger amongst the fanbase. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that any gamer born pre-2000 would feel the impact of this story because at some point that person would have played a good share of Konami games (myself included). The emotional reaction is not at all surprising either because it marks the end of a very significant chapter in gaming history.

When the news originally broke during the week of the 10th of May, it took me back to the tail end of the 1990s when the Tex Murphy fan base had learned that Microsoft had acquired Access Software. At first there was a rush of hope because the potential for Tex Murphy to be made even bigger seemed likely given that a AAA gaming studio would be behind it. But, as time went by, it was sadly learned that the clincher of that particular deal were the Links Golf titles. From there, much like Konami’s recent announcement, there was a lot of bitterness and anger because not only did (at least at the time) did it mark the end of the series, but the series ended on an unresolved cliff hanger.

This is not at all unlike the feeling of Konami fans. In a sense, the fans love of Konami titles have also ended on a cliff hanger of sorts too. Where certain releases would have no doubt left fans speculating about exciting developments for future releases, their hopes were plundered by Konami simply claiming that they were no longer going to support the vast fan base they had spent so much time building up. But it’s incorrect to assume that this is just about games or the end of one’s childhood. As eloquently and passionately outlined by YouTube based gaming commentator, Alphaomegasin (insert hyperlink here), a decision like Konami’s bruises the culture of the gaming community because of the jobs it costs to close the doors on such a pivotal area of development. I use the word “culture” because if you’re a passionate fan of gaming, your appreciation of the product goes beyond mere interaction with the game but with the developers and fans themselves.

For example, one positive that came out of the Microsoft acquisition of Access was that dedicated Tex Murphy communities such as Unofficial Tex Murphy and Chandler Avenue saw a strengthening and enrichment of the Tex Murphy fan base. This aforementioned gathering of fans not only saw the development of friendships but would eventually go on to inspire the recent success of the Kickstarter campaign to relaunch Tex Murphy with significant input from its fan base. But, it goes beyond even that because many of us have developed personal friendships with the creators of Tex Murphy including Chris Jones, Aaron Conners and Adrian Carr (to date I have turned down two invites for coffee with Adrian on his recent visit to Melbourne – he’s still sore). When the decision to discontinue a line-up of games is made, it directly impacts the morale and passion of the fan base. To an extent, the fans have been relieved of their positions as fans because their involvement with the franchise has been culled. It ultimately drains of the lifeblood of why that culture exists.

Therefore, when a studio like Konami simply says “we’re done”, the insult does not only end with the discontinuation of the games itself but they ultimately fail to salute the culture that made those games so successful. This is why the Tex Murphy community IS a loyal and tightly knit gathering of fans because the creators never left us behind because they knew that our love of the games was born out of memories that other games could not quite create. This is what motivated Tesla Effect. But, if I were to address Konami fans more directly, here’s my message: when one door opens, another closes. Allow me to explain.

As stated, despite how shattered Tex Murphy fans were when Microsoft chose not to develop the Tex Murphy series further, our passion for the games only became more heated. Essentially, Microsoft singlehandedly gave us the control as to whether there was a future in Tex Murphy or not. This control took the form of petitions, fan works and the Kickstarter campaign. It gave the fans a lot of time (around fifteen years in fact) to reflect on why Tex Murphy meant so much to them. You know the old saying “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone”? It’s absolutely true because once you realise what you’ve lost and you understand how much it meant to you, it becomes an obsession. To quote Wayne “she will be mine, oh yes, she will be mine.” Fans of Konami, YOU are the future.

The one positive that will come from this is that you are going to see a swell of fan based websites and various fan projects coming to the surface to fill the void that you are about to endure. Just look at Star Trek and Doctor Who. Both shows at some point were cancelled by their networks only for the endless petitioning of fans and fan works to keep the consciousness of the beloved sci-fi shows alive and well. Konami may be dead in its material form but its spirit lives on. Yes, I realise how corny how that sounds but your situation mirrors that of Star Trek, Doctor Who and Tex Murphy during their time of stasis. You never know, someone amongst the fanbase may even climb the ranks to make it happen.

The moral of the story is this: you are absolutely entitled to your anger and, by all means, VOICE IT. But also know that the future of Konami is not the resentment that you have for its present form but rather the love what you still have. Once, or if, that anger is resolved, be excited for the future of Konami PC and console games that you could potentially pioneer. It’s not impossible. Again, to draw parallel’s to Tex Murphy, Tex Murphy’s rights at one point were held by MICROSOFT. Microsoft stood in our way of there ever being another Tex Murphy game ever again. Unlike anything with the Konami name on it, Tex Murphy was never a AAA title. So if you think the odds of Konami resurrecting the flavour of games on PC and console are slim, try having been a Tex Murphy fan in the 2000s.

The games released will never truly die. There are some tough times ahead but if  Duke Nukem Forever or Prey survived the morass, a juggernaut like Konami is merely a sleeping giant. As for my recommended game, to describe Konami’s library as massive is an understatement. Seriously, just look at the Wikipedia page: [insert wikipedia page].

To recommend just one or two titles of their best ever games from their vast anthology would not begin to even introduce what made Konami so special. So, this week I’ll merely post my own personal top ten. This is really just for my purposes and I do not at all think this is a definitive top ten.

I’ll show you mine, you show me yours?

10. Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock

9. Silent Hill 2

8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan

7. Castlevania: Dracula X

6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time

5. Contra

4. Super Castlevania IV

3. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game

1. Snatcher 

 

Work Opportunity - Subtitle Translator?

German, French, Italian and Spanish are checked.

Once again, we're also open to other languages too so if you can provide assistance with any other language (excluding American-English or English-English) we'll consider including a subtitle translation for that language too (this could include various Asian languages, for instance).

contact:

Spots are extremely limited - DO NOT DELAY

 

Fact:

Where things are at:

UndyingSpite:

Well, things are a bit quiet at the moment. Normally Joel is doing this stuff here, he’s our public speaking tube, but most oft the team members are busy with personal stuff currently, so i quit from Unity for a short break and give you a little update.

