August 2013

Setting and progress on “Trugbild”

Although my spare time is pretty limited these times, and motivating myself to code after work (where I code almost all day code) isn’t very easy progress on “Trugbild” is coming along very nice. I guess one of the best ideas was to limit the technical aspects of the game to some very basic OpenGL and gameplay stuff.

This allows me to concentrate on the game itself, without having to think alot about complex programming problems.  As I mentioned in my initial post, my coding style is very modular, so most of the stuff I need for this project (textures, shaders, sound, etc.) was already there in my different manager classes (that are used for e.g. Projekt “W”) that I just had to include. This allowed for a very fast prototyping, and with roughly 2,000 lines of code I already have a playable prototype up and running.

And recently I got the perfect idea for the game’s setting. As usual, that idea struck me while doing something completly unrelated to coding and not being near a computer. And since most of my ideas materalize when away from the computer, I’d advise anyone with creativite troubles to stay away from any electronic device and do something completly boring (like the dishes) 😉

I already mentioned that the game will play in the mind of a character that you have to guide through a series of questions pertaining to life itself. These series (divided into stages) will be embbeded into the mind of a dying person. The “game” will start off with the player resting in a sickbed, having problems to keep it’s eyes open while doctors and relatives around are talking about you. Soon you’ll drift away and the game itself will start.  During your journey you’ll then wake up from time to time, seeing different people talking by your bedside.

Implementing the scene roughly took three days, starting off with a drawing I made to get an idea on how the scene could look, over to a mockup in Photoshop to the final implementation into the game. The scene itself is made up of different 2D objects and is not just static. People that talk are highlighted and shifted towards your viewpoint and I’ve also applied some kind of (old-school) parallax scrolling effect, so you can look around with your cursor and the 2D objects move by different deltas.

And since that looks much better in motion I’ll try to get up a video of the current prototype as soon as possible.

First screenshots from “Trugbild”

After getting the first prototype for my PGD Challenge entry up and running I quickly found a name, it’s called “Trugbild” (German for “delusion”). Once I got the visuals of the prototype the way I imagined the game to look in the first place, the name somehow directly came to my mind and I found it pretty fitting for such a “game”.

First work-in-progress screenshots (click on the thumbnails) :

Note that the game loks much more nightmarish in motion (I may get a video up sometime this week), with the camera swaying, the moving noise effect, a breathing character and a moving fov that gives a “nice” anxiety effect. So though this is a very early version it already perfectly fits the look I was aiming at from the very beginning, and once I get some disturbing (dark ambient) music and background noises (like heavy breathing) in, it should feel pretty dark and depression, which I was totally aiming at.

The prototype is already “playable” and you can move through several corridors. For the final game I plan on having different visual styles for different types of questions. In addition to the oppresive corridors I plan on adding holes (for very negative decisions), upward stairs (for positive things), windows (for questions realted to matters out of your own control), light cones in the lone distance (for questions related to isolation) and a few other types (that may or may not make it into the final product).

As for the technical part : The game makes heavy use of shaders (for film grain, glow, etc.) and frame buffer objects (currently four). Especially the shaders make it easy to go for such a dark, gritty and hazy look. I plan on adding lots of disturbing effects that are directly affected by the player’s mental and physical health using different shaders.

Taking part in the 3rd PGD game challenge

Once again, Will from Pascal Game Development has organized another game dev challenge. Though it’s more of a  game jam due to the lack of any prize and registration requirements the theme of it is pretty interesting. It’s called “at your command” and requires indirect control of some main protagonist (or multiple ones).

While reading through the theme of that competiton, creativity struck and I decided to participate with a rather abstract “game”. I can’t tell if I’ll get it finished for the deadline (September 15th), but I already got most of the game design written down (currently roughly 1,500 words), made the first concepts in Photoshop and already have a simple prototype up and running. And as the ideas keep pouring in I’m really keen on getting something playable done in the given timeframe, and even if I won’t get the whole game done for the compo I plan to continue working on it afterwards.

During the last years I’ve been mostly working on Projekt “W” (Phase 2), and while I’m proud of how far the game has come (which is also reflected by the feedback from all around the web) I think this competition is the perfect time to take a short break on it, giving me the chance to work on something new and fresh.

As for the entry, it has no name yet, but it’ll be a pretty abstract (and mostly dark) “game” about life and death. You’ll guide a newborn human through the different stages of life, from birth to death (and maybe even beyond). The interactive part comes from the “game’s” way of guiding your character by selecting answers to questions that influence your character’s life. Each of these answers will have the character move through a different portal (or corridor), influence different attributes of that character. Depending on how you choose your character may even die or commit suicide. The current game design will probably result in a very dark and negative game, maybe even with a horror influence, but that’s exactly the type of game I always wanted to do.

As for the technical aspect it’ll mostly be basic OpenGL with render-to-texture stuff (using FBOs) and some effect shaders (film grain, glow, distortions, etc.) and will be made with Delphi (or Lazarus, if Delphi is getting on my nerves again). So nothing spectacular here as it’ll mostly be about the “game’s” message and not fancy effects.

I also plan to blog on my progress on a more regular basis (at least once a week), so stay tuned 😉