Victorian London is in peril. Jack the Ripper stalks the streets, tempting immortal Arthurian heroes, Sir Lancelot Du Lac and Morgana Le Fey, back to English shores. Will they arrive in time to end his reign of terror?
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Apr 5, 2019
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March 19

The AMA's with Narrative Director Philip Huxley and Writer Rebecca Haigh


Philip Huxley, Narrative Director & Rebecca Haigh, Writer

Hello, each week leading up to the release of Dance of Death: Du Lac and Fey we have been hosting AMA (ask me anything) style discussions on the Salix Games Discord. We’ll be releasing them weekly for you to enjoy. If you would like to ask any question leave in the comments below or join our Discord and participate in the friendly discussion with the development team.

Where do you get your crazy ideas?
Philip Huxley (PH): In general, I have no idea. I try and read a lot and consume plenty of TV and movies, then let the whole lot percolate and hope something emerges.

Rebecca Haigh (RH): From everything. My husband is a graphic designer and we’re really into food, so I have to put up with his crazy ideas too. ‘What if we mixed this with that? Will it go? What if we tried this?’ We watch a lot of Netflix. That’s always good for inspiration. Our friends are also constantly creating, so we get ideas from them too. There’s always someone to bounce something off.

Marmite: yes, or no?
RH: Yes.

PH: Yes.

Which came first, ‘Victorian London’ or ‘Arthurian Legends’?
RH: In terms of my work on the game, I began very much in ‘Victorian London’. I had to brush up on my history knowledge in order to create characters and do them justice. It’s absolutely astonishing some of the things you learn – the things you never even considered. My favourite bits were about 19th century street food. Fascinating!

PH: We were toying with the idea of doing something with the Ripper and exploring the myths and falsehoods around that. Then it was a case of finding a way into that story. JJ was really keen to inject a fantasy element and that's how we stumbled upon Arthur.


⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey Coming to PC (Steam) on April 5th

Without knowing the content of the game, of course, were you at all worried about perpetuating a kind of Ripper lionisation that some treatments tend to fall foul of? Did you make any efforts to centre the stories of the women he killed?
PH: That was very much a concern. But the more we explored the history of the case the more we discovered just how much had been distorted, which made us determined to try and present a different perspective. This is certainly where Mary comes into the story. Having her voice, and the other women's voices, in the game is a must!

RH: To add to what Phil has said, we made the stories of the working class the priority of ‘Dance of Death’. I love the quote that history is written by the victors, but it is also written by those who are able to pick up a pen. There are so many stories that have gone unheard simply because they have been lost to time.

JJ: I’m going to jump in on this too. It’s actually the reason I chose the Ripper story in the first place. I was reading into it and discovered that all the previous tellings of the story were incorrect. We actually have vast amounts of information on the time and the women but that story hadn’t been told. The least interesting thing about Jack the Ripper is the ripper himself.

RH: The women of the time were those people. We know them only from the few photos we pore over and whatever anyone wrote down about them in newspapers and history books. This is why we've worked so closely with some amazing historians to get the truest idea of who these women were, without the biased lens of history.

PH: There's a book coming out next month, called The Five. It's about the five canonical victims and dispels so much BS around how they are remembered. We actually had the pleasure of working with the author, Hallie Rubenhold. She's awesome!


Hallie Rubenhold – The Five

RH: And another historian, Judith Flanders, dictated what was accurate and what wasn't. Anything from petticoats to pea soup. We couldn't have done it without them!

Is it a coincidence that you and Du Lac share such impressive cheekbones?
JJ: Du Lac’s concept was based on David Bowie and Tom Hiddleston. I wanted a romantic era knight, rather than a typical tank character you get in most video games.


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How do you guys maintain continuity and not uh...cock it up all the time with multiple writers working on such a large narrative?
RH: For me, it wasn’t the continuity between writers that was the issue but, in all honesty, my own across the project. It is amazing how you grow and change in the space of two years, which is how long I have been on this project now. Phil has always communicated brilliantly well and the roles were divvied up in a way where I have always known what I have been doing. It’s when you get to your own work from two years ago and you’re like – what was she thinking?

PH: Iteration is key. Having the time to iterate as well. It allows you to go back and pick up on the bits that stick out.

Was it tricky to balance all this historical accuracy with building the rules of your universe? Just the presence of your protagonists opens the scope.
RH: What I have personally found is nice about historical accuracy is that it grounds your concept. Rather than necessarily restricting it, it sort of provides a cage that shapes your fantasy as it grows inside of it. With the Ripper murders, it was very much a ‘this happened then – we can’t change that’ approach, but we could sandwich it between character development that was entirely our own.

PH: The historical accuracy was a great way of keeping the fantasy in check, which I liked. As Bec says, it helped to ground it. Things never ballooned out of control in that sense.

