Developer Diary: Becoming the Producer of The Silver Lining Episode 5

by on Feb.27, 2013, under developer diary, tsl

If you are new to the forums you may not know who I am or my history with The Silver Lining. My name is Adrienne Elliott and I am the producer of the final chapter, A Thousand Times Good Night. I first joined the TSL project back in May of 2010 to assist with the release of the first episode, and I shall never forget how excited everyone was on that day as they played through the game. Sure, it was short, but being back in the Land of the Green Isles made people believe that a group of fans could make a game and more would be coming soon.

Everyone on the TSL team wears many different hats, meaning we all have at least more than one job to do, but I didn’t get to even see the production side of game development until the start of the 3rd episode where I became coordinator and after that associate producer. I use to think production was simple and easy as you manage a team and make sure that everything is completed, but it is so much more than that, and I didn’t learn that until November 2011 after the release of Episode 4.

An opportunity had come up for the company and they were asked to produce their first commercial game, Cognition. You never pass up an offer like this and all of a sudden I got to see what production is really like. A producer is in charge of making things happen and that everything happens smoothly as possible, but I didn’t know that I would be in charge of making hundreds of decisions every day, making sure that people did what they needed to while interpreting the script and making the words come out in the form of a character motion or a background. I will fully admit that I struggled greatly with this new form of responsibility–not because I wasn’t ready, but I was afraid of letting you the fans down. You offered so much support during the Save TSL movement and were so patient and excited at the same time as you talked about the plot and what could happen along the road,and there is a lot of pressure when you finally sit down at your computer and try to answer all the questions your development team has and sometimes it did get to me.

Now that it has been a year, being a producer doesn’t bother me, I have accepted and embraced that this is what I’m supposed to do. Many of the decisions I make regard how the game will look or how something should be done, who should be where and what they are responsible for. The producer is like the captain of a ship. They decide ultimately what the end goal will be and below them are the leads of different departments. This was something I was not aware of when I first became a producer. I thought that it was my job to do everything, and actually watching Star Trek helped me to clear that vision away. Captain Picard doesn’t do everything, he has officers and a crew to help him once he has made a decision, and after looking at the production crew, I realized that I wasn’t using my crew to their fullest ability but now I feel that I have the best team anyone could ask for and I am truly blessed to work and know each of them. In the next blog, we will talk about concept art and how important it is to have good concept art before you start.

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Phoenix Online to develop Jane Jensen’s Moebius!

by on Nov.20, 2012, under cognition, featured, news, tsl, Uncategorized

We are extremely excited to finally announce that Phoenix Online Studios is working with Jane Jensen and Pinkerton Road on her upcoming adventure game, Moebius!

After working with Jane on Cognition, we’re just ecstatic (and pinching ourselves!) to be continuing that relationship with Moebius. With mystery, intrigue, and a touch of the supernatural, in Moebius the player takes on the role of Malachi Rector as he investigates a series of events around the globe, uncovering startling truths about the nature of time and life itself in the process. With Jane at the helm and Andy Hoyos, also of Sierra fame, leading the Art Direction, you know it’ll be a fantastic, high-quality adventure game, and Phoenix is working hard to make Moebius a game you’ll enjoy and remember.

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Adventure Gamers interviews Cesar Bittar; MCV India interviews Vitek Goyel

by on Oct.24, 2012, under cognition, news, tsl

Two wild & crazy guys!

Ingmar Böke from Adventure Gamers has posted an extensive, in-depth interview with Cesar Bittar — from how he got interested in adventure games as a kid up through The Silver Lining and the upcoming Cognition! Check it out and get to know our CEO*!

Also not to be missed is an interview with our Vice President Vitek Goyel posted on MCV India!


(*rhyme unintentional, honest!)

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Hassan and Graham Show Strikes Back!

by on Jul.17, 2012, under featured, news, tsl

This Saturday, July 21st, at 3 PM EST, join us for the Graham & Hassan show! In their second ever radio hour, our favorite king and sea captain have musical guest Sylver lined up to perform, and a mystery guest star will be joining them as well! Who will it be? Tune in and find out at www.postudios.com/ustream.html on Saturday

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Job Openings: Cinematic Artist, Concept Artist, Web Development

by on Jun.28, 2012, under cognition, featured, jobs, tsl

Phoenix Online Studios, creators of The Silver Lining and the upcoming Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller, have some new job openings to fill! We have positions open not only for work on Cognition, but also for some very exciting undisclosed projects with some adventure game developer legends. We are looking to add some great talent to the company, people who are ready to take on challenging and rewarding work bringing adventure games to life. Check out our Jobs page for more details on these openings:

Cinematic Artist
Concept Artist
Web Developer/Designer

These are all paid contract positions. Send your resumes and portfolios to jobs@postudios.com to apply!

