Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala - Artifex Mundi


Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love is a game full of different characters talking to each other. In fact, some puzzles can be solved only by choosing the right dialogue option. That’s why in today’s episode of Behind the Irony Curtain we’d like to tell you more about the process of creating dialogues in our game.

Writing dialogues is just the beginning of the process. There are over 5471 lines of text in Irony Curtain and every one of them needs to be properly inserted into the game, to make sure all characters say exactly what Game Designer wants, in the exact time and place.



Here’s how it looks in Irony Curtain:

1. Every game character usually has more than one dialogue line. One of the ways to operate it is to use logical TRUE/FALSE flags. These flags helps us determine the state of knowledge of a specific character or whether an event of which the character speaks has already taken place.

2. Each dialogue is built in the editor as a separate “tree” consisting of successive “nodes” connected with each other by lines defining the order in which the dialogue of the character appears.

3. To be honest, “writing” dialogues is just filling the form fields. It looks more or less like this:

  • Create a new dialogue in the editor and give it a name. Then inform Level Designer about the circumstances in which it should be launched (eg. when Evans checks on the Prisoner);
  • Create the first Node (a red dot on the editor screen) and enter the necessary information (into the form on the right side of the screen):



    1. Who is talking
    2. The Dialogue text (or several dialogues if they should be drawn)
    3. (Optional) The Dialogue text when repeating the talk
    4. (Optional) If the dialogue happens not on the location but on zoom – whose head and on which side should it be displayed
    5. (Optional) Text display time (it’s useful when testing the game without recorded Voice Overs which determine the text display time in the finished game)
    6. Where the text should appear on the screen (e.g. over the character or over the radio speaker)
    7. (Optional) Actions to be made before or after the dialogue (e.g. acquiring an item or activating a logic flag “character X already knows about Y")

  • Create another dialogue node and fill it in
  • Connect the first node with the second one
  • Rinse & Repeat ;)

4. After creating the entire “tree” for all the dialogues we generate so-called “keys”. Keys consist of the location number, dialogue name, text position in the tree and the first letter specifying the character.



5. Thanks to this we can assign a specific Key to a Node, and not just the text. All texts with Keys can be saved to a shared Excel sheet with different languages. As a result, the different language versions of the game have the appropriate dialogues.



That is all in this episode of Behind the Irony Curtain. We hope you enjoyed it and don't forget to add Irony Curtain to wishlist!

https://store.steampowered.com/app/866190/Irony_Curtain_From_Matryoshka_with_Love
Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala - Artifex Mundi


Comrades!

Today we’d like to introduce you to our process of making a stop-motion animation. In one of the previous updates, we’ve explained what stop-motion animation is and why are we using it in our game.


This is how we prepare each asset:

1. The whole process starts with the Game Designer. They prepare a documentation with all animations needed for the specific part of the game. There are several types of animations for example: idle animation, talking, specific animation for beginning or end of the conversation and custom animation.



2. Then the animator prepares everything that was requested in the specification in an animation software (we use Toon Boom Harmony for that). First comes the rough sketch, then the more detailed lineart and some colors and shadows at the end.







3. When the animation is ready, the animator exports each frame as a separate file. Our animations have usually 80 frames on average, so it’s a lot of files to export! Those files are put into our inhouse tool that does all the magic – cropps them, sets the frame’s size and creates a file that manages animating all the cropped images.

4. Now it’s time for the Level Designer. They use the graph you see below (a kind of a state diagram) to control which animation should be used in which state (e.g., idle or end of the conversation) by referencing the files generated during step 3.



And that's all! Don't forget to add Irony Curtain to wishlist to stay updated!

https://store.steampowered.com/app/866190/Irony_Curtain_From_Matryoshka_with_Love/
Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala - Artifex Mundi
Add the game to your wishlist and stay updated!



There are dark secrets that have an annoying tendency to crawl back into the light, escaping oblivion. But there is also Sarah Pennington, the most skilled agent of the ever-watching Secret Order, who is there to face them.

The Secret Order 7: Shadow Breach will be available at a discount for 7 days after the launch.

http://store.steampowered.com/app/1004860/The_Secret_Order_7_Shadow_Breach/
Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala - Artifex Mundi


Hello fAM! We have fantastic news! We've been nominated in the prestigious Aggie Awards by the redaction of Adventure Gamers. Aggie Awards are an award for adventure games for merits in several categories from concept, art direction, and story, to the adventure game of the year.

