Tag Archives: pre-production

Seventh episode’s preproduction is now closed!

For the first  week we had this clear idea for the new episode, something we had been thinking in doing for a long time: the whole episode would take place on board of a big screw ship. We liked this setting for several reasons. It was constrained, which is a powerful tool for creativity, and the number of different rooms was quite limited, which would lighten production load in favor of more iteration. There was also the ominous atmosphere of something going wrong in the middle of the sea, the darkness of the engine rooms, the mystery of exploring the depths of the ship… and its name, too: SS Unknown, so the episode could be called The Unknown.

But already in the middle of the season we couldn’t afford an episode so separated from the rest. The idea certainly is juicy for a self-contained story, but it is very difficult to join with the other episodes. As we worked on it, more questions whose answers we didn’t know kept appearing. Where was the ship heading to? What would happen when it got there? How had we got on board? What could be the meaningful contributions to the main arc or to the series’ lore? Because this third episode needs to prepare the players and the story for a satisfactory, thrilling, and terrifying season finale.

Gladly, Enrique had had an alternative idea during this first. After talking about it for a while with José Antonio and me, we all soon realized it could create a really interesting, strange and deep atmosphere. Our heads started boiling with scenes, characters and puzzle elements, fragments of plot and new elements for enriching the lore. This was at the start of the second week, so we took the decision to abandon the previous work and commit to this thrilling new idea!

I know, I wanted like the most an episode of The Last Door set in an enclosed, limited space. Maybe in a future project…

We cannot disclose much yet, because things are still fresh and can (and should) change quite a bit during production, when we see exactly how everything works together. And the last thing we want is to spoil anything. But we can safely tell it will take place in an Irish island, where we will come across a peculiar celebration, and that we will discover a new perspective on the series’ lore, drawing mainly from elements suggested during the fourth episode.

With this new, fertile idea, connections with the rest of the season emerged naturally. From here on, we looked for other people’s work that related somehow with the atmosphere, to use for reference. We always do this, since the beginning of the series: in the first episode they would be Poe’s The Raven and The Black Cat, Maupassant’s The Horla, and the typically Lovecraftian story of the scientific research gone wrong. In the second one there were elements of Lynch’s Inland Empire, Machen’s The Great God Pan, and Poe’s The Telltale Heart, among others. Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, and  Borges’ The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim would be two of the references for the third.

For this episode  –at least at this point — there is a main influence we cannot tell yet, but others are Lovecraft’s The Ceremony and some seductive stories from  Yeat’s The Celtic Twilight, which has been recently re-published in Spain.

This time around we took less time pre-producing the episode, because last time we realized we tend to advance and enhance the experience way more efficiently while building the game. So we are two weeks intro production already: most of the core gameplay of the beta is implemented at this point, as are many of the dialogues. The first backgrounds are ready too, but the game is still lacking content,  enough for another two weeks at least. Then we need to iterate the experience a couple of times, and run the translation-proofreading process, until it is ready for beta testing.

Preproduction of the new episode already started

Pre-production of the new episode already started

After a few days of well-deserved rest, we already got our hands dirty with the development of the new episode. In this new stage, considering our new and promising working pipeline, we’ve set ourselves the goal of mastering the production process.

We want to avoid at all costs unnecessary delays in the development of the new episode, like the ones we suffered during the making of “The Playwright”. We always wanted to achieve a 3 month per episode development cycle, but never before had all the ingredients to achieve it. So this time, a big part of the plan is to walk towards this goal.

Production schedule

The first step was to make a deep analysis of the production process of S02E01, identifying major milestones along the way. Each one of these milestones, is basically defined by the ‘outcome’ expected at that particular point of the development process. First, in pre-production, these ‘outcomes’ would be in form of design documents. Soon after, the main ‘outcome’ would become playable builds of the episode, which deliver a particular set of the expected features.

Once we put together the list of milestones, we hang those in the office’s wall in the form a calendar, placing each one in the expected delivery date. From now, if we miss a date, we’ll know something is going on, and would react sooner, adapting whatever is needed to ensure the project as a whole continues on track.

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Wall poster made with post-its, with ‘milestones’ in their expected dates. All these dates are obviously estimations, subject to changes due to production circumstances.

Pre-Production milestones:

  • 7 Nov 2014: Episode Synopsis
  • 22 Nov 2014: List of puzzles, List of scenes, List of scary situations
  • 28 Nov 2014: Map of rooms, Placeholder room’s backgrounds, Second iteration of production lists.
  • 5 Dic 2014: End of pre-production: Screenplay (walkthough) document. Script document. First episode build (#1) (includes all rooms in navigable state, with placeholder backgrounds).

Production milestones:

  • 19 Dic 2014: Build (#2) with first iteration of all puzzles implemented, but still with placeholder art. Must be playable from first to last room.
  • Now come 4 weekly iterations of the episode: planning each Monday, new builds each Friday (builds #3 to #6). Last build (#6) is published as the Episode Beta for Premium users.
  • 23 Jan 2015: Texts for beta are “locked” and sent to reviewers.
  • 30 Jan 2015: Reviewed texts are imported back into the game.
  • 12 Feb 2015: Texts for final version are “locked” and sent to reviewers.
  • 17 Feb 2015: Reviewed final texts are imported back into the game.
  • 20 Feb 2015: Final episode target date. We’d do our best to publish this day, but please note that unexpected events will occur during development 😉

Hope you guys like this insight in our production process, we plan to continue offering you interesting details on how the new episode is being made. Please use the comment section if you want to ask us something, we’ll be happy to answer 😉

cheers.