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Between Me And The Night
April 15 - Rain Dance LX
The Four Horsemen
It was a particularly busy Sunday night in Sakura, our usual Japanese restaurant. We sat across from a redheaded girl, all in black, that neither of us had ever seen personally. But we had taken a look at her portfolio before - and it was quite amazing. By the end of dinner she was hired as the new Key Character Animator for RainDance LX.
We went in just to talk with her about the videogame industry in Lisbon, since she’d been working as an animator for a long time and was looking to make the jump to videogame animation. I don’t’ usually get impressed by portfolios since I don’t know how many months someone took to make a certain particularly well-animated sequence on their showreel and the videogame industry is all about timing and deadline. But I will definitely be impressed by anyone who has the courage to use the “page-up and page-down” technique to animate one 10 minute episode per week. Alone.
Mariana started working with us full-time right when we were finishing the Pre-Alpha Build we took to EGX Rezzed, in London. She proved her worth right away, adapting her process to my “angular-minimal style” with no effort and making bold animation decisions that worked great with the overall visuals of the game.
Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured
It’s 11/02/2015, we’re leaving for EGX Rezzed to show the public, for the first time, our first game.
Here’s a video.
Five On The Five
With music references growing scarcer, we got back to Lisbon to face a challenge even bigger than the overwhelmingly positive feedback at EGX Rezzed: the Alpha.
A new valuable addition to the art team was on it’s way to Lisbon: Miguel, the best graphic designer I ever known, seriously! He arrived one week after EGX, changing his whole life to come and work with us – he was living in London. We realized we needed a graphic designer months ago and I was not going to interview anyone before I proposed the job to Miguel. And to my own surprise he agreed to change his life and come work with us just because he loved the project.
We now, finally, have reunited the team we always wanted from the start and Between Me and the Night is steadily growing more each day with fantastic results.
Why don’t you see it for yourself? Here’s a nice little video of gameplay from the Pre-Alpha Demo we took to EGX Rezzed.
RainDance LX, Lisbon
Original Tumblr post
April 15 - Rain Dance LX
“Do Your Palms Ever Itch?”
Said Audrey to Agent Cooper, who quickly dismissed her quirky question and asked his own “Were you friends with Laura Palmer?”
Twin Peaks has been playing in loop all my life since I was 16, and since Karlos had never seen it before, it was a great excuse to reboot the loop and start over again. I wanted him to see it because it closely relates in thematic to Between Me and The Night – two worlds intercept each other and chaos ensues.
We finished watching it and then sat down to discuss what made it so good, and what made the ambience so thick and almost palpable throughout the whole series. Then we realized something that would become key to understanding our own project: in Twin Peaks there are two worlds, the “real” one (Twin Peaks) and the spiritual one (The Black Lodge). They are clearly separated and each has their own mythology. In BMATN there really isn’t a “real” world… it’s like if Twin Peaks was set in The Black Lodge and then there was another door in there that led us to another, even more twisted reality… and we never got to see Twin Peaks at all!
We are two steps into madness, and that’s not an easy thing to do. Granted, that that was our intent from the beginning… but we didn’t realize what that really meant. I mean, even Mario is in it’s own world of videogamey madness but if you transport the player to Mario Golf in the middle of Mario Kart it’s quite a challenge to make it coherent. Making both our worlds seem part of the same universe even though they’re not in the same reality is the key to the ambience and metaphorical narrative of BMATN, and it’s not an easy thing to do.
Do my palms ever itch? Yes. They did when I met my girlfriend; they did when I went on stage in front of 200 plus people; and now, almost four years since it last happened, they itch again when I think about BMATN and the emotional attachment I have formed with this project. It saved me from Graphic Prostitution (in some circles they call it “Graphic Design”), from unemployment and the weight of my own inertia. And now I have a big debt to it. Even if the game bombs and it’s my first and last one, it has to be something that makes me proud. After all, I’ve been thinking about it since I was 16.
She’s Not a Model and She’s Looking Good
The plane started to descend and a major headache started to brew in my brain, something that never happened before. Ever. I had never had a headache in my whole life.
I knew my headache was probably related to my respiratory tract being clogged to the point where I became one of the things I hate the most: a mouth-breather. But still I went into panic mode and none of that mattered anymore. Over the next half hour many internal dilemmas were debated furiously: first I debated if I should call a flight attendant and explain the situation but I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of everyone on the plane. So I opted to just wait it out, but then I quickly realized that I was clearly going to die! The pressure was too much and was going to push my right eye out of its socket very soon. The people around me would start screaming and eventually my brain would start to bleed. But then I embraced the idea of dying and going to another plane of existence… and you know what? I was just fine with that. I had lived a good life and I would leave a mildly good-looking young corpse.
