Here is a cinematic preview for the first interaction between TotemHead and the Wolf. It's easy to see the dramatic tension between the characters as TotemHead enters the screen and is promptly ignored by his forest dwelling colleague. TotemHead is enraged by the snub and cannot contain his unrest. In his tantrum our hero falls from the gaming platform. The Wolf, steadfast in his decision to avoid contact with the spirit, stands quietly in contemplation.
I'm testing out my Unity/C# skills. I think it's coming along well.
Okay so my newest crazy TotemHead idea is more of a continuation of previous ideas. The line idea was dropped due to complexity issues, but I'm moving on and trying to see how this whole maze mechanic will fit into the game. I like it. Below is a guide for each of the storyboard slides.
Once the maze is completed, TotemHead is able to open up dialogue with the squirrel. I'm toying with the idea of the jibberish line being a specific phrase that TH uncovers as he completes the maze. As TH navigates the maze, different symbols are converted into letters until either you figure out the maze (leaving the entire dialogue uncovered), or you know enough of the jibberish to figure out what the squirrel is trying to say and you can fill the rest in hangman style.
So lately I have been brainstorming the level structure for TotemHead. My earlier post talks about a 2.5 D map structure, which functions like a 2D sidescroller, but has added depth (see DK Country Returns, Little Big Planet). This type of game works great for a simple "Hub Level" type of world where TotemHead can access the communication levels, but I'm running into some real problems!
PROBLEM: This is boring. The Forest/Village World is technically the Hub World that houses all the other levels in the game (kind of like the level selection island in Super Mario World). But this world is also where the meat of the story takes place, and there should be an exploration factor in it. TotemHead can only walk- he is a top-heavy, clumsy block of wood. That's no problem because for the most part, you will be playing within the communication channel with other characters, not out int he physical world. But just walking forward and running into another challenge is boring; and because Afternoon, Dusk and Night all ALSO take place in the forest and village, the level will get very monotonous to walk through for a second, third and fourth time. Even if the scenery does change with the time of day and storm. So here is my solution:
Rather than just a linear 2.5 D Sidescroller, this map looks more like a maze (also appropriate for the main internal level mechanics). There are multiple ways to get to the end of the forest, and points of interest can be scattered about. This gives the player incentive to explore the Hub level with the possibility of finding a new path each time they have to run back through. This doesn't need to be too involved, but it at least gives a bit more grounding to the central world that carries the story.
Alrighty. So. I have really really been brainstorming about TotemHead's mechanical development. It's a game, yes, but what kind of game? I know the "hub" world is the village, and the "levels" are the communication you have with each character, and that's all just great. But what does that mean? Communication isn't a mechanic on its own. And so I sat down and I brainstormed and scribbled until I came up with something... real. I got about halfway done so I think it's sharing time.
I started with the basics; what is communication? The exchanging of information. Okay, so you bring a thought from point A to point B. That sounds like a good start to a game mechanic...
So ultimately I decided the mechanic would have two parts; the "Request", in which TotemHead sends a message to the target character to request information, and the "Response", in which the target character sends information back. Below is an example of the Request portion of the mechanic.
The player will draw a line from TotemHead (represented above as the little TotemHead token), to a target character (in this case the squirrel). The line has a specific set of qualities based on how the user draws it; the length, shape, and speed.
The target character has a set of required properties for the line that must be met in order for the level to be completed. The line must reach a certain speed, shape and length. The line can be re-drawn as many times as necessary until these requirements are met.
As the player's line gets closer to the required properties of the line, it will become lighter, brighter, and will emit sparkles. The player uses trial and error to create the perfect Request line for each character.
Once all the requirements of the line are met, the "request" is complete. The second half of the mechanic will represent the target character's response.
So that's the mechanics I have developed so far. Each of the line properties will be stored as a number in the code so that it can be used again to generate the map used for the response half of the challenge. This will create a unique experience based on how perfect your line is in the first half of the game.
Being that the game is broken into four time-of-day based chapters, it is critical that we have a defining look to lighting and mood for each chapter. The morning environment should be soft, warm and inviting. It is the first impression users will get of the forest and will set the tone for upcoming interactions with the characters within. That way as time progresses into afternoon, the temperature shift will be evident with the impending storm.
First thing's first I said I would upload my final version of Francello, so here he is! I have a full presentation of the texture files and orthographic views on the new portfolio I'm making for game design, but that site is a secret, and mostly broken so don't tell anyone I told you where it is.
I'm quite happy with his final result, though there are definitely some weak spots. Namely object management (those spikes coming out of his back and his eyes are sorta just floating around in space intersecting with his body). I'm not really sure what the proper technique is for dealing with multiple objects in a model yet. That will be my an investigation in my next model.
The other thing I wanted to talk about today is level design. TotemHead has existed for so long in a non-functioning conceptual state that I felt I needed to redraw the basics of how the Totem universe will work in a game setting. (Warning: Run-on sentence ahead!) As I mentioned before, the gameplay of TotemHead has two major functions; the puzzle mechanic that serves as your communication with characters, and the core game levels of the world, and the navigation mechanic, which is the practical means in which TotemHead will reach each of the puzzles, as well as provide space for the story to take place. The image and text below break down the navigation in regards to level structure.
I finished Francello! I'll be posting a different turntable gif later because I didn't know what i was doing when I made this one so I need to fix it (it's not supposed to ease to a stop on his face). I have to do a bit of touching up and then he'll go up on my portfolio site. It's about time I got back into some 3D modelling!
In other news, after an important discovery, it was brought to my attention that there still might be interest in the epic project known as TotemHead. I have put together some new concept work for the game and will probably direct my next 3D project toward this theme.
The first picture above shows a glimpse at the communication strategy for the puzzles. This is going to be the core mechanic of the game, as well as the component that pushes the story forward. Each character TotemHead interacts with will have to be 'unlocked' in order to communicate. As he communicates with more and more characters he'll become stronger. Or something. To be continued.
FINALLY. KIND OF. Well I still need to finish my Dragen and the Rat think. Oh what a mess it is. I don't know how I'm going to finish it. But I'm sooooo soo not even kind of worrying about that right now. Pffft it's not due til Tuesday.
But! We are in the process of getting a wonderful snowstorm here in State College! And that has put me in the mood to TotemHead! Below I have included my latest Flash Animation escapade featuring my favorite wooden pillar with wings. Well almost featuring him. More just featuring his name. It's basically a doodle I did in Flash while I'm at work watching the snow. I hope to add on to it, so we'll see.
Eh I'll get back to them at some point but those colors just weren't working out and it was making me mad so I decided to switch over the village today. I'm looking into Nenet culture for inspiration for the housing. Yeah I know that door is way too big but the polygons are in triangles so this mesh is useless anyways. Just wanted to show you my newest 3D doodle. Nothing too interesting to report.