5th May 2014 – Ian

Released the teaser last week, and bare details, with a link to sign-up on the mailing list. Seems to have been well received – 71 people liking the new FB page, 25 people on the ‘more info’ mailing list. Isn’t the real push yet – that’ll wait for pricing details and a website to point people at.

Mail from Si Childs and Nick B saying ‘we don’t like horror, but we’d like to help out’ – sound like stooge material to me!

Biggest obstacle at the moment is figuring out how we’re going to house all the crew we’d like to have; there’s not really enough space in the lodge. Might need to shell out for B&Bs, which take budget, might need to hire a caravan – god knows. Will think of something; need to examine sleeping arrangements and budget more carefully. Dan Mac volunteered to step down if we need the spaces. Bill: “I think that’s a shit idea” 😉

Doing another pass on the plot doc before Rach and I discuss it in depth with Damo. I thought I was throwing the original plot out a few weeks ago because I didn’t like it, but having thought about it again from first principles I don’t think we were too far off – just needs to be written down and explained better.

Went through some basic stuff with Rach yesterday:

  • We do need some sort of game system for death/injury, because even if we don’t plan to kill players they need to think that they can die. (We don’t plan on having physical monsters. But players might hit each other.)
  • IC game will probably wrap up Sunday evening. OOC Monday night, give people a chance to sleep before driving.
  • Sanity et al – the Cthulhu game sanity mechanic (where refs hand out sanity ‘tics’ if you’ve seen too much strangeness / you have a sanity level) is interesting in terms of ramping up the interactions, but is basically very gamey. What would be lovely is if we can just gradually drive the players to adopt insane behaviour purely based on what we throw at them. Rach suggested we hint at it in the player briefs – if we’re going for IC briefs a la Dick Britton (and I think we should) then maybe some sort of psychological report on some of the players, for some reason, to highlight snapping points and the fact that they need to think that they might snap?
  • Ghosts and final ghost; we’re dividing the house into ‘areas’ each of which is haunted by a particular thing. Probably best to think about these as linears – all need to be dealt with, one by one, if poss, before final ghost is laid to rest. Maybe the players are unaware of the final ghost until right at the end ‘hey, we’ve solved all 6!’ ‘then why’s there still weird shit?’
  • Owner of the house / main guy – think Rach’s original idea of him being off-camera a lot works best. Maybe on his death bed, wheeled out occasionally. Will say more about this in the plot doc.
  • Need to figure out what the levers and buttons are we’re giving the players so they can affect the game / plot – what are the game mechanics?

Later: Just realised that God Rest Ye Merry shortens to GRYM. 🙂

Later: Discussion with Rach and some back-figuring, there’s actually more space in the house than we thought. Running the totals looks like we need to fit in 7 more people to get our ideal crew, so Rach is writing to the site to see if they’ll let us sleeping bag it on the floor. There’re rooms in the house I never knew existed (Butler’s room, for example, accessed from outside) that we should be able to use.

Rach had a chat with Harry about meals, and what we need. I rewrote the plot synopsis, and think I’m happier with the basics – needs a chat through with Damo now.

8th May 2014 – Ian

Rach has info back from the house – just checking final details, but it sounds *fingers crossed* like we’re only looking for 3 more sleeping spots now and the house might let us away with sleeping bags and Karrimats. 🙂

In other thoughts – we need more female crew members due to just thinking about make up of house staff. We currently have:

  • Kiera (probably busy with art / stunts)
  • Manda and Prudence (probably busy cooking, but at least around and obvious)
  • Rachel (can do most time when not organising / reffing)

Soo… we have mostly cast one of our two ‘unknown’ NPCs as one of Bill’s actor mates, so there’s another spot there we should be thinking about. And we’ve loosely pencilled in Nick B and Si Childs as stooges (must ask them when we have numbers confirmed) so there’s a third space there – admittedly they’ll be a PC for a while, but always useful afterwards.

9th May 2014 – Ian

Got a version of the website up last night – people are checking it now, but it’ll probably go up tonight. Being up front about us being picky about players and our reasons for charging a lot – no reason not to.

