28 Apr

Newletter 14

Monday of week 14 was Soft Opening in ETC. All the projects were supposed to demonstrate the version of the game that currently exists to the faculty, receive feedback and continue the development process in the finalization stage, which means polishing, QA and small improvements.

So did Prisoner’s Cinema, and we received some great responses from the faculty – they were impressed with the progress and general quality of the work. We haven’t yet finished assembling the game though, which was one of the weaker points of our presentation, and by Wednesday of next week we will throw all our forces to make the whole experience playable.

Neighbor  vlcsnap-2014-04-20-19h46m54s124

At this point we have completed the Mid-day Quest Scene, and still need to make the transition dream, Night Scene and the Credits scene playable. It sounds like a lot of work (and it is), but at this point most of the work is about actual implementation, since the content has already been generated.

Next week after completing the beta with our full experience we have a lot of plans, including playtesting and uploading the game to Steam Greenlight. Stay with us for more updates and wish us luck in our final breakthroughs!

Prisoner’s Cinema

21 Apr

Newsletter 13

The team focused this week on restlessly preparing for our upcoming Soft Opening presentation to Entertainment Technology Center faculty, in which we will represent the breadth of what we’ve accomplished this semester and exhibit a playable section of our game. The purpose of Soft Opening, or “Softs,” as it’s abbreviated within these paraphernalia-strewn halls, is for teams to receive a comprehensive round of feedback prior to the end of the semester and the official conclusions of our projects, so that polishing and revisions can occur in the window between Softs and Finals. Due to the narrative nature of our game, and the fact that each segment of it is so context-sensitive with regard to what has come before, we’re faced with the interesting challenge of how to present just a five-minute sliver of an experience that is approximately 30 minutes and have it not only indicate that we’re satisfying our goals but also embody the tremendous amount of work we’ve put into the project this semester. We plan to maximize our time with the faculty during Softs by first delivering a brief presentation which outlines all of the content we’ve created and its narrative relationship and visual synopses of each piece of content, and then by showing an approximately five-minute demo comprised of the second half of our Introductory Scene  and the first quarter of our Mid-Day Scene. Our intention with the demo is to showcase a selection of our most polished content and to highlight the emotional and tonal diversity of the game.

Excluding Soft Opening preparation, this week was similar to last in that it extended our focus on content generation and the molding of that raw content into a series of working builds. Alex continued over the duration of the week his shaping the logic of our Mid-Day Scene in Unity into its increasingly final form, and implementing the UI iterations and dramatically improved key environment models and textures, which Casey has been creating with a singular ferocity. Further, Alex heroically assembled our Softs-specific build, and Casey infused our Softs presentation with his patented typographic magic. Nathan completed the dialogue script for the Night Scene, our final major piece of content, at the beginning of the week, and he and Arseniy filmed our actress, Laura Gray, and recorded the protagonist’s voiceover for that scene, the full implementation and polishing of which will occur next week. Arseniy also edited together our second ETC-mandated promotional video, which we plan to use to promote our game on Steam Greenlight.

Our actress invoking the Method process in her portrayal of suspicion of our character’s motives: she is also suspicious of our motives.

The past two weeks have been among the busiest of the semester for the team, and we anticipate the project’s final weeks to be comparably frenzied. We have lofty goals for a four-person team, given our starkly limited resources, but we’ve attempted to mitigate risk and superfluousness wherever possible in the development of Prisoner’s Cinema, and we’re on the cusp of realizing the precise amount of content that we’d scoped very early in the semester. This is very gratifying. We look forward to the feedback we’ll receive during Softs, and to concluding the project victoriously.

21 Apr

Newsletter 12

Very little time is left before the next ETC milestone – Soft Opening. The goal of it is to finish a beta-version of the product and after that just polish the game without adding new content. Week 12 in Prisoner’s Cinema schedule was dedicated to the completion of “Mid-day Quest”. It is the scene of the game that takes place after the intro, this time in a real environment in our protagonist’s apartment.

In this scene we will introduce the “Insomnia System” that is designed to better convey the feelings that this disorder brings to people, and help evoking empathetic response from the player. As a result of that gameplay and player’s choices will be affected, and hopefully create the atmosphere of disempowerment of the character – one of the cornerstones of our design.

By the end of this week the scene will be finished, although we most likely won’t have enough time to polish it to the shippable condition – to do that we will use a couple of weeks that separates Softs from the Final presentation of the project.

Next week we will start working on the ending scene of our game episode, production of which will (spoiler alert!) include filming of Laura Gray, the actress who plays fiancé of our protagonist.

Thank you for being with us, keep tuned for the next week’s news!

20 Apr

Newsletter 10-11

Week 10 was the week of famous Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, and the team (with an exception for Casey – he had to go to another conference the week after GDC, and therefore stayed in Pittsburgh working on assets) dived right in the middle of these exciting events.

Simultaneously we have launched the page of the project on Steam Greenlight Concepts to promote the project and see the gut reaction of the audience to our idea. And we have been very satisfied by results! By the moment when I am writing these words, we have received many comments that show excitement and general interest to the game. Some people have already expressed an interest in buying it, and 87% of voted Steam users would like this game to be Greenlit. Our next step is to submit the game to the main section of Steam Greenlight with a purpose of getting it to the store, which we are planning to do by Soft Opening in the end of April.


We have made many connections at GDC, and met a lot of people who have inspired us on making our project. We had a chance to discuss our game with the developers of Gone Home and The Novelist, got some feedback from Tale of Tales and had a chat with the creators of The Stanley Parable. We were very happy to get to know them, and now we have these connections to receive more valuable feedback further in the development.

After a week at the conference, which was as fruitful, as it was exhausting, Prisoner’s Cinema team immediately started to prepare for their halves presentation which was on Friday of the week 11 of the project. Most of the week went in preparations and it paid off – the presentation went very well, and we generally received a very good feedback. The biggest question from the faculty was about the gameplay and how exactly is the game played, since it was very hard to convey many details about it in 15 minutes along with the rest of the materials (which we had plenty of), but we hope to solve this problem during Soft Opening where everybody will be able to play the game in our cozy project room.

After all the craziness of past 2 weeks we began to work on our next development sprint. We have started with the scene with an inside nickname “Mid-day Quest”, and there will be more details about that in the next Newsletter, so please stay tuned.