In this bumper-length podcast the boys are BACK after an extended hiatus to talk about the forever-upcoming Star Citizen, the poor implementation of sports commentary in video games and the tone and theming (or lack thereof) of Battlefield 1, before talking a lovely stroll down Peter Molyneux’s the Trail. Thereupon they lose their collective minds, with Jace complaining about ordering themed cheese burgers, Kevyn morphing into a window, Max destroying his own home and buying “ironing boards” and Joey staring deeply and lovingly into the ever-present fire (voice talent provided by Michael Caine).
Hello! I’m vice-vice-Captain Jace Van Kaathoven. I act as the community manager of Sky Pirate Studios, and I also wrote words for Help! I’m Haunted. Right now I have a very sore throat and it hurts to talk, so just read this blog post in the voice of an old, kindly sailor with a gravelly voice. As I speak to you, a smile plays on my thin, weary lips – a humble smile that belies my experiences adrift the seas that my glazed eyes bore witness and my body persevered. “These bones have stories”, I say, my corn-cob pipe bouncing upon my lips between utters. “These old bones have stories to tell”.
Right. Well then. Help! I’m Haunted is coming out soon and we’re all really excited!
From a mere glance at Help! I’m Haunted, its influences and tone are evident: Joey and Kevyn’s original vision has held true throughout the project as a retro homage to Halloween festivities and ‘80s horror movies that delight in their use of innumerable tropes – the flash of lightning that illuminates the windows of the mysterious mansion, punctuated by the discordant keys of a synthesizer and the screech of bats upheld by string. Then an animatronic skeleton pops out and goes “waaaugh!” and you get all scared.
Sorry about the last part, I couldn’t fit it into the analogy. I just wanted to include an animatronic skeleton. You get the picture.
Everyone at work on Help! I’m Haunted has done an excellent job with creating this tone; Kevyn’s art and animation is, needless to say, perfect for the project; Joey’s level and encounter design evokes the feeling and charm of horror set pieces in the stylings of Konami’s Castlevania, while Rob’s music ties it all together in spectacular, chip-synth fashion. Based on these factors, I wanted to write flavour-text based on this pre-established tone. Nothing too complicated – primarily light-hearted jokery that evokes the spooky, referential nature of the game. Think the taglines on the front of a Goosebumps book and you’ve got about the right idea.
Despite the tone of Help! I’m Haunted being created through the implementation of cheesy horror clichés, locales and beasties, I think you can see a lot of our own personality as a studio in the game as well. Due to the compact nature of Sky Pirate Studios, game development is a very collaborative process. One day, Joey can suggest “Hey, it would be super cool if we had x in the game”, and we’ll make it happen, or I can suggest the inclusion of a certain character and that can happen as well. This is not to say that our games do not have direction, but rather the opposite – our hope is to work together to create shared visions of games we want to play. And we hope you’ll want to play them as well.
Until next time!