Good news from Rach – we have space for all our crew! That was the last real sticking point, so full steam ahead.

Plan to ask Nick B and Si C about stoogedom tonight. New plan – don’t tell stooges that there are other stooges. 🙂 In fact, tell them we’re looking for ‘a stooge’ and go from there. May not survive contact with the enemy, but could be fun.

Have my eye on a portably battery-powered video projector for some effects work…

Later: Evening unexpectedly became a plot discussion between me, Rach and Rich – think we have sorted out some stuff. (Along with sticking to basic ‘no rituals, not even something which smells like a ritual!’ rules.)

10th May 2014 – Ian

Confirmed Si C and Nick B as stooges. Win. 🙂

Opened bookings & launched website at 11am.

By 12.30 12 people had registered a desire to book – that’s more than half our 22 ‘real’ players. We should have doubled our asking price. 🙂 We’re not quite doing first come first served bookings, so are going to have to do some thinking if it overspills (which I think it will). To think we’d expected finding takers to be difficult at that price!

Badger and Chris Puttock confirmed for art dept.

19 people of our 22 booked within the first 13 hours.

13th May 2014 – Ian

Well – By Sunday all the spaces had gone. Today we’ve got 33 people showing interest in 22 spaces. Wow. 🙂

Putting together booking confirmation forms now (all Google docs – wow, tech has changed). Asking for general Physical/Social/Mental 1-5 scores for what people would like to play. It’s not a Dick Britton Venn diagram, but it’s a lot easier to admin.

Later: Had a brief wobble there as I realised we had more double rooms than I expected and it looked like it was all gonna get very complicated, but Rach, as usual, has applied sanity and all is good now.

Minor change, forced by sleeping circumstances – we have 1 fewer stooge (which is fine, there was one space anyway) and we can have 1 more crewmember (probably another full-time NPC, I reckon, and probably female).

Later: Booking invites gone out to people!

14th May 2014 – Ian

Place invites gone out to people – have created yet another FB group for event attendees to froth in. List of phobias coming in from player’s booking forms which Rich and Rachel tell me we’re not allowed to exploit… *sigh*

28th May 2014 – Ian

About 3/4s of the booking forms and deposits in.

Yesterday a Cool Thing arrived – an ADIN Bluetooth vibrating speaker. Sit it on a surface and it uses that surface to make noise. The best thing is that it feels like the noise is solid and real because of the vibrations. Stick it on the other side of a door and put your ear to the door and its amazing. Not sure what we’ll use it for yet, but being able to trigger it from an iPhone is kinda cool. You can stick it to windows, too. I imagine it’ll be in a cupboard, or in a hollowed-out candle on the dining table, or inside the piano, or something…

Confirmed with Stu Chambers that he’s in for helping out Badger and Bill, so art dept complete!

1st June 2014 – Ian

Site visit yesterday, after Bill had a fun run-in with a hunt (don’t ask!). Site is as good as we remembered, with a bunch of extra rooms we didn’t know about. Found a great room to use as OOC room, replacing our original idea and freeing up more rooms for the players to explore. Found a bunch of places where false walls / compartments etc. can be created. Took video and pictures. Plan is to go back in, say, 6 months when we’ve firmed up set pieces to measure up and colour match etc.

Oh, and there’s a place for Kiera to jump out of a window, and one for Chris to be dragged bodily along a corridor. What could possibly go wrong?

Debating who to put in as our extra crew. Gemma McKee is a possible, as is El, but maybe Ruth Pease if she’s up for it, as it’d be good to have someone to cover makeup duties. Bill has asked her.

6th June 2014 – Ian

Plot hangout with Rach, Rich, me and Damo (who was in Scotland!) last night where we hammered through the ending, I think, and some minor bits and pieces about the structure. All seems good.

More electronics kit has arrived – now three vibration speakers.