Red Star is working on some inventory and game-models, doing a great job and i’m building the locations. Reaching Gideons Mansion right now, man this is a huge place, but i think 50% is done so far. Onlinegamer has worked on our player-controller, Tex can run, climb ladders, crouch, creep and hold a weapon now. Oh wait, did i say that? Ok, hypothetical he could. laugh

For a change, i started also with some interaction and gameplay elements. It’s nice to walk through those locations, interact with things and hearing Tex voice again. And guess what?! During this process i found a couple speech lines that never saw the light of day. So be prepared, for some lines you’ve never ever heard from Tex Murphy back from 1998.

For the first time ever, i flew with Tex Speeder through the skyline of SF. Was just a rough prototype but it was fun. We haven’t decided yet if we will do something like that, but i thought i’ll let you know ;-)

Ok guys, i’ll get back to work, playing St Thomas Mission again in „Poisoned Pawn“… wow that’s a bit creepy..

 

This Week’s Focus: JOEL

My name is Joel-Alexander, i've been a fan of TM since the 1990s and have been a member of the UTM forums since about 1999. I've stuck by the series all throughout and was proudly a backer on the Tesla Effect. Since about age 5 I have had a passion for gaming, something which still hasn't wavered. Sadly by the time I had left school (2003) the I.T boom had cooled somewhat to a point that it would be difficult to gain employment after University since it was a wagon that thousands had jumped on. The only way I could have beaten this was by being born early. 

I'm currently finishing my second University degree and still have a passion for gaming. Sadly I do not have a background in programming or design but I am wanting to change that. My plan is to finish my current degree, get into a full time job and then on the side of that study game design or C++. I've only recently come to the conclusion that it is truly what i've wanted to do and it's only all the more recent that being both Australian and a game designer is something you can make a living off. Again, the only way I could have done this differently in the past was by being born in a different year. Except this time around I was born too early to enroll into a game design course after secondary school since at the time game design courses in Australia were seen as novelty (at best). 1985 was a real vacuum of a year to be born in, wasn't it? It's only been since the late 2000s with the emergence of development studios like Team Bondi that have made the concept of Australian game design more of a reality than a hobby. There's been an number of other studios throughout the last twenty years, but they weren't here long (Melbourne House, for example). 

But I consider it an honour to be on board with this project and want to contribute any way that I can. I also want to learn about game design and programming. Although I won't pick up a whole lot here since there's little in the way of programming I can involve myself in, i'd even be happy just to have a chat to some of you about the industry and do some reading up on it so when I do go to do a course, i'll have some understanding. I'm definitely very eager to expand my role on this project and treat it not only as the ultimate fan experience but as an education to where I want to go in my future.

 

Sneak Peek:

Inventory item examination demo

 

 

A Slight Change in the Fortnightly Updates…

I’d like to step in on behalf of the “Poisoned Pawns” team for just a moment to announce a slight change in the scheduling of the Fortnightly Updates.

The Poisoned Pawns think about you, and they want you to enjoy the game’s development with them.  And that’s why they produce this update.
(I know I post this for them—but I’m really just an enthusiastic spectator)

But it’s awfully hard, and it doesn’t get easier after the initial excitement wears off and production plods on.
The team members have to steal little bits and pieces from their regular lives (work/family/more) to work on this project.
And as spectators, I think we can all appreciate that effort.

The team wants to make these updates meaningful and interesting and the daily work for production, despite its importance, doesn’t always reach that bar.

So the Fortnightly Updates will become a Monthly Update.

And I for one…look forward to reading them.  
-steve

 

THANKS FOR READING, STAY TUNED (Next Month) FOR ISSUE #7

 

Please leave your comments, thoughts, suggestions in the 'Production Diary - Poisoned Pawn comments' area.


(published on the forum on behalf of "The Poisoned Pawns")

Steve @ BFG
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 The Fortnightly

 

The Fortnightly Eietnightly Update Issue #7       (7/16/15)

 

 

Welcome to Issue #7, AKA the first 'Eietnightly' Big Finish.  We’re hoping this new format will give us more time to actually have interesting things to share, and to spend more of our time working on Poisoned Pawn, and less writing about it.

As many of you know, it’s easy to make big leaps and bounds at the beginning of a project, but the pace seems to fall off a bit after that initial period.  There are several reasons for this, principally that all of the low hanging fruit is already picked and what remains is more time consuming. Also, first drafts are easier to bang out than polishing ones, so there’s that as well.

It feels like we’ve exited the ‘quick-and-dirty’ phase and are working on that higher hanging fruit.  Of course, over the coming months, I’m sure we’ll look back at this summer and think that we really were still just getting started.

 

Where things are at:


Some of the recent progress includes data mining the original game files for all of the text from the game- all voice overs, cutscene and "AskAbout" text- not only so that we have it in English, but so that our volunteer translators could start working.

Our translation efforts have been moving quite well- Spanish and Italian efforts have been started, as well as the updates to the original German and French translations.  If there are other languages you’d like to see supported in the game (Russian, anyone?) then please contact us.

Our location builder and prop modelers have been hard at work creating and filling the world of Poisoned Pawn.  We estimate we’re about 50% done with locations- which sounds fantastic, but that last 5% will probably take as long as the first 30%.  We’re preparing some video from the locations and props to share next month- so look forward to that.

Video playback in games seems like it should be a simple matter, but for anyone who’s looked into it- it’s a field rife with peril.  (Some may recall the green screen issues that plagued Tesla Effect's early days).  We’ve made some recent progress on our own video playing solution that should enable us to provide high video quality at a fair size- without having to pay big bucks for a license.  

