This is how we made our brochure for publishers

This is how we made our Trip the Ark Fantastic brochure for publishers and investors

In our last blog we talked about how we made our pitch video aimed for publishers and investors. In this blog, we are talking about something similar – a brochure.

For starters, you may ask yourselves: why would you make a brochure if you made a pitch video? Pitch video is much more cooler and, at the end of the day, way more dynamic. And, yep, we agree. That’s why we’ve made the brochure much before the pitch video. Look at it as the first step in getting closer to getting a publisher/investor.

If you’re an indie developer and looking into making your own brochure, here are a few tips ‘n tricks.

What to talk about in your brochure?

Sure, you decided to make a shiny new brochure that will blow away your potential publisher, but first, you need to know what will you talk about in it. So, here are a few bullet points to get you started:

  • What is your game about
  • Three to five key features in your game (and explain them a bit)
  • A bit about the story and lore (if you have any)
  • Gameplay mechanics
  • Your team
  • Your inspirations
  • SWOT analysis
  • Some facts about marketing you did by yourself so far (if you did, that is)
  • Details about your budget, e.g., what will you spend on all those millions you get from the publisher
  • Also, don’t forget about the timeline for the production of your game

We used only free and open-source software for the brochure

When you’re an indie developer, you’re always on the budget. Until you get the investment or a publisher, you’ll have to find a workaround for everything. Luckily, Gamechuck comes to a rescue!

For this brochure, we used three completely free and open-source software solutions. For image manipulation (and much, much more) we used Krita, which we already wrote about. Read more about Krita below.

Now, for everything design-wise, Inkscape is the way to go.

Basically, you’ll have to do the brochure page-by-page, and Inkscape is a pretty powerful tool for that purpose. Inkscape is made for designers, illustrators and magazine/newspaper publishing, so you may say it’s rather capable. The UI is a bit rough around the edges, but you’ll get the hang of it relatively quickly.

The software saves your progress as a SVG file, but it can export the page in various formats, as shown below.

Considering we use an open-source desktop publishing tool, Scribus, we have exported each page in PDF format.

Scribus is another neat open-source software, and pretty easy to use. Basically, all you have to do is to know the dimensions for your brochure, and you’re ready to go. Why the dimensions? Well, because you’ll also want to print your brochure for all the events you’ll attend when this pandemic goes away.

When you generate a new document, then you’ll just import all the PDF files you’ve made with Inkscape; page by page, of course. Like so:

And, that’s basically it. When you’re satisfied with the layout, just export the thing, and you’re ready to spam the publishers and investors about the awesome new game you’re making!

Does making a brochure take a lot of time which I could use for making my game instead?

Glad you asked that!

It definitely depends on how much you want to show in your brochure. It took us about a week of continuous work only on the brochure with additional fixes and updates. So, in total, we spent around two weeks on it.

Does it mean that you could have spent that time for game development instead? Well, yeah, but your brochure is definitely necessary as a communication tool you’ll use to reach the publisher and/or investor.

Or you could just ask your colleague/friend/family member to help you with it. It’s up to you.

But, before you go, here’s something really cool!

As a token of gratitude for reading this blog, you can download our Trip the Ark Fantastic brochure on this link.

How did you like it? Let us know in the comments below, or on our TwitterFacebook and Insta!

This is how we made our Pitch Video

This is how we made our Publisher & Investor Pitch Video

In our quest towards making Trip the Ark Fantastic an adventure RPG like no other, the development of the game is made on several fronts. The one of the key fronts is business side of game development.

Yep, we made a pretty cool brochure, too. Also exclusively for publishers and investors. BUT! We are going to show it to you in our next blog!

Basically, we are looking for a publisher that is going to help us with our vision for Trip the Ark Fantastic. But, you have to gain some interest from potential publishers, right? Sure, the brochures and Powerpoint presentations are cool and all, but the form of a pitch video is much more tangible and personal. So, we decided to do just that.

Making the storyboard

Every video out there starts with an idea. For our Trip the Ark Fantastic pitch video specifically, Alex, Gamechuck CEO, and the game’s project manager first created a storyboard that contained all the scenes. Then, we were ready for some rough sketches that looked like this. And, nope, we are not kidding.

In the first idea, Alex was supposed to stand near Gamechuck arcade cabinet, but we later changed that

This was pretty much enough to make a first rough draft, so we did just that. Igor, our marketing guy, and community manager powered-up his favourite video editing program and created the first version of the pitch video.

Our very first Ark pitch video draft!

Upon finishing that, we wanted to show that cool office dynamic!