1st July 2014 – Ian

Damo, Rach, Rich and I had a several hour long meeting to sort out which player is playing what, and how they’re all related. Think we’ve got it nailed – need to double-check some bits and pieces. Everyone has Dark Secrets! Now all we need are names…

6th July 2014 – Ian

Character one-liners went out to people.

7th July 2014 – Ian

Goddammit! From a non-working email address. Let’s try that again.

8th Jul 2014 – Ian

Okay, most people are happy. Tweak on Si Childs’ character, which makes sense, and we haven’t got anywhere near what Si English wanted, so have rewritten that and he’s a lot happier with it now.

9th Jul 2014 – Ian

Everyone happy. On to stage 2! Also, have ordered a couple of cheap wireless cameras, for the purposes of watching what players are up to.

25th Jul 2014 – Ian

A whole load of IC invites went out to players today, along with a bit more OOC info. Hadn’t expected to send out IC invites at all, to be honest, but it seemed like the right thing to do at the last minute and came together pretty well. Also includes the ‘secret Santa’ details, which is mostly Godfrey Northmoor making little jibes at different members of the family.

31st Jul 2014 – Ian

Brief ghost design discussion where we’ve nailed down a list of ghosts and some ideas for their manifestations and effects. Also ordered a battery-powered projector – for some of those effects. 🙂

11th Aug 2014 – Ian

Rach and I did a bunch of ghost story writing as we drove back from the 3 Peaks last night. I worked it into the family tree. Just a few details to smooth out. Video projector arrived last week – really small, really cool. Now need to record video of a ghost!

18th Aug 2014 – Ian

Rach and I did a load more writing for character background while driving back from the event last night. Will try and get it documented ASAP. We’re getting towards the point now where we could start to generate return pack docs, very nearly – just need another pass on a couple of things.

Also, reckon we’ve sorted out the last remaining ghost we were having issues with – a puppeted ‘wraith’ that has an aura of cold / ice / frost / snow around it. If we can pull that one off. 🙂

Parts have arrived for me to build radios.

Steve Anderson (old work colleague) is working on a telephone system.

Have asked Mac and Anna if we can steal their children for a recording session.

Rach is asking a friend of hers if she’ll play a silent movie ghost for us (just for the purposes of recording some film footage and publicity photos).

23rd Sep 2014 – Ian

Spent a surprisingly short time gutting 1950s radios at the weekend and soldering in cables so that we can conceal MP3 players and mini speakers inside them but still use the original power knobs. Seems to be working fine.

Steve is progressing with the phone system – just sorting out the ringing.

Lots of character development going on. Nearly finished with the first pass before leaping into writing piles of IC documents.

Bill & Kiera are coming down at the weekend to finalise list of effects etc.

28th Sep 2014 – Ian

Friday eve Rich, Rach and I went through the second half of the characters to sort them out. Think we got there.

We’ve also had a bit of a brainwave regarding casting / characters – we’re gonna try swapping Jason M away from playing Godfrey into playing the butler, and cast Nick Bradbeer – once he’s dead – as Godfrey. Family resemblance and all. It makes sense of what to do with Nick when he’s dead, it uses Jason more appropriately, and it frees up a crew space.

This evening had Bill & Kiera down to talk about effects and ghosts. Think we’ve finally nailed the ending (and its location) and a bunch of fun effects. Still no ‘tank’ moment, but I think we’ve come to the conclusion that we don’t really need one.

Other things:

  • Some of the crew will have IC servant characters. They’ll play these some of the time. At other times, both crew + effects will be in ?blue boiler suits? – these are local ‘builders’ repairing the barn and are probably foreign, lowest of the low, and not worth paying attention to. In other words in this state the players will be told OOC that blue-suited figures have no plot and are not worth interacting with. Same schtick as with Dick Britton.
  • Christmas crackers! Godfrey’s little fun at the table – each cracker will have a motto in that hints at an awful secret someone round the table has.

30th Sep 2014 – Ian

Booked in to record the ghostly voices of children by nicking Anna & Mac’s kids at the end of November.

Jason & Nick B are happy with the swap around.

