Pilot Episode Released

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Pilot Episode Released

Post by Mystara » Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:36 am

It's here at last!

The pilot episode of AegisQuest has been released. You can see it here:
http://www.aegisquest.com/news/pilot/68 ... eased.html

We'd greatly appreciate it if you can leave comments and reviews on youtube and if you'd refer your friends to the video if you enjoy it.
Alan Boyd
Website: http://www.twicetwice.co.uk/

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Re: Pilot Episode Released

Post by DarkComet » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:40 pm

Just watched. Here are my thoughts:

Things that worked

The Premise. The dungeoneer character being plucked out of space and time and being deposited uncerimoniously into this rather nasty realm is an intriguing idea. When objective is the simple matter of survival as opposed to a quest for chivalry/honour/shiny things/whores, the stakes are immediately raised. I haven't seen enough of the gameplay to comment much, but it looks like you're emulating the structure/spirit of Knightmare pretty faithfully - believe me, that's no bad thing.

The graphics. Smooth rendering, no clear glitches in the chromakey, suitably claustraphobic and cave-ey - very nicely done.

Nak. This is precisely the kind of performance that will make this project work. Emotive acting, good use of body language, it felt he was properly responding to someone in front of him.

The music. Best moment for me was the suspenseful music crossing the bridge. Did wonders for the tension, and suggested a very real danger of iminent death. The background ambience of cavern water drops and the like also did much to convince we were in a real series of caves.

Things that didn't do it for me (with suggestions)

Ward. It might have been the performance (which came off as a bit too scripted/forced for me), or it could have been expecting an all-knowing Treguard-esque "Dungeon Master" character as opposed to the bewildered observer he came off as, but I was not convinced by Ward as a character, dapper as he was. As a character I think he can work, but the performance needs a bit more work on the conviction - it wasn't a voice that could "power a steam engine", as it were.

No departure from First Person. This killed a lot of the potential immersion for me. I never got the feeling the dungeoneer was actually there: rather, I was simply looking over the shoulder of someone else play a slow paced FPS. Now, if you were to occasionally to cut away to the dungeoneer conversing with the characters (perhaps when asking a question, or to show a particular response to something that is said), or entering/leaving an area, or showing a reaction at a particular moment, this would do wonders for immersion - suddenly, we're not just piggybacking someone's LP of a dungeon, but we're seeing someone physically interact/respond/exist in this realm. This is probably more of a post-production thing, but I think it will be worth it for the sake of making more of a drama out of the proceedings.

No footsteps. It's a small thing, but editing in footsteps of an echoy/stony variety will again help us be convinced we're looking through the eyes of a real person, not just a floating camera cruising round a rendered dungeon.

No variety in the dialogue sections. Not in terms of the dialogue itself, that was cushty. But having only two camera views - distant and close up - made them seem like they were going on a lot longer than they were. I understand you might be limited for reasons of resources/time, but your best advantage over the old KM format is that with a 3D rendered world, you've suddenly got the freedom to make use of ANY angle of the room. If it can be properly utilised - different varities in the closeups, slow pans around the character as they talk, high/low angle shots - then the presentation aspect will be hugely enhanced. Couple that with the player being present, and things will take a turn for the awesome.

Reading back, these points may come off as a little harsh, and is in no means an indictment of the very clear effort and dedication that's already gone into this. I really want to see this work and be successful, there's currently nothing like it online at the moment and - lets be honest here - its esentially you guys trying to bring us Knightmare via an online medium, which is an endeavour that deserves all the backing I can muster. I hope this will be of some use to you, and I hope that you will spin this out into a full series - I certainly have aspirations of taking on this fascinating world of yours, and I don't think I will be the only one.

(Also, the riddle answer: was it "a promise", by any chance?)
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Re: Pilot Episode Released

Post by Darren » Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:40 pm

A good review I must say so, i'm not fantastic at expressing my thoughts entirely, but i'll do what I can.

I was sceptical about the project at first, I wasn't sure if it could work or if there was enough team effort there. Pleased to say those feelings have been put to rest. The environments showed similarities to Knightmare and they were quite atmospheric. The theme and score were superb, especially the piece on the ledge puzzle, absolutely nailed it! Now on with the acting!

