A Triumphant Return: Perception

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With the help of some awesome feedback and discussion with a friend I’ve gone ahead and revisited Perception.

Going back to my docs there was a fair bit I was unhappy with or thought could do with improvements. Mostly this came down to how the game’s levels were oddly linked together gameplay wise. I decided the story was the strongest and most interesting aspect for me to design/write so have changed up the genre somewhat. Introducing: Perception, the point and click adventure.

I think a point and click adventure format (many mechanics from which I was already integrating) will match the story much better and allow some of the grander goals I have designed to actually be achieved. With this new direction I’ve had a flood of inspiration over the past few days and I feel the game has already improved dramatically.

Something I will reluctantly have to revisit is the art style due to annoying Slenderman comparisons (a game that freaks me out greatly and yet I have never played it myself). All is not lost though as I’ve had a few ideas I’ll experiment with which should hopefully end up being cooler than the original. Considering the time frame I had when designing the game initially for free play as revisit is probably a good idea anyway.

I’m really excited to see where it goes and, as you’ll see below, have already started prototyping some of the core systems needed. Hopefully in the next week or two I’ll have something substantial enough to show off.

Disappointment Times a Billion

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If you follow me via Facebook or Twitter you would likely have already heard that Perception didn’t get accepted into Freeplay. For those of you who don’t I thought I’d let you know here…Perception didn’t get accepted into Freeplay. However not for the reason you might think.

Rather than the game not being up to par with it’s competitors (something I can easily accept and even learn from) the category that I entered (Best on Paper Design) didn’t go ahead at all due to a lack of entries. So as you can imagine I’m pretty disappointed: the category was after all the reason I even wanted to enter the competition in the first place.

This has left me wondering why I spent a good month of my time working on the game and stressing about making the deadline when, right now, it feels pretty much like it was for nothing. Of course I know it wasn’t for nothing; I think the game has the potential to be great but not even getting a go sucks as now I have received none of the outside feedback on the game that I felt entering would reveal. I am annoyingly left thinking “what if?”

I’ve considered posting the doc on here to get some feedback but I’m really undecided: do I risk having the idea stolen? will readers think it’s bad? would anyone even read it?

Submission Accomplished!

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Perception: The Key is a 2D story driven game for the PC that follows a man, known only as ‘The Protagonist’, over a short period in his life. The player joins him and his ever changing perception as he searches for what is lost in an attempt to prevent the inevitable.

Above you’ll find a spoiler free overview of Perception: The Key. I say spoiler free as the game has a big twist that I’m trying to keep under wraps should I ever try to bring it to production. I have told a select and trustworthy few and their reactions have helped me believe the idea is a good one. Below I’ve done a bit of post-mortem of the process and how I’m feeling now the game is submitted.

Over the weekend I submitted Perception to Freeplay! I’m very happy with how it turned out in the end though I got pretty stressed as the deadline began to loom. I say stressed because I started the doc not having really figured out how the game would play (I don’t recommend doing that ever by the way – just not good practice) so spent a lot of time on sections that I either didn’t need to focus so heavily on or that would inevitably change once I decided exactly what I was doing gameplay wise. It also didn’t help that the kitchen was getting remodelled at home so for a good few weeks of trying I couldn’t get into a rhythm to get any decent progress made.

This image became a concept for the game as a whole as well as my struggle to get the doc done in time.

So essentially a week or two until the deadline I decided to start fresh and moved to a new (dauntingly blank) word doc along with the levels I had figured out. In the end it took me about a week to put together the final doc I submitted with most of this time spent writing the game. I did go back to the first doc (of which I had spent probably an additional three weeks on) eventually and poked through the wreckage to find that a lot was still usable; I just need to finesse it a little. That said, there were many sleepless nights worrying about getting it done in time and a very OCD system of saving to a billion places to prevent losing work. However once Thursday evening arrived and my doc was ready for proof reading I was very relieved, though no more so once that proof reading was complete and I was assured everything made sense.

