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    Tuesday, December 19, 2006

    Exmortis 3 December Update

    I've been very busy busy busy these last couple of days in churning out some major hours on Exmortis 3. Thankfully I've got the next month off from my 9-to-5 job and I intend to spend a lot of this time working on this game (well - what ever spare time I have in between nursing hangovers, christmas turkey, New Years partying, celebrating the Aussie Ashes victory and other general frivolity)

    Above I have posted the latest scene that I have knocked off just today. This screeny is set in the first chapter which see's your character navagating the spirit realm labyrinth looking for a way out of dodge...

    I'm only a third of the way through putting together this spirit realm level at the moment, but I am pushing forward pretty hard by knocking off about 2-4 scenes per day. Hopefully I will be able to get cracking at the juicy 2nd chapter in between Christmas and New Years.

    So more screenshots to come as I finalise more content :) And in case you are wondering, yes - everything in the above screenshot is animated and moves smoothly with minimal slow down at full screen! Which is surprising considering the number of layers and rasterised graphics I'm using :)

    Monday, December 11, 2006

    Exmortis2 Achieves 1.5 Million Plays

    This is just a quick note to those of you who are following this blog that the Exmortis series has hit yet another milestone with the 2nd game ticking over the 1.5 million worldwide plays mark in just 9 months.

    I honestly am absolutely flabbergasted with how this game has juggernauted onwards to be one of the better performing flash games this year.

    It really just goes to prove how far the casual gaming industry has come in the past decade! With the recent achievements of realism and immersion in the so-called "next-gen" platforms, it really is heartening to know that there are so many people out there still dedicated to enjoying the world of online flash gaming...

    And the best thing about it is that the industry is only in it's infancy... so the quality of casual gaming productions will only get better from here on in!

    Tuesday, November 21, 2006

    Purgatorium and Exmortis 3 News

    For those of you who weren't aware, I recently released a small point-n-click game titled Purgatorium for Jay Bibby's most excellent flash gaming portal - Jay Is Games (aka Casual Gamplay) recent halloween celebrations... Check the game out at the following URL and don't forget to leave a comment:

    And while you are at it, make sure you swing by the main site at for all your Flash Gaming goodness...

    And now for a long overdue Exmortis 3 update... Production is just about ready to step up in to second gear. I still haven't managed to get past the opening chapter just yet, but with every day that goes past, a new idea pops in to my head of how I can slant this game in a manner different to the previous incarnations of the genre. Suffice to say, (highlight to read mini-spoiler) your character Mr.Hannay is going to be the ultimate badass when he eventually finds his way back to Earth - just you wait and see! (End spoiler)

    Another MASSIVE positive that I wanted to mention that will definitely help with the end quality of this game - Newgrounds are now allowing a file limit of 10mb for my submissions - up from the previous 5mb limit. What that means to me is that I can stop worrying about cutting storylines and scenes out from the game and I can also forget about lowering the quality of graphics and sound in order to squeeze the file size...

    There's not much worse than putting in endless hours of work in to the quality of something only to have to make concessions as you are submitting... weak dude... weak... As a result, I'm almost tempted to perform an Exmortis & Exmortis2 redux edition as a result of the larger size limit... sooooo tempting - but unlikely as I shift focus back on to the project at hand.

    Oh - and as far as the rumours of an Exmortis prequel after Exmortis3 is completed and released - all I can say is "hmmm... interesting concept... ask me again in 6 months time for a less ambiguous response..."

    My original plan about a year or so ago was to eventually do a prequel telling Xavier Rehayem's story... but I think I've pretty well covered most angles of his story through sub-plots within Exmortis and Exmortis2... I don't expect this character to be involved much more in any continuation of the Exmortis story, I'm afraid...

    But that doesn't mean a prequel won't eventually be made... who knows what I end up doing down the track... a decision will more than likely be based upon the response I get with Exmortis 3... anyway - it's all "pie in the sky" at the moment... mmmm... pie.

    Anyway y'all! Once again, thanks for reading... more screenshots coming soon... I've got plenty of time off over December and January - more than enough to really get a lot of Exmortis 3 work completed...


    Monday, October 09, 2006

    Exmortis3 Call For Sponsors

    Hello again all... it's probably waaaay too early in the creative process to even be bringing this up - but what the hell...