Time for filming some scenes at the office!

Gameplay, artwork, trailers. Those are always great to see, although for this occasion, we simply had to catch our team on camera. Luckily, every month we have one of those major production meetings, so it was a perfect time to film people how they work, and catch some of the meeting itself.

Some casual photos of the team as they arrive to the office.

Also, seems like Matija wasn’t that amused 😀

Resemblance is uncanny.

One of the most important scenes to film was the one when Alex introduces himself, so we filmed several takes. The last one was selected for the pitch video.

Then, it was the time to get some videos and stills of people working. Granted, this was somewhat staged. Each team member has a role in production, so we wanted it to be obvious on the video. So, for example:

Piet working in Godot Engine
Jan using Ink for story and the dialogues
Ivana using Krita for some sketches and animations
Fenton working on the composition for the soundtrack

Finally, the meeting itself, where we talked about the next steps needed to be done for the game.

And, this is basically it. The next step was to put everything in the video editing software, record the narration, make several more changes and the video is almost ready for sending!

Do you have any tips or suggestions? Let us know in the comments below, on our Twitter, Facebook or Insta!

New Day – New Coder

New Day – New Coder

Since last month, we have a new coder on our team! It’s Krunoslav Gregorec, who has years of experience in several Croatian gamedev companies, including on his own hobby projects (such as Orc Dentist!).

Orc Dentist, Kruno’s hobby project

He isn’t a senior in Godot but has learned many engines during his career (including making his own engine at some point!)

He is currently learning the ropes and making some tutorial projects, and then he’ll move on to working in our shared codebase on Git.

Here’s a few questions we asked him:

Why did you decide to join Gamechuck?

Well, I loved your titles (even though I personally don’t play that kind of games) primarily because they show a lot of creativity from you guys, and an attitude, “We do what we want!”.

It shows you’re driven with a creative and artistic spirit. Additionally, Gamechuck is the only company in Croatia with this level of worker rights and everything around that.


What are your top 3 games ever?

I would definitely put Final Fantasy up there as the first. I literally named my daughter after the character from one of the Final Fantasy titles hahaha. It’s “Aeris”.

The other two? Horizon: Zero Dawn and Half-Life franchise.


What do you do in your free time?

I don’t have free time, I have kids hahaha. Jokes aside, I’m mostly watching YouTube and similar services for coding topics, e-sport, quantum physics and similar scientific topics. I’m also driving a bike, and one of my biggest wishes is downhill. I often find myself exploring interesting stuff in nature around Zagreb.

I also play guitar, and I even started teaching my kid to play the violin. In the past, I used to do handwork with wood or similar material.


How did you spend the quarantine time?

If you mean the lockdown period, well, at home usually coding stuff. When we were bored with everything, we’d take our kids to the nearest lake and have a picnic, somewhere with no people around, of course.


What do you think about the Godot engine and why is it the best game engine in the universe?

Well, I don’t have a complete picture about Godot since I’ve been using it for a short time, but what I definitely dig about it – it’s so lightweight! The whole engine can fit on a floppy disc haha!

Also, some things around the workflow are a lot better than in e.g. Unity. Those damned collision matrices. Although, it’s lacking in the scripting editor. Inability to natively open the project in Visual Studio, and that everything works like you’re using C# is slightly frustrating. Not being able to re-arrange the docking window is also a bit weird. But, the rest of it is pretty damn good.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years? In this situation around the world is very difficult to predict where the hell will I be in a year!


How about in 55 years?

Oh, this is definitely much easier to predict! I’ll probably be dead hahaha!


Follow our progress on this development blog, on our Twitter, Facebook and Insta!

Naming places for our fantasy game

Naming places for our fantasy game

How to name things in fantasy is always a tough one. On the one hand, you don’t want to sound too mundane, and on the other, crazy hyphenated and apostrophated names like Gi’zzor the Terrible and Duke Belerofont are done to death. Tolkien did it in a nice way – as a linguist, he made up entire languages and then emulgated the names for things he needed from these languages. For example, Gandalf means elf-friend in elvish, but humans call him Mithrandir, meaning Grey Pilgrim, and his original name is Olorin, which translates to “dreamer” in the Quenya tongue.

Naming places
Our version of Gandalf??? No, but almost.

However, we’re not Tolkien, and also we’re leaning heavily on not inventing languages but just treating the game as translated from the animal languages to modern English for the player. So when they use a latinised word like Superb!, we don’t imply that there was a Latin language that the Animals spoke, it’s just our translation of their animal word for this language.