RH: The presence of our protagonists also meant that we could see this horrific incident through three different pairs of eyes, each offering a different perspective. As we mentioned previously, Du Lac’s and Fey’s stories came back into vogue during this century, so Du Lac would have been very much at home. Fey – not so much. Mary, of course, was local, so having someone who knew the non-playable characters and the area was a really nice change from Du Lac and Fey’s alienation.

What was the most surprising thing you found out through research that went contrary to common assumption regarding Victorian London, or Jack the Ripper?
PH: For me it has to be that only one of the victims we can say with any degree of certainty, was working as a prostitute at the time and that was Mary.

RH: There was a lot of stuff to unlearn in this project. You realise that you can only trust what has been written down to a certain extent, as human beings tend to like to plug gaps where they don't have information, and in so doing make assumptions.

Funnily enough, but not funny haha, Mary is the biggest enigma. She is the one who left behind the most questions. Most of the other women had families in London, children, brothers, sisters and so forth. They had a background people could draw on to paint a picture of the individual. Mary wasn't like that.


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Did you find that out after choosing to make her one of the protagonists or was it something that helped you choose her for that role? And what challenges did you encounter about making her such a big part of the overall story (without spoiling anything of course)?
RH: I came on project when Mary was already very much one of the protagonists, but I think even we were surprised as we went along how little we knew, and possibly could ever know, about someone so famous.

Did you ever get stuck on a piece of dialogue or narrative and later realise that just completely deleting the thing was better?
RH: You don't leave much headroom for the stuff that gets deleted.

What has been the most difficult part of writing the story? Was trying to keep it in period difficult?
PH: Luckily, we've had some amazing historians collaborating on this project and they've been invaluable in keeping it period accurate.

RH: What sticks in my mind is my first time writing Du Lac. That was certainly a wall I had to bang my head against until I broke through - with Phil’s help of course.

PH: This is most difficult part–it might sound too broad–but just trying to tell a good story.


⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Playable Character Sir Lancelot Du Lac

For both of you, what really snapped the character of Du Lac in? That is, brought him together from words to a real character you could work with? And furthermore, what was so hard about writing Du Lac? What did you specifically have to get the hang of?
RH: Du Lac, for me, was a process in copying voice rather than someone I could just embody. With Mary and Fey, I found I could see the world through their eyes far easier than I could with Du Lac. I could come up with their dialogue on the spot. For Du Lac, it was a process of poring over Phil’s work to pick up on the little details and eccentricities of his language.

PH: Without embarking on spoilers, it was putting that character out of time which helped us to explore who he was.

RH: I was given the opportunity to work on Du Lac's journals, and that really helped get me in his headspace because here he could be more honest, more open with himself. That helped me to be more open too.

PH: Journals are awesome!


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What Madonna songs would you choose for Du Lac & Fey?
RH: Du Lac & Fey Combo is four minutes to ‘Save the World’ by Madonna and Justin Timberlake.

PH: For Fey 'Live to Tell'.

RH: Du Lac is ‘Vogue’.

PH: Du Lac is ‘Die Another Day’

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Listen to Du Lac & Fey: The AMA’s playlist on Spotify

Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey will be released on Steam April 5th, add it to your wishlist!


If you have any questions please post on the Steam Community Hub or on our Discord.

You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

We look forward to welcoming you to our community. Stay tuned for future news and updates.
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March 11

The AMA's with Game Director Jessica Saunders


Jessica Saunders, Game Director and Founder of Salix Games.


Hello, each week leading up to the release of Dance of Death: Du Lac and Fey we have been hosting AMA (ask me anything) style discussions on the Salix Games Discord. We’ll be releasing them weekly for you to enjoy. If you would like to ask any question leave in the comments below or join our Discord and participate in the friendly discussion with the development team.

Yes or no to Marmite?
Jessica Saunders (JS): No! (Join the Salix Games Discord to learn about the Marmite meme)

I'm actually curious about the process of sketching out the scope of a game.
JS: That's a harder one to answer! Having worked on much larger projects for many years, we knew how long certain things do take. For example, we know it takes about a month for a character to be modelled and textured.

We took our knowledge of existing bits and compiled what we thought it might be. Then we made a prototype and saw how far we got within that time scale. We spent a lot of time estimating and reworking!

We ended up doing the usual and being way overscoped! That, however, is very common; we just have so much content.

To work out the final scope we had to wait for the final script. Once that was decided, we were able to cost each interaction, each location, each character in the game individually, and then add it all up.


Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey Coming to PC (Steam) on April 5th.

Do you have a favourite 'happy accident' moment that happened during development? Or at least, one that you can talk about! Something that came out of nowhere but has become part of the game?
JS: Yes! My favourite one is Eve’s outfit. We were going to go with a completely different design but crossed wires meant Vince, our modeller, made the dress from some old concept art. I was worried it was too much like a funeral dress. But once combined with the colour scheme from the dress that never was, it became my favourite of the game!


