Living the dream
- Credit: Keith Meatheringham / Dobson Age
Words and pictures by Keith Meatheringham
Some say only Children should dream - but that’s not true for one Gloucestershire story teller and his close friend and business partner.
From a cluttered old bedroom in a small semi-detached house near Cirencester, Glos, they’re dreaming of launching a brand new family friendly quest style computer game with a difference and without the help of wealthy investors or the backing of any major game’s company.
Singer songwriter Berny Poulton from Siddington, near Cirencester, and fellow musician and designer Sean Nolan of Framilode, near Gloucester, have spent over 16 years creating ‘Dream Song’ - a hunt to discover the title of a lost song. They believe the game to be a currently unique concept in the gaming industry and are hoping will be a massive hit with people all over the world enabling the gamers a chance to win real treasure.
March 1 sees the launch of their funding campaign with the web site Kickstarter where they are hoping to find enough money to finally realise their dream of finishing the game and allowing people to play ‘Dream Song’.
Backers that support projects on Kickstarter get an inside look at the creative process, and help that project come to life. They also get to choose from a variety of unique rewards offered by the project creator.
“We have created a wide variety of exclusive rewards for our backers,” says Sean, “such as 3D printed mini gold and silver chalices, sets of art postcards and rune styled usb keys. Other rewards are geared towards musicians and artists,” adds Sean, “and of course there are copies of the game.”
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‘Bern’, as he likes to be known, first had the idea back in 1987, after being inspired by Kit Williams’ Masquerade, he initially decided to create a puzzle book – a treasure hunt, but as the years went by they realised that turning it into a computer game would be a more intriguing option.
Currently geared for PC & Mac platform only - Dream Song is a casual adventure game that holds many types of puzzles, riddles and conundrums. The twelve foremost images within the game are sculpted ceramic plaques that have been scanned into the computer. Puzzles and clues are hidden within the images and the accompanying immersive story. Each puzzle leads to the Master Riddle that will guide the ‘chosen one’ to the ‘Lost Song’ and a chance to win a reward of a ceramic chalice with gold interior and rim embellished with runic symbols. There will also be additional monthly prizes along the way.
Another unique aspect of Dream Song is that a player can, as they discover them, printout the story and the images. This will allow the player to move away from the computer to work on the master riddle
The Dream Song Game has a real family feel with both Berny’s ceramicist partner Hilary Flexen and Sean’s own wife Carolyn Buckley, and their children Isaac Joseph Poulton (15) and Rowenna Buckley-Nolan (10) having varying inputs into the game from design, proof reading, marketing and visual effects to sound, enchanted voice overs & sound effects.
Berny and Sean (aka Felstaf Ltd) make no bones about the entire project having been difficult, exhausting and at times frustrating. “Fitting it in with our lives and other commitments,” says Sean, “was never easy.”
“The learning curve in programming, composing, sound engineering, CGI and 3D animation are enormous, but our goal remains constant. Even though the workload is huge we feel it doesn’t need a vast team of people to produce a good computer game. Passion, persistence, determination and commitment is what we have – we’ve stuck at it. We are both problem solvers,” added Berny, “and will not give in, no matter what the obstacle!
“We are a small team,” says Berny. “After my wife Hilary had crafted the clay pictures and the chalice, Sean and I set about doing virtually everything else ourselves.”
Berny’s son Isaac, spends many hours playing computer games in his own bedroom, whilst in the bedroom next door his father is busy creating his own computer masterpiece. Berny adds, “My young son Isaac has been invaluable on this journey, his knowledge of games and gaming has even earned him the role as Felstaf’s consultant.”
They’re certainly making their mark on people within the industry too. Here’s what Andy Payne (OBE for services to the UK computer games industry) has to say about Dream Song and Kickstarter…
“When I met Bern and Sean I was absolutely knocked out by their sheer determination and passion around their beloved project ‘Dream Song’. These two brilliant eccentrics have been working on their game for 16 years. They have gone so far, completely independently, on their own time and hard graft. They have not sought publisher funding or support and are determined to bring ‘Dream Song’ to adventure game fans. This is exactly what Kickstarter was set up to support. I would love to see them reach their goal and unleash ‘Dream Song’ on the world. Please watch the video, dig deep and share with your friends.”
To help support Dream Song go to www.dreamsong.co.uk and follow the links to Kickstarter. Their funding campaign will be live for 30 days from March 1, 2014.
Web Site: www.dreamsong.co.uk