“Trugbild” (german for “delusion”) was made for the 2013 Pascal Game Development challenge over at PGD. The theme was “at your command”, which means you had to create a game with indirect control over e.g. a character.
The deadline for this contest was one month, and since I knew upfront that my time to work on an entry would be very limited, I decided to go for something more experimental. So actually Trugbild is more of an experiment than a real game. There are now high scores, no levels, guns or healthpacks. It’s more of a psychological experiment, and in the end I was pretty happy with what I was able to pull of with my limited time during that month.
In Trugbild, you guide a dying character through a series of decisions reflecting upon his past life. There are several stages that pertain to a different area of your life, with limited time to make your decisions. Between the stages you’ll have stroy related dialogs that work as intros to the next chapters. Each decision you make will influence the final outcome of your journey, setting the ending that the game will display. It’s even possible to die during your journey if you won’t make a decision in time.
The game presents decisions using different visual styles that often reflect the kind of decision you have to take. You’re guiding your character through corridors, holes, doors and ladders (I initially had more visuals planned, but they didn’t make it in time). Each playthrough is partially randomized, with decisions and answers shuffled upon start.
Trugbild – PGD Challenge Edition (~4.5 MBytes, .exe)
Installer for the 32-Bit windows release. Runs on Windows XP, Vista (32/64 Bit), Windows 7 (32/64 Bit) and Windows 8 (32/64 Bit)
Right from the beginning I knew that time for working on Trugbild for the month ahead would be pretty limited, so I decided to use a simple base that would have me create a first prototype within a short period of time. So my first step was to make some drafts on the game’s look. First on paper, and the using Photoshop. Luckily I quickly found the perfect dark and moody look that I aimed for and was able to start on the first prototype.
While developing Projekt W I wrote several managers for handling textures, shaders, frame buffer objects, sounds, virtual file system, etc. that I then reused for Trugbild, so within a few days the first prototype of the game was up and running, with the same dark and moody look setup by the drafts I made.
The game itself makes heavy use of frame buffer objects (see the screenshots above) for scene composition and color picking (selecting doors, corridors, ladders, menu options, etc.) and also uses shaders to implement grain and blur to make it look like a far away dream. So nothing spectacular here, basically just a clever use of offscreen rendering, screen composition, shaders and basic OpenGL effects to create an eerie mood.
Most of the time was spent on creating the perfect look, tweaking shaders, lighting, textures and rendering parameters to e.g. make the FOV change whith increasing player stress level.
The content of the game, decisions and stages, are stored in simple XML files, so there was no need to create some editor for the game. Notepad++ was sufficent to for this task.
As with all my other projects, Trugbild was also made with Delphi, and for porting it to Linux (and maybe MacOSX) at some point in the future I’ll use Lazarus and FPC.