JustinSMember Since 19 Apr 2013
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Topics I've Started
22 November 2014 - 07:40 PM
So, there are some enemies in this game that are purely figments of the player's imagination, most of them metaphorical in nature. I decided that, to help illustrate that they're different, and possibly hint that they're not real, I was thinking of using an art shift, their model and texture would have traits of a different art style from the rest of the game enough for them to look out of place, but retaining enough of the main art style for them to still fit and not be jarring. The first one I imagined for this was a character named War and all of his blind soldiers, and I imagined them being drawn somewhat in the style of a political cartoon. But the big issue is... What base art style could I choose that is distinguishable from other art styles without clashing with them, aren't a pain for the modellers or texture artists to draw and still look good?
(By "look good", here's a few good conditions: The player character and other children should be adorable, the home square should look peaceful and inviting, the sections of each act should evoke the emotions the scenes are meant to create through visual design alone, and the regular enemies should look believable and dangerous.)
18 November 2014 - 12:30 PM
This is a bit each of writing and game design, so I don't really know which to place it under. If the mods move it, that's okay. Basically, I've got the synopsis of a game outlined, and the general design of each stage planned out. So here's what I've got, and I'm hoping just for general feedback.
I'm not going too deep into it, so here's a basic summary. Europe has been through a lot. First in 1984 the USSR rolls through the Fulda gap with more tanks than god and takes the whole place over, then they hold Europe for six years, then in spring of 1990 the USA nukes the place to hell and back and invades, then in winter of