Firstly, I must say that Maraki's character was perfect, I absolutely love her! She sends a shiver down my spine and the character was believable. Nak's character was also very good, lines were delivered well and I quite enjoyed the interaction he had with Ward, it made me smile.

Unfortunately I just wasn't getting the same feelings from Ward's character. I didn't like the slumping...not quite sure what was going on there. Also the eye contact, there wasn't a great deal of it...looking down towards the floor didn't really seem too professional. However it wasn't all bad, the close up shot seemed to work. I strongly feel that more work needs to be done with this character to bring it to its full potential.

There has been a fantastic effort throughout. Overall the acting was very good and there has been some obvious effort put into the environments and I think you're all onto something quite special here!

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Re: Pilot Episode Released

Post by DarkComet » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:32 pm

If there are any redditors present, I've submitted a link to this episode on the shameless plug and fantasy subreddits. Helicopter over there and upvote, post haste.

Also, I've FB'd and RT'd, as ever, For Great Justice. Recommend doing the same.
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Re: Pilot Episode Released

Post by Mystara » Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:09 am

Joined reddit and gave it a thumbs up. They didn't even ask me for my email address :)

Thanks for the comments so far, and I'm glad that (on the whole) you like it. Allow me to respond to a couple of points that you've raised.

Ward
Ward is supposed to be a weak and cowardly, but ultimately good and relatively clever advisor.
Does that change your opinion regarding him, or do your comments still stand?

Departure from first person
I'd very much like to do this, and I agree that it moves away from the feeling that you're watching someone play a FPS. Although I don't think it was a big problem for the pilot.

There are two difficulties with doing this, though.
Firstly, it's not the view that the advisors get. I wouldn't want to imply that the advisors get a third person perspective of a room when they're stuck with a first person perspective, which makes guiding much harder. Being in first person, you can't see behind you and you don't get a good depth of vision of the room. I guess that if the first person view was used for the majority of the time then it'll be fine though.

Secondly, the problem comes in WHO to show for the quester. We were very careful to avoid showing the quester's face since the quester (as shown) may not be the same as the quester that played the dungeon. Of course, even if it isn't, it's potentially not a problem.

Variety in dialogue
As far as panning shots go, I think these are hard to set up. We use one when the quester turns to exit Ward's sanctuary at the beginning and, as I understand it, it was a bugger to set up. Matching camera footage to video footage has turned out to be rather hard. That said, it's something we reckon we could do better if we had a second chance at filming.

With respect to strange camera angles (wide/shallow shots). Regular TV shows don't really make use of these and they're equally immersive (i.e. they have a full set). They also tend to make use of the standard closeup/wide shot arrangement that we had. So do you really feel that odd shots would improve things.
One difficulty that we'd have with this is our ability to capture the shots. For example, we had very little means to capture a high angle shot (looking down) on anyone.


Thanks again for the reviews. More are welcome!
Alan Boyd
Website: http://www.twicetwice.co.uk/

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Re: Pilot Episode Released

Post by Darren » Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:21 pm

As you say, this is just a pilot and you will learn and improve in time, I don't expect perfection first time around. There's always ways to improve and grow and I am sure you will all do so as a group as this goes on.

I did get the impression about Ward that he was weak and cowardly, but I do still feel there needs to be an improvement on the acting. But I would still like to see more of the character!

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Re: Pilot Episode Released

Post by Amorya » Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:16 pm

Overall I really liked it. I'm glad you managed to pull it off, and I look forward to watching a series (and maybe offering to take part: my housemates are all knightmare fans so we might make a good team.)

My main objection: the backgrounds were too dark. I was watching on my laptop, and granted it was a very sunny day at the time, but I had the brightness right up and still had to move from my desk to somewhere more away from the window. I could see the characters fine though, it was just the rooms themselves.

Regarding Ward, I think it might just be that he's so different form Treguard. Probably over a series I'd get used to him, and the actor would get used to the role. Perhaps you could give him some kind of pool (like Lord Fear's) to look into to see what was going on?

Regarding third person view, you said the advisors wouldn't get that view: is that because it's not technically possible, or is that a conscious decision? Letting the advisors see a third person overview might be quite nice.

