Wanna-be visionary storyteller, sorta filmmaker and somewhat-creative director of indie game dev The Domaginarium. I love redheads and gamer girls, and now imagine I wrote something cool here.
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Ludum Dare 22
It’s been around a month now, but now I want to take Enola to a new level, and make a full game out of the concept. The game I made for the 48 hour competition was purely an exploration game, but for the full game I want to implement other stuff, including puzzles and death traps. I’m crowdfunding the making of that game, so if you want to help, you can visit the campaign page at www.indiegogo.com/Enola and donate. Also, please share the link with everyone you know.
I actually added new stuff to the game I made for ludum dare, so you see what other mechanics I want to implement in the full game. It has a puzzle, a trap, and 2 endings, including the “good” ending. Since the contest was over a month ago, and I made this as a way to present a small prototype, I did use a couple of premade models for this build. For this same reason, I’m not switching the download link on the contest entry page (I will simply post a link on that page to this blog post).
A lot of people found Enola a very mysterious and even somewhat unnerving/scary game. The full version would be a “horror/adventure” game, but not the kind of horror found in games with monsters, zombies, and such, but rather horror related to the human nature. Enola will focus on a different kind of horror.
Well this has been my first ludum dare, and I have to say it’s been a cool but exhaustive experience.This time I’m going to write a small postmortem for my entry, Enola, which you can check out here.
What went right:
Having a clear concept for the game from the begining. The first thing I did was write the entire (tech) document on paper. I wrote what the entire game would be about, tech aspects and limitations. This prevented me from getting lost during development.
Using a tool I already knew. I’ve been using UDK for some time, and that knowledge helped me to better decide the kind of game to develop (in conjunction with the previous item), so I didn’t find myself trying to figure out how to do anything.
Simple graphics style. The theme “alone” can mean many things to many people, but many entries agree that “mood is important.” For Enola I used simple models, only a couple of textures, and some post effects to sell the look and feel of the game (like the thick fog, the exaggerated DOF, and soft bloom).
A simple control scheme. I wanted Enola to be the kind of game that takes as much as you want to finish. There is no combat or action sequences involved (so you can’t really die in the game), and that makes the game very inclusive so (almost) anyone who can use a keyboard and mouse can play it, allowing players to play at their own pace.
Using the environment to guide the player. When you start the game the first thing you see is a glowing red orb and when you grab it, it says something like “the trees are pointing in the same direction.” This was a simple way to guide the players, so even if they get lost, they can follow the pattern of the trees to find the way. On the next level, you get a “clue” from a painting so you know it’s important, and I think these clues serve their purpose well.
What went wrong:
Not being able to work full time. Yesterday I realized I’d only worked around 23 hours on the game. That’s because I had to go out a few times, so I couldn’t work as much as I wanted. Besides I got sick on saturday, and the pills I took made me drowsy.
The game is too short. Since I couldn’t work as much as I wanted, the game is too short. The second level was planned to be twice as big. I wanted a bigger house with more to explore and do. Besides, the bigger house would have added to the “mystery effect” where the house looks very small on the outside, but way bigger on the inside (like the Diablo chapel).
Not entirely happy with the audio. I really had to rush the audio “design,” and while the audio fits the mood, and the “noise” gets higher as you reach the goal, the entire set of sound effects could improve, a lot. All sound effects were recorded by me, using my microphone.
The game is way too short. I can’t stress that enough.
No time to optimize. The game is around 100mb, and that’s after I manually removed some of the things I was sure weren’t needed (for example, why UDK includes the Mac app builder when building the installer is beyond me). It also includes some other things like Shader Model 5 materials the game shouldn’t use since I was using DX9 exclusively (or at least I suppose they aren’t needed). Pretty much finding out what the game didn’t need so the download wasn’t 100mb in size would have been a good thing.
If you ask me, I’ll definitely be in the next ludum dare, but I have to find ways to ignore real life during that weekend so I can post a better game overall next time. I should also find a better way to make sound effects.
I’ve also been wondering if/how the game could be made into a full game, depending on people’s reaction, since the concept can be extended very easily, and the clues you get from the game hint a larger story.
Well this is how my first LD ends. It was pretty cool considering…
This be my entry: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-22/?action=preview&uid=7350
Play the game!
And then play it again to figure out what the hell was going on..
