In our previous game we took a risk and made live-action cutscenes. We didn’t have professional equipment, studio and actors, so we focused on bringing the haunted atmosphere to the player using environment, first-person view, color grading. Scenes shouldn’t look cheap, but more like amateur video style. We got pretty good feedback from our players. It was decided that in The Last Dream we’ll shoot live-action again, but this time the approach will wider, aiming at something like short movie.
First of all – more locations and “third-person” view, meaning actor in scenes. We had to make player watch our videos, so every location in cutscenes was unique and eye-catching. We made actor dive into the lake, run across the forest, visit visually catching places like amusement park, garages.
The most difficult scene was the car crash, that you can see in intro scene. It was true movie development. In part, where actors are inside the car, the environment behind windshield was completely substitute using visual effects (car lights are VFX too) because scene was shot by daylight and we needed night and rain. The second part, where girl is laying on the asphalt is also heavy loaded with VFX. Day turned into night, rain added, rain drops on lens. When we set this scene up, people going by, was watching us very suspiciously. Just imagine: car, girl in front of it - looks like a real accident. Maybe our cameras stopped someone from calling police.
Speaking about the actors. Choosing the real couple to play a couple was kind of cheat for us, to achieve the best result possible. For example, we used their real photos in hero’s flashback and achievements. The whole story was build in such way, so Maxim (actor) and his character were perfect match in temperament. Despite his wife appears only few times in game, her role required more acting. Player had to see that she is sad about something. She is so calm like nothing happens and this is a clue, that player will understand at the end. We have also shot heroine on green screen to put here inside levels and she looked pretty organic there.
In overall, it was absolutely new and great experience for us. We got involved in game’s story much deeper and hope our players will feel the same.
It was a long and exhausting way. Like always, the idea started the fire of the development but keeping it burning requires a lot of efforts. The working title of The Last Dream was 21/07/2013. The very first idea was that this date is very important to hero. Maybe date of his marriage. Like we know, his wife died in car accident, so this number makes him suffer, gets him in distress. He sees this number in a shop, in advertisement, in phone numbers etc. So this number acts like a trail, where hero would find clues and move further to the mystery behind it. That was the concept, but later, we decided to make his path more personal and more mysterious. So instead of the date we put several items which lead hero to the places somehow connected to him. Country house, where he and Elizabeth had a vacation, old garage, park. We want our character (and player, of course) has a real journey through his life, his memories, his feelings about certain places and events. Our desire was to show his life (and game world) as wide as possibly, that’s why every level is unique location and not straightforward continue of previous one. The hero wife act like a thread through all the levels, appearing as ghost and makes us follow her. Every game needs some intense. You must overcome some obstacles to feel satisfaction. We though about the “wall” between world of hero and world of his wife. We called it a Barrier. Now hero had two main tasks: reach his wife by following her and to breach the barrier which doesn’t allow him to do that. We have a metaphor in mind, that love can break any barriers and it sounded great to us.
Another idea was taken from 2 famous authors Johnathan Swift (Gulliver’s travel: Part II: A Voyage to Brobdingnag) and Richard Matheson (Shrinking man). We made one level where our hero shrinks to the size of an insect and must go through the entire room.
Later, when development has already started, we got an idea to give hero a friend, who can help him. It was a cat. It wasn’t human because we wanted cat to have unique actions, that hero can’t do by himself.
Like it was said earlier, such ambitious ideas required a lot work. Much more that we expected. Just imagine how difficult to give the artist a task to draw “reality warped by hero’s mind”, “invisible force is building obstacles”, “place from a fantastic dream”.
Cat was a great idea and we wanted player to feel that it is really near him. When you do some action with cat, it jumps onto the level and do his work! To implement such level of interaction one man personally did a full 3-d model with fur and animated it.
Eventually we realized that our project is impressive, large, filled with animations, has live-action video. We tried to put our player even deeper inside the game and animated few in-game scenes with 3D model of hero’s hands, so player can have kind of first-person experience. He will see how character actually takes remote control and then run a toy car.
We did our best at that moment. It’s a long, sometimes difficult, full of events path, but if you’ll take it – we guarantee you good memories.