Good things: I agree about the music being awesome, and the tech working really well. The premise was great too, and the acting was mostly very good (as I say, I'm sure the actors will get into the roles more and more as the series goes on: real Knightmare took a while to get going in that way too.) Above all, it's great that there's a new Knightmare-style game happening, and I can't wait to see more of it!

By the way, where are you guys based? Or is this a distributed internet effort? One of my housemates recognised one of your actors from Warwick LARPS.

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Re: Pilot Episode Released

Post by Mystara » Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:30 pm

Dark Backgrounds

This is a problem as people have their monitors calibrated differently (and more often not at all).
So from my perspective, if we made things any brighter, they'd look wrong.

Not quite sure how to address that except maybe to make the dungeon a bit brighter :/

Third Person View

It's a conscious decision. It makes the setup slightly easier (no need to align rooms, objects and NPCs so that the advisors can see everything) and adds an additional element of challenge - where to look.

Our Location

Completely distributed. I'm living in Edinburgh, Forester is in Loughborough. Ben is in London. I think Matt and Keith are south of London....
The filming itself was done in London, since it was easiest for everyone to get to and was fairly cheap to hire space.

I'm sure we'll have space for contestants soon :)
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Re: Pilot Episode Released

Post by Pooka » Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:23 pm

Yes, well, sorry I couldn't do anything about the idiot playing Ward ;)

More seriously, though, on the day of filming I found it a little hard to concentrate on the camera. My eyes dart around a little more than I'd like and I'll agree that this makes Ward a little less accessible than I'd originally planned! I promise, when we film Series 1 I'll keep looking straight ahead!

Oh, and he's not a coward, he's just too clever to wander off into the Dungeon with a blind stranger ::)

Okay, some other points I'd like to make:

- The music is very good, although it stops halfway through the floor puzzle - helpfully, just before the Quester falls off the edge (or would have fallen). Maybe sticking two sequences of this music together may have worked,
- The first scene, in which the Quester explains the Dungeon can't be seen, was well done, I thought. The cut back to a close-up of Ward was unexpected (although we filmed it, I didn't expect Ward to actually be seen much) and it worked well to explain how the advisors came into being.
- Nak's scene was a good one all 'round. Good acting from Dave there and a nice interaction between Nak, Ward and the team. I also liked the way Nak didn't just stand still when they were discoursing - a well-edited scene, with plenty of movement. (And yes, it's a secret! Well done, all those who guessed that one.)
- It was somewhat difficult to tell who was speaking in voiceover. Matt, Alan, Keith and I all sound somewhat similar at points! I think icons in the top left, which glow when a certain person is speaking, so we can distinguish whether it's Advisor 1 or Advisor 2, would help.
- Speaking of which, the special effects were great. The portal effect was the best, especially when coupled with the SFX. Ward's viewing window and Maraki's teleportation were also good to look at. They didn't feel too forced or added-in, and that helps.
- Some of the dialogue felt a bit forced. But then again, this pilot was entirely scripted. So there's nothing we could have don about that, unfortunately.
- I like the title and ending music!
- The character we saw in the stinger - would you trust him? And who's that mysterious skeletal man hovering with a dagger just before him? Just so you have something to wonder about...

I wrote the original script for this pilot, so I'm glad it's been finished and watched. And thanks for everyone who's worked on it so far - especially Forester, Alan, Matt and all those who put in a large amount of effort. I hope more people enjoy it and we get enough interest to eventually film a Series 1.
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Re: Pilot Episode Released

Post by Mystara » Fri Jul 09, 2010 5:15 pm

The use of icons would make it rather computer-gamey, no?
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Re: Pilot Episode Released

Post by DarkComet » Fri Jul 09, 2010 5:22 pm

Regarding Ward's character, I think that this could be a good direction to take. I'd say it was more the actual performance itself that didn't immediately sway me, but I think with time and practice this is something that can be improved upon. The best thing about Hugo as Tre wasn't necessarily the traits of the character itself, but it was the fact he WAS the character, completely and with total conviction. If Pooka can pull off the same, then we'll be on to a winner. Again, I'm sure that it's a case of practice and making the character his own.