This year's nominations have been released and My Brother Rabbit has been nominated in two categories - "Best Graphic Design" and "Best Sound Effects"! We're very happy and very proud that our work has been appreciated!

If you'd like to know more about the whimsical artwork of My Brother Rabbit, you can read up on Gamasutra - Daniel Gizicki has written a nice article on the art of My Brother Rabbit.

If you'd rather just indulge in the visuals, you can head over to either Luke Sałata's instagram or AM's own IG.

You can support us in the Reader's Choice awards by voting for for us at the voting page - we're superexcited about this, and hope you're too!
Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala - Artifex Mundi


Comrades!

Before we announce some more details about the Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love (which you can still add to wishlist by the way), we have something very special for classic adventure games fans!

Although Matryoshkans love potatoes the most, there’s also one more thing close to our hearts. It’s eggs. Easter eggs to be exact.

Irony Curtain is set in the 50s, but we did our best to spice it up a little with pop culture references from modern movies, comics, games and classic point & clicks. It’s kind of mandatory thing when creating the classic adventure game.

Overall, we keep the balance between the story and the references, and there are places you will have a hard time finding them, but sometimes we literally go crazy with Easter eggs in some locations.

Just look at the screenshot below and try to find all the references we’ve hidden there. There’s also a hint under spoiler below:




ANSWERS:
1. key in the shape of Sauron's Eye
2. shape of the island from Monkey Island
3. sketch of a key game from Machinarium
4. crow from Enigmatis 2
5. Pirates of the Carribean key
6. Konami Code


The medals are more monothematic because they are all inspired by the works of one studio. Can you guess what every one of them refers to?





Don't forget to add Irony Curtain to wishlist!

https://store.steampowered.com/app/866190/Irony_Curtain_From_Matryoshka_with_Love/
Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala - Artifex Mundi
Comrades,

Usually, d̶i̶c̶t̶a̶t̶o̶r̶s benevolent Fathers of a Nation don’t tend to answer questions – they ask them!

But today the tables turn – go ahead and ❓ask anything❓: the Irony Curtain dev Team will answer all your conundrums in an Irony Q&A!

Ask away in the comments below and at the beginning of February we'll answer them all in a Q&A video. 🎥

Meanwhile, don't forget to add Irony Curtain to your wishlist!

Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala - Artifex Mundi


This time we’d like to acquaint you with the creative process that goes into creating the scenes in the game. Here, for example, we have one of the first locations in the game – the conference Evan attends in order to present a speech on Matryoshka.

If you'd like to support the game, don't forget to add Irony Curtain to wishlist!



1. First off, we begin with a very rough concept art - mapping out the placement of active elements of the scene (the interactive parts that will contain moving objects), and on this, we build the gameplay (with placeholder dialogues and text and placeholder screens instead of minigames). This is usually the fastest part of the process. If we don’t like it or something doesn’t play out quite as well, we re-do parts of it until everything fits the way we want it to.


PS. Drawing each location out by hand means, that we have concept arts for each and every location in the game! Would you like to see them as bonus material?


2. After the sketch is completed we create a mood board, which sets the color schemes for all locations (we wanted it to not only be cohesive throughout the whole game but also reflect the passing of time – morning, afternoon, evening, etc). This is possible thanks to the “macrolocation” system we have – once you go through a set of locations you will not return to them again, so we can give you this sense of passing time.



3. Based on the concept we then proceed to fill in the details – this leads us to a complete lineart. A lineart is (just like the name suggests) a picture that has only the outlines, usually in black. If you haven’t seen one, it resembles a page taken out of a child’s coloring book.




4. When we’re happy with the result we create a color palette from the mood board and roughly place them on the lineart. At this stage, we check out if everything works together – if the scene conveys what we wanted to say and if it’s also pleasant for the eye.



5. Then come the flat colors – literally filling in the line art with flat colors. Just one color layer, no shadows, no color blending. You could think of it as colorful paper cutouts placed on the lineart.



6. The second-to-last step is creating all the shading, light reflections, and all small details that will make-or-break the picture, bringing it to life and helping us tell a story even before there’s a single word spoken or even before we introduce any of the main characters.