Forgot to mention – if we have a servant dressed as Santa sneaking around the house in the early hours of the morning then hilarity will ensue as the players think it’s a ghost…

21st Oct 2014 – Ian

Lots of stuff over the last while. Main thing is a couple of articles that have gone out to players giving background on the family, and a family tree, and guest and cast lists. All seems good (apart from Jules picking up on my failure to use Debrett’s properly!).

Have sorted out crew characters and given them some backgrounds. Now into the serious creating player packs stuff.

28th Oct 2014 – Ian

Ordered some 50s toys and games and old christmas decorations off Ebay… and a few teddies and dolls, selected for freakishness.

Just had a message from one of the sellers… “I do hope you’ll think this doll is as cute as I think it is.” Holy jeebus on a unicycle. Writing “No, I selected these in the hope it would scare the bejesus out of adults” is probably not the appropriate response.

Also, Rach and I accidentally ended up in Hay-on-Wye this weekend and picked up some appropriate 1950s books, newspapers and magazines to mildly hack about for the game.

15 Nov 2014 – Ian

Lots happened since the last post:

  • Rach & I have spent 3 weeks writing character packs – bit more to go before we then print & send them out.
  • I designed and printed a load of custom wooden Christmas decorations bearing the Northmoor crest and personalised per character to be sent out in packs and as keepsakes for players & crew. Used a local laser-cutter lab to do it.
  • Rach did a photo shoot with Flossie Smalls to be our Actress ghost. We have shots which will be her publicity photos, and videos which we can insert into old film, and some which will be used for projecting onto muslin&smoke.
  • Rach did another photo shoot with Rachael Eyre, who’s playing the event, so we can make up some blackmail photos for another character.

16th Nov – Ian

I think Rachel and I have finished writing all the player IC documents.

Of course, now we have to format them all up and print them out and package them up. Which won’t start happening for a week or so. Still, they should all be out roughly round the end of Nov/beginning of Dec, which is on schedule.

Mind you, then we’ve got all the IC documents to write to actually put in the house…

Later: On a quick scan, 208 documents in the player-specific return packs. (Many of which contain multiple sub-docs e.g. chains of letters.). This does not count documents which are reprinted to send to more than one player. I suspect the printer will be a bit busy.

9th Dec – Ian

Wow. Kinda lost track of writing this because we’ve been so busy.

All of the documents printed and packaged, nearly killing Rach and myself. Total of 533 pieces of paper we generated, and a bunch of extra props we happened to have lying around. And two sets of audio files for Jo and for Roz. Packs include retouched blackmail photos having nicked photos of the players from Facebook. 🙂

Oh yes, the audio – we had Anna and Mac’s kids Ella and Charlie down a couple of weeks back to record them as ‘Robert and Eleanor’, dead twins, the Ghost children. Which was fun! Rewarded them with LEGO advent calendars /bribery.

So, yes, packs are out and seem to have been well-received and we’ve had a weekend or so of break.

Since then I’ve built the audio software for the game, pulling together a tool called Airfoil (which lets any phone, PC, tablet, AppleTV or Airplay-enabled speaker to be a speaker) with a bunch of Applescript and Python. Very hacky, but now I can place (say) ten speakers in a room and ‘puppet’ a noise through the room. Uber-surround-sound. Now I need to extend the software a bit to allow me to record this puppetry, so I don’t have to trigger anything manually.

Talking to Steve, apparently he’s bought more phones to make his ringer circuit work. Fingers crossed that’s all going okay.

Production meeting this eve to go through what else is needed. Think we’ve sorted an end bit of plot that we were worried about. Which involves the players digging up a body. We hope.

What else? Have been purchasing more Christmas decorations. Caroline confirmed as our final cast member. Lots still to do, but strangely the packs felt like the major hurdle, the rest feels more manageable. Famous last words.

