Don’t mistake the relative silence here for a lack of behind-the-scenes work on Rise of the Hidden Sun. We’re still toiling away, albeit slowly, to bring the adventures of ‘Rattlesnake’ Jake Dawson onto your computer screen in all of his 1024×768-pixel glory.

Since it’s been awhile since my last update, I thought I’d share this little scene with you all. It’s a just-completed location from episode one. We call it “Off the Rails.” Below I’ve posted the original black-and-white line art, an example of the coloring process, and then final finished version. Hope you like it. More to come in the months ahead!

Layout by Josh Roberts, Line art by Hazel Mitchell and Damian Isherwood, colors by Jacek Grzeskowiak

Work-in-progress: Colors by Jacek Grzeskowiak

Finished: Layout by Josh Roberts, Line art by Hazel Mitchell and Damian Isherwood, colors by Jacek Grzeskowiak

We’ve just put the finishing touches on another screen from episode one. This one shows a cave entrance leading down into a cliff. Where does it come out? You’ll have to wait and see—but is that a forest of petrified trees below? Hmmm.

Layout by Josh Roberts, Line art by Hazel Mitchell, colors by Jacek Grzeskowiak

Layout by Josh Roberts, Line art by Hazel Mitchell, colors by Jacek Grzeskowiak

Mooney Falls, Havasu Canyon, Arizona (Photo by Josh Roberts)

Mooney Falls, Havasu Canyon, Arizona (Photo by Josh Roberts)

Interesting (?) side note: This location was inspired by a trip I took to Havasu Falls in 2004. Take a look at the photo to the right: That’s a place called Mooney Falls, just past the more famous Havasu Falls. The rocks are so slick from the waterfall spray that everything is slippery. In the 1800s, a drunk cowboy named Mooney fell from the top and died—but at least he got a waterfall named after him. I loved the idea of a cave leading into the cliff, and when the time came to design this location I decided to steal from it for Rise of the Hidden Sun.

If you’re keeping track at home, we now have just three more screens to complete for episode one!

Martin talks Book 6, The Winds of Winter.

Brief departure from our usual Rise of the Hidden Sun coverage to share some other exciting news:

I recently had the chance to interview one of my favorite authors, George R.R. Martin, about his amazing A Song of Ice and Fire books. We spoke on the phone for about 45 minutes, and I was able to pick his brain about the real-world inspirations behind his novels as well as what to expect in season two of HBO’s Game of Thrones series and the upcoming sixth book, The Winds of Winter.

Click here to read the full George R.R. Martin interview.

Below are a few excerpts from our conversation:

George R.R. Martin on what to expect in Book 6, The Winds of Winter:

“What lies really north in my books [The Land of Always Winter]—we haven’t explored that yet, but we will in the last two books.”

“There were a lot of cliffhangers at the end of A Dance with Dragons. Those will be resolved very early. I’m going to open with the two big battles that I was building up to, the battle in the ice and the battle at Mereen—the battle of Slaver’s Bay. And then take it from there.”

On how long he’s known who lives and who dies:

“I knew almost right from the beginning. I know the major beats of the story and who’s going to live and who’s going to die—the ultimate end of all the major characters … For some minor characters I may make it up as I’m writing. So, if a major character is going to battle with his six friends, I don’t necessarily know what’s going to happen to all six friends … But the major players and the major lives or deaths or life-changing events have all been planned from the beginning.”

On finishing the series:

“I’m starting to see [the light at the end of the tunnel], but that’s still a very long tunnel. The last book was 1,500 pages in manuscript … Each of the next two will be at least as long, so that’s 3,000 more pages that I still have to write, and that’s a considerable amount of writing … I write one chapter at a time, once scene at a time, one sentence at a time, and don’t worry about the rest. Step by step, sooner or later, the journey will get me there.”

On Hadrian’s Wall in England as an influence for The Wall:

“I stared off to the north as dusk was settling and tried to imagine what it was like to be a Roman stationed on the wall when the wall was an active protection—when it was end of the Roman world, and you didn’t really know what was going to come over those hills or what was going to come out of the woods beyond that … That was a profound experience that stayed with me. It was over a decade later when I first began Ice and Fire, and I still had that vision and that sense of, ‘I’d like to write a story about the people guarding the end of the world.'”

On Iceland and its similarity to Beyond the Wall:

“Beyond the Wall is considerably larger than Iceland—probably larger than Greenland. The area closest to my Wall is densely forested, so in that sense it’s more like Canada—Hudson’s Bay or the Canadian forests just north of Michigan. And then as you get further and further north, it changes. You get into tundra and ice fields and it becomes more of an arctic environment. You have plains on one side and a very high range of mountains on the other … like the Himalayas.”

