Saturday, May 15, 2010

Too Verbose

I've been trying to work on a succinct description of this game concept. This is proving to be difficult, it requires a fair amount of explaining if you don't have pictures. (I tried it out)

The game world is full of light and shadow, the player has the ability to walk across pathways created by cast shadows. Each level will involve the player manipulating light and shadow to get to the exit.

I need to condense this into 1-2 sentences that use descriptive adjectives and describes the aesthetic and mood. Okay, a flip through the thesaurus yields us this:

- intriguing
- captivating
- fascinating
- stimulating
- absorbing
- compelling

- curious
- inquisitive
- exploratory

- relaxing
- serene
- calm
- composed

- meditative
- reflective
- contemplative

- ambient
- moody

Is the game concept anything of these? Its aesthetics's still being decided, I know it's going to pixellated but the exact colours? How far can you use "atmospheric" to describe games with limited colour palettes? Or games that have a certain "feel" about them? Take games like Aether, Small Worlds, Redder or Colour my Heart.

Can't think of anything else to write, I'll come back to this later.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Living Shadows

Although it hasn't been confirmed what game concept Button Bash is going to be doing but I'd thought I look at games that have a) similar mechanic or b)similar themes. Prepare yourselves, it may appear that you are suffering double vision. Do not adjust your sets, this is perfectly normal. Sadly, this is not the Twilight Zone, spooky twins and bus shredding gremlins aren't on the menu tonight.

Living Shadows via TvTropes has a long list of pop culture works where shadows come to life. Or try Alternate Universes or Mirror Universes. Evil goatee anyone?

Sean Howard outlines how dual/shadow world works with simple game mechanics in this concept about negative space.

Here's a rundown if you're not going to read it:
- Monochromatic world (Black & White)
- Use of negative space (Will the light worlder go up a shadow ladder or will they just pass by?)
- Actions affect both world (If I nuke the toaster in the shadow world, your kitchen will not be the same in the light world)

I'm pretty sure everyone's had this idea, it almost a trope. The main question is can we design a concept that uses these basics and still surprise people with them?

Poto & Cabenga by Honeyslug

Dual screen action with two strange little characters. The only button you need is [SPACE], but pressing and releasing it does cause each character to react in a different way. Releasing [SPACE] makes the horse jump, while hitting it makes the orange guy jump. Quick reflexes are necessary.

Obviously my original game concept did get some influence from here but I'm not sure how an evolved version is going to pan out.

The Forest Temple by Oslo Albet

The goal of this game is guide Fireboy and Watergirl through the temple and collect what treasures you can. WASD system controls Watergirl while Fireboy's got the arrow keys. This can be confusing unless you're brainy enough to play with a friend.

Trine by Frozenbyte

A thief, wizard and a knight get involved with a magic crystal and now share the same body. You can switch between the three to get around the game world. Each character has special abilities that give the player a variety of solutions to getting around the world.

Monochro Observer by Tatsuya Koyama

Black and white world where two characters share a common goal of getting to a shiny vortex. You swap between the two as you clear or create blocks so they can reach the goal.

Yin Yang by Nitrome

Another one where you flip between the two characters and their worlds to get to a common goal. Of course, these smiling imps need to help each other to get to the flags. In this game, characters can link worlds by moving crates, which can help bridge gaps to make reaching goals possible.

Common themes and mechanics of these games:
- Characters have common goals (reach same place or points)
- Flipping/switching between characters
-Characters have to help each other (if I pull this lever, it will open a door for my partner)
- Both worlds offer similar experience (eg. same number of obstacles that may not have the same placement)
- Characters may have different abilities (not applicable for all games)

Is it design suicide to be looking at these games?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Button Bashers

Pretty excited, since the final project for Critical Games Design is about conceptualising an idea into something tangible.(Tangible in a digital environment for my particular group)

After much heated debating and a intense straw drawing contest, I give you Button Bash, the group I'm working in. (Excuse the name, it's like having two guys in the same room who are called Steve and Steven)

The Team:
Ryan as Sound and Level Designer
Anderson as Programmer
Nick as Artist and Animator
Myself as Lead Designer/Project Manager

The exact details of our project is to be confirmed but I'm hopeful that it will be an evolved version of this. (Don't press B to stop evolution, it's counter-productive)

Changes are starting up on a narrative and mechanics. I'm pretty sure what's coming up will be a different sheep all together. I'm still going to make the original version but consider this to be it's cousin who's parents can afford to feed it hamburgers.

Currently we'll be working on getting the blog started, work flow sorted and nutting out the idea. Forsooth and henceforth! (Yes, I know I've used the words incorrectly but they sound fun and roll off my tongue)