DevLog #1, Level_oneland
I woke up one morning, back in early January 2020 with this idea I wanted to use in a game. I’d been juggling with a few ideas for a few days at this point, and in all honesty, all of these ideas were pretty much the same thing. And at this point, I was mostly focused on the story element and the visual aspects of it, which I know isn’t the best way to start with a game idea. But I already knew that I wanted it to be a point and click adventure game. So, I felt like I didn’t need to think that hard in terms of gameplay at this point, and just concept some kind of story that I really liked the idea of.
Now, I also really love retro pixel aesthetics, I love drawing it but I do it in a more progressive way. I’m not much of a purist, to be honest, and I’m the same when it comes to chiptune music. I love using, or at the least recreating the synth sounds from back in the day; Much like the ones you’d find on the commodore 64 and the Gameboy. But with that, I also like using modern effects along with them. Which in, “my ears”; allows you to make the sound feel so much more fuller, which was definitely something that wasn’t achievable back then.
So anyways; I had the idea in my head, what I wanted the game to be. A horror, point and click adventure game. It’s nothing too ambitious for my skill-set, and I know everything that I would want to do for the game is absolutely achievable on my own, in terms of development. The thing was at that point in time, I was still working on other projects, so I wouldn’t actually start working on this game until a year and 10 months after posting my original concept on Instagram. The reason for that being that I basically story boarded the entire story on my iPad within an hour, and then set up a release schedule to let them trickle out over the next few days as posts. So I could just store them on Instagram as a proof of work and an easy place to find them when I got back round to it.
So the concept story that I posted on Instagram was spread out across 33 posts. And here’s the thing, I posted them in reverse order which actually lost me quite a few followers. But the point was so when you go through the profile they’ll be in the correct order. You see, I only really use Instagram at the minute for storing concepts and proof dating anyway, but still… If you were one of those people who unfollowed… I’m sorry if I confused you to the point where you just had to unfollow me, lol. Anyway, I wanted to add sound to it all as well using it as a way to help tell the story in context with the visuals.
I recently did a post in October 2021 which has a video made from the Instagram posts, it was a little more stylized with some chromatic aberration and scan lines, I added some glitch effects in the transitions. It was all to just drive up the creepy aspect in concept more than anything. I won’t be using this particular visual effect style in the actual game though, it’s overused. The aesthetics in the art style will absolutely be mirrored from the Instagram concept posts, and I’m planning on upping the detailing by quite a few levels.
A Parallel Project
Just for a minute I’m going to quickly talk about the overall project, that being R3cords; So, there’s a much bigger story behind the game overall in which it connects to many other projects I’m doing parallel. For example; within the R3cords universe this game is actually being created by a character within its own narrative. So this game alone will be be its own thing, where you don’t need to know or have any knowledge of the surrounding story to play or understand it. So in short, this game is also a part of a story in which it is being created by one of the characters within the fictional R3cords universe. My next dev log will be focused more on talking about R3cords, as I intend on laying more foundations to accelerate its development in its entirety.
Choosing An Engine
So past the point of posting the concept, over the course of the year I’d occasionally find the time to ponder about how I might approach this project. I’d quite often be drawn to approaching more towards sound design as a prominent gameplay element. And over the year, up until recently. When I had some spare time, I prototyped a few snippets solely based around responsive sound design to just figure out what is actually possible in the engine that I chose to develop with. And as you do, there was the inevitable running into a few dead ends, a few no-goes and some possible workarounds. I also miraculously experienced that rare and beautiful feeling of simply making something overly complicated, actually work exactly the way you wanted it to, on the first try.
Now the choice of engine was a bit of a debate for myself because I know exactly what I want to do and I have goals for what I want my output to be. So an engine focused on rapid development within a very specific genre is a must. At first, I went to Godot, because I’d already made a few prototypes on it before, so I thought if I lay the baseline I could set it up nice and easy. But the problem is that it absolutely isn’t focused enough, all the extra possibilities in what you can do are just too distracting for this project. I’d be here forever, getting nowhere. So I fired up Adventure Game Studio, which I used to play about with many years ago, and it’s pretty much exactly what I want. But I’m not fluent enough with C, and I didn’t want to spend the next few weeks bouncing around GitHub and others, finding snippets that I could just write myself in JS. There is also a lack of targeted platform options when exporting.
The Kill Mechanic
So what I’ve done so far is put together the main kill mechanic, which I thought was going to be the hardest thing to put together. But I actually managed to get it working within a few hours without initially even knowing where to start. So I was kind of left scratching my head on what to do next because I thought it was going to take me a few days. But it didn’t and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t have an exact next step!.. So I made a short list, listing all the next things I need to do make things playable… Not to look nice, just… “You do things and things happen and things just work in the right way”, kind of playable… You know, just little baby steps.
I’ll get into the details of the kill mechanic another time, in fact I don’t really need to tell you exactly how it works but I can tell you what it’s like, I guess. Because in truth it’s not exactly anything that hasn’t been done before… So imagine playing Friday the 13th on the Commodore 64, and for those of you that haven’t, there’s mechanic where Jason goes around killing the NPC’s. It’s like that. Only the main difference is that it actually works properly and you can’t kill the NPC’s. To be honest when I was a kid, I thought that you actually played as Jason because all I did was kill everyone. I also thought the notifications of the “actual” Jason killing people were either glitches or delayed reactions. But yeah anyway like I said, the kill mechanic is kind of like that.
I’m currently putting thought into the fight mechanics, a quick note; Something about my style of work is that I do a lot more thinking about what I need to do, rather than just “throwing things at the wall until something sticks”. I get a lot less of that hopeless/ useless feeling this way, haha. Now, while I’m working on the fight mechanics in the back of my mind. I’ve been working on the visual assets to make the first section of the game playable, so I can put a playable demo together. Getting the visuals on there is also a nice way to see the world you’re building, obviously.. But in all honesty it’s more about being able to actually see the visuals I’ve built in my head, and get a taste of what it’s going to be.
I forgot to mention there’s more than just the kill mechanic, there’s also a procedurally created puzzle which has a different solution every time you start a new game. Which also involves all the NPC’s, which in turn also involves the kill mechanic. In-which if an NPC who is a part of the puzzle gets killed, there is now certain steps you have to take which involves a secondary puzzle to solve in order to get to the solution from the killed NPC. Now when I say puzzle in this sense, I don’t mean a sudoku or a jigsaw or anything like that… I mean something more along the lines of one of the greatest traditional point and click adventure game tropes… Investigating and learning information to pass it along in order to gain new information. Yes, one of the greatest and most legendary game mechanics ever known!!
The Next Step
So the next step is:
- Drawing up the locations, along with the relevant NPC’s
- Tightening up all the script on the way.
- There’s also a bit of animating.
- Writing the relevant extra dialogue.
- Work on the parallel projects – More storyline to write.
- Web maintenance – Visual updates, and TLC.
- Getting ready for the next album launch – Artworks.
I’m aiming to have it all done by the end of the week, so I can get onto the step after that. But you know, life happens and all that! So it might be two weeks instead. I will however do at least one dev log a week from this point on.
Thanks for reading 🙂
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