EDIT: I just checked, I worked 23 hours, the rest I either slept or had to go out :-s Gotta make sure I have more time to just work on the entry next time
Well this is the finished interior. I know it feels empty and all, but I think leaving only one single prop inside the room makes you wonder “why is that there?” while filling the room with props would force me to figure a way to let players know the painting is important, and there’s not an app for that! I mean, there’s no time
My skills as a painter totally surpass my skills as game developer, heh.
Ok, here’s the second level. You’re supposed to find some stuff before you can unlock the “secret door.” It’s a very small level, but depending on the time I might extend it a little. Still a lot to do in other areas, like displaying the messages on screen when you pick one of those “glowing orbs.” This room is missing a few props including a mirror that won’t reflect your own image…. *shivers*
Anyway, I had to take a pill because I got allergies, but the damn thing made me drowsy so I’ll have to pause this here and continue tomorrow (it’s almost 11 in my country). Peace!
Ok, I think I’m done with the second level, which will in fact be the first level since I will make only 2 of the 3 levels I had thought.
I really like the DOF and “god rays” or whatever you wanna call them. That glowing spot has something to do with what you do in the level before you can advance, although I’m thinking on using them more like “optional tasks” rather than mandatory tasks.
Ok, the second level is a forest full of dead trees. The entire thing should be comprised of 2 colors, unless I decide to add a ground texture. Right now I just built a test level to check the entire “look and feel” using the trees that come with UDK, but I’ll obviously replace them with my own trees since I need a very specific “look” (they’ll all pointing in one direction to sorta “guide” the player).
This is just a plane with a bunch of trees randomly placed:
And this is after adding fog using a somewhat ground level, which is what the player “would see”:
Now time to build the actual level, model my own trees, and all!
Just ate breakfast… now making a level at the rythm of Apocalyptica
Ok, since I had my idea perfectly clear, I went ahead and wrote my design document. For the document, I use a template shared by Mike Birkhead on Gamasutra.
The game brief is this:
ENOLA is a first/third person exploration game. Player will explore the desloate environment, finding clues as to what happened, until reaching the final destination. The game introduces only one (faceless) character, which is in fact the player, and takes place in some sort of limbo from which the player must escape.
The reason why I state first/third person is because I am not sure if I’ll have the chance to code the third person part, as well as create a third person character, although I thought of something that could really help me save a lot of time (hint: Journey)
So, you see it’s a very simple idea. As you read above, the title of the game is ENOLA, which is actually ALONE spelled backwards. It will make sense as you see more of the game
For inspiration, I’m using Limbo:
Now that the document is finished, sleep. Tomorrow, rise and shine Mister Freeman… rise and shine…
Ok, this is my first ludum dare, we’ll see how it goes.
I will base the game on a dream that I had a long time ago. I will share more details in the next hours, but basicall y it’s about “you” being somewhere you don’t know, where stuff doesn’t make sense. In the dream you’d make these “jumps” from one place to the next, which were completely crazy, for example you’d be on a train and then you’d be in a bathroom, or a hospital. Of course I can’t do all that for this competition since I only have 40-ish hours left.
Visually, I will keep it simple, mainly using solid objects, keeping textures to the minimum, and all. The excuse for this is that “it’s the visual style for the game” but we all know that’s a lie, and the reason I’ll do it that way is to save time
YOu can think of this as some sort of Limbo-ish style game, although I’m not making a puzzle platformer or any kind of sidescroller. I can’t decide if I should make a first person or third person game, but maybe I’ll do it in first person to save even more time, and then use the “third person” for some sort of “great finale.” I think that choice will be more clear as I progress with the game, since I’ll be sure what kind of actions the character must perform (right now I’m thinking of a walking-only character since the game will be more about exploration than action).
I’m making the game using UDK (as far as I know, that’s allowed since it’s one of the “content creation tools” and it’s ok to use those). So when you see the game you’ll either say “hey, that’s using UDK outside of the box” or “man, what a crappy game, I can’t believe Unreal Engine powers this piece of *brown matter that comes out of the rear part of any living creature* ”
As for the time, I have to be finished by saturday night hopefuly, because I’ll be out sunday morning and I don’t want to miss the deadline, so I’m aiming for areally REALLY simple thing here.
Good luck to all and happy developing!!!