First Public Showing Of The 13th Doll!

September 13, 2016


The 13th Doll - in the eyes of the public!

A couple weeks ago, several local Iowa game developers got together and held an event to showcase our projects to the public. Being the first real public showing of The 13th Doll, and having only ever visited such an event as an attendee, I was really nervous - totally out of my element. I had no idea what to expect, and was bracing for the worst... Fortunately, everything went extraordinarily well. We didn't track it, but I'd guess at least a hundred visitors came through, probably closer to two hundred - the perfect crowd size for a first public viewing. All of the games showed very well, The 13th Doll included.

The demo we built included the foyer, the library, dining room and kitchen. Three puzzles were included, with unique musical tracks for each room and puzzle. Six FMV (video tracks) were available to see, and the puzzle/hint system played about 30 different dialogue tracks from Stauf and Dr. Richmond.

It was interesting to watch people play the game. I've playtested the puzzles so many times that i know all the solutions. It was eye opening to watch people try and find them for themselves, and nice to see that they do pose a fair amount of challenge, without being obnoxiously difficult. I saw a few opportunities to tweak things and make them a bit more user friendly, and got some good feedback from players on improvements to make in the near future. The game was received very well, and the full motion video looked great on a 32 inch monitor.

Here's some images from the show:

an attendee tries to solve the cake puzzle

A little blood doesn't phase Peder

Peder and I talking about something at the show. I'm sure it was important.

Video Review

Peder has spent a lot of time cutting and editing video. We sat down and reviewed everything he's done so far and talked about how to cut a few of the more complex scenes together.

We reviewed the video from the beginning of the game all the way to the end. The footage looks really great! There are some really good moments, really intense moments, and I can't wait for you guys to see them! Wish I could say more, but don't want to spoil anything! I'm really happy with how everything is coming together.

Reshoots!

That said, a couple scenes feel like they'd be better from a slightly different angle, or if we put a quick cut here, the scene would be perfect. So this weekend, we'll be reshooting a handful of scenes to capture anything we've missed. it'll be really nice to see some of the cast again.

Progress Update

Our goal this month is to add all of the video scenes to the game, so that the plot is playable from start to finish. It's a pretty exciting milestone to cross, and still a bit bizarre to think of all the progress we've made.

Matt's been working on the taunt/hint system for puzzles. It's working very well so far.

James is working on the Attic Room at the Top. Once that's finished, we'll go back and optimize every room in the game to make things run a little smoother and faster on older machines.

Shane continues work on the asylum models. There's a lot of different rooms there, some being legacy rooms from a plot iteration we abandoned long ago, so we sorted through them to prioritize what's needed first.

As always, thanks everyone for supporting us! We wouldn't be where we are without you! Talk to you soon!

Ryan HoltKamp

A Special Thank You From Stauf Himself!

July 27, 2016

It's been a while since our last update, though I hope the following video makes it all worth the wait! Without further ado, we bring you a special video message from a new friend of ours, thanking all of you backers, fans and friends for supporting our humble project. Enjoy!

Development Update

We've amassed quite a collection of video files for the game, and we've been working on structuring them and storing them in a format and location that the team can share constructively. It's been a bigger undertaking than expected! Now comes the work of sorting through different shots, cutting, editing, and masking out greenscreen from the video. Peder has his work cut out for him there!

Matt's been developing a system to deliver in game taunts to players. The goal is to generate them randomly with some predictability, such that you don't hear the same taunts repeatedly. Thus far we have over 200 unique lines, most read by Stauf, and some spoken by other ghostly visitors in the game.

The to do list for 3d models and 3d art continues to get smaller! Shane is still working on the asylum, which is looking great as always. James has been working on 3d models for the few remaining puzzles, as well as touching up Wonderworld Toy Store.

On a related note, I actually got to meet the one and only James Bateman at a gaming convention in Austin, Texas. Though we've worked together on The 13th Doll for years, it's always been online via Skype, and this was our first meeting in person. As expected, he's a great guy, and a good time was had by all. I still owe him a beer and hope to make arrangements to settle that debt soon.

As always, thanks again everyone for your help and support!

Ryan HoltKamp

STAUF RETURNS!

May 04, 2016


What a weekend! The cast and crew put in 42 hours over 4 days, including a couple marathon 13 and 14 hour sessions. Lot of work, but so much fun! It was such a surreal, amazing experience. The cast put in some fantastic performances, and I can't wait to put those scenes in the game.

