Hello everybody, and welcome to the Poisoned Pawn’s brand new website. In order to continue putting our best foot forward we have revamped the design, streamlined the content, and spit-shined this baby to a high sheen! But, we would be amiss if we didn’t also have a bunch of updates and content to share with you, so let’s get right into it!
Wait, was that the Moon Child on the front page?
Yes… yes it was. Next question…
But seriously… let’s delve a bit deeper. Some of you may be aware that the scope of the Poisoned Pawn has expanded beyond just “an Overseer remake”. What you may not be aware of are two very important changes:
- The Poisoned Pawn is the official sequel / successor to Tesla Effect.
- The Poisoned Pawn is Act 1 of the final chapter in the Tex Murphy Adventure series.
So is this now a sequel, a remake, a reboot, a re-imagining? Are you Marvel?
Think of it this way: The Poisoned Pawn is the next title in the Tex Murphy series, period.
While we are revisiting various aspects of Tex’s past (with a primary focus on Overseer), this story takes place in 2050, right after the events of Tesla Effect, and explores some of the most iconic moments from Tex’s previous cases in a whole new light. This is to prepare both players and Tex himself for the big finale. Nothing in the Tex Murphy universe (since the events of Mean Streets) has been an accident. The game has been played, the pieces have been set, and now it is time to look back and pay closer attention to the man behind the curtain, before making the final move.
So does that mean we will get another Tex game after this?
We can only hope. But ultimately this is up to YOU.
It has always been a goal of both ours and the original Tex Murphy team to see the series finished. But as we are all fully aware: Tex Murphy deserves to go out with a BIG bang (ideally, in space). But in order to make a game that is capable of doing justice to the Tex Murphy universe, it would need to be be big, costly and involved.
The Poisoned Pawn is not only a game, but a proof of concept of sorts, which will enable us to gauge Tex’s popularity in today’s market. This is why the Chaotic Fusion team are putting their best foot forward. If we can get The Poisoned Pawn to be a market success, and succeed in bringing Tex Murphy to new audiences, this will increase our chances of justifying the cost and time dedication required to round-off the series appropriately.
So, if you would like to see both Poisoned Pawn succeed, thus potentially paving the way for the big finale to the Tex Murphy universe, it will be up to all of us to help make this project a success!
So, help spread the word: The Poisoned Pawn is act one of Tex’s big finale, and the next title in the Tex Murphy series, period.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about how the game is progressing!
We’ve upgraded to Unity 5.6
Holger and Darren spent the better part of 3 weeks recently migrating the game to Unity 5.6. It was a pretty massive undertaking, but major Kudos to both of these wonderfully talented folks for completing the task, thus enabling The Poisoned Pawn to take full advantage of the latest technologies Unity has to offer! The list of enhancements we’ve been able to add is massive. Here is just a few things we have implemented since upgrading:
Brand new Full Motion Video engine – part of Unity’s new video system
This will enable us to deliver our 4K Full Motion Video content with stellar performance, scaleable across a wide variety of platforms and hardware. This means that regardless of what system The Poisoned Pawn is playing on, we have a unified approach to delivering crystal clear Full Motion Video to your screens that no longer relies on 3rd party tools (THANK GOD!). Don’t have 4K hardware? Don’t worry! Because the new video engine performs so well, the 4K video will scale down to virtually any resolution without being too costly on performance.
A new approach to lighting, and post processing effects
Unity 5.6 delivered a whole new lighting pipeline, which meant our dear Holger had to painstakingly re-light ALL of the environments created so far. He loved doing this. Right Holger? But, being the talented lad that he is: he didn’t just resolve the lighting, he evolved it. The lighting in the game is now more realistic than ever, and we have switched from the Gamma space to Linear, which provides a much more accurate and immersive look. On top of the new lighting model, we have begun experimenting with volumetrics, post-processing effects like HDR, Bloom and Motion Blur (all which will be adjustable via a comprehensive settings menu). These features are all in the experimental stage, but we have been very happy with the results so far.
Overall performance enhancements
As with any new engine update, a good team must ensure performance remains a top priority. Darren has begun investigating ways to help improve load times for the game and its locations, while Holger has begun optimizing locations to perform well across different hardware performance tiers. The Poisoned Pawn is a massive project, so it has always been out goal to ensure the game looks and plays like a fully-immersive Triple A title, while performing extremely well on a wide variety of systems.