The Dialog system is coming along and early dialogs are playable.  

Our musical talent has been back in the studio- laying down some new tracks.  We’ve heard a few early cuts that are sounding great!  Once those are fit to share, we're sure you’ll agree.

Things are moving forward!  There’s still a mountain of work left to do, but we’re chipping away at it as best we can.

 

This Week’s Focus: Mat

This week’s spotlight almost doesn’t need one.  You all know Mat Van Rhoon (AKA Cubase AKA half of MatCat) from his long career as a Big Tex Fan, Tex Video producer and VFX magician (including his epic work on Tesla Effect) and Wacky video host (MatCatPlays).

He’s also a chiptune artist by the name of @ChronoWolfMusic.  (Let us know if you want a chip tune version of “YouHaveAFax” in Poisoned Pawn!)

He’s also a downright decent guy.  Though he is Australian, which means putting up with him saying things like “Tesler” Effect, and “a dingo ate your baby”.  A dingo did not eat my baby, Mat.

When we set out to update Overseer, we knew we needed a wizard who could take that stubborn early DVD video, make it look as good as it could, and get it to play correctly on everyone’s systems.  We hoped we could convince Mat to join our cause, and of course he was eager to help.  Thanks, Mat!

 

Joel's Corner:

It's a shame that in two issues running we've had to dedicate some focus toward the more negative aspects of the gaming industry. In the previous issue we wrote about the sudden change of a beloved video game company and how that change marked the end of an era. For the current issue, it's with much sadness that we continue this theme but in a capacity that is far more personal. We of course acknowledge the legacy of, and pay tribute to the very sudden and sad passing of Satoru Iwata, known for his Presidency of Nintendo. In an even greater capacity than Konami, Nintendo has absolutely made its impression on some point of gamers of the previous thirty years. 

Gaming has been a part of Satoru's lifeblood since the 1980s where he began his contributions to gaming with HAL Laboratories where he would be instrumentally involved in the production of Nintendo gaming classics such as Kirby, Balloon Fight, Earthbound, and the various Pokemon titles. By 2000, Satoru's influence to gaming would truly be realised because this is when he became the President of Nintendo and would be a revolutionary icon in his own right. Firstly, he was the first President of Nintendo to not to be related (by marriage or blood) to the third President of Nintendo, Hiroshi Yamauchi. Satoru would also go on to revolutionise Nintendo by evolving their home consoles from cartridge to CD and then DVD while their portable consoles would incorporate touch screen technology with the Nintendo DS before the innovation of iPad. Then, just to finish, Nintendo announced recently that they plan on bringing their games to PC and tablet. 

Satoru's passing is unexpected because details of his struggling illness had never been made public before this. Throughout his fifteen years as President, Satoru helped to push Nintendo out of the 1990s into the 2000s. This puts the future president under immense pressure to build upon the innovations as set out by Satoru. As with Konami, take time this week to really reflect on what Nintendo has meant to you. Think back to when you first experienced Nintendo and cast your mind as to how it has evolved throughout the years because when you realise these changes, it's more than likely that Satoru has been at the helm of them. 

We wish to extend the family and colleagues of Satoru Iwata our heartfelt condolences during this difficult time.

Love,
The Poisoned Pawns

 

THANKS FOR READING, STAY TUNED (Next Month) FOR ISSUE #8

 

Please leave your comments, thoughts, suggestions in the 'Production Diary - Poisoned Pawn comments' area.


(published on the forum on behalf of "The Poisoned Pawns")

Steve @ BFG
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 The Eietnightly

 

The Eietnightly Update Issue #8                        (8/17/15)

 

Where things are at:

Making a steady progress on building the locations. Going back to some of the locations that were build at the beginning of this project and put some time on detailed stuff (showed in the video: Inside Poisoned Pawn). A new prop modeler has joined our team, Mr. Doug Vandegrift gives us some help when his job at TruGolf allows it. We want to thank Chris Jones for believing in our work and his support.

Our modelers RedStar and Doug and our 2d art guys Marinedalek and Nacho, done some great work to recreate the significant models and art from the original game. We try to make the Tex world as detailed as possible.  

Stinkypelmet our ask about/conversation guy has made a huge progress to implement the first videos in the game, looks very good. Now Mat van Rhoon has to swing his magic wand to make them shiny as possible. He will start his work in the next few weeks he promised.  

Our music guy Justin, has taken some time off for touring, good luck Justin! - Next month he will return and continue his  great work on new tunes for the game. 

And like before: Things are moving forward!  There’s still a mountain of work left to do, but we’re chipping away at it as best we can.

UndyingSpite:  The Poisoned Pawns

 

A word from Chris Jones:

 

Inside Poisoned Pawn:

 

Sneak peek:

   

This Week’s Focus: Piergiorgio (Gufino2)

I'm Piergiorgio Cardone from Italy, and I spend a great chunk of my waking hours writing code, both for fun and profit :)

My fascination with programming and videogames started when I got my first C64 ( I was 8 years old ). I started studying some serious programming at the age of 13, and now that I'm 35, I'm still having a lot of fun :)

I used to study Software engineering at university but I dropped it halfway because I was getting tired (the things you learn in italian universities are known to be always outdated and far too theoretical to be useful in real life jobs) and decided to keep studying by myself; maybe one day I'll finally get my degree. Now I work as a freelance webmaster/programmer/IT consultant. 

In my life I've written code in many many languages, but most of the time I use c++, c# or php. I also LOVE reverse-engineering games so I learned my fair share of asm (x86, R3000, Motorola 68k, MOS6510 and so on...) I'm also part of an Italian game hacking/translation group called SadNESCity. 