Robert Hirschboeck flew in to reprise his role as Henry Stauf! Rob was simply amazing to work with. He's a great guy - kind, generous, and fairly humble. On first impression, it's hard to imagine him playing the villainous Henry Stauf, but once he's on the stage, he just instantly assumes the persona of old Uncle Henry. It was incredible to see and experience. Naturally, Rob put on a simply phenomenal performance that ran chills up my spine! It was great meeting him, working with him, and hanging out with him after hours, and I'm truly sad the weekend went by so fast!

We had 4 backers visiting the set, from Connecticut to Michigan, Texas and even the Netherlands. Meeting them and sharing stories about the original games was really great. I think they truly enjoyed meeting the cast and crew, seeing how scenes were filmed, and getting a little background info on the plot and characters. Hopefully we didn't spoil too much of the game for them!

The 13th Doll team is spread throughout the country - even the world. We communicate on Skype and via email or facebook - the majority of the team I've never met in person! I finally got to meet Shane Hunt, one of our 3d modelers, who flew in to help with filming. He also did some work on the asylum models while the backers looked on. Sometimes they offered suggestions for easter eggs here and there, so those should be pretty fun to see.

Shane brought some gear along that proved invaluable, including a full size IPad that we used as a teleprompter for some of the scenes with lengthy dialogue.

We filmed 20 different actors over the weekend, and made it through both Tad and Richmond's scripts completely. I don't want to spoil too much, but the pictures speak for themselves:

Props!
 

The Crew with Stauf! L to R: Jared Jewell, Ryan HoltKamp, Peder Goodman, Shane Hunt
 

Director Peder Goodman with the doctors! - Ben Rollins as Dr. Thornfield and Mathias Blake as Dr. Richmond
 

The Woman in White returns...
 

Joking around with Julia-Kaye Rohlf as she reads voiceovers for The Woman In White
 

Hunter Menken records voiceovers as Tad Gorman
 

Hunter and Julia review their lines between takes
 

Looks like someone's found some trouble...
 

Robert Hirschboeck as Henry Stauf
 

Hirschboeck with Isabel Cody rehearsing a scene with the mysterious 13th doll...
 

Stauf hovers over The Woman in White during a pivotal scene...
 

Hirschboeck signing autographs!
 

It's a wrap! Filming is complete!

The 7th Guest was a diverse game, filled with exploration, mystery, puzzles, horror, an abstract story, and a wonderful soundtrack. Of course I'm a bit biased, but I think The 13th Doll very much includes all of those and more, and I think it will really resonate with the core audience, while appealing to a new generation of gamers as well. I'm so proud of the work we've done, and I'm very grateful for everyone who helped this thing happen.

Filming, proved to be the most complex and challenging task in the development of the game - by a long shot. I truly have to thank Peder Goodman, who directed filming, cast the game, found an amazing costumer (Erica Cole) to bring the characters to life, scheduled actors and broke down the complex script into manageable filming sessions, sourced all the gear we needed, from lights to cameras to cranes and microphones and booms and recording equipment and the filming location itself. I can honestly say that without Peder's help, this project would likely have never gotten finished. It's truly been an honor working with him, and I owe him a sincere debt of gratitude for all the work he's done. His passion, perseverence, and dedication are simply incredible. Should you ever meet this man in person, please buy him a beer. ;)

Although filming is finished, there's still a long road ahead of us! We captured over 600 Gb of footage! We'll have to sort through a variety of takes, mask out the greenscreen, then add in FX and composite the scenes into the game. This is likely hundreds of hours of work.

So... a release date is still pretty far off in the horizon, but the good news is that the hard part is behind us.

I'll keep you posted on our progress, and hopefully we'll put together a teaser trailer or two so you can see some of the footage we've captured. Should be a lot of fun. As always, thank you for supporting us!

~RHK

Find us on Facebook!

Filming and 7th Guest Steam Sale!

April 27, 2016

Hey everyone, just a quick update - really just wanted to let everyone know that The 7th Guest and 11th Hour bundle is available on Steam for $2.49. Again, we're not affiliated with Trilobyte, but thought you fans would want to know!

Filming!

We're hard at work filming the game, and expect to be finished, or very nearly finished by the end of Sunday. Lots of work went into planning and coordinating schedules! It's been a bit exhausting, but very, very worthwhile.

Any doubts I may have had about the cast and crew have been proven wrong - the footage looks great. The cast have put on some amazing performances, and very often I'm grinning from ear to ear during many takes. I'm very proud of the work everyone has done.