    The first two Exmortis games took an amazing amount of my time to create and I have made it known that my original intent was to create the Exmortis game as a way of getting my web and flash design skills promoted and try and ramp up the Leffler Web Design business.

    However in analysing the amount of work I have put in to the games and comparing it to what little business I have received in return from showcasing my skills in this manner, I am left with no choice but to open Exmortis3 up to offers of sponsorship and/or product placement within the content of the game.

    There is a lot of potential to advertise and promote on a large scale within this medium - and to prove that, let me give you a brief overview of the statistics of the existing Exmortis games:

    EXMORTIS 2 (Stats as of Sept-27)
    - The game has been live and on the internet since March 26, 2006
    - A total of 1.3 million unique people have played the game since release. That is an average of over 7000 unique plays of the game per day.
    - Of the 1.3 million reported above, it is estimated that approximately 700,000 people have replayed the game.
    - A total of 306 websites around the world have hosted the game since release. Of which at least 85 still currently host and receive daily traffic through the game source file.
    - The main host of the game – ie. reports 470,427 plays of the game through their website alone (which will no doubt increase greatly as Halloween approaches).

    EXMORTIS (Stats as of Sept-27)
    - The game has been live and on the internet since August 27, 2004.
    - This game did not have any Mochibot tracking scripts integrated, so most stats are not available as they are for Exmortis2.
    - The main host of the game (as per the above link) reports 1.15 million plays of the game through their website alone.

    - It is estimated that over 5 million people have played Exmortis since released in mid 2004.

    So as you can see, the potential to hit 1.3 million people within an initial 6 month period with product placement and sponsorship has got to be worth something to someone out there!

    So, if you are the owner of a company/website that seeks to potentially sponsor flash games, feel free to email me at to discuss.

    Alternatively, if you know of a Flash Game Sponsorship program that pays well (obviously I want to maximise my return on the game as best as possible) then feel free to leave a comment to this post.

    Wednesday, September 27, 2006

    New Project: Retrospect

    This isn't really relevant to the world of Exmortis - but all the same, you guys might find this interesting...

    I've recently been contacted by the wonderful Jay Bibby of who gave my Exmortis2 game a hell of a lot of support when it was first unleashed upon the world. (You may even pick a small plug for his website within that game somewhere...)

    As most Americans are aware (and a smaller number of internationalists such as I) Halloween is on the horizon once again, and Jay has charged me with doing something special for his website and the mutiltude of people that visit daily.

    Unfortunately Exmortis3 is no where near completion, so I am putting in to work a rather rushed game (in time for Halloween) which is currently under the working title of "Retrospect"

    It's another cinematic horror point n' click game, but because I have been sired with this task and left with less than a month to complete the project, there is no way in hell that Retrospect will be as polished, multi-layered, complexly narrated nor as lengthy as any of the Exmortis games that I have done thus far.

    It will be short, sweet, packed full of atmosphere right from the start, abundant in shocks and brutally adult (not XXX adult you perverts - general fucked up themes that only adults could ever talk about!)

    I can't give away too much more information at this stage, as it will give away the plot which I intend to unfold as you work through the dozen or so scenes.

    But fear not - Exmortis3 is still in the works, but I just haven't had enough time to devote to it lately. I have a few weeks of annual leave approaching, so maybe I'll take the opportunity to put some decent work in to it then. It's hard to get motivated with such a massive task ahead of me, but as it was with the first 2 games - once I'll get in to a rhythm, it's fucking hard to stop...

    One more thing - cheers to everyone for their kind feedback. I'm glad to see that everyone is still keen on the Exmortis story which will conclude shortly...

    Wednesday, August 30, 2006

    Another Progress Report

    Wouldn't you know it? I finally get some spare time to start putting in some quality hours in to this game beyond tweaking the intro occasionally and whaddya know? More web-design work falls in to my lap!

    So essentially it means that every single spare moment I get over the next month will be dedicated to developing another magician/illusionist's website... this will make the 3rd magician that I've done a website for in the past 18 months... I'm starting think that there may be a market there within the entertainment industry for my web and graphic design skills...