2nd Jan 2015 – Ian

A few weeks in which not much has happened. Bought a load more stuff – speakers etc. for Airfoil. Started work on sound effects. Rachel’s been working hard on documents for the house. Badger dropped out (aww 🙁 ) and Bill is looking for a replacement. Rupert Redington is now going to be Harry’s second cook instead of Amanda (Harry is happy with a gay love affair as a result). Had long phone calls with Harry, Nick Bradbeer and Jason Marchant about what they’ll actually be doing.

We have a long list of everything that needs done. There’s a lot!

Lot more props ordered today – thank you Amazon and Ebay. Yes, it’d probably be cheaper to trawl market stalls, but time is short!

Attempted to order the ‘smells’ today (burned flesh etc.) but site down – will ring tomorrow.

Tonight I will be mostly creating more soundscapes.

8th Jan 2015 – Ian

Lost track of all the parcels arriving; we’ve mostly been using Amazon and Ebay and there’s piles of stuff. UV Lighting, statues of the Virgin Mary, 50s Christmas Decorations, lamp oil, keys, charms for the pudding (sent off to Harry), all sorts of stuff. I’ve finished off pretty much all the sound. The last three nights have been a bit annoying, as I’ve been sorting out the GRYM radios. The idea is that we have about 28 hours of the BBC Light Programme in 1954 including the Queen’s speech and such embedded on MP3 players inside radio shells – we’ll set them going every morning and the on/off switch of the radio will control whether the speaker is connected or not. So it should stay synched to time properly. It’s only annoying because it’s not really a major plot thing (although we might pep it up a bit) and has taken longer than I wanted. Meanwhile Rachel has been busy churning out documents.

Rules went out a couple of days back. Very lightweight, intentionally.

Starting to have butterflies about the lack of actual ‘solvable’ plot in the game. More of a background story + bunch of experiences. Oh well, we’ll see what happens.

Sounds like we might have Tom Butterworth on board to replace Badger on Bill’s team, which’ll be great.

Damo, Dan, Bill and Kiera will all be here this weekend so we should be able to nail down a lot of final stuff.

11th Jan 2015 – Ian

Been a good weekend. Had Damian, Dan (and Rich when he wasn’t tormenting Tim Lewis) for the whole weekend, and Bill and Kiera for part of it. Blasted through the whole event several times, got B&K’s effects stuff outlined and agreed, solved a couple of big-ish problems that have been bugging me, showed off some effects, recorded audio & took some photos, and then made some stuff – bullets, made a start on the murder board(tm), got Dan painting & drawing at the level of a 6-year-old (he’s upskilling) and made 26 crackers.

And finally become reconciled to the fact that this is a somewhat experimental event that’s more about character-based emotional pay-off than puzzle-solving.

Opening those crackers and reading the messages inside is gonna be one of the high points, I think. The majority of them reveal a carefully guarded secret of one of the other characters.

Godfrey: “What does your cracker say, Gloria?”

Gloria: “What is the best Christmas present ever? A broken drum – it can’t be beat.”

Everyone: “Ho ho ho”

Godfrey: “Lukas? Why don’t you read yours?”

Lukas: “Erm… Nancy runs high-class orgies from a flat paid for by Anton, and they’re having an affair.”

repeat x 20. 😉

Of course, they won’t even get a chance to argue about it, because ghostly sh*t will descend on them very rapidly after that point.

27 Jan 2015 – Ian

No blog updates! Frantically busy getting it all done. Rachel & I have just finished all of the tasks on Trello (our project management thing) bar one, which Rich is working on. 144 tasks, many with lots of subtasks.

So let’s think, any notable bits?

Oh, the Oculus Rift ‘River Styx’ sequence – I was planning to make up some sort of relevant sequence myself, but no time, and happily found someone else had made something we could use with much better production values than I could have done.

End credit movie (having decided to do a fairly hard cut at the end of the sequence) w. music over the top.

Loads of portraits and paintings using player’s Facebook photos to become the ‘ancestors’ to hang on the walls.

Room names, menu cards, place cards, locks

Lots more sound effects.

The IC radios all work – 1 track each per day

29 Jan 2015 – Ian

To site!