Later this afternoon, I'll be picking up Robert Hirschboeck (Stauf himself!) from the airport, and we'll be shooting his scenes all weekend. Should be an amazing experience! Until then, here's some photos from the set:
 

Peder behind the camera with Tad (Hunter Menken) and Dr. Richmond (Matthias Blake) on set.
 

The 13th Doll waits for its next scene while Tad lies unconscious....
 

Peder and Matthias discuss a scene while Hunter reviews his lines.

As always, follow us on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/the13thdoll/

And if you missed the Kickstarter, but still want in on the rewards, click to our slacker backer page!

Preorder

RHK

Filming begins!

April 22, 2016

Happy Friday everyone! Today is a great day in the history of our project... today is the official first day of filming! It's a massive milestone for us, and we're really excited! It's been a busy few weeks preparing everything:

Overall, I think we got the feel of the original 7th Guest, while adding our own twist to it. It's a good blend of drama, horror, a couple comedic moments, and just enough campiness to mesh well with the original game. Best of all, we didn't sacrifice anything from the story we planned to make when we first started this project - we stayed true to our original vision. I can't wait to see it go from the script to the stage.

We're also making props for the game, which entails a lot of spray paint, glue, and styrofoam. It's actually a lot of fun. We'd bought a toy knife online that looked like a hyper realistic murder weapon. When it arrived, it looked nothing like the photos; it's the cheapest looking plastic thing you could imagine! So we actually bought a couple knives, ground the blades dull enough to not be dangerous, and painted the blades a matte finish so it wouldn't pick up too much green reflection from the greenscreen. My friend loaned me a vintage 1930's milk bottle (as well as a real dead rabbit carcass -uhh, thanks, but no thanks!) We're mocking up a pair of glass eyes, That's about the extent of the spoilers I'll give you ;)

So, In a few days, Robert Hirschboeck, the one and only Henry Stauf, will be with us on set to film his scenes and record voice overs. A few backers will also be on set with us to meet him and watch us shoot his scenes. I'll finally meet a couple of my developers in person - thus far I've only known them via skype, facebook, and email. So, It's really an amazing time for all of us, and it's going to be a lot of fun. I can't wait!

It's been a tremendous amount of work, and I really have a lot of people to thank - All of you backers and slacker backers, Peder, Matt, James, Shane, Chris Bormend, Chris Weitzel, all of the actors, and plenty more people I'm sure I'm leaving out.

If all goes well, we'll have half the game filmed by the end of the weekend. I'll post some photos from the set early next week!

As always, you can join us on our facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/the13thdoll/

And, if you wanted to back us, but missed the kickstarter campaign, check out our slacker backer page!

Preorder

Thanks everyone!

Ryan HoltKamp

Preparations for Filming!

April 08, 2016

Hello Fans and Backers! It's been a busy, busy few weeks!

We're ramping up for filming, finalizing the script, writing taunts, insults, and hints for puzzles. The script is nearly 70 pages long, and lots of planning is required. Which scenes to shoot when, coordinating actors, costumes, stage access, etc - it's pretty time consuming to get it all together. Peder and his crew are taking it in stride though.

Last weekend, I gave a talk about the game and a brief demo at The University of Iowa. We got some great feedback on the game, and it was received very well.

Probably more relevant to you guys is the preparation for that demo.

-Peder and I had to work through some issues to get video to play with transparency. Ultimately, Peder had to render out video with a mask to omit the black background so that the 3d modeled scene shows through. I had to edit a custom shader to get it to work. The end result looks and plays great.

- I had to modify the code such that the video plays at the correct time, fixes the camera in place, and restricts player motion until it's complete. Also, the music volume had to drop while the dialogue played, then ramp back up afterward. This scene ends with Tad leaving the kitchen into the maze, so the door had to close after him.

-Matt modified and improved the code for the puzzles in these scenes and fixed some bugs. He's also improved the navigation and made that smoother.

-James, of course created and optimized the 3d models, and made them ready for our game engine.

-Chris Bormend created the music tracks for the game.

So it really was a team effort, and everything looked and sounded great. Here's a screenshot of Tad reacting to Dr. Richmond in the game:
 

So, things are going very well with the game! It's a bit surreal, and somewhat stressful too: lots has to happen in a very short time period. Nonetheless, it's a very exciting time for us. Thanks to all of you for being onboard!

- Ryan