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    Monday, June 05, 2006

    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*


    Anonymous said...

    Hi Ben,

    Just finished Exmortis 2. I love the Evil Dead feel of the games. Props for calling a town 'San Raimi'. Ever played Phantasmagoria? I finally got round to it this year, and I gotta say, your games are way scarier. Keep up the good work, I can't wait for a gore soaked part 3!

    - Angus, Melbourne

    Ben Leffler said...

    Cheers Angus... no I haven't played Phantasmagoria - however the name has popped up a few thousand times in various reviews of my stuff.

    Any good comparison between my work and the professional stuff churned out by software houses is always a big boost to the ego! :)

    Anonymous said...

    I love both Exmortis games. 2 wasn't as scary as the first one,(cept when I had to fight the demons), but it was still good.

    Hope for the 3rd one to come out soon.

    Ben Leffler said...

    I agree with you that the 2nd game was not as scary as the first one.

    The first game achieved what I wanted it to achieve - that is to scare and push the envelope with what was possible with cinematic flash games.

    The second game was made with a purpose to further a story and improve upon gameplay and immersion, thus less focus was placed on creating cheap scares.

    I am very proud with the atmospheric back-story and sub-themes that I created in the second game, so with that in mind I feel inclined to once again focus more on story and immersion in the third game.

    So I project that Exmortis 3 will be even less scarier than those before it... but you never know what I'll throw in to keep everyone on their toes! :)

    Anonymous said...

    I just finished the Exmortis 2.Is the freakiest on-line game.But also I enjoy it.
    I look forword for Exmortis 3.

    blackmoon said...

    I've just finished the Exmortis 2.It is better than Exmortis 1.And I hope that Exmortis 3 to be much better.

    Anonymous said...

    OMG!Number 1 was scary ye but number 2! mi m8s nd i wer screamin our heds off! Xavier's ghost in the air vent, the endin nd when (i think Vlaew) comes et the beginnin nd says U WILL DIE! Scary! So this whole tym, the person hu sent u on the mission was actually on the Exmortis syd. then the characta dies. OMG wot happens in 3? do u play as sum1 rel8d 2 the characta? wen's it coming out??? so xcitin!!! pls do me a HUGE favour. DO NOT make it as scary as the first 2!

    Anonymous said...

    ur first game game scared 7 shades of shit out of me but the second one only scared 5 how many shades will the 3rd scare out of me.
    PS ur games are amaizing

    Anonymous said...

    your games are so cool my pal could't watch incase he got too scared is little brother pissed him selve.when should 3 come out

    Anonymous said...

    Hi Ben,
    I've had great fun with Exmortis 2,I've fi ished with my friend and even though I'm a kid,I wasn't freaked out by the gore.Can't wait for Exmortis 3.I like the part where Vlaew(it's pronounced Vlei,right?)charges at you and you see his face up close.I also liked the part where you shoot the Exmortis near the end.They didn't look that good,but it added an FPS feeling that didn't ruin the game's balance.I didn't really understand what Vlaew says at the end though,"Awake death" or soemthing.Keep going,but do it like Exmortis 2,based on story,but with more scares!

    Anonymous said...

    Hey what a great site keep up the work its excellent.

    Anonymous said...

    Hey, great game, Ben! Can't wait for the third installment. Will take place in the spirit world at times too like in the second one?

    -Arnst, Megan

    Anonymous said...

    Interesting site. Useful information. Bookmarked.

    Anonymous said...

    Very best site. Keep working. Will return in the near future.

    Anonymous said...

    I find some information here.

    Anonymous said...

    Freaky as Hell! Really well designed. I liked part 2 best. The inventory system worked, Keep it! Tell me though, in Exmortis one Vlaew orders you to release the Exmortis into the world, but at the end of two, he says that they are against him. Why would he want his enemies on earth killing his subjects? Please answer dude. I've also noticed the numerous Evil Dead refrences. (San Raimi, Book releasing demons, spirit of dead professor assisting you.) please put more in! Finally, how do I get permission to post a link of Exmortis I &II on my site? please answer dude.

    Anonymous said...

    Ben, your games are absolutley amazing! I love the creepiness of the game. I love the story. I love the graphics. I love everything! But the graphics are so amazing. I love graphics that are like that. I have played and beat both Exmortis games and they are great. I like the Exmortis 1 setting better than 2 but 2 had a great story to it. The attitude in your games and atmosphere is perfect for the horror genre . And that ghost in the vent scared the c*** out of me and I loved it. I cant wait for the the 3rd.

    PS. I love your games so much, I actually put them into stories! Ya I love them that much.

    PSS. My newgrounds nick is Ngcrazy1

    Amanda Storey said...

    Hello, Ben.

    Greetings from the U.S.!

    I am very impressed by the quality of your Exmortis games. It's a rarity to find Flash games anymore with an existing, let alone complex plot with twists that are not too predictable, but not insanely difficult to figure out, either. The apparitions were frightful, and the copious amounts of gore was not to an excess, but was not seldom seen, either.

    I must also say that I'm very impressed with the vocabulary that you use within your games, as well as this blog. It is easy to see that the work here is done by a professional, even if the profession is not within the gaming industry.

    I read the hate mail on the front page of your blog. I admire how you take venomous comments into stride, especially with "fits of hysterical laughter". I, too, do not take hate mail personally because in truth, it is a waste of time for them, and a good laugh for us.

    Best of luck to you in the creation process of Exmortis 3. Expectations are high, and I'm sure you feel the pressure. I didn't know about the December due date, so I won't yell at you for it. :D Even if I did, we all know that life gets in the way a lot, even if some people are not mature enough to realize it.