The first time I played a Tex game was when I found a TPD demo in a pc-magazine cd. It was love at first sight. I bought UAKM and TPD and loved'em. I managed to get Overseer only 7-8 years ago because it was never officially released in Italy and I had to wait to find a copy on eBay at a reasonable price (I'm a game collector so I wanted one of the original USA retail boxes, not the european budget version). I loved Overseer so much that I HAD to find a way to run the DVD version on modern pc's and the result is the patched version you actually see on GOG (uncredited, alas).

I used to play drums in a punk hardcore/thrash metal band (search "nonperdono live" on youtube if you're curious), I know a little Japanese ( I have N4 JLPT) and I love David Lynch and David Cronenberg. I also love Naoki Urasawa! 

In this project I'm gonna use my skills to extract any needed info or assets from the original game, and to help with Unity programming! 

 

Follow us on twitter:

https://twitter.com/TMPoisonedPawn

 

THANKS FOR READING, STAY TUNED (Next Month) FOR ISSUE #9

 

Please leave your comments, thoughts, suggestions in the 'Production Diary - Poisoned Pawn comments' area.


(published on the forum on behalf of "The Poisoned Pawns")

Steve @ BFG
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The Eietnightly Update Issue

The Eietnightly Update Issue #9                        (9/30/15)

 

Howdy!

It's long time Tex fan, alumnus Bjyman. Rest assured as a long time adventure gamer I will be spicing/sprinkling my insights into this project, but more on that later. Let's see what some people have been up to.

Where things are at:

Justin has finished the music for St. Thomas Mission, which I hear is stimulating, and will be working on Carl Linsky's House next. UndyingSpite is also working with Doug and Redstar to polish several more locations with captivating details. Nearly every location has been expanded. Have you ever wondered what things would be like if you were able to go beyond the front door of interior locations? We hope to answer those questions by further exploration.

Darren has implemented FMV playback -hint-, dialog support, and English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish subtitles. Matt has been working on model work, story refinements, and translators. I have been having fun with the drawing board. And last but not least Mat v. Rhoon, Cubase will begin remastering Overseer's videos in the near future.

Bjyman:  The Poisoned Pawns

What's that you say? You want more? Take a look at this clip!

Inside Poisoned Pawn II:

Tex Facts:

Did you know that Overseer has 7 digit zip codes?

This is suggestive of an increase of addresses by 2037, the time Overseer takes place.

 

This Week's Focus: Karen (Redstar)

You probably don't know me, as i'm not very active on forums (on any forum), my name is Karen, I studied Multimedia & Communication technics - which teaches a scoop of everything computer related (software: photo and video shooting/editing, webdesign, Illustrations both 2d and 3d, programming; hardware: electricity/electronics and pc-hardware). In those days I did a lot of 3d modeling, as a hobby, designing an entire villa (designing new furniture and everything). But since then it slipped away a bit, I always wanted to return to it. When UndyingSpite started posting about remaking a Tex game, possibly needing some help, I really wanted to join, as 3 great things could come together: starting 3d modeling again, working on a game and well working on a Tex game. 

Growing up, we played adventure games as a family, competing against a neighbor and his friends from college, to see who could beat the game the fastest. I beat them a few times and they didn't really like it, and they for sure didn't like that they beat The 7th Guest in 3 weeks compared to our 3 days. I really remember those times with pleasure: taking notes, searching, puzzling, ...trying some luck. Of all the games we played, Tex is the one that really stood out.

Now on Poisoned Pawns I'm working on 3d models, doing the best I can, while learning in the meantime - as it has been (around) 15 years ago. It really is a great experience: working on this project and seeing stuff come together (a lot of thanks go to UndyingSpite for that part, by making it look so great) - it just makes me so happy being part of this project. 

Some models from Poisoned Pawn, by RedStar:

   

 

 

Current Events:

With a posted launch date of October 6th, congrats to McDonalds for all day breakfast!

http://www.app.com/story/money/business/2015/09/01/mcdonalds--launch-day-breakfast-oct/71542336/

 

Follow us on twitter:

https://twitter.com/TMPoisonedPawn

 

THANKS FOR READING, STAY TUNED (Next Month) FOR ISSUE #10

 

Please leave your comments, thoughts, suggestions in the 'Production Diary - Poisoned Pawn comments' area.


(published on the forum on behalf of "The Poisoned Pawns")

Steve @ BFG
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The Eietnightly Update Issue

The Eietnightly Update Issue #10                     (10/31/15)

 

Trick or Treat?

Here's a Halloween puzzle for you. What does the following represent?

2528020C6D00044C0B004A02011D00011D01011D02013400000000002034012002011301010000

Find out in the next issue.

 

Where things are at:

A game is getting closer and closer to a reality! In other words, while we started working on individual components, the pieces are now coming together. Still working on prototypes for the puzzles, game design concepts, 2d Art for all the detailed stuff, sneaking through Alcatraz, talking to Sylvia, Eve, Dolores and Arnold so far and we are now able to play the first 20 minutes in-engine from start to finish uninterrupted.

 

Tex Facts: 

Did you know that after Big Jim Slade is captured you can go back to Eve Clements and ask Eve about Big Jim Slade a second time for a different response?

 

This Issue's Focus: Blair (Bjyman)

From classics like Monkey Island, I have been an adventure game fan for over 20 years. One of the things I liked about Monkey Island 2 was that it had more than one level of difficulty, so subsequently experiencing the different levels of difficulty in the Pandora Directive was a treat for me. I think the player should be rewarded, both in terms of exclusive game content and a sense of achievement, for taking the tougher route. Whether or not currently accepted in today's adventure gaming industry, I think diverse levels of difficulty is the solution to please both the causal and hardcore gamers.

Aside from my familiarity with the Tex Murphy games, I think one of the reasons I found myself being drawn to this project on both ends was for my passion to find, even utilize, the remnants of what might of been or the things the programmers left in the code behind in Overseer. However, I consider one of my biggest finds to be in this screenshot from the Pandora Directive.