Overall I’m really happy with the game. There are certainly areas where the game can improve (a few levels could use a re-design but the inspiration/epiphany through which to do so didn’t fall inside the time frame) but I’m hoping the judges appreciate the broader goals I’m trying to achieve. It has certainly changed a lot from the initial ‘game a day’ idea but it is all for the better. Definitely an idea I’ll be pursuing further regardless of Freeplay outcome.

Perception Art Update

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Another short post to update with a little more art I’ve made for Perception. If you follow me on facebook you would’ve seen these already. If you aren’t following me via the book of faces and would like to you can do so here. The first image is for Level 3 – encroaching darkness, and the second for Level 2 – imagine RPG elements applied to a job interview.


Overall Perception is coming along well, I’m slowly working through each level and revising the doc as I go. Still a little scared to let others see it through fear of it not making sense or even worse not being a good idea D: Regardless though I’m really happy with how it’s turning out and would like to bring it to the production phase at some point.

Perception – The First Level

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So as I predicted I got a little excited and have decided to share a snippet of my Perception doc. Hopefully it still makes sense out of context but it is a breakdown of the first level of the game. Enjoy (hopefully)

Level 1 – Late for an important date

Premise – The first level setups the story for the rest of the game. It starts as soon as the game does; The Protagonist, standing out the front of his house, must get to work on time. Unbeknownst to the player this task is impossible and will result in him losing his job.

This level will use many of the mechanics more commonly seen in games or levels focused on vehicles (see Image 2 for an example). As the player gains control a timer will appear on the HUD along with an arrow. The player will need to reach a series of points on the map within a time frame, using the arrow and their map to reach them in time.

Image 2: Screenshot from Midtown Madness

In a familiar fashion these points act as checkpoints; reaching one adds time to the timer and readjusts the arrow toward the next. The checkpoints will lead the player around the over world until they reach the train station.

Once at the train station a scripted sequence will commence. The Protagonist enters the line to the ticket booth. The timer will continue counting down, this time coinciding with the moment The Protagonist’s train is due to leave. Eventually The Protagonist reaches the counter where the player is met with two dialogue choices:

  • Option 1: One ticket please
  • Option 2: One ticket, I’m in a big hurry!

Choosing Option 1 results in the salesmen giving you the ticket free of charge proclaiming: “You’re the first person to say ‘please’ today! Here it’s on me. Have a great day.”

Choosing Option 2 results in a grumble from the salesmen and requires The Protagonist to hand over the full fare.

The scripted sequence continues as The Protagonist, ticket in hand, proceeds through the gates and waits on the platform. He has made it just in time.

A moment passes.

The Protagonist checks his watch. The timer enters negative numbers and begins to flash red.

An announcement sounds over the loud speaker: “Attentions passengers on platform 1, the 8:34 train is delayed by approximately 10 minutes.”

The timer negates further.

The Protagonist slumps his shoulders; all he can do is wait. The screen fades to black.

We return. The Protagonist is in his boss’ office. A dialogue sequence begins:

Boss: “Why were you late?”

Protagonist: “The train [cut off].”

Boss: “Let me guess: The train was delayed. The baby wouldn’t sleep.  I got here as fast as I could Boss. “

Protagonist:

Boss: “Well, I’m sick of your excuses. I told you this wasn’t on but you don’t seem to care.”

Protagonist: “Wait! I promise I’ll [cut off]”

Boss: “No way it’s done. You’re fired. Take your things and leave.”

The Protagonist stands and exits the office. Fade to black.

The screen slowly fades back to reveal The Protagonist standing out the front of his building, looking identical to before. The game returns full control to the player and this level is complete.

Now For Something Completely Different

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I’ve decided to submit a game to the 2012 Freeplay Independant Game Festival! I don’t currently have High at the standard I’d need to submit nor is it something I’d consider submitting really. Luckily enough the comp has a category for “Best On Paper Design” so I can actually contribute a new game. Submission is due by the 20th of August so fellow devs get cracking!

The game based off an idea I had a few months ago (spawning actually as one of my design-a-day ideas) and is called “Perception”. I’m still figuring everything out so I’m not going to reveal much at this point. What I will reveal is the main characters name: ‘The Protagonist’ and a wee bit of concept art which will accompany my submission.

I’m pretty excited so watch this space as I’ll no doubt spill the beans in the next few weeks…