On the other hand, personal names and city names need some thought. Our idea was to make the locations correspond to the group nouns for the animals that live there. For example:

– A group of lions is called a Pride of Lions, so the city of lions is called Pride

– A group of squirrels is a Scurries of Squirrels, so the city of squirrels is called Scurries.

Naming places
Does this look like The Scurries or what?

The same with Flocks, Skulks, Packs et cetera. Most of these cities are not going to be accessible to the player in the game as they are far away and not related to the plot, but we’d like the name itself to explain the city. So, for example, when you hear of the count Urlich von Packs, you should immediately summon forth an image of a wolf nobleman, as Packs is a group name for wolves.

We use group names for other things as well, because they fit so well in the context of the animal kingdom. For example, in the case of the Scurries, their elected “mayor” is called The Dreymaster, because another group noun for squirrels is “a drey of squirrels”, so a ruler of squirrels could be called a dreymaster.

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/619813078636429322/707978360051073134/ograda_copy.jpg
The noun for a group of tigers is – Streak of Tigers, so… Welcome to the Streaks!

Of course not all cities are called by these group names. There are cities whose names bear historical significance in the game, such as Valencia, the colonial city built by King Valent.

We believe such things will resonate well with the players. What do you think – let us know in the comments below, or on our Facebook, Twitter, and Discord!

Art in our Art 2: The Return of the Artist!

This is the second in a series of art talks with our painters. As you might have read, our game will feature paintings from acclaimed Croatian young artists. For example, when you enter Orville’s mansion, he has pictures hanging on his walls, from some of our finest fine artists (pun very much intended) as seen here:

Orville’s mansion features artwork from some of the best young Croatian painters – Tara Beata Racz and Luka Kusevic.

Today we interview Luka Kusevic, the painter behind the pictures you see in Badger Orville’s hallway in the gif above. Luka was born in 1993 in Zagreb where he finished the School of Applied Arts and after that the Academy of Fine Arts in the class of prof. Zoltan Novak. His work was exhibited in the Gallery of Matica Hrvatska (Matrix Croatica) as well as the 5th Biennale of Painting in HDLU last year, and may more.

5th Biennale of Painting – Luka showcasing his works

So, Luka, what attracts you to art?

The reason why I paint is because I am Fascinated by how dead matter (in this case – color) can produce something alive – a visual sensation. The contemplation done over a particular picture or other work can awaken unexpected horizons which throws a man out of his ordinary everyday life.

How about games, do you think they can also be art?

I’d agree with an older painter colleague that today’s view of art needs redefining because practically every witch doctor shaman today can proclaim themselves an artist. Art in general has lost the power of transcending its own pitiful “ego” – in other words, the ability to change the perception of a man from his sluggish viewpoint.

As for games, I think they transcend art – because the virtual perception of the video-game mixes with the everyday perceptions we bring ourselves. Games could be the future of the cyborg-man but it is clear that total assimilation into virtuality will not be attained, due to the arrogant way we treat our lives and bioms.

So how did you go about making the paintings for our game? What do you think of the game aesthetics in general?

https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/619813078636429322/695699068369764382/unknown.png
The Scurries impression by Luka

The biggest challenge was to translate my current ductus (or: my style of painting) to fit the form of a squirrel, beaver, and so on. What fascinated me with the Ark characters was their lucidity, the intelligence of dialogues. As for the visuals, everything is clear. The animals have the ability to create and move in spacetime – this is a world of the surreal, of fantasy… Visual elements should therefore be more dispersed. Not abstract, but definitely more fleeting. Man should be in a constant state of feeling that things are continually changing. If I were creating visuals for the entire game, I’d play with the light of the vegetation, the structures (mills and fortresses), I’d create visuals of bugs and bats to complicate things further. It is, for me, too simple – easy. I would personally take hints from the aesthetics of Monet or Rousseau.

Dabrovit impression by Luka

And for the last question – what are you doing aside from this?

I’m working on a series of large format paintings where I’m continuing to develop landscapes as a mental space. I want pictures to burn the inside of the man who watches them. So they extinguish themselves i let go to the sensation. Not neccessarily enjoy but at least for a moment to jump out of their own skin.

Charles’ father Herbert

And currently where can we experience your art?

Currently, I’m exhibiting on a group exhibition “U ljetnom kodu” (In the Summer Code) in the Kranjčar Gallery in Zagreb.

Great! Everyone from Zagreb – feel free to check it out!

Gamechuck is looking for a Godot programmer!

Gamechuck is looking for a Godot programmer!