    Previously I have tried to target sports clubs, but not many have enough money to spend on a website... But it appears that there are plenty of entertainers/comedians that need something funky AND have the money to spend on it...

    Now if I could only crack the erotic dancer industry for websites, I'd have finally found my dream job!!! Anyone? Anyone? :)

    Thursday, July 20, 2006

    My Position on People Stealing my Work

    I have received a lot of feedback regarding a comment I made in my last post about people illegally hosting my work.

    I made it known that Exmortis 2 currently has 215 hosts world wide - of which only 9 have been given permission. That means that 95.8% of websites hosting my game are doing so in an illegal fashion...

    I've had many people comment to me via email that I should do something about it and that I should take legal action etc. I do appreciate the sentiments... :) So I feel that I must address these concerns...

    I realise that stealing web-content is a big issue at the moment - especially considering the somewhat humerous banter going around about sites like ebaumsworld allegedly stealing content from other sites and profiting from the practise.

    The main problem with this being that these websites make money off the advertising revenue that is generated through the web traffic they receive as a result of the hosted stolen content. Essentially these websites are making big dollars on the artist's work - without the artist receiving any remunerative return or credit... This is considered stealing and such hosts can be brought to prosecution as a result.

    So what is my stand on this?

    I honestly don't like people stealing my work... who would? I think it is wrong to steal someone's work and benefit from it financially without the person who did all the hard work receiving anything in return... majority of these people haven't even credited me for the game!!

    That said however, everyone - and I mean everyone - who has asked me for permission to host the Exmortis games, I have given it to them. It is common courtesy to ask permission. I ask for nothing in return except a written credit.

    But on the other hand the way I look at it, I am making these games not to make money for myself... but to gain recognition for my name, my work and my design services. It is a hobby - pure and simple. The more people that host, the wider the worldwide distribution of my work. The more exposure it gets. And hence the more my needs and purposes are served.

    So this puts me in a hard position. Do I request that those sites illegally using my game to take my game down from their site? Or do I turn a blind eye because it means more people are seeing my work as a result?

    So far I have turned a blind eye. I haven't been able to identify any benefit that it would present to me to have my game effectively removed from 95.8% of it's internet circulation...

    And so once again the content thieves win, because the little guy like me can not afford to cut off his nose to spite his face...

    Opinions? Thoughts?

    Monday, July 17, 2006

    Exmortis2 Goes 7 Figures!

    Leffler Web Design has hit another amazing milestone! As of yesterday's mochibot report, Exmortis2 has hit the magical 1-million "worldwide plays" mark!

    It's taken 112 days and 215 hosts (incidentally - of which only 9 have my personal permission) to get the game to this point.

    I must say that while the daily play stats are naturally dwindling as the game gets long in the tooth, Exmortis2 still seems to be attracting on average 5000 hits a day!

    That's above and beyond my expectation when I originally released this game back in March - so thank you to all that have played the game from the bottom of my heart. I've said it before and I'll say it again - you guys are the reason I pour my heart in this work and spend copious amounts of sleepless hours making this stuff!

    Thursday, July 13, 2006

    Exmortis3 Storyline Tidbits

    More tidbits for you on the Exmortis3 storyline... My main reasons for being a tad cagey about plot specifics thus far is because nothing has been firmly set in stone until now...

    Spoliers from here on... Invisotext initiated! (Highlight to read)

    As I have previously alluded towards, you certainly do reprise your role as Mr. Hannay. Let's just say that revenge is not something he is consumed with at the beginning of the game... he is destitute and resigned to a fate of eternally roaming the spirit realm with no way back to the world he once knew.

    Yes, that's right people. You're stuck in the spirit world again after being on the wrong end of an almighty smackdown at the hands of Vlaew (ie. the Exmortis2 twist conclusion)... During the game I probably won't be explaining the specifics as to why you ended up back in the spirit realm, so I'll just clear that plot point up now for you...

    After going through the ritual in Exmortis2 (the one that transported you to the spirit realm), your soul was forever anchored to that world. As a result, you are effectively immortal. All Vlaew did by 'killing' you in Exmortis2 was expel your soul back to the spirit world. And considering that you completed your Exmortis2 objective in destroying the portal between the ethereal and corporeal worlds, you now find yourself stranded with no way back to Earth.

