Sunday, September 23, 2012

Project Unknown Post #5: Gearing Up

Hey everyone,
Sorry this post took a little longer than the others.  We have been working hard on the prototype of Project Unknown throughout the week, and are very close to having a rough, playable version of our whitebox prototype.  Currently we have a cube jumping, teleporting, and attacking, with the camera system implemented.  We still have to get the two puzzles working, and Mavin and Tyson are working diligently on creating the enemy AI.  Robert and I are working on the powerpoint presentation which involves creating simple explanations of our core mechanics, concept art/ideas of the game's characters and puzzles, and organizing the structure of the presentation.  We will be presenting our pitch and prototype to the instructors on Thursday of this week, and then the following Tuesday is when we will be pitching to the industry professionals.  Until then, we will be working hard to make our prototype and presentation the best they can be.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Project Unknown Post #4: Iterate, iterate, iterate...

So this is the fourth week that we have been in the Capstone class working on Project Unknown and, so far, things are looking better each day.  After much iteration, we have finally discovered what the actual fun of the game will be.  Yes, there will still be the Super Mario Galaxy camera style that switches perspectives depending on where you are on the map, and, yes, there will still be a teleportation mechanic.  However, despite these two cool features, we really had to try and formulate a question that would be the backbone of our whole game.  Over the weekend, we found that question.
What if we could combine puzzles and combat into one thing?
This question alone has our game pointing toward a new direction.  But how will one of these puzzles work, and how will it affect our game?  Let me give you a couple of examples.  Say the player has all the exits in a room closed off so there is no escape, not to mention there are multiple enemies surrounding the player inside room.  Because the enemies themselves are either partly or fully cybernetic, each enemy carries with him an electric charge.  Now imagine there are three electric conductors on the floor within this room, and the only way the doors will open is if these conductors have a charge attached to them.  The player will have to kill the enemies while on top of the conductors in order for the door to open so that the player can move on to the next area.  Let me give you another example.  Imagine you are in a room surrounded by enemies of different strengths, and the only enemy that is vulnerable to your attacks is the weakest one alive.  The only way to defeat the enemies are by killing each one from the weakest to the strongest, while dodging attacks from the enemies that aren't vulnerable at that particular moment.  This will immensely change the combat mechanic of our game to one that not only focuses on straight killing, but strategy as well, all in real time.

Here is the prototype level we will be using for our playtest.  We created it to not only show off some of our puzzle systems, but to also give the player the chance to extensively use our flash mechanic, and see our camera system in action.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Project Unknown Post #3: On to Prototyping

So the votes were counted and Project Unknown has been chosen to move on to the prototyping phase!  Our original team, (which consisted of Scott Torgeson, Robert Jungert, and myself), now has two more programmers added on to it, (Mavin Martin and Tyson Anderson).
Unfortunately, Scott was pulled from our group to help another team for the prototyping phase, so we are trying to get the other programmers up to speed on what Scott has accomplished so far.  If our game gets chosen to move on as one of the few games to be put into the development phase after prototyping, hopefully, Scott will be able to rejoin our team.

Our class assignment from Tuesday was to play 5 games that were similar to the game we are trying to create.  I have chosen to play a variety of games, each matching a certain aspect/mechanic we would like to see in our game.

Game #1:  Dishwasher Samurai: Vampire Smile
      Dishwasher Samurai is a great arcade game that contains many of the features we are trying to implement into our game.  First and foremost is its teleportation mechanic.  By flicking the right analog stick the main character is able to move a small distance across the screen.  This worked very effectively to get closer to the enemies quickly and to platform through levels in a fun manner.  We want to build on this mechanic so that we are also able to dodge enemy fire while teleporting, possibly passing through enemy lasers/missiles via teleportation.  This game also utilizes a sword wielding protagonist, and our game's animation loops will definitely benefit by observing the combat animation from Dishwasher Samurai.

Game #2:  Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
      I chose to play this game not for any of the gameplay features, but because Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker uses a graphic novel style artform for its cutscenes.  In Project Unknown, we want our gritty, main story to be told through graphic novel cutscenes, and Peace Walker conveys that exact level of grittiness throughout game's beautifully drawn animated pictures.

Game #3:  Splosion Man
      Splosion Man has two things that I'd like to see in our game: the quality of the art/models and the linear, yet fun, level design.  As far as how our game will look polygon wise, I want our models to be similar to that of Splosion Man's, (geometrically simple 3D models yet yield a higher polygonal count than most indie games).  However, Project Unknown's art style will consist of a darker tone not seen anywhere in Splosion Man.  Secondly, the level design in Project Unknown will be very similar to that of Splosion Man's.  Much of the time I spent playing Splosion Man, I was traversing levels not only horizontally, but vertically as well.  This game will be a much needed reference as to what our level design will be like.  Because our character is essentially able to teleport anywhere around the map, we want to vary the level design from being strictly horizontal to both vertical and horizontal.

Game #4:  Warp
      Warp provides the player with the ability to teleport anywhere at anytime.  You are able to move through objects, into objects, and even into the enemy opponents.  This is all done from a top down camera angle similar to that of Mario 64.  I believe that our third person portions of Project Unknown will act very similar to this style.  In Warp, you can move the analog stick anywhere and at the press of a button you will teleport to that location on a horizontal plane, (there is no teleporting on the y-axis).  Project Unknown will use this mechanic almost exactly like Warp used it, with the exception of instead of pressing "a" to warp, we will just allow the player to flick the analog stick to the location he/she wants to teleport to.

Game #5:  Limbo
      Limbo's level design is something I would like to replicate in Project Unknown as well.  Limbo has you jumping up trees to find a key and looking for switches to solve puzzles and, I believe, Project Unknown can really learn from the puzzles you are required to solve within Limbo.