Today we are posting this short blog/announcement because we are hiring! Gamechuck is in a need for an extra Godot programmer.

If you like what we do programmatically and are open-source oriented, check out the call:

Gamechuck is hiring a Godot programmer

Ideally you would be Croatian or willing to come to Zagreb so we can hang out in the office (that is why the ad is in Croatian actually).

If you are interested, send us a mail at info@game-chuck.com and be sure to check out our About page there as well.

While you’re updating your application form, check out our Godot Engine-oriented blog posts below.

Art re-evaluation time!

We’ve been working full-time on Trip the Ark Fantastic for almost a year now! It’s a large undertaking for a small indie developer such as us so we decided very early on we’d like to find a publisher to help us out. For this reason, we’ve been sending our Trip the Ark Fantastic brochure to a lot of publishers these past months.

The good news here is that literally everybody loves the idea of the game. We sent the brochure to almost 30 publishers and everybody was enticed by the atmosphere, themes and gameplay decisions!

Continue reading “Art re-evaluation time!”

How we made a plan for development: GDDs, techdocs, charts and more…

How we made a plan for development: GDDs, techdocs, charts and more…

Hi, it’s me again, Alex. Last week I wrote about the short history of our company and our other cool stuff we’re cooking that’s not Trip the Ark Fantastic.

This week I’m going to explain the process of planning we had prior to starting on the development of Trip the Ark Fantastic. There’s a lot of game developers who just dive in (myself included on numerous occasions) but for this project, we decided to really figure everything out prior to starting, including making GDDs, Tech Docs, Gantt charts, etc. That’s not to say we carved everything in stone, we’re still having a lot of discussions, even very fundamental ones, but at least we have a good starting cornerstone.

And since we’ve had great success with previous blogs that deal with gamedev methodology, such as the one where we discuss our asset pipeline or how we write dialogues for the game, this time we’ll write up a blog about our project methodology, how we made a plan, and hopefully some people will find it interesting! So, let’s start.

Before the flood, there was a GDD!

First off, even before we started working on the project, we made a huge GDD with all our ideas, and it was over 50 pages long and created collaboratively by Piet and me:

The process of making a plan we had prior to starting on the development of Trip the Ark Fantastic.
20.000 words of design decisions, gameplay mechanics, lore, quests etc.

This was important so that we can figure out more-or-less exactly the scope of the project even before starting it.

The next step was deciding on the art style we want. Of course, an art director would be great for this, but having none yet, we decided that we’re going to have to decide this ourselves for now. So we made another document, quite huge and pin-pointed a lot of different styles that could work, and finally decided on one to start off with.

The process of making a plan we had prior to starting on the development of Trip the Ark Fantastic.
Some of the more obscure styles we considered. Yes, very thorough.

We then settled on a fantasy-ish 2D cartoon-animated art style and found someone to make a few key artworks which we added into the new and shortened GDD, available here:

This GDD was what we sent to the Creative Europe grant (which we received) and also to our investors, prior to their investment. And then, it was time to decide on the scope of the team. Do we need a specialised composer full time or will a freelancer work? Do we need 2, 3 or 4 artists working on the visuals? How about programmers? Et cetera. So, for this, we started creating specialised documents that nail down each of these things.

Making a plan: Creating a Technical Design Document

There was the Technical Design Document where we decided on how to approach certain technical issues arising from our new mechanics (will we use SQLite for storing data, or our own search with data in JSON, what format we’ll store the game script in, et cetera). It looked a bit like this:

The process of making a plan we had prior to starting on the development of Trip the Ark Fantastic.
24 pages of this stuff. Yay, fun.

There was also a lot of other documents, including a “music design document”. Of course, this document was revised once we found the right composer, but it helped to show the potential composers what we want in terms of musical style and complexity.

Lots of weird graphs and charts in that one.

And then, after all that was done (cca mid 2019), we started gathering the team to work on the game. It took us most of 2019 but we finally found some great artists, the last of which was our character artist Serena whose first blog was about the awesome tool Krita that she uses for character design.

After the whole team was finalised, we reworked a lot of the documents (now with more realistic timesheets and expectations, especially regarding music and art), and then created a nice big 2 year plan for the development of the game, in the form of a timesheet:

We should update it for July. At some point.

This way we figured the earliest possible release-date for the game to be in 2022 (that’s why it’s called a 2 year plan!) and then when we knew everything about the game and had the whole team on board we proceeded to create a teaser trailer to showcase the atmosphere of the game and drive people to our website where they can read more about the game and follow our work (including reading these blog posts of course).

If you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer!

And then we started working full time on the game proper, starting with making a playable demo of the first city in the game – art, story, music et cetera. The city quest was reworked a bit to feature the main mechanic already (we wanted to introduce it later but decided that for showcasing purposes earlier is better). And that’s where we’re at now.

The various documents have been replaced by more awesome tools (like Nuclino for world building) and/or more detailed charts and sheets for art and music deliverables.

Hopefully, we won’t miss our internal deadline too much (or maybe hopefully we will and the game will be 10x better for it?) but in any case, this is the long and winding road we took to ensure we know what we’re doing and we don’t enter some kind of unforeseen development hell, as none of us are really senior experts in gamedev.

And that’s it. Hopefully some of these ideas have inspired you to plan ahead for your own game! If you have any questions or would like to see some of these documents irl, ping us via social media or join our Discord!

Three Years of Gamechuck

Three Years of Gamechuck

Hi, it’s Alex, the CEO of Gamechuck (the company making Trip the Ark Fantastic) and also one of the idea-guys behind the game concept.

Although it might not be as interesting for the gamers who read us, I believe gamedevs will be very glad to read about our journey and experiences as a company. So in the next few Thursday blogs I’ll try to guide you through some of the important things that helped us out, starting with a broad overview of the first three years of our company, and moving on to our GDD procedures, choice of next games, publisher relations, etc.

So to start off, today I’m here to tell you that the company making this game is already three years old already, so I’ll take this time to write about our short trip from 2017 to today.

Press - Gamechuck Home
One of the many Gamechuck conference incidents we WON’T cover in this blogpost!
Continue reading “Three Years of Gamechuck”

The Fellowship of the Ark

The Fellowship of the Ark

Following the Charles’ biography lore blog, where we’ve put everything you wanted to know about the game’s main character (but were too afraid to ask), here we have a nice blog about the three unexpected friends that went on a grand adventure.

Charles

Charles is your introvert prototype. He doesn’t like socialising, is even less fond of big crowds of people, and gets very shy around strangers. Although, when there is a conversation topic revolving around scholarly stuff, especially those that are his domain, Charles gets very excited and quite talkative.

Following the Charles' biography lore blog, here we have a nice blog about the three unexpected friends that went on a grand adventure.
Our creative process of making new Charles

Also, did you know that Charles is actually a pretty famous hedgehog? The folk won’t remember him if you mention his name, but everyone knows who is the inventor of the shower; a byproduct of Charles’ artificial herbarium. Charles feels a strong sense of responsibility at being given the task to find the Ark, while also placing a large emphasis on his dedication to the truth. Which is more important to him (truth or duty) is up to the player to decide.

The moment when Charles receives a letter from His Highness, king Lav.

His relationship with Philippe and Andre, his journey’s companions, starts as cold and distant. However, after engaging in conversations with them more often, Charles becomes close friends with one or even both of them.

Philippe

A witty fox, many would say. Philippe is usually sarcastic and shrewd. A bit arrogant, too, and wants to show off that he is correct. He might not sit well with everyone, but he gets the job done. In case you’ve played D&D before, he would be charactarised as “lawful neutral”.

Philippe, the youngest and most ambitious member of the King’s inner circle.

Philippe volunteered to accompany Charles on his mission in attempt to steer his decisions in the correct direction. He believes that finding and proving the Ark’s existence will consolidate the Kingdom’s power structure for the next few decades. Some people don’t like his sarcasm and attitude, but most can agree with his sound arguments.

When he’s not busy checking up on his “contacts”, he enjoys a good philosophical discussion with Charles while smoking some of his favorite tobacco.

André

André , honor bound captain of the Royal Guard.

With such a rich background as André, many would simply embrace all the benefits of their status, but not this boar. Despite having rich parents and a profitable farmland, André decided to join the military. As one of the most loyal members of the Guard, the
King tasked him with keeping Charles safe during this potentially perilous mission.

He doesn’t really get into complex abstract arguments with Philippe and Charles but he has strong opinions on the royalty but he doesn’t like to discuss them because he believes he couldn’t defend them properly.

He believes the system is fair and his experience is that if you try hard you can succeed and that the people against the king are plotters and schemers and generally not honest folk. Nevertheless, he has fairly strong opinions on the Kingdom’s hierarchical system and his place in the world. As a result, he accepts Philippe’s superiority and obeys his orders without hardly any question. He loves eating and drinking and finds joy in the simple things in life.

Enjoyed this blog? Let us know what you thought on our FacebookTwitterDiscord, or on the blog itself, just below in the comments!