    But an opportunity to exact a swift revenge upon Lord Vlaew will literally fall in to your lap. Will Mr.Hannay ever make it back home? And if so, how much time has passed since your "quick death" at the hands of the Ancient? How has the world changed? And how has mankind changed? Will there even be a mankind left to return to?

    Wooooooooo..... epic! :)

    Tuesday, June 27, 2006

    Progress Report

    Still no new updates on the progress of Exmortis 3. At the moment I am prioritizing between being sorted with my recent move and getting a new website up and running for a baseball tournament called "The Beaver Cup" that I am organising here in Sydney for the October long weekend.

    I'm almost finished with that tournament website, and on top of that I am being bombarded with web development opportunities due to word-of-mouth referrals as a result of recent web sites that I have had a hand in...

    As a result, I may be forced to place a lower importance on the Exmortis3 game as these web development opportunities have the potential to pay some outstanding bills, whilst the Exmortis series has no financial benefit to me and can be considered more of a hobby than a career furthering opportunity.

    But the more I put off doing any work on Exmortis3, the clearer the vision becomes of where I want to take this story. Plus I can assure you that I am very excited about implementing a certain element of game play in to this title - as I am sure it will make 99.9% of you react with "Holy shit! That's fucking sick!!" And the best part is, it's a relatively easy thing to implement...

    I won't spoil you with details on the gameplay element I am referring to, but once it's implemented - to those of you who felt that the 2nd game wasn't as blood thirsty as the 1st one - I say Exmortis3 will make them seem like Sesame Street!

    Saturday, June 17, 2006

    Yeah Yeah Yeah - I've been slack

    I know - I've been slack these last couple of weeks. Unfortunately I haven't got any new updates for anyone. I've been way too busy moving house, setting up my cable TV service and getting my funky new broadband connection up and running.

    However between the related headaches and stress, I managed to record a voice-over opening dialogue. Not sure if I will stick with it for the final version though - I hate the sound of my own voice and it clouds my "is that cheesy, or does it work" spidey-senses which has served me will in the first two games.

    I guess I'll leave it in for now and come back to it further down the track...

    I've also come up with some very wicked ideas that if I can translate correctly to the game, I'm sure it will be the talking point in subsequent reviews of the piece.

    Also, I just picked up a nice little Flash add-on package which some Flash developers will be familiar with - Electric Rain's Swift 3D... It's like a cut down user-friendly version of Maya/3DSM and it seems to be the preferred package when creating motion 3D vector graphics for flash.

    I don't know if I will learn how to harness it's awesomeness (is that even a word?) before the release of Exmortis3 - but the fact that I spend about 3 hours a day on a train between home and work, and that the nature of Exmortis3 tends to be a little too graphic for my fellow commuters to handle - I might just use that time to learn the application...

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    Exmortis Freaky Fact #3: Character Names

    Throughout the Exmortis series, the names of certain characters might seem relatively unimportant to everyone - however each name has relevance to me personally.

    Xavier Rehayem (Exmortis & Exmortis2) - The surname Rehayem is actually the name of a customer of mine from my day job as an IT sales consultant. I've never really known how to correctly pronounce the name, but I've heard different interpretations over the years. I haven't devulged to the customer that I have used his surname in this project... maybe he'll work it out if he ever plays Exmortis!

    Gwen Rehayem - Gwen was actually based on a shortly lived crush that I had on a famous Ms. Paltrow. I got over that quickly!

    Mr. Hannay (Exmortis2) - The surname is based upon a Rugby League player who is part of the North Queensland Cowboys, Josh Hannay. Interestingly enough, the name was originally used in another project of mine... After finishing work on Exmortis I began crafting a sci-fi horror project called "Anomaly" (which was eventually abandoned for a loss of any real creative interest in the story). An item you could obtain in the game was a key-card with a personal ID picture on it. That keycard picture was of a player profile of Josh Hannay.

    Vlaew (Exmortis & Exmortis2) - Throughout the series, a common font was used as the Ancient's text/language... that font is Fusaka. To create the final puzzle in the original game, I had to select the most bizzare looking characters from the Fusaka collection that weren't too clear to everybody that it was actual english text. The letters that I chose were V, L, A, E and W. Hence, the name of the character.