Enjoy these screenshots and our trailer to get an idea of the art style we are using for Cognition.

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Trailer

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Breaking News: Hassan Has Gone Missing!

by on May.16, 2012, under four winds, tsl

The Captain of the Green Isles ferry has been reported missing!


Stay tuned to the Four Winds for updates!

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Four Winds: Derek Karlavaegen Reaches Mordack’s Island!

by on May.03, 2012, under four winds, tsl

Derek’s sent into another report from his journey to find Alhazred–and has found himself on Mordack’s Island, and in great danger!

In other Four Winds news, check out our coverage of King Graham’s participation in the Triple Trident Tournament under the waves, the full story of Serenia’s Weeping Willow, and the announcement of where Rosella & Edgar will exchange vows!

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The Hassan and Graham Show comes back!

by on Apr.23, 2012, under featured, news, tsl

Coming soon, the Hassan and Graham Radio Show is returning! Join us for a second time of the surly Captain and noble King taking your calls and offering advice, along with a special mystery guest host, and featuring special musical guest, Sylver!

Details on the date are coming, stay tuned!

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Four Winds Updates: Derek Karlavaegen is on the run!

by on Apr.16, 2012, under four winds, tsl

Following the prison break of former Vizier Abdul Alhazred, Four Winds’ visiting reporter and finder of the Eye Between Worlds Derek Karlavaegen is on the run and suspected of aiding in the criminal’s escape! Read the updates on Derek’s case at the Four Winds blog as he reports from locations unknown!

Also, follow our Globe Trekker series for inside looks at the various lands of the world of Daventry, and enjoy our coverage of the location scouting for Rosella and Edgar’s wedding!

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Developer Diary: Managing an Online Team on a Shoestring Budget

by on Jan.31, 2012, under cognition, developer diary, featured, tsl

The next entry in our on-going developer diary series, originally posted here.

Happy New Year! Mayan prophecies be damned, I think 2012 is going to be a great year. (That’s the last time I’ll mention Mayans, unless they turn out to be right and I’m still around post-apocalypse.)

With Kickstarter and the holidays behind us, Phoenix Online has been busy working away at Cognition with all due haste. Our programmers are getting familiar with the Unity Engine and creating the tools and pipeline for the game, our artists are hard at work on concept art and cutscenes, our animators are working on creating the pieces of the game itself, and myself and Cesar are furiously plotting, writing, and editing the first two episodes.

It’s an interesting and different beast than working on The Silver Lining, but the lessons learned in our nine years of development for TSL are serving us well now. We spent that time figuring out just how to make a video game, a trial-and-error of methods that didn’t work and ones that did. We learned how to organize a company that has no office, no budget, and whose members don’t all share a common timezone. Can it be done? It’s not easy, but if you’ve got good people who are dedicated, you can make it work. And while our Kickstarter funds are a huge help in making this game happen, we still need to keep a close eye on our spending. So we don’t overlook the number of programs available either for free or inexpensively that we found and used during TSL’s development.

Advances in communication technology have helped us immensely along the way. We started off on yahoogroups and MSN chat, but today we’ve got our own email system and servers, and Skype has been a great improvement over MSN. The ability to turn those typing chat sessions into free phone calls cuts down on time that was often wasted in trying to explain ourselves—an hour of typing is now a 15 minute conversation! Programs that allow you to share your screens remotely have been a great help as well—most recently we’ve been using Mikogo for this, another product that is free to use. And finally, we’ve run recent live events over Ustream, and plan to use it again when we do our backers-only stream of the demo.

On the production end, our file sharing has been greatly helped by Tortoise SVN and Dropbox. Once we were starting to put together the engine, using the shared files on yahoogroups just wasn’t an option anymore. That’s when we moved to setting an FTP and using SVN to make sure everyone had the most updated builds—it’s simple to install and easy to both update and regress to an earlier version if you need to recover lost files. Dropbox has been an excellent add-on to that as we started stretching our server space with the SVN builds. Though it’s more limited in how much space you have to work with, we could keep smaller projects there and save room on SVN, and it’s similarly easy to update so that everyone is working with the most current files. Then there’s Redmine, an online database that’s excellent for tracking assignments, bugs, and what’s been completed, what hasn’t, who it’s assigned to and so forth; and finally, Gannt, a project management tool that our coordinators swear by for tracking and scheduling.

Gannt in action for Episode 4!

In the end, utilizing tools and programs that are free-to-use has saved us a lot of time as well as money, by helping us organize and streamline our projects. Even now, as a fledgling commercial company, we’re working on a tight budget and every little bit counts. If you’re going to get creative and make a video game for free, be ready to get creative with how you make that feasible for your team.

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