Regarding the third person, my thinking is that for certain key actions - picking up something from a table, taking the final step in a causeway, a particular death, casting magic - it briefly cuts to the player doing this, maybe for about 5-6 seconds, then cuts back again. If you know your oldskool point and click games, the Tex Murphy FMV adventures are masters of this, Under a Killing Moon and The Pandora Directive in particular. This would be a post-production thing, mainly - I'm sure players wouldn't mind filming a few extra scenes of this nature after the actual "game" had been finished to make the released version more of a dramatic beast and show off particular Crowning Moments of Awesome.

Thanks for taking my blitherances on board, it's really interesting learning about the production side of all this, of which I will be the first to admit I know next to nothing.
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Re: Pilot Episode Released

Post by DarkComet » Fri Jul 09, 2010 7:04 pm

Sorry for double post, but I've submitted the pilot to the 32k strong SciFi subreddit (it said fantasy was welcome, so this should be kosher). A few upboats would not go amiss, I am sure.
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Re: Pilot Episode Released

Post by KaM » Thu Jul 15, 2010 12:54 am

Hey all. What an awesome pilot! I'm sorry for lameness here, but because I spent such an irrationally long time writing an article about the pilot for my blog (which nobody will read), I'm going to save time and effort by linking here, and hoping it might attract a click or two. I even made a little promotional picture to go with it.

Image

"Through My Eyes Only: Aegis Quest"

Admittedly, this is considerably more about than on the pilot. I think I largely agree with what has been said here. It looks intriguing and a clear challenge. It reminds me a lot of early S8, not only with the consistent aesthetics of the environment, but also when the first team perished quickly as a statement of intent. The characters come across great (as we knew they would), although I think the close-ups on Ward are awkward (I agree, Ben, that it seems a bit unexpected). Ward just doesn't have the presence for me, although I think the voiceovers are better.

But I'm also pleased that I'm not the only one that believes that, despite its clear and conscious efforts to be recognized as a separate project from KM, there are many positives to be garnered from recognizing the tropes of similarity. From a marketing point-of-view, I think one of the only ways to push views from the hundreds to the thousands is going to be to let it fall under the shade of a new KM, as opposed to something that is distinctly not-KM, even if only temporarily. I'm not a big RPG gamer outside the realm of Knightmare, and I think to myself this evening: there must be loads of RPG style projects going on out there that I have never yet come across, and probably never will. I do not go searching wide of Knightmare - that is very much my vogue. AQ fills a unique gap in the market as being able to go where KM always wanted to, and never could. I figure that 'to boldly go' is the way, because nobody wants a meek and empty retreat into the wilderness.

Want to join Pooka in thanks: to him for the creative, to Forester for amazing effects (and for making potentially awkward moments vanish), and to Alan for the project (and for letting me play Quester). There's nothing quite like playing a Guybrush Threepwood. If only I'd said to Maraki, "You fight like a cow!"

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Re: Pilot Episode Released

Post by HStorm » Thu Jul 15, 2010 6:22 pm

Visually it's superb. I certainly wouldn't worry about the backgrounds being dark. It wouldn't be the Dungeon if it were any different.

The sound quality is not so good. The dungeoneer seems to be delivering his lines by telephone, while breathing on the mic a lot, and there's a very 'wooden' echo when the NPCs are speaking, which breaks the illusion of being in subterranean caverns.

Some of the dialogue could do with a redraft; it's colourless and humourless - not necessarily a problem as it has a pseudo-medieval quality that is quite appropriate - but also there seem to be some abrupt 21st Century words forcing their way in. For instance, Ward asking, "Are you okay?" is a bit of an Americanism. By the way, it's a bit rough of Ward to snap, "Come on, get up!" to a guy who's out cold on the cavern floor!

Is the answer to the riddle "A promise"?

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Re: Pilot Episode Released

Post by JamesA » Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:46 pm

Pooka wrote:- The character we saw in the stinger - would you trust him? And who's that mysterious skeletal man hovering with a dagger just before him? Just so you have something to wonder about...
Where did you find this guy to play him? I don't normally get spooked easily, but good grief....

Overall, I glad that the pilot is finally here for everyone to watch, and I echo KaM's opinion that this will be a fantastic opportunity for people to actually have the feel of playing in a 3D enviroment of a quest that is of a nature similar to Knightmare.
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