This is from the interior of the thought to be inaccessible receptionist office in Autotech. And this begs the question: What is the connection between Autotech and monkeys?

Anyways when I'm not dealing with monkeys I can be found pursuing a business degree in Management.

Bjyman:  The Poisoned Pawns

 

Tech stuff:

Single screenshot of all the tools we use whilst coding:

Oooh, a sneak peak of conversing with Delores in game ;)

 

2D Art Poisoned Pawn:

        

 

3D Art Poisoned Pawn:

 

     

 

Current Events:

Freedom lovers unite! China has reportedly removed it's one-child-policy. Now all Chinese couples can presumably have two children!

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/10/29/china-decides-to-end-remaining-1-child-policy-allowing-all-couples-to-have-2

 

Follow us on twitter:

https://twitter.com/TMPoisonedPawn

THANKS FOR READING, STAY TUNED (Next Month) FOR ISSUE #11

(published on the forum on behalf of "The Poisoned Pawns")

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The Eietnightly Update Issue

The Eietnightly Update Issue #11                     (12/04/15)

 

 

Trick or Treat Answer Revealed

So, it was asked in the previous issue what the following characters represent:

2528020C6D00044C0B004A02011D00011D01011D02013400000000002034012002011301010000

And the answer to that is its hex code from the original Overseer data file for when Sylvia shows up in Tex's office which translates to the following:

Translation 2015:
[1983] Dialog path found
 Set Flag 109(4)
 Unlock Hint: 11
[1992] Unlock Hint Category: 2(1)
 AA Add Topic: 0
 AA Add Topic: 1
 AA Add Topic: 2
[2004] A/V: 0
 Location: 52(1)
 Location: 2(1)
[2016] Opening VR: 1(1)

So we basically got a programming flag set, a hint unlocked, three Ask About topics added, two Travel locations added and a command to go back to VR mode due to what transpired in the scene with Sylvia.

 

Where things are at:

2D Art:  Development on 2d textures for: Newspapers, Magazines, Diplomas, Fax....

3D Locations/Models:

More work has been done on the 3d components for Alcatraz, Tex's Office and a new travel location which I wont spoil, at least not here anyway. On Alcatraz, we are working to capture the original Alcatraz's interior. For example, we are looking at the original cell interior for objects such as the cot, wall-table, bed, toilet, and sink. We are also looking at vidphone models to get it more consistent with the vidphone shown in the FMVs.

 

FMV Remastering:

After taking a look at the DVD rendering of FMV videos, we are looking to remaster video files in 5 different aspects.

Aspect #1 Consistent letterboxing. (Per Wikipeida: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letterboxing_(filming) Letterboxing is effectively transferring film shot in widescreen to a standard width.)

Aspect #2 Changing the footage to progressive instead of interlaced. (Progressive techniques are used to reduced flickering.)

Aspect #3 Removing field mismatching which causes issues such as frame errors.

Aspect #4 Better bitrate constraints.

Aspect #5 Reducing over-saturation of color.

Here is a video of our first remastering test:

Music:

Our latest focus has been on the music on Linsky's House and Warehouse.

Puzzles:

Our team had a discussion on whether or not the numerical point system, that has been commonly used in adventure games, should be brought back and the response was an overwhelmingly yes. On that note, prototypes have been made for Domino Puzzle and Anasazi Gear puzzle that have a structure for both the move and time based scoring as seen in the Pandora Directive. The idea is to now have change some of the puzzles in Overseer to now have movement scoring instead of all of the puzzles being time based.

Interaction:

We have developed a prototype for examining inventory and game items that I'm really excited about. Instead of automatic handled examining, the player will have the ability to zoom, rotate, and interact with objects. 

Vidphone:

Specific vidphone interactions are being looked at such as the contact list, Ask About topics, and messages.

Translations: Translations for German, French, Spanish are now in the advanced stage with Italian starting soon.

Current Events: It's Cyber Monday, so happy shopping!

So, as you can see we are mastering individual components to create Poisoned Pawn and now I introduce you to our newest team member Matthew Buckstein.

Bjyman: The Poisoned Pawns

 

This Issue's Focus: Matthew Buckstein (Poisoned Pawn)

I have been a fan of Tex Murphy for over 20 years. I discovered the series by accident - my dad had received a free copy of UAKM from the Intel booth at a show in Las Vegas, but at the time we had no computer powerful enough to run it. I remember waking up one bright winter morning after getting our first Pentium and my dad was sitting there playing the game to test out the new machine. He let me take control, and I was hooked. It took me a long time to properly complete the game - the droid in GRS terrified me at the time - but I loved it nonetheless. In 1996 and 1998 I was there on day one to pick up Pandora and Overseer. I've played and liked many games. I'm still playing some PC games today, but none have had the lasting impact like the Tex Murphy series.

I joined the Unofficial Tex Murphy forums in 1998 and shortly after in April of the same year I launched what was at the time called "Matthew Buckstein's Tex Murphy Site." The site later had a name change to Alcatraz: A Tex Murphy Site and ran with regular updates until 2003. When GeoCities shut down, the site disappeared from the web, but I briefly relaunched it in 2013 at alctraztms.weebly.com where it still resides today.
When I heard about the fan remake of Overseer, I immediately wanted to do whatever I could to help since Tex Murphy has been such a big part of my life. One of my tasks on this project is to use my background as a long time Tex fan to help liven up Tex's world with new and interesting items.
 
 
 

Follow us on twitter:

https://twitter.com/TMPoisonedPawn

 

THANKS FOR READING, STAY TUNED FOR ISSUE #12

 

Please leave your comments, thoughts, suggestions in the 'Production Diary - Poisoned Pawn comments' area.