    Thursday, June 08, 2006

    Exmortis Freaky Fact #2: Use of EVP

    The use of EVP (electronic voice phenomenom) with in the Exmortis2 game was inspired by another point n click flash game by the name of Lost Found. I found that the most compelling feature of that game is how the storyline revolves around the mythos of a painting that supposedly depicts a ghostly figure in the background and the subsequent supernatural rumours about it bringing misfortune to it's owner's.

    What made Lost Found an inspiring piece of work for me was that it had that element of "this story is based around a real life haunted object" - something that the original Blair Witch movie also utilised effectively.

    In Exmortis2, I wanted to emulate that creepy feeling that I got whilst reading the backstory of that painting, and playing the Lost Found game.

    I came up with the idea to use actual real life EVP recordings within Exmortis2 to achieve this objective. I won't divulge everything to you about which sounds are EVP and which are not - with the exception of one particular scene...

    In the cellar scene, when you switch the CB radio to Channel 10 you will hear a gun fight confrontation in which the dialogue is spoken "Get the hell out of here!"... That line is one of the EVP recordings I've used within the Exmortis2 game...

    Wednesday, June 07, 2006

    Early Teaser Now Online

    Greetings my fellow hell spawn! :) Happy 666 day for yesterday...

    Got another screenshot for y'all... which is clearly posted above. Trust me when I say that the screenshots you've seen so far look MUCH better when you see them animated...

    Some good news - hop on over to Newgrounds and check out the teaser trailer I knocked up last night for Exmortis3... It's nothing special, but hopefully it will create a little bit of anticipation for the conclusion to the story.

    Apart from knocking together the trailer last night, I once again shrugged off my house-moving/packing duties to put some more time in to the opening intro/scenes. I pretty much spent from 6.30pm through to 12:30am glued to my notebook touching up. Yes - I am paying for it today whilst I am at work... Caffeine is my best friend right now...

    Tuesday, June 06, 2006

    Exmortis Freaky Fact #1: Vent Ambience

    The ambient background sound of the vent scene in Exmortis2 is actually a metallic panel (removed from my computer chassis) being smashed HARD over the top of my skull! Echo, reverb and EQ filters were applied afterwards to add some brain rattling flavour! No pain - no gain, I guess...

    Spiritworld Concept

    Ok - despite the fact that I am in the middle of a move to a new house and I am supposed to be spending every single spare moment of my time packing boxes, I actually managed to sneak in a few hours of work last night in a bid to conceptualize one of the opening scenes. I came up with a nice looking scene (see picture above) of the player's character standing on a cliff face looking over the spiritworld.

    It might not be clear in this picture, but the animation that I put in last night creates a nice little partical run off effect behind the player's character. I guess that's my attempt at some kind of supernatural/ethereal remniscent of the Constantine movie's Hell-Dimension effect - probably the only cool thing in that movie :)

    I also managed to differentiate the speeds between the rushing clouds in the sky and the low lying fog/clouds wrapping around the Alien-esque mountains in the distance.

    I probably won't usually give away a great deal of screenshots to avoid spoiling any plot points that aren't set in stone, but the above shot will only be seen for less than 5 seconds in the intro - so I figure "what the hell... why not?"


    Monday, June 05, 2006

    Newgrounds Exmortis Almost to 1 Million Plays!

    Just a quick shout out that Exmortis is only 25,000 plays away from hitting the 1 million hit mark over at Newgrounds! Rock on! :)

    Newgrounds has accounted for about 25% of worldwide hits for Exmortis and Exmortis 2. By those calculations, that puts 4 million people as having played the first game, and I know for a fact that 802,000 people worldwide have played Exmortis2 (Thanks to Mochibot for those stats)

    That puts exposure to my work at around 5 million which is a quarter of the population of Australia! hahaha... It's the little things in life that are often the best... ;)

    Early Days

    Welcome to the inaugural post for what I hope will be an ever expanding blog in which I will catalogue my progress in the making of the 3rd and final (well, I'm 99.9% sure it will be final) chapter in the Exmortis trilogy.