People are afraid to merge on freeways in Berlin. But it was fine… actually, it was perfect. I was in a foreign country and finally reunited with my girlfriend after two months, And I was still alive! Throughout my trip BMATN didn’t leave my head once and just as the end to this wonderful weekend approached I came to the conclusion that the only way to take two steps into madness without ostracizing the player was to make it grounded. Yeah… grounded madness seems like a strange concept, but it’s the only way to make this “madness-inside-madness” thing workout. If you approach stepping into madness like being in a foreign country and not actually going full-freak with The Black Lodge David Lynch kind of thing, then the player will have something to grab on to. Something mundane and comforting.
Bad Moon Rising
When I got back from Berlin I started working immediately. The first milestone was approaching and time wasn’t really stretching. Although we had a nicely laid plan that was working out that didn´t really mean that we could sit back and relax. If one of the cogs got out of place then the whole machine would blow up. And just as I feared, one of the cogs fell off!
Our main programmer, Tiago, has a long history of asthma and pipe smoking, two things that, according to him, don’t interact in any way. And he might be right, but no matter what the reason he ended up with a high fever and serious chest infection for two weeks straight.
Without any other option we (myself and Karlos) started working overtime trying to draw upon the small amount of programming knowledge that was still lodged in our brains. It didn’t take long for us (well… me) to break the only stable build we had of the game so far. And it’s not like we lost what we had before or anything (we have a pretty good backup system) but discarding hours of work was enough to break our already fragile confidence and spirit of the possibility of us coding what was left of the Milestone, or until Tiago got better.
Tiago’s health was a big concern and obviously a priority, so we felt bad asking him to get back to work before he was 100% back to his old self, but we were also starting to panic. And for the second time in my life I had a headache, just one week after the first one.
With a Little Help From My Friends
You only have one chance at a first impression, and it was very important that ours was a good one, especially given that we were a newly founded studio. We had a lot to prove and starting out by being late with the first milestone wasn’t really an encouragement for Lace to keep on backing this project and making it their flagship.
We resorted to our only backup plan: friends. When Karlos left Spain he left some sadness behind that in some cases gave way to bitterness or distance, a very comprehensive defensive mechanism by those who feel left behind. But some people completely understood his reasons for leaving and supported him from the beginning. One of those people was Cesar Porto Vence – a dear friend of Karlos who acts in the videogame industry a bit like Mr. Wolf acts in the Pulp Fiction universe… when you don´t know who else to turn to… you call him up!
After one week of working with Cesar our first BMATN milestone finally started to take shape as we had planned. And with mini crisis averted, a videogame was born.
Right now we’re waiting for Damian and Campbell, from Lace, to arrive in Lisbon and we’re feeling good. Birds flying high, you know how I feel. Sun in the sky, you know how I feel. I’m feeling good.
RainDance LX, Lisbon
Original Tumblr post
March 2 - Rain Dance LX
"BETWEEN ME AND THE NIGHT", the indie platform adventure game developed by RainDance LX, has been chosen by curator David Hayward to be showcased as part of the Leftfield Collection at EGX Rezzed 2015 in London.
"We are very proud that "BETWEEN ME AND THE NIGHT" has been selected by David to appear as part of the Leftfield Collection. It is testimony to the hard work, creativity and talent of the team at RainDance that their game has been acknowledged in this way. RainDance and Lace Games are looking forward to meeting both journalists and gamers at EGX Rezzed in March." said Damian Finn, Head of Product Development at Lace Games. João Ortega, Creative Director at RainDance said “We are very excited to finally show "BETWEEN ME AND THE NIGHT" to the public, especially at a big industry event such as EGX Rezzed. Being part of the Leftfield Collection is just amazing and it’s great that "BETWEEN ME AND THE NIGHT" is being recognised as a game that offers something a little different. We can’t wait to hear what people have to say about this project that is very close to our hearts. We're also looking forward to hanging out with all the other great developers and to swap epic stories about all the adventures and misadventures of videogame development.”
Developers João Ortega and Karlos Garcia from RainDance LX will be on hand throughout the event to demo the game, answer questions and provide an insight into the development of the game. Lace Games would like to take this opportunity to invite members of the press to come and see "BETWEEN ME AND THE NIGHT" at any time throughout the show. A small number of pre-booked time slots will also be available to select media. For the official EGX Rezzed announcement please visit www.egx.net/rezzed/news/leftfield-collection-revealed
November 4, 2014 - Rain Dance LX
Ground Control to Major Tom – An introduction to spaceflight
Having your own videogames studio is a bit like having your own interstellar spaceship: before you actually have it you can’t help but think how awesome it would be if you had one, but once you do have one you walk inside the control room and you realise you have no idea what any of those buttons do. And how the hell do we even get this thing off the ground? I mean… we need so much fuel, provisions, and specialised people… and now that I think about it - where are we going anyway?