(published on the forum on behalf of "The Poisoned Pawns")

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The Eietnightly Update Issue

The Eietnightly Update Issue #12                     (12/24/15)

 

Alright, this update isn't as long, but for a good reason: Christmas! Christmas is a gathering of relaxation, celebration and laughter and to reflect back upon the year. It's also a season for wishes, miracles, and hope. I also remember some cookies and snow in the mix. So, Merry Christmas!

On that note, we have an Adventure Gamers video from our film master, Cubase, where he talks about the future of Tex and derivatively FMV games. Exciting stuff, because I think if done right for certain games, that aren't like Grim Fandango, FMV adds that extra touch of realism. So get the amenities going, watch the video, and enjoy the things to come!

Bjyman: The Poisoned Pawns

 

Follow us on twitter:

https://twitter.com/TMPoisonedPawn

 

THANKS FOR READING, STAY TUNED FOR ISSUE #13

 

Please leave your comments, thoughts, suggestions in the 'Production Diary - Poisoned Pawn comments' area.


(published on the forum on behalf of "The Poisoned Pawns")

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The Eietnightly Update Issue

The Eietnightly Update Issue #13                     (02/05/16)

 

First of all, sorry for our delay. I know we are a bit late for our update this time, cause we're working on something really nice for you, but we were not able to finish it for this update. But i can promise you, expect something very cool and special for the next update by the end of February.

Welcome to 2016 everyone and to our first Production Diary for the year. This month is a sort of milestone as we have now gone 12 months of development as a team. Some of you may have seen things in relation to a 2016 release date but I feel we should make it clear that we are still very heavily in development and there is currently no release date set.

 

So where to start? Where to start?

With the holidays came the usual slow down in progress but the team is ramping up again for the tasks ahead. Work has been made on protyping some of the in-game puzzles to make sure they now only work but are consistent with the framework within which we are working. Both the Dominos (Linsky's house) and Cogs puzzle (Anasazi ruins) are currently top of the list. Hopefully in the next coming updates we can show some progress that has been made on these.

A rough concept for Tex's Speeder has been made and our modeler is currently working on an interactive 3D model, inclusive of the interior. I wonder what that could mean?

Huge progress has been made on Tex's Vidphone. The model is done and our programmer has set all the basics for a fully interactive vidphone. Incoming messages, American Information Database, dial-out function, contact list, in-engine video playback. The Vidphone will be integrated seamlessly into gameplay. It's looking great!

Some of the locations have been polished with more details being added as well as work that continues on new locations. One new location we can reveal is that the Mystery Address, Los Gatos, will be one of the new interactive environments. A sub-plot concept that fits in neatly with the major storyline has been worked out and these elements will be integrated soon. As you can see, this is more than just a straight remake. Consider it an expansion as well.

Our guy from the recording studio has started his work on Track No. 4, Linsky's Warehouse. The music will be a mix of some of the classic tracks, some from Overseer (reworked) and some more atmospheric darker tunes, like in Tesla Effect.

 

To celebrate the year gone by, and the year ahead, we would like to show off not only example of some of the music in the game but also give you a sneak peak of an exterior to an existing location.

 

Tex Speeder Concept:

 

This Issue's Focus: 2 Secrets

No new team members to introduce this time since two of them are on secret business so secret that I don't know about it.

 

We hope you enjoy it and please feel free to leave any comments in the discussion thread.

 

Oh and visit our new webpage for more information about "The Poisoned Pawn".

Webpage:
www.ThePoisonedPawn.com

 

Follow us on twitter:

https://twitter.com/TMPoisonedPawn

 

THANKS FOR READING, STAY TUNED FOR ISSUE #14

 

Please leave your comments, thoughts, suggestions in the 'Production Diary - Poisoned Pawn comments' area.


(published on the forum on behalf of "The Poisoned Pawns")

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  The Eietnightly Update -

 

The Eietnightly Update - Issue #14                  (03/08/16)


As they say, better late than never. First, Tex had something to say, but didn't quite get the chance to:

With that out of the way, let’s get down to business!

So where are we at?

This month, some of the existing locations have been polished, including The Big Surf Lodge, Gideon’s Mansion and Mystery Address (Los Gatos). Another new location is also underway: Bosworth Clark’s apartment. What secrets will this location hold? You’ll just have to play to find out!

Two new songs have been drafted, with an “old-school” Tex Murphy feel and work is underway for the music for Linsky’s Warehouse.

Lots of decorative and detailed 2D art is being worked on to help bring Tex’s world to life. This includes magazines, diplomas and newspapers.

Various 3D items are underway as well – including bodies! The original Overseer had two unconscious guards and one dead Law & Order party candidate and The Posioned Pawn will too. Plus, there may be a new one or two new ones ;)

The “safe combination” coding has been done and implemented. This covers more than just safes like at Linsky’s Warehouse, it includes alarm systems and telephones.

And finally, a Tex game wouldn’t be completely without branching dialogue and ask abouts, and we can report that these are now 100% complete and integrated!

 

I know we promised something nice for you again this update, but unfortunately a lot of personal stuff kept us away from it, or at least delayed it again. We'll not make the same mistake again and promise something for our next update, cause we're still learning... wink

So, when it's done, it's done!

In the meantime our team has also started working on the gameplay for an internal demo, to be sure everything works stable as expected. Our goal is to have 3-4 locations fully playable in early April, including interactions, fmv, puzzles, conversations/ask abouts...

That's all for now!

 

Visit our homepage, follow us on twitter or contact us.

 

THANKS FOR READING, STAY TUNED FOR ISSUE #15

Please leave your comments, thoughts, suggestions in the 'Production Diary - Poisoned Pawn comments' area.

 

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The Eietnightly Update -

The Eietnightly Update - Issue #15                  (04/01/16)

Another month has passed and that can mean only one thing. It’s time for another update! This month the focus has been on our demo, with work focused on Tex’s Office, Linsky’s House and Linsky’s Warehouse. Here’s where we’re at:

2D Art

The focus here has been on letters, notes, insurance policies and the like with an emphasis on the first three locations.

