Two sophisticated, HD-based video games to come out fighting hand-to-hand from Galloping Ghost

Galloping Ghost Productions is developing a video game that they say will be the most data-rich 2D hand-to-hand fighting game, ever. And they’re doing it twice over.

The Brookfield independent game developers plan to finish shooting its first game, “Dark Presence,” by October and have it ready for release in January, with their follow-up, “Conquering Light” not far behind.

Owner Doc Mack says their games stand apart from other hand-to-handers in the elaborate stories and character backgrounds, image clarity?you can see facial expressions really well?and especially the detailed fighting moves.

“?Mortal Kombat’ runs at three to four frames per move,” Mack said. “Our characters are running at 120 to 150 frames per move.”

They’re shooting live actors against a green screen in a Brookfield warehouse, on an HDR-FX1, Sony’s first 1080i HD Handycam. They also use a Cannon XL1S SD camera for two-camera setups. They capture the footage directly into Final Cut Pro using proprietary Windblue software, then animate the characters and backgrounds in 3D Studio Max, Maya and a custom 3D engine.

Actors, including Mack and his staff, portray ten characters in “Dark Presence,” and 18 in “Conquering Light,” with some actors playing multiple characters. Each character is filmed going through a sequence of 300 choreographed moves, with weapons including swords, scythes and claws. Each move ends by returning to the starting stance.

“We’re using a lot of real weapons,” Mack said. “We’ve had a little bit of a hard time casting, because it ends up being a somewhat dangerous process.”

Unlike other 2D fighting games, Galloping Ghost is filming each character from both the left and right sides. There’s no image flipping, which doubles the amount of information in the game, and adds variation as far as game play?your moves are different for each side.”

Galloping Ghost is also shooting more direct interaction between actors, so their movements are spatially accurate relative to one another’s size and choreography.

This attention to detail, combined with the fact that they’re capturing in HD, yields massive amounts of data, so Galloping Ghost is compressing some of the images and plans to release the games in standard definition to accommodate the memory limitations of today’s systems.

“We want everything to fit on one DVD,” said production team leader Matt Buk. “We’ll have all the footage in HD, so maybe in the future we’ll release a Hi-Def version of the game.”

They’ve begun background design and music composition, and still need to record the games’ limited dialogue and engineer intro screens, finishing moves and hidden options.

Galloping Ghost will likely market the arcade version of the game directly to chains like Dave & Busters.

They’re seeking a publisher to distribute a console version of the game for the XBox, or the XBox 360, which Microsoft is scheduled to release by this holiday season.

Galloping Ghost incorporated in 1997. They’ve offered web design, duplication, production and consulting services over the years, but are now focusing exclusively on game development. They have a core staff of seven plus a team of freelance actors, artists and musicians.

They’ve started “Dark Presence” twice before. “When we filmed it the second time we got to the point that we were about to release it,” Mack said, “but the technology had changed so much that, while we had a lot of advantages over other games, at the time we were not visually up to my expectations. But this time, I think everyone who likes ?Mortal Kombat’-style games is going to be impressed.”

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