Puzzles, puzzles, puzzles

And going down the TV Tropes rabbit hole… Please forgive me if I use some of these…

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Write about what you know… What about making video games?

“What can you learn about a person through a screen? What can you learn about a creator through their work?” – Boen Wang

As someone who had tried so many times to write, short stories, poems, novels, one of the first things that people tell me is “write about what you know”, the second thing is “show not tell”.

But what about making video games? Do you also write and make something based on your experience to provide that authenticity, that sense of something raw and emotional and real.

I decided to make a game about depression, because – (Before I continue, I am currently, at this moment, not in a bout)- it’s hard to explain. It’s hard to tell people that you’re not fine. And you don’t know what people might think, because they may not know how that feels like, that sense of that unexplainable reason for sadness and lack of motivation and…

It’s I suppose my way of telling people how I feel…? It’s not a cry for help, at least I don’t think it is. I do have mine mostly under control. It comes, but it also goes.

Going back to the second most important point, “show not tell”. In poetry (yah, I used to be part of this super artsy hipster literary publication back in uni), we were taught not to say how you feel, you must show it. I suppose that’s even more important in video games, which is such a visual experience.

How do I make players feel that feeling without shoving it down their throats? No, I don’t think I should be shoving this feeling down anyone’s throats. It’s the worse feeling you can wish on anyone. How do you detach the player in such a way, that they aren’t really the character, yet feel for the character? Rather you are taking care of the character? This is a conundrum. I’m not even sure if I’m explaining it correctly.

And how meta should the game be? Also how autobiographical?

Although, ever since I started this project on HitRecord and asked for contributions, it feels… well, definitely not good… but less lonely to know that you’re, rather I’m, not the only feeling this way.

I was at BAFTA Crew event and talking to two other game developers and we are talking about how everyone’s path is sort of different and we are all still trying to figure our life out. Whoever does have their lives figured out are either pretty lucky, or just really good at pretending they have their shit together. And one of the game devs, made the comment about how it’s nice to know that you are not alone (of course, clarifying that it’s of course, it’s not good that other people are lost too). You get it.

Recently I got a contribution from Thumbelily on HitRecord:

Depression is something nobody wants to feel, ever. Depression is also not a really good thing to describe, either.

It’s like asking how someone who was nearly killed by gunshot fire how it felt like. Nobody wants to experience that.

For me, personally, reading the titles of the contributions for this… is already sickening. It’s something no one wants to think about, it’s stressing out.

It’s, like, the worst thing you want to avoid in life.

And that makes me sort of question my decision to go down this route. Games likes “Depression Quest” and “Actual Sunlight” come with trigger warnings at the beginning.

How do I balance that, letting people feel, but not too much? How to I keep it light yet dark at the same time?

The next “puzzle” that I’m working on involves a shadow of your character that follows you around but destroys the things around you. When she is around there is this buzzing noise of people whispering words like “you’re worthless”, which was actually part of a music contribution from HitRecord. I’m afraid that that but might trigger a bit. But you can fight her and you can destroy her.

I think the vibe I want to create is a little like the Vocaloid songs and videos…

It’s cute and bright, but at the same time it’s sad.

I hope I am able to “show” what I’m trying to say well.

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Challenge 2: The Computer…

It’s a rabbit hole that makes you lose track of time, kind of like sleep, except you don’t get rested, just more tired, even though you didn’t really do anything.

 

Bedroom_PCWIP
Work in Progress with some references. The wallpaper and icon are Illustration contributions from HitRecord answering the question “What depression feels like to you?”.

How should a computer in a game look like? Also how deep into this rabbit hole should I allow the game and the player to go into? And how meta should it be?

Continue reading “Challenge 2: The Computer…”

Making a Game Part 4: Production onwards…

Ahhhh~ With only 2 months of dev time, production needs to be really tight. But it can be difficult as I am not the type to have entire GDDs written out before actually coding anything. I’m a strong believer that GDDs can only do so much, but you actually need to play the game to tell if it will work. That means coding, rapid coding (which thankfully I don’t suck at). Usually you just use simple white boxes as assets, but I still feel like you can’t quite get the feeling without at least the objects resembling what they need to be, especially if its a point and click puzzle game. That means at least first pass art with animations (which is painful). I know sound fx and music should be in there too, but I don’t have time to go through endless free sound banks right now.

Anyway, some post it notes…


To Do on one wall on my left.


Doing on my desk with my breakfast, markers and my trusty old laptop.


Done on another wall on my right.

I should digitize this on Trello, but really there is nothing more satisfying then moving post it notes.

Aja to me! Onwards and upwards…

Making a Game Part 1 Iteration 12: Putting it all Together

First some gifs… (Note: Art is only first pass and subject to change)

CloudyDayWalkRainyDayWalk

“Some days are good, while some days are bad, and you don’t really know why…”

The product is a game that explores the topic of depression, with aims to promote mental health awareness. It will be a point-and-click puzzle game that simulates the everyday life of someone living with depression, where even the most mundane and menial tasks become a challenge.

Controls

The game will be on the mobile platform, and it will take advantage of mobile gestures, such as tap and swipe for navigation. Being a point-and-click game, the player can interact with different objects and move around the scene using tap navigation. The player can navigate between different scenes through swipe gestures, similar to the mobile apps, as well as the game “Year Walk” and “Device 6”. Some objects are puzzles, which will utilize other mobile gestures such as tap and drag, similar to “Lumino City”.

 

User Interface

It will feature minimal user interface to increase immersion, similar to the games “To The Moon”, “Year Walk” and “Everyday the Same Dream”.

 

Narrative and Levels

The game will allow players to step into the shoes of a depressed person by living their everyday life. The game will be similar to “Everyday the Same Dream”, wherein the day loops, but the players will face different challenges each day.

The game will feature different scenes that represent different locations and time, as well as tasks that the character will go through throughout the day, for example, a bedroom scene will represent the character’s struggle to wake up every morning.

 

Interaction and Mechanics

In each scene, there are objects that the player can interact with, some of which are puzzles. Object interactions will affect latter scenes. Some objects are puzzles, which will players need to solve to unlock further interactions in the game.

 

Aesthetic Styling

The game’s art will be in 2D. The aesthetic styling, however, has not been set in stone. Current art styles being explored is minimalistic silhouette style, similar to “Everyday the Same Dream” and “Limbo”. Other art styles explored is also the 1950s cartoon style with silhouette foreground objects and a colorful textured background.

 

Technology and AI

The game will be developed in Unity. It is a single player game but it won’t feature any AI.

Making a Game Part 1 Iteration 11: Character

I finally have a character! (At least a first pass) Hallelujah!

CharacterWalk_0000s_0000_CharacterWIP1Walk0002.png

Her hair is made from clouds that can rain down on her anytime. She is wearing a hospital gown, because she is sick and she wants to get better.

This is her walking…

CharacterWIP1

The process that got me to some semblance of a character was painful though…

Continue reading “Making a Game Part 1 Iteration 11: Character”