3D Art

The 3D models are moving along with new models and animations being implemented for the demo. Here’s a quick peak at some of the animations that have been done:

Music

Some  brand new tracks has been recorded over the last few weeks. Classic Tex Murphy style and a really intense tune for Alcatraz. Sounds very nice!

Locations

Tex’s Office and the Warehouse are nearly complete. Work is primarily focused on completing Linsky’s House, implementing voiceovers and interactions.

Coding

Some work has been done on audio that allows ambient audio and music to continue playing over FMV sequences. One possible way we can use this is that the sound of speeders passing by in Tex’s office won’t disappear during scenes, which could provide a less jarring experience. Alternatively, the office theme music could play over a sequence like looking at Boyd’s Life.

The vidphone is now fully functional and work is being done on AID. Some other scripts have been written and improved related to examining, door and drawer opening/closing effects and storage for hints, ask abouts, locations and the vidphone that will be important in implementing the game’s save and load system.

One last thing…

Here’s a little treat for all of you:

** We noticed that IE11/EDGE will provide the best quality for this video (really), it's closer to the original. Firefox is too bright and pale. Chrome seems to be a bit unsharp. But that's just our experience.

 

You know these two guys right? Talking about "The Poisoned Pawn". Coming soon...

 

Visit our homepage, follow us on twitter or contact us.

 

THANKS FOR READING, STAY TUNED FOR ISSUE #16

Please leave your comments, thoughts, suggestions in the 'Production Diary - Poisoned Pawn comments' area.

 

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The Poisoned Pawn – Major

The Poisoned Pawn – Major update                 (05/10/16)

 

Hello everyone, and thanks for being so patient in waiting for this new update. The delay has been for a very good reason. There is a LOT of exciting developments to cover in this update, so let’s get straight into it!

Amazing things are happening!

The team responsible for bringing you The Poisoned Pawn has undergone a team restructure and rebranding.  Given how advanced this game has become from a technical standpoint, it was important to revisit the team and streamline our members to ensure everybody had a grasp of their responsibilities and was willing to continue contributing to their full potential. While we initially appreciated all the offers for assistance, we have reached a stage where we needed only fully‐focused individuals with a strong grasp of their responsibilities and the technical expertise required to get the job done.

Mat Van Rhoon and Matt Jones (or Matt2), have rejoined the team and have hit the ground running with new responsibilities. Mat Van Rhoon has come on board as Producer, and will ensure the team gets continued access to all the resources they need to develop the game. He will also oversee (see what I did there?) the quality, design and development of the game, offering valuable technical and creative feedback, as well as tackling the marketing, brand, social media and delivery of digital content. Matt Jones has recently been rounding down his involvement in other Tex related projects and we finally get to reclaim some of his genius! He can now dedicate more time to the technical and story aspects of The
Poisoned Pawn.

So, as we stand, let me introduce you to the core development team and their official roles:

  • Holger Kreetz – Team Lead, environmental design, modelling, programmer and brilliant all‐rounder
  • Matt Jones – Lead technical developer, story design and guy who knows way too much about way too much
  • Mat Van Rhoon – Producer, creative development, marketing, FMV & VFX, and herder of digital cattle
  • Darren Sebire – Scripting, lead programming and UI development
  • Karen Corthouts – Modelling and Web Design (thepoisonedpawn.com)
  • Matthew Buckstein – Story development
  • Justin Greene – Live soundtrack music


We also have Peter O'Rourke working on 3D modelling, Texturing and C#, as well as Piergiorgio Cardone working on C# programming.

 

Team name change!

The team has also had a name change! It was unanimously agreed that calling ourselves “The Poisoned Pawns” may cause a bit of confusion, being the title of the game also. After a bit of discussion, the core team has settled on a new name for our development collective: Chaotic Fusion. It seemed very appropriate as we are a team of individuals, each with their own unique talent, from many corners of the globe, fusing together to create something wonderful. This was also an important step to unifying our brand. Up until now, most of our updates and content released had been quite fragmented, inconsistent, and not befitting of a team with such extraordinary talent. By banding together under this
new name, we are presenting a fully united front. We are moving from the small town to the big city, in a big way! There will be more information on how you can help us achieve this below. 

We have already re‐branded our Twitter profile to be @ChaoticFusion, so be sure to use that handle
from now on when mentioning us in tweets! It also sounds really cool of you say “Chaotic Fusion” in a
Jeff Goldblum voice: “Chaotic, yes, uh, Chaotic… um…. Fusion.”

 

United behind Unity 5

When we first started seeing Holger’s work on the Poisoned Pawn, we were in awe of the talent expressed in his work. For somebody who just picked up Unity shortly before commencing work on this project, he has made some amazing developments. Now with Mat VR back on the team assisting with technical and visual presentation, they are a force to be reckoned with! Adding more to his ever growing repertoire of techniques, Holger has been implementing a vast collection of Unity technologies that have significantly improved the visual quality of the in‐game environments. For the techies, these include: Global Illumination, Ambient Occlusion, Advanced Lighting, and more recently: the exploration
of Physical Shaders, HDR and Advanced Post‐processing. You will get to see some of these in this update.  Keep in mind we are still at the early Alpha stage, but if the game is looking this good now, just IMAGINE what it will look like once it is ready to release!

You’re probably asking: with all this eye candy, will this run on my machine? Well fear not. Holger must be some kind of superhero. Even though we have not reached the optimization stage (the process of going over the environments with a fine tooth comb and squeezing every last drop out of performance from the game engine), it runs like a dream with all the highest settings on relatively modest hardware!  He must be doing something right, because I have not seen a game run this well and look this good in the Alpha stage before! Granted, the system requirements are going to bit higher than they were for Tesla Effect, but we will not know the final system requirements until we a close to finishing.