On his inspiration for the Doom of Valyria:

“A particular real-world influence on the Doom of Valyria [was] the volcanic eruptions that destroyed the Pink and White Terraces [in New Zealand]. They were … these beautiful stone terraces where volcanic hot springs water would flow out from the top … and as the water flowed from one pool to another down the side of this mountain, it would cool so the terraces at the top had really hot pools, and at the bottom had warm pools … The whole area was volcanic. One day it just all exploded—the entire area went up … So I took [that] and came up with Valyria—with magic thrown in.”

On the inspiration for Tyrion’s chain boom, employed in season 2, episode 9, the Battle of the Blackwater, for which Martin wrote the screenplay:

“[Constantinople] was one of the inspirations. Chain booms have been used a number of times in history and in battles for various purposes. So, that was part of the inspiration. Of course, there’s different ways you can use a boom like that. You can raise it early on to close off the harbor—or the river in this case—so ships actually can’t get in. But that wasn’t Tyrion’s plan. (Minor Spoiler) What Tyrion wanted to do was to lure in as much of Stannis’ fleet as he could, and then raise the chain so they couldn’t get back out when he unleashed the wildfire on them.”

On his inspiration for wildfire, also employed in the Battle of the Blackwater:

“Wildfire is my magical version of Greek fire—to go back to the Constantinople reference. Wildfire is Greek fire times ten. It’s Greek fire but it’s worse than Greek fire, and it’s got a little magical element to it. It’s really nasty stuff, and it burns with green flames, which is a nice pyrotechnical effect. Not sure we’ll get that into the show, but I’ll look forward to seeing it. I hope they do. ”

The full George R.R. Martin interview is much longer. Click the link to read it!

And now back to your regularly scheduled Rise of the Hidden Sun coverage.

I’ve been posting a lot of artwork from the first episode lately. That’s where the bulk of our attention is going these days as we finalize background screens, continue to ramp up work on the animation sequences, etc. But that’s not all we’re working on. Rise of the Hidden Sun is a four-episode epic adventure, and today I’d like to give you a sneak peak at some concept art from the game’s final episode in which (SPOILER!) ‘Rattlensake’ Jake actually makes to the lost underground city he and the Brotherhood of the Hidden Sun are pursuing.

DISCLAIMER: This is just concept art. It’s not final artwork; it’s not even what the final sequence may ultimately end up looking like. But it is a little taste of the flavor we’re going for. Let me know what you think!

Artwork Credit: Paul Schmalenberg.

Happy New Year!

It’s been a while since our last update. Don’t take that silence to mean we’re not working hard, though. Silence is good. It means we’re too busy to post anything here.

What, you want evidence? Here’s our latest completed screen. See if you can spot all the differences from the final pencil-and-paper version I posted last year.

I’ve been meaning to share this one, too.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Original pencils by Hazel Mitchell, colors by Jacek Grzeskowiak. Based on a sketch by Josh Roberts.

Sorry it’s been so quiet around here lately! As you can see, we’re still hard at work. This is our most recently finished screen, a secret entrance into the haunted mine area of episode one.

Sadly for our hero, ‘Rattlesnake’ Jake,  the ways appears to be blocked by a very large boulder. We know that kind of trap doesn’t turn out so well for Indiana Jones. Will Jake have better luck? And what’s the significance of all this vulture iconography, anyway? Hmm…

This isn’t a finished product yet, but it’s pretty close. Here’s a look at one of our newest creations, a long vertical screen that hints at some of the areas you’ll be able to explore in Rise of the Hidden Sun‘s first episode.

I figured after yesterday’s April Fool’s joke, you all deserve some evidence that we’re not ditching the 1024×768 screen resolution in favor of ye olden days 320×200 screens!

Click the thumbnail image on the right to enlarge. What do you think?

As I mentioned yesterday, our lead animator has left the project. The fact that this keeps happening—that we get some great out-of-this-world talent, then poof! He or she moves on to bigger and better things without warning—has led me to re-evaluate what we’re doing here with this little project.

Honestly, I’m tired of having to put the game on hold every time we need to find a new professional-quality animator. So I’ve made a big decision.

We’re going old school.

King’s Quest I-style old school, to be exact: Goodbye millions of colors and 1024×768 screens. Make way for Rise of the Hidden Sun: Retro Edition in all of its 16-color, 320×200-pixel glory! I’ve already converted two screens to the “retro” format and plan to have the whole game reformatted by the end of the month.

Temple of the Golden Vulture

Entrance to the Haunted Mine

From there, it’ll be a piece of cake to animate the thing myself.

What do you think? Click here for an extended preview.

Our lead animator just accepted a job with Electronic Arts. So that’s good news for him, but bad news for us… because now we need a new animator! Anyone know anyone?

Nothing Escapes the Watchful Gaze of Hawkeye

The Old Prospector Picks His Nose When No One's Looking

If you hadn’t already guessed from the two images above, we’re making great progress on the animation front. These two characters are the work of Ron Jensen, our newest animator. Whattaya think?

%d bloggers like this: