Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Captain's Blog: Eldritch - A Production Blog (Part One)

I thought that I'd post my thoughts and feelings about the creation of "Eldritch" as release of the first part grows near.  Bear with me, as it's a little self-indulgent in places (and definately wordy!), but hopefully it'll serve as a "raison d'être" for genesis of the production, the roots of the characters, how the story has evolved from it's beginnings as a tabletop roleplaying campaign, and where it's hopefully destined to head.

So, without further ado...

Part One: Genesis of Eldritch
Despite sounding like a decidedly ropey 1970's Doctor Who story title, the genesis of Eldritch began about 7 years ago, with a tabletop campaign based on Eden Studio's Unisystem rpg.  The main characters were a human male descended from an angelic bloodline (who fell to the side of darkness in Roman times and cut a swathe through early Britain, before "seeing the light" and embarking on the road to redemption that led him to modern day Los Angeles) and a human female, whose past was decided dark, twisted and f@#ked up!  As a result of various plot devices (which I won't reveal here, as they will be used as the basis of the main female character in the series), she became enpowered with the ability to do pretty much anything she could imagine... which led to some extremely dire consequences for the two of them as the game progressed; let's just say control of what she could do wasn't on the list of abilities she had to begin with!

Lifted pretty much wholesale from the Buffy/Angel TV series (which the gaming group were all big fans of), the adventures of these two, and a fully realised cast of non player characters played memorably by our larger-than-life GM, Gareth, the "Faithful Dawn" campaign turned into an epic story of redemption, love, betrayal, comedy, drama, and pathos, at least twice weekly for far too many hours and sometimes whole weekends, surrounded by dice, books, the detritus of marathon sessions where we lived in the skins of these people, bringing them to life round our dining room table in a small, 1 bedroom flat in Plymouth.

And we loved every second of it.

The characters grew, knew loss, love, defeat and victory at the hands of our GM, who pitted us against werewolves, cthuloid monstrosities, vampires, demons, vengeful ghosts, succubi, mythical beasts and immoral mundane foes aplenty, whilst all the time the characters were finding our more and more about each other and their not-so-two-dimensional companions.  Eventually, however, despite barely surviving some horrendous odds and trials and tribulations galore, the characters became far too powerful to continue "believably" doing what they had been doing for nearly 2 years, and were retired, to make way for another campaign with other characters (which also turned into a corker, but that's a half-orc warrior raised by a human knight and an exiled elven princess of a different colour!)

Heady days indeed... so heady, in fact, that when I was searching my twisted brain for further machinima projects about 3 years ago, that was one of the first things that popped into my mind.  Morally grey characters, trapped between two sides which can be seen as equally as bad as the other, surrounded by enemies both supernatural and mundane... what's not to love about that as a starting point?

I was determined to make it a "UK" based series (no disrespect to our American cousins, but you get all the cool shows, except for Doctor Who and Being Human, of course ;)) to give good old Blighty a couple of heroes of our own for once (even though the original characters were pretty much "USA-ified") and that, coupled with the long and oft-times dark history of our own sceptr'd isles, seemed like a good starting place.

I initially toyed with the idea of doing it with The Movies (as I have done with Odyssey), but the limitations of that engine (god bless it; 6 years old and still capable of turning out quality movies in the right hands, even today) scuppered that relatively quickly;  I wanted to be able to show emotion, move actors where I wanted them and do a lot more than TM was capable of portraying.  So I looked elsewhere.

iClone looked like a contender, until I saw the horrendously complicated user interface it had at the time, and the sheer lack of computing power I had (and still have presently) at the time put the mokkers on me using that.

And then I clapped eyes on Moviestorm.

Easy to use, free (at the time) and constantly updated with cool new features, it seemed ideal.  The quality of the work that was capable using it (see what the likes of Sisch, Kate and Sherwin, Kibishipaul, KV, Iceaxe and so on have produced with it and you'll see that I mean).

However, the big snag came when trying to get the visuals to look how I wanted; the ability to "set the scene" just wasn't there at the time.  Not enough mods to convey the right atmosphere and do what I wanted existed back then, and I wasn't prepared to "compromise my artistic vision" (to use an old, dried up and overly hackneyed turn of phrase), so the initial steps along the path to Eldritch' realisation stumbled to a halt.

2 years passed... and the script for Eldritch languished in my brain, peeking out at inopportune moments to wave and say "hi" to my forebrain, just to let me know it was still there and make sure it wasn't being totally forgotten...

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