So what does this mean for system requirements?
It’s simply too early to tell what the system requirements or min-spec will be. We will continue to optimize performance at the same time we continue to develop and improve the game. It has always been Chaotic Fusion’s philosophy to: Optimize, optimize, and optimize again.
“This is the first full-featured VR title you have to play.”
Those were the words of popular YouTube personality Shane Luis (RerezTV) when he stopped by our booth to play a demo of The Poisoned Pawn at MIVS (MAGFest Indie Videogame Showcase) back in January 2017. We are huge fans of VR here at Chaotic Fusion. More importantly: we are huge fans of bringing VR to the First Person Adventure Game universe! While we have been very impressed with some of the titles appearing on the VR marketplaces, many of these titles are very short, almost tech-demos for the hardware. The Poisoned Pawn is going to be one of the very first fully-featured VR titles of its kind! We say this because we don’t consider VR in our title to be an afterthought… we are seriously investigating ways to enhance the overall experience via the use of creative VR gameplay mechanics.
Imagine, being immersed in Tex’s world, investigating your surroundings and being able to physically interact with your environment with the touch / hand controllers. The possibilities are endless. We are all very excited about how VR is going to integrate into the Tex Murphy universe, and let us be the first to say: there will be things in The Poisoned Pawn’s VR world that you will never have experienced before. But don’t worry if you don’t have VR… there is no VR exclusive content you will be missing out on.
A brand-new orchestrated soundtrack
Mat Van Rhoon has commenced writing the orchestrated soundtrack for The Poisoned Pawn. It has been both a wonderful and challenging experience. It was very important to the Chaotic Fusion team that the overall essence of Tex Murphy was maintained in the new music soundtrack. Rest assured: we would not dream of replacing some of Matt Heider’s most iconic music from the original game. We have built upon the thematic elements first introduced by Matt, and commenced creating an orchestrated musical soundtrack that harmoniously expands Tex Murphy’s musical universe. A demo of the main theme is available to listen to below. Those of you familiar with the Overseer soundtrack will immediately notice some of Tex’s most notable themes present in the piece.
Lights, camera, action!
We are almost at the point where we will commence filming the all new Full Motion Video content. As per Aaron’s new story (visit aaronconners.net for more information), Tex Murphy (Chris Jones) will be reprising his role as Tex Murphy, alongside St. Germaine (Jason Tatom) as they delve deeper into Tex’s past to learn, with greater clarity, not only the events of Overseer, but how pivotal events from all of Tex’s previous cases tie into Tex’s future. We may even see the return of a few other iconic Chandler avenue characters as well!
As for the technical aspects of the shoot; we are currently investigating the best 4K video pipeline that will suit our needs. One of the biggest issues with Tesla Effect ended up being the camera that we used for the shoot. While the Canon C100 did a fantastic job of providing a true “cinematic” feel, the AVCHD codec which we recorded to was very difficult to work with in post-production due to the compressed 4:2:0 subsampling (that’s bad, by the way). This made green screen VFX post work really difficult, and given the sheer amount of shots in the game (roughly 2,800 in fact), and virtually one guy working on all of them, it was difficult to maintain consistency across the board. This time, we are going to ensure we have the highest fidelity source material to work with… this means a full 4:4:4 subsampling pipeline (that’s good, by the way!) and ideally a RAW file format. We also visited various local studios and toured their facilities, looking for the perfect space to shoot our FMV.
And that’s it for now!
Thanks for checking out another exciting update. We certainly hope it has provided you with a greater insight into the progress of the project. We are still not closer to having a concrete release date set as yet. We are still doing our best to aim for an end of 2017 release. However, coming up in February 2018, we will be celebrating Overseer’s 20th anniversary. A pivotal date in the Tex Murphy universe perhaps? Who knows. In the meantime, we will keep chipping away at the game, and hope to deliver another update soon.
If you would like to ask any questions or participate in the conversation, you may use the comments section of this article!
Take care for now,
– The Chaotic Fusion team.
Please note: While each of these updates showcase a collection of features that we are working on or hope to be in the final game, it is important to understand that many of these features are being implemented and driven by the ambition of our very small team. We will endeavor to include as many of these as possible in the final game, but will not guarantee any of these features. We are, however, confident in our ability to deliver.