#1GAM July – An Old Friend Returns

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Remember how I said last month I’d take some time off? Ha! Oh past Liz, you so silly…

Instead I’ve begun work on a larger scaled version of Devolution. Surprise!

Devolution was made almost a year ago (it was my year one #1GAM entry for August) so you could say this has been a long time coming. Playthroughs on GameJolt have cracked over 8,000 which is crazy. Not only that, the game keeps gaining new followers on the site which is encouraging. Players have liked the game. I like the game. Why not try and make it something more?

I’ve been hesitant to expand the game up until now through fear of spoiling the original experience. With a bit of a push I’ve decided to give it a crack – I mean the original still exists there’s no way I can’t hurt it!

I’m still in very early stages right now. I’ve been working on a prototype/proof of concept of the new direction I want to take and it is going pretty well. My main concern is getting the story right. Gameplay wise I’ve got some good ideas on where to go but the story has left me quite stuck. This is really what has held me back from tackling the project, I don’t fancy myself much of a writer so coming up a decent narrative is tough. It’s best not to force anything though; I’ve got plenty of time to get things right and have to trust that the best ideas will come.

WIP day 9

I have been using Gamemaker so my progress is understandably slower than normal simply because I am unfamiliar with the engine.

Gamemaker had me rather befuddled at first. The way it does things is so unfamiliar coming from Unity and I’m still getting my bearings. I do miss the freedom the Unity editor provides in terms of tweaking on the fly though. That said the engine is really impressive; I’ve managed to get the visuals on par if not better than the original and was able to get gamepad input functioning great within a few hours.

Wondering what’s happening with Reversal? Well I’m uncertain right now. It needs more work for sure before I’d be comfortable publishing to the app and google play store. I might see if I can dedicate a day or two a month to keep some progress chugging along.

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I’m Looking At You 2013

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I’m excited at the prospect of the new year. I’m pretty keen to start 2013 off on a much happier note than 2012 and kick my game dev up a notch. This year has proved to me that I really do love making games but I’ve struggled to take any projects through to the end. That is going to change in 2013 as I’ve signed on for One Game a Month (all the details are here if you’re wondering).

As the name suggests I’ll make one game a month. So far I’ve got a bunch of ideas ready to take further and am pretty darned excited to get into it, at this stage I’m unsure whether Perception will be included but you never know. Hopefully out of all this my coding and art skills will grow exponentially and my design ability challenged in new ways plus as a bonus get to know more peeps from the awesome game dev community.

I’m still figuring out a game plan but for now I’m thinking:

  1. One week for rapid prototyping and general concept development
  2. Two weeks working through and refining the core gameplay + art adding desirable/secondary elements where possible
  3. With the final week spent on more refinement through some testing (I’m looking at you buddy) and technical implementation (i.e. making sure it’s playable by others via web etc.)

I would also like to get together with some buddies of mine (you know who you are) for a month or two so hopefully I’ll be able to report some awesome team-ups!

I guess that’s all I’ve got for now so have a Merry Christmas and all the jazz, stay safe and I’ll see you guys in the new year!

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.

A Remedy for Frustration

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So It’s been about a week since I declared my intentions to get out of my rut and I’m happy to say that it appears to have worked rather nicely. I was able to make some nice progress on the High design doc including somewhat of an epiphany as to how I will go about implementing my ideas come prototyping.

Perhaps the most effective of my four goals was to “come up with a new game idea everyday”. This proved a great way to spark creativity giving me enough of a confidence boost to really get into the nitty gritty on High. Not only this, if I ever had a disappointing day where I mightn’t have got as much done as I hoped, I would always end the day happy knowing that I had something new down on paper (I’ve now got a dedicated notebook to hold them). This is definitely something I’m going to maintain!

Stepping away from my work has also proved very useful as more often than not my idea for the day would come at that moment. While tuning out from the Internet (most importantly social media) and setting up with a cup of tea has started me on the road to consistent work, at least getting me into the mindset to do so.

Overall I’m pretty chuffed with how it all worked out and would recommend anyone have a go at doing the same!

An interesting Discovery?

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I came to a realisation today about the differences between programming and designing in my experience, which I will share with you.

I find game design to be much more enjoyable, at least at the stage in a project where the idea is still being realised, when I do so with others. It has been my belief for a long while that some things just turn out better, at least much faster, when more heads are involved and this is the case for some areas of game design in my opinion. When I consider my experiences with programming on the other hand, they are somewhat opposite. I find it more enjoyable when programming on my own where I can experiment at my own leisure all the while absorbing all the knowledge I can get my hands on.

Perhaps this helps to explain my recent woes where I have been focusing on only design but I’m certain this will ease with time and through more experience working on my own. No doubt I’ll become a better designer because of it. Something I know for sure is that I’m enjoying programming much more than I ever have and can’t wait to get into the next phase of ‘High’

Update – Serendipity, not just a movie

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Hello Internets!

A smallish update/recap of my past week. So this past week I have been lucky enough to score some contract work which will extend into this week coming. Its appearance I attribute to serendipity (something which has been very influential in my working life at this point) a seemingly magical event where things seems to work themselves out without having to stressfully seek for a resolution. I say this as the work comes at a time when I was looking at investing in a Mac of some variety, eventually deciding it was too expensive of an investment given my current financial situation. Then BAM the next day some contract work, and some handy extra funds, came my way.

Anyway, the work itself is to do with a Facebook game, more specifically a review of the current levels in the game. It’s really nice to have your opinion regarded so highly and, as always, I appreciate the opportunity to broaden my skills and experience as a designer. I also get to work alongside a lovely fellow who I’ve crossed paths with in the past. What’s even better is that he is an excellent designer, making working with him pretty easy. He shall be known as Beardfacé…

I will update again in the not so distant future.