Discover Eve’s story in Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey

Who originally thought to mix Arthurian legend with Victorian murder? Was it an individual or a team thing?
JS: That was me and our lead writer Philip Huxley. We knew we wanted our canine partner to be more than just your average game dog; we wanted her or him to be smart. I suggested Morgana because I love legends and he threw out the idea of Lancelot. Everything then tumbled into place. Suddenly it became this story and world that just kept pouring out. Then Ed Reid (ER) our technical director, got a phone call.

What’s your favourite narrative moment on a game you didn't work on?
JS: Oh! That’s a doozy of a question. One of those that has stuck with me was a little indie game called 'The Path' where you had to lead one of seven sisters to Grandma’s house. You had to go into the woods and confront each girl’s wolf, but they were things like her vanity, her loneliness, and the like. It was beautifully done in an abstract way.

What is your favourite video game cat?
JS: My favourite video game cat is every cat in Neko Atsume.

There are hundreds of different dog breeds in the world. My Weimaraner would like to know why you picked a Saluki?
JS: Did you know that the Saluki is one the oldest dog breeds known to man? With Fey being cursed so long ago we had to make sure she would fit. They are also very, very speedy, and perfect for if you were trying to run away.


Playable Character Morgana Le Fey
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Why did you want to make this kind of game?
JS: I’ve always loved storytelling. Its’ one of the first thing we do as kids: we make up stories, play games, create universes. I think I never grew out of that! But also for me, I want to show that there’s so much more to this sort of game. Gamers and video games have a bad rep. I've lost count of the number of events I’ve been to where, when I say that I work in games, people’s eyes glaze over. Or they dismiss it as the easy option to film and television. We all know that’s not the case at all; we have an incredible, vastly intelligent audience ready for adult content beyond gore. Something more cerebral.

What was the biggest change for you in going from being part of a more specialised functional role to the director?
JS: Honestly, 90% of this transition. This has hands down been the biggest challenge of my life. I’ve learnt more in the last three years than I have in the last 10, I think. One of the hardest parts was learning the business aspects–shares, equity, loans, investment–just how to run a company of this size day-to-day.

The most important thing I’ve learned is that your team comes first. Without them you have nothing. Look after your people, hire people who know better than you, always pay fairly, and have trust.

I’ve done beta testing voluntarily (unpaid) for various indie devs on iOS and PC. What tips do you have for me to get a paid QA tester job?
JS: Perseverance. Also try signing with gaming recruitment companies, and be prepared to move for work. Keep an eye on larger companies and their dev cycles; they tend to ramp up the QA department closer to release. Do also check out the big QA houses local to you and talk to them

ER: People say that making covering letters customised to the company you're applying to and making them stand out is a great way to get a job. How about attaching a bug report to your covering letter that reads like your CV.

For example:
Bug: Require job as a QA Tester
Reproduction Steps:
1) Develop a passion for games
2) Display attention to detail
3) Apply for jobs as a QA tester
Expected Outcome: Paid job as a QA tester

Changelist #1: Gained X qualification
Changelist #2: Performed QA on X game

JS: I'd definitely read that CV.

What has been the most useful method for keeping the audio process smooth and efficient for your team?
JS: VO–our VO is a beast–and has the largest and most complex system. Our writers worked on the final draft, then Ed wrote systems that turned our script into rec sheets with file names. We tackled dialogue by its designation: Main Path, NPC (Non-Playable Characters), Emotes and incidentals. Each has its own Excel file per game 'chapter'.

Our game is handcrafted, so all audio is hand rolled, each wav in Wwise then corresponds to its place within our dialogue and lipsync system. We use INKLE for this dialogue system and Wwise for all audio.

We had 90% of our dialogue recorded and edited at Pinewood. This meant we had had to import it into Wwise and structure it within there. The script was one of the first things we finalised on the game.


Alexandra Roach, Gareth David-Lloyd, Perdita Weeks Recording at Pinewood Studios

Jacob then makes sure the ink system files are correctly labelled, calling the right wavs as they are called in the game. We also have systems that pull out any missing files or typos. That’s our VO in a nutshell!

For music, we wait until we have a playable version of each chapter. I go through and note SMPTE style where loops and cutscenes are, what the mood should be, and where stings and oneshots should play. We have two composers on project. Depending on the characters you play, you will have either Jools Scott or Jeff Rona scoring. They take the play through and my notes to create demos for my sign off. After that, I take their time mixes, which they supply with loop points BMP and time sigs, and set up in Wwise. We use a four-state music system in Wwise which means we only ever call one music event and use states to transition our music.