    First and foremost, let me just introduce myself. My name is Ben Leffler. I'm a 28-year old guy from Sydney Australia who has been dabbling with computer design and concept since I was an 8-year old kid programming games and apps in LBasic on my TRS-80 computer.

    It is the unbelievably positive feedback that provides me with continual motivation to spend an obscene amount of time working on such projects as the previous two Exmortis games. I really do appreciate that so many people have embraced my previous work like they have. It makes it all worthwhile in the end... you guys have been a great source of inspiration for me, and in return I hope that my work can also inspire and motivate you in return.

    And so I begin my conceptual work on the final Exmortis game.

    Going on my previous games, there isn't a great deal of structure to the creative process behind the scenes. I don't sit down and write a script or even outline the plot. Both Exmortis and Exmortis2 had very little on paper, and they only really flowed from whatever creative energy I had as I was going from flash scene to flash scene. Not very professional, huh?

    I'm probably more patient than 90% of people in this world however when it comes to creating the game, I want jaw-dropping results and I want it straight away! That's one of the major things that inspires me to go on with the process and remain enthusiastic about it all. Unfortunately that can sometimes work against me because it almost forces me to rush the process and either churn out sub-standard work or get me frustrated to the point where I toss in the towel.

    Exmortis2 had at least two false starts to it's production. The first false start was the most devestating, as it took a further 8 months before I forced myself back to the project.

    I had a basic story premise (the post-apocolyptic setting which I ended up using) but I hit a brick wall when I decided that I wasn't happy with the feeling of the first few scenes and how they introduced the task at hand.

    There was no church, nor was there a dark character there to put you on the path to fulfill his nefarious plans. There were no religious references originally intended, nor an intention to make the sky crimson red, the ground parched or any of the "Exmortis horde pandemic" backstory you can read about in the diary and news clippings of the game. It was pretty much a bare bones start, and it was that lack of projected scope that killed it off for me for so long.

    8 months later, I visited my original Exmortis game at and browsed through the positive user reviews again. It was then that I realised that it would be crazy of me not to follow up the game with a sequel. It was enough to get me back in front of the notebook again, but this time I had a better grasp of certain plot points, and a more energetic and enthusiastic gusto to inspire me with.

    But once again I made a false start which put me off the project for a few weeks. It was the first few scenes once again that just didn't feel right. This time around, the Lochear Fields Ranch was going to be the opening scene. That was supposed to be the original safe house. The bodies the player finds inside the house were supposed to be fellow members of the resistance. But it left me with a dilemma in how I was going to make it clear what direction you needed to take to accomplish an unclear task.

    And then the revelation. Lying in bed one night trying to visualise what it would be like to live in a rural area whilst this demonic horde swept across the world destroying and eviscerating everything in sight. What does humanity hold so dearly, and what would happen when that is taken away? Some people would claim security is most important. Happiness. Contentment. But then it occured to me what the catalyst would be for all hope to be lost.

    The failure of religion and faith in our deity(s). And then it hit me - how I was going to introduce this religious sub-plot without coming off a) too preachy or b) too anti-religious... I then knew what the first scene would be.

    Then back to the creative process and from then on I never looked back. The story continually evolved as I created scene by scene. I decided that my pondering thought of somehow involving Xavier Rehayem and his daughter Gwen back in to the story would again serve to help the player's progress whilst creating direction and motivation to continue the story onwards.

    I eventually reintroduced themes such as the importance of numbers (in the sudoko element and once again the deaths of five innocent people as in the first). I tried to remain true to the colour palette of the first in creating sepia scenes with only the sky and gore hued in crimson.

    There were a lot of other small reoccuring themes that I drew upon from the original game - but it was funny as I never intended to do as such in pre-production... It just kinda happened...

    Anyway, I've probably babbled a bit too much in my first post here. But before I finish up, you'll probably want to know where I'm at with the third game - considering that is the point of this blog after all!

    The answer is rather dissappointing to some. I haven't done a great deal at this point in time... I've been on a bit of a creative break/hiatus to replenish my enthusiasm. I've got a good idea for a bare bones plot that I am going to go with. But let me just let one cat out of the bag for all you that are interested...

    (Highlight to read)

    You will reprise the role of your character from the 2nd game... Mr.Hannay... well... kind of... *evil smirk*