7. Then, of course, with games comes the step of creating the animations, different states of interactive elements (etc. closed/open doors), etc. But that’s a different part of this tale.

So, did you enjoy this little tour? Would you like to see more from Irony Curtain?
Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala - Artifex Mundi
Add the game to your wishlist and stay updated!



In the world built on the shoulders of sleeping giants, join your sister Adrianne to prevent a terrifying annihilation that may irreversibly change the world. Explore the history of a forgotten civilisation to save the citizens of Skyland and reveal the mystery of your father's death.

Skyland: Heart Of The Mountain will be available at a discount for 7 days after the launch.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/949800/Skyland_Heart_of_the_Mountain/

Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala - Artifex Mundi


There are very few things as great as the Matryoshkan Nation - but The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity - WOŚP - is definitely one of them. It's a Polish charity dedicated to improving medical care for the youngest and oldest patients - if you'd like you can read more about them at the English WOŚP website.

Long story short - for 27 years now they have been running a fundraiser in order to help provide equipment to hospitals, improve neonatological and senior patient care and even provide CPR lessons in schools. In that time the organization has raised 825 million PLN - that is roughly 198 million EUR!

This year we have decided to join this grand cause by submitting two auctions featuring unique and interesting items, which you will not find anywhere else.


You can bid on two auctions - one is My Brother Rabbit themed, the other is all about Irony Curtain:

1. IRONY CURTAIN AUCTION



You get:

  • a guided communism-themed tour in Krakow, Poland in the company of the developers of Irony Curtain
  • the Irony Curtain game (when it's out)
  • all and every Irony Curtain gadget ever produced and ever to be produced
  • a deerstalker-type hat called ushanka with an Irony Curtain Pin
  • Matryoshkan flag, 90cmx120cm
  • two Irony Curtain matryoshka cups

as a bonus - eternal glory and the approval of the Supreme Leader of Matryoshka!

2. MY BROTHER RABBIT AUCTION


You get:

  • the My Brother Rabbit game
  • a plushie, artbook with a dedication from the whole team
  • a studio visit and an opportunity to attend a creative workshop with MBR lead artist Łukasz Sałata
  • all Artifex Mundi games for Steam
  • a limited, box edition of the game

All auctions run till Jan 21st, 12:15:10!

Join in today and become a proud supporter of WOŚP! There are many awesome rewards to gain, but the biggest one is supporting a good cause!
Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala - Artifex Mundi

Comrades!

Some time ago we showed you how Irony Curtain looked in the early prototype phase and how it looks like now.

Today we’d like to talk a little bit more about the reasons behind the change and the whole creative process. It’s no doubt that Irony Curtain came a long way from the times when it was just a prototype called simply ‘Matryoshka’.

There are three main reasons why we’ve decided to simplify the art style:

1. The previous style looked great but it didn’t play well

The ‘before’ screenshots we’ve shown are undoubtedly the ones that look brilliant – detailed backgrounds, vibrant colours and original characters. And that’s the whole point. It looked awesome on static graphics but the puzzles and navigating through the level seemed frustrating just BECAUSE of all those things. When everything is so detailed every object fights for your attention so it feels like pixel hunting all the time. It is crucial for us to have the best possible gameplay without any frustrations – and unfortunately, the previous style caused a lot of it.

One of Irony Curtain's minigames: the very detailed BEFORE (left) version and simpler AFTER (right) version




2. We’ve changed the way we animate characters

The characters in the early prototype we've were made with a technique called cutout animation, a form of stop-motion animation that uses flat objects (think about the paper theatre that you’ve probably played as a child) . Right now Evan and other characters from the game are animated in a traditional stop-motion way that requires simpler textures on the models. And simpler textures mean simpler art style everywhere in order to keep the project consistent.

BEFORE:




AFTER:




3. We want the art style to be a part of how we tell the story

When Evan first arrives at the Leader’s Heart Hotel, he’s overwhelmed by its monumentality and splendor. The location should reflect that, so we’ve decided to add a lot of empty space and make the character look really small in comparison to the building. There are locations in the game that didn’t change that much though (e.g., Evan’s bathroom in the hotel room), we’ve only adjusted them to the current style of the game.

BEFORE:



AFTER:




In the next episode of Behind Irony Curtain, we’ll show you the creative process behind creating the locations in Irony Curtain. Stay tuned!
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