There’s no time to think. There’s no time to cry and call you parents to help you, they never had a spaceship anyway. There’s no time to panic and, even if there was, you don’t want to be the one out of your team that starts doubting the whole operation. My advice: just flip all the switches to “on”; buy yourself a cool uniform and pretend you know what you’re doing; buy some big sunglasses and learn to cry silently; take your Daniel Clowes and Charles Burns and other particularly thick comics and just put covers on them saying “The Advanced Manual to Flying Spaceships”; make sure everyone trusts you 100% and then your choice is simply binary – either it works or we’ll all die in the process – and, assuming you don’t want to die yourself and kill your whole team, now there’s no space for doubt anymore, you just have to do it. Also, hire an accountant with experience in all the legal paperwork concerning spaceships, or you might end up in jail for something you’ll never understand but it’s technically fraud.
And sometimes it actually works. Sometimes you actually get to fly, and even if you’re not able to reach the end of the universe and all that’s known to man… you might still get to see some really pretty stars!
Oh well, I want to see where all existence ends. If we die on the way there at least it’s going to be an awesome fiery noisy space-death. There’s fire and sound in space right?
It was a quiet and sunny day in the southern margins of Lisbon. I was reading Haruki Murakami’s new book “Colorless” in a desperate effort to fight the awfully good mood that the summer brought to Portugal. Not even the news about young unemployment increasing again could bring these skin-baking sun-lovers down today. Soon someone knocked on the door and I knew who it was. I opened it to reveal the legend itself, the guy that changed my life completely - The Spanish Man.
Karlos came in with an open smile and we hugged. Neither of us could believe that it was really happening, that we would actually get to work together on our dream project. We sat down and after acknowledging how much we missed each-other and how great it all was we got to telling stories about our year apart: how Karlos got a crappy call-center job where some horrible boss used to rip his drawings because Karlos had to focus on selling useless rubbish to people with no money; I told him how in January my girlfriend lost her job the same week I beat up my car and how we had to survive with 300€ per month, and how we used to put all our clothing on top of the bed so we wouldn’t have to turn on the heater. We particularly laughed about when Damian from Lace Games called us on Skype to know more about the project and I didn’t want to seem weird by wearing a heavy jacket indoors, so I was basically shaking like a freezing cold madman throughout the whole call, to the point that even Karlos messaged halfway through the call asking me what was wrong.
Now that was all behind us and we were about to make Between Me and the Night a reality, and to tell you the truth neither of us could tell if that was comforting or even scarier.
Dazed and Confused
The next two weeks were a blur of caffeine, nicotine, people in suits, signing paperwork, driving back forth from the south margin to Lisbon, and wild mood swings. It got to a point where we officially decided that Karlos would be in charge of the financial end of things because I actually fell asleep during meetings with our accountant… constantly!
Soon all the boring legal work was slowly but steadily being done, so our attention turned to the fact that we still didn’t have a place to work and/or live in. So a new quest started and we weren’t willing to lose much more time on this meta-game rubbish, we just really wanted to start working on the actual videogame. We decided to book 4 to 6 houses to look at every single day for the next week. Great plan, right?
I remember I almost got my car towed about 3 times that week, and that’s all I actually remember about it. The good thing is that we are now proudly living and working in what we decided is the most awesome studio/house in the whole city of Lisbon. As soon as we got in it we felt a surge of energy going though our- Nah, we were just tired and desperate and this one had a garden. It was located in the center of the city, and it had just been refurbished and was right in our price point, so… we took it.
Welcome to the official RainDance LX headquarters!… and studio and also where two of us live and where we cook most of our meals and… you get the point.
Welcome To the Machine
After only two days of starting officially developing Between Me and the Night the third member of our core team started working with us full-time too. Tiago decided to risk it all and left his previous job altogether to come work with us. The reunion was warm and a sense of ‘epic-ness’ filled the air. We were all highly motivated and full of amazing ideas for the game.
First thing we decided to do as soon as possible was to make a round table and decide what was going to be the core mechanics and features of the game. We already had discussed this before, obviously, but in one year a lot changes and even the most simple of stream-lined ideas had grown in our minds to become something completely different. That was quickly apparent in the first minutes of discussion. Each of us had taken the core mechanics of the game and run off in a completely different direction – it was thrilling. I was trembling with excitement thinking of all the different things this one simple idea could become, and WOULD become.
After nailing down what the core gameplay and mechanics were going to be, and some of the features, we enthusiastically started working on the project. Where we’re from, the birds sing a pretty song and there’s always music in the air. We dance, we laugh, we argue and an endless river of coffee is always flowing.
I usually think that narratives are more interesting if they take a turn for the worst, more “real” in some stupid way, but for now the story of RainDance LX ends in a positive note. As for the development – we’re 1 month in and everything is going pretty well and according to plan. Soon you’ll know more.
RainDance LX, Lisbon
Original Tumblr post
November 29, 2013 - Rain Dance LX
"Yeah, absolutely!" it's clearly our favorite phrase ever.
Head over to: http://bigsushi.fm/bonus-show-exploring-dreams-night/ and get some more information about Between Me and the Night.
You will also have the opportunity to hear the thickest Portuguese accent in the world!