Producer Director: Tom Green
Firstly, let me apologise for the length of this post. While I’ve been very deep down a Papa Sangre-shaped hole, I’ve not been updating this blog nearly as much as I should have: and so here it is – all at once.
It’s been a long road. We kicked Papa Sangre II off in April 2012. The next 10 months were spent wrangling the technology that eventually gave us the amazing papa engine. the tech which powers Papa Sangre, the Nightjar, and now Papa II. The creative team made use of this time to argue over work out what Papa II should be, while we waited for the engine to work well enough for us to try out our ideas on.
Given that it was two years since we’d produced Papa Sangre, we knew that we could take advantage of the advancement of the technology since Papa Sangre, which was developed with the 3GS as the most powerful device. Now we’ve hit release 18 months later, this has been superseded by four more powerful iPhones (plus all iPads).
This (along with the new, optimised engine) meant we’d be able to produce something far more processor intensive, which ultimately in the world of Papa Sangre development means we could have more simultaneous spatialised sounds. (A spatialised sound is one that we ‘put into’ the Papa Engine which then renders it in a 3D space in real time, allowing us to treat it like an object in a room, and thus build up a 3D audio world). More spatialised sounds would mean more creative opportunities for the types of levels we could design and the types of environments we could create. But it also meant that we had to take the hard decision not to support some older devices, so that we could take advantage of the newer more powerful ones. This is not an unusual decision for a developer to make as technology moves on; but it does weigh on us that we can’t support everybody.
We also knew that we wanted to use one of the new features that Apple introduced from the iPhone 4 and upwards: the Gyro. By creating a Gyro Mode, where the player holds the device in front of them and turns their body in the way they want to face and the room moves around their head as though they’re in it, we had something that would make Papa Sangre II even more immersive. Once we got the engine working enough to prototype this, we knew we had to use it in Papa II. It’s totally intuitive, and it’s awesome.
Fast Forward to March this year and the Papa Engine was finally ready and stable enough to develop with. After 9 months of discussing ideas and coming up with a premise and structure and manifesto for Papa Sangre II, we were faced with a terrifying task: making it. What had been a large creative steering team was streamlined to a smaller working team so that we could start making quick progress and decisions, with regular review points along the way for the wider group to feed into the process.
After a couple of intensive days locked in a studio acting out possible game design in real life (see my blog about it here), work began in earnest in April 2013. I (the game director and producer) began working very closely with an amazing team which consisted of writer Neil Bennun, sound designers Ben and Max Ringham, and game developer Antoine Pastor.
The six months since then have been a blur of scripts, level design, sound design, bugs, testing, testing and testing. Somehow we moved from draft scripts and back-of-fag-packet level sketches through to our first demo levels, to a very rough alpha and eventually, after a lot of blood, sweat and tears, to a working Beta.
We had two recording sessions with Sean Bean – one in July, when we got most of the content recorded; and another at the end of August, for retakes and to re-record bits which we’d changed based on further testing. Prior to this we’d recorded guide scripts with various members of the team taking on the role of ‘Sean’. I sometimes lie awake at night worrying that some of these placeholder recordings are still in some obscure corner of the final release. (It isn’t). (It is? tell us where!)
We did our first proper, structured playtests in May, and kept running formal and informal playtests for the rest of the project. In August we put out a Beta which we distributed to twenty volunteers, and whose feedback was invaluable. In September we completed a ‘finished’ version of the game which we put to the functionality testers – who showed us a load of things which needed fixing (as we were expecting), which we duly did.
We submitted our first release candidate to Apple in September, but have since updated the version waiting in the back end of the App Store three times (I think), as we’ve continued to improve the game while we waited for today to come.
And here we are, today, on release day. It’s time to give our game over to the public, to take it’s chances in the big bad world. Big bad world: enjoy…