 

Give us some of that Sexy Sax

Justin Greene has done a phenomenal job with some of the Jazzy and Live numbers which will feature on the Poisoned Pawn soundtrack. His most recent achievement is the introduction of a Saxophonist, which has really brought his music to life in the retro and film‐noir style. He has delivered a stunning collection of tracks and we look forward to integrating them into the game. We are also going to feature additional orchestral and thematic music from an additional composer who will join the team shortly, but that will be a surprise for a future update. We can confirm this person will not be Bobby James, who is tied up with his own projects. However, Bobby has offered to assist where needed in the music and
sound design realm.

 

Other noteworthy team contributions

We would also like to offer a big shout‐out to Darren, who has been working closely with Mat VR on
designing some really cool looking menus and UI designs. Also Karen, who has been doing great work on
the website. Speaking of which, I hope you like the recent reshuffle on the site!

 

Enough of this fanfare! What’s in there?

With all of that out of the way, let’s get to stuff you REALLY game for, eh? In this update, we are showing a huge collection of NEW screenshots, as well as FOUR new video updates. There are:

  • The first official Teaser Trailer
  • All new official gameplay teaser / demo video
  • Full motion video remastering comparison demo
  • A special message from Chris Jones and Aaron Conners

 

     

     

     

 

Let’s break these video updates down…

First Official Teaser Trailer:

I know you guys have been waiting a while for this one. We originally promised it two updates back, but a LOT of things have been happening behind the scenes (as you have read above). However, as promised we are delivering the first official teaser trailer to you now. If there is anything you will want to start sharing to the masses, it is this video!
 

 

All new official gameplay teaser / demo video

Ever since the band got back together (that is, the forming of the new core “dream team” for the Poisoned Pawn), some HUGE developments have been made in the game environments, graphics and overall look / design. We figured this was the perfect opportunity to show off some of this amazing progress. This almost 8‐minute gameplay demo video is jam‐packed with lots of NEW locations you have not seen before, so be sure to check it out! Presented to you in HFR 60 frames per second.
 

 

Full motion video remastering comparison demo

Do you want the good news or the better news first? Well the good news is: ALL the FMV conversions are done. Finished. Complete! That is: the original goal was to remaster the Overseer FMV to HD 720P, which was completed by Mat VR just over a month ago (back in early April). The better news? Mat has just discovered a few more techniques which may be able to deliver the Overseer footage in full HD 1080P, and judging from this test video, the results are AMAZING. Check it out for yourself! At the moment this is just experimental, so fingers crossed he can implement this in all the final videos.

 

 

A special message from Chris Jones and Aaron Conners

Or is it: Aaron Conners and Chris Jones? You’ll see what I mean when you watch the video. No update this big would be complete without an update form these guys! After all, they are the reason we all got ourselves into this mess, right!? In the video, they talk about some of the things they are most excited about for the Poisoned Pawn, and express their continued support and endorsement of the team, and the wonderful work being done. In recent discussions with Chris and Aaron, they have also fully endorsed the team restructure, and expressed the utmost confidence in the team’s ability to faithfully breathe new life into this Tex Murphy classic!

 

 

An important note on previous content (where YOU can help US!)

As I said earlier in this update post, one of the most important steps we have taken recently is to ensure a consistent brand so that we, the development team, may present this game from a united front. This included the name change, the development team logo change, as well as ensuring ALL of the videos featured in this update have the same brand / style. Although there have been a number of updates prior to this one, now we have updated our core team we consider this update to be our first and official step up to the big city. All prior updates are going to be archived on the Poisoned Pawn website (but still accessible), and all prior videos on YouTube are going to be marked as ‘Unlisted’. This means if you have linked to them before or embedded them, they will still work, but will not show up in YouTube or Google searches. This will ensure all content “in the wild” from now on can be from Chaotic Fusion.  

You can help by ensuring that you share only the content from this latest update and onwards, and avoid sharing the OLD updates. While they are a great diary of the production progress, they no longer represent the level of professionalism and unity we now present as a development team.

As for this update, and the content contained within, please feel free to share it to your hearts content!
Just don’t over spam forums, mkay? ;)

 

The sad news…

Because you can’t have an update this big without a little bit of bad news, right?


Getting to the point: it is crunch time for us. The project has reached a new phase, which means everybody needs to put their heads down and really start to focus on pulling everything together.

This means we will no longer be updating everybody as regularly. That does not mean there will be no updates at all. Mat VR will continue to keep everybody updated via social media, as well as Karen via the website. But the reality is: it is imperative that we focus and prepare for our first BIG PUSH which we estimate will happen around Fall 2016. This big push will likely include a full press release, first official trailer, and a series of MAJOR announcements to the word at large about the game, and what to expect in detail. Right now we simply don’t have all the answers to the questions the gaming community at large is going to want to ask. Which is why in this update: we are signing‐off by showing you we are making great progress, but now need to continue to develop the game into something that the gaming community is going to really be in awe of when the right time comes. And believe me, that time is going to be worth waiting for!

As for the projected delivery date for the game: we imagine this game getting a release sometime
around the middle of 2017, if all going according to plan.

We are also not going to be using the Big Finish Games website and forum system to deliver any more
updates after this one. Instead, we will solely be relying on the Poisoned Pawn Website and social media
to deliver content.

 

And with that, we bid you adieu… for now

Well, that’s all folks. THANK YOU for the support you have given the team so far. We look forward to
delivering a game that is going to shatter preconceptions for what is possible with a community based
development team, and look forward to raising the bar in preparation to hit a home run in fall 2016!
Until then, take care!

 

Visit our homepage, follow us on twitter or contact us.

 

This is the last team update here in this thread.
Future updates will be here:  www.thepoisonedpawn.com

 

Please leave your comments, thoughts, suggestions in the 'Production Diary - Poisoned Pawn comments' area.