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#DelicateDuplicates: Outside of the Digital

Like a thick physical journal packed with endless scribbles and tireless reworkings, All the Delicate Duplicates has gone through a great number of incarnations and interpretations. Although some of it can be found recorded on paper, this legacy mainly takes the form of thousands of shared Dropbox files, Unity backups and Photoshop documents. And although we would undoubtedly consider #DelicateDuplicates to be a “digitally born” work which has almost completely evolved entirely out of digital experimentation and spontaneous reaction, as we’ve progressed the game we’ve certainly incorporated narrative threads and assets created outside of the digital.

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An in-game asset containing a merge of 3 physical paper drawings by Mez Breeze.

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We’ve ended up incorporating into All the Delicate Duplicates a vast array of creative material handcrafted outside the confines of a digital setup, with everything from pen-and-pencil-scribbled notes, notebooks, and standard painting canvases/surfaces used to create assets that help make up the core of the game. From jotting down core concepts to nailing exact dialogue exchanges, a manual writing process hasn’t flown out of the window by any means as you can see from the photo collage below.

Photos of Andy Campbell's A6 Pluto notebook containing rough ideas and thoughts about the work

Andy Campbell’s Notebook containing rough ideas and thoughts about All The Delicate Duplicates.

The actual storyworld presented in #DelicateDuplicates incorporates a mimicry of natural media in the form of paintings, books [a child’s school art journal; a teenager’s diary; an adult’s diary containing psychological ramblings], calendars, reports, chalked notes and illustrations. Although these sections don’t involve a great deal of involved interactivity – you can literally go back/forth through the pages and that’s about it – they wonderfully soften the digital tone and very much add a human element to the overall narrative.

Since the story spans a long time period [from 2006 to 2019, which is highlighted through lead characters’ John and Charlotte’s domestic home environment] it’s possible to see how technology begins to replace print-based media as a means of recording our characters’ thoughts and creative expressions. Hand-written pages, journals and diaries transform into laptops, phones and tablet devices.

As digital writers/artists, this isn’t far off a reflection of how we ourselves have experienced an increased transition to digital when it comes to writing and creativity, landing us almost exactly in the position we’re at now: using computers/devices and game-engine tech to fully realise the stories we want to tell to contemporary audiences.

Red Tape

Red Tape

After almost 10 months of waiting for the funding to come through and battling red tape surrounding the development of Pluto, we’re pleased to finally announce that we’re in full flow again. Hurray! :)

We’d originally envisaged at least having a beta version of the gameworld released and available to experience on PC/MAC earlier in the year, however things haven’t quite panned out that way. We’re now looking at April 2016 before we release our Pluto beta.

Of course, we will be posting regular snapshots, updates and curious snippets as things evolve more rapidly here on the blog and on our Tumblr page. So please bookmark us!

On the very big plus side, Pluto has become more graphically and technically accomplished throughout the course of the year as we’ve been keeping it ticking through the endless agreements and paperwork. It’s also made some fantastic demo appearances at various exhibits and conferences, and the story itself has both evolved and honed down.

Pluto Accolades

We’re delighted that a work of digital fiction as ambitious and experimental as Pluto has been given a Digital Art award and funding, and look forward to pushing the boundaries as far as we can across multiple platforms… And realities. :)

Pluto Flyby

On this momentous day where the planet Pluto [should that be written instead as “dwarf-planet Pluto”?!] is being mapped by the New Horizons space-probe flyby, we thought we’d post our own humble “Pluto Flyby” [see above] showing some in-project footage from our work. Enjoy. :)

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#PlutoGame Evolution Snippets

Andy and I first started to plan out Pluto on the 27th February 2014. We originally had development-slotted another game based work [titled Ash.Land] for the beginning of 2014, but decided instead that Pluto was a concept that just wouldn’t lie down. Over the next few months we’ll be revealing more of just how Pluto initially gestated, but to start us off here’s a screenshot from one of Pluto’s primary inspirations, a prototype gameworld that Andy keeps in his always squirming “one-day-will-be-developed” bag of tricks. This protogame is called The Valley:

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Screenshot from Andy’s “The Valley” Protogame

….and just so you don’t feel like we’re being too opaque with stretching out our #Plutogame origin story [seriously, how good are origin stories?], here’s 3 of the original promo posters we designed as soon as we stamped a sparkling red “Let’s do this!!” approval all over our initial Pluto ideas [and yes, there will be more about that in future updates].

Pluto Promo Poster 1

Pluto Promo Poster 2

Pluto Promo Poster 2

 Pluto Promo Poster 3

 

 

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Pluto and the Distortion of Time

Pluto has been under development now for a long time. It’s evolved out of previous Campbell/Breeze collaborations such as The Dead Tower, #PRISOM and #CARNIVAST, in conjunction with raw experimentation, short fiction, Mezangelle, and even artwork produced in the mid-1990s on the Commodore Amiga.

In parallel, Pluto itself narratively toys with the concept of time, offering a series of windows into characters’ lives at different points in their personal histories. Pluto also explores – through the central gameworld – that concept of other places existing where time no longer feels stable or linear.

Writing prose and developing our gameworld simultaneously has allowed one to affect the other, and snippets from each to interweave in fascinating ways.

Bringing sections of writing into Pluto’s increasingly immersive and out-of-this-world landscape – sometimes editing it on the fly in the process – has given the text itself a fittingly delicate, fragile, beautiful feel, where its complexity and meaning has gained a form of heightened value.

Also, its newly attained attributes of being mapped around physically-affected objects or being set in fluid motion-patterns in the sky have had a mesmerizing and unexpected effect on the overall story.

mezangelled-objects

 

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Building All The Delicate Duplicates

Welcome to the development blog for All The Delicate Duplicates (formerly known as Pluto) a forthcoming Transmedia work by Mez Breeze and Andy Campbell. All The Delicate Duplicates [or #DelicateDuplicates as it’s known in the online hashtaggery scene] has at its core a gameworld which blurs fantasy and scientific realism.

Be sure to check out the project’s main website to get informed of launch dates, and the Tumblr page for an insight into the inspiration lurking behind it.

In All The Delicate Duplicates, John, a computer engineer, inherits a collection of arcane objects from ‘myserious Aunt Mo’. Over time, the engineer and his daughter begin to realise that the objects have unusual physical properties – and that the more they are exposed to them, the more their realities and memories seem to change.

Through an app, a Virtual Reality/3D game and browser-based story, we’re constructing a cohesive storyworld where perceptions are stretched beyond the “real” as you [think you] know it.

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