For SFX there’s no planning whatsoever: I am a sound designer, so I just know what needs to be done! Most planning was a case of we need cutscenes done, we need UI done, and then either I just got on with it, or Ian Macbeth–our contract sound designer–did. I worked with Ian before and trust him completely, so I just throw things at him and know he knows exactly what to and not to add. During the bug fix I’ll fill in any missing gaps if there are any. As a sound designer it’s my pet peeve to be given a list of SFX. Just show me the game and I’ll work out it!

If you got catapulted back into our game-time, say 1888 London, and you had 24 hours on the clock, what would you do?
JS: Drink gin. See a show, Wear something incredibly fancy, Dine at the Criterion


Original Criterion Building with Restaurant and Theatre as built in 1873.
(Source)

Do you think that starting a games company has been harder for you because you come from a sound design background rather than the usual art or design?
JS: Oh no, easier! People tend to forget that audio is one of the departments that deal with all other departments. Daily, we will talk to code, UI, cinematics, QA, design, environment, the works. It gave me a really solid idea of not only what each group does, but what is required from each team and the development cycle as a whole: who is dependant on whom, what comes in where, how long each part takes.

If I hadn’t been audio, it would have been a lot harder. By the time I started Salix I had worked for Codemasters, Lionhead, Rare, Splash Damage and Rocksteady. I had been given the best of the best when it came to seeing game development.


Sir Lancelot Du Lac & Lady Morgana Le Fey (Playable Characters)

If Du Lac and Fey were Britney Spears’ songs, which ones would they be and why?
JS: Du Lac would be ‘Everytime’. I can see Du Lac listening to it while staring out the window when it rains.

Fey would have to be ‘Toxic’ because it’s a banger and I could totally see her rocking out to it. Or maybe ‘oops I did it again’.

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Listen to Du Lac & Fey: The AMA’s playlist on Spotify and add Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey to your wishlist.

If you have any questions please post on the Steam Community Hub or on our Discord.

You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

We look forward to welcoming you to our community. Stay tuned for future news and updates.
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About This Game

London, 1888. With Whitechapel’s citizens living in the shadow of Jack the Ripper, Arthurian legends take to the streets in a thrilling quest to stop the killer before he strikes again.

Take on the roles of immortal hero Sir Lancelot Du Lac, and cursed sorceress Morgana Le Fey, as you hunt London’s most prolific serial killer. Join forces with Whitechapel local, Mary Jane Kelly, to explore the capital’s underbelly, meeting a diverse cast of characters who fill the streets of the Metropolis with noise and colour.

Explore the sights, sounds, and locations of the Ripper’s London, and immerse yourself in all that the Victorian era had to offer.


KEY FEATURES:
  • A thrilling tale set at the turn of a century, just as London was gripped by the Autumn of Terror.
  • Three playable characters. See London through a different lens as they wrangle their own personal, and physical, demons.
  • Explore historically accurate crime scenes, each based on and including true-to-life reports from the era.
  • A sprawling, branching narrative adventure where in-game decisions impact on each character’s resolution.
  • A wide array of characters to meet, and a plethora of true-to-life locations, each fact-checked by leading experts in the field of Victorian history.
  • An incredible voice cast with actors from Penny Dreadful, Game of Thrones, Black Mirror, and Dragon Age.
  • Developed by Salix Games, a new indie team with AAA experience from the likes of Rocksteady and Lionhead.
  • Plotted by Philip Huxley, writer on Batman: Arkham Knight and Killzone, alongside BAFTA Breakthrough Brit winner, Jessica Saunders..


Crafted by Salix Games, Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey has been meticulously researched to bring the Ripper story to life, all the while shining a light upon previously untold stories. The stellar line up of voice talent includes Penny Dreadful and Tudors actress Perdita Weeks as Lady Morgana Le Fey, Dragon Age and Torchwood star Gareth David-Lloyd as Sir Lancelot Du Lac, and Utopia and Black Mirror actress Alexandra Roach as Mary Kelly, each guiding us on a journey through the twisted streets of Whitechapel. With beautifully rendered graphics that blend 2D and 3D, as well as lovingly composed music and soundscapes, Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey breathes new life into the adventure genre, putting its own mark on this often-misunderstood period of history.

Mature Content Description

The developers describe the content like this:

Adult themes throughout
Very strong language throughout
Some scenes of a sexual nature
Moderate Violence
Scenes some viewers may find disturbing
Scenes of drug use
Some flashing images
Period typical racism and homophobia

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
    • OS: Windows 8 64-bit
    • Processor: Intel i5-2500k
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Storage: 25 GB available space
    Recommended:
    • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
    • OS: Windows 10 64-bit
    • Processor: Intel i5-2500k
    • Memory: 16 GB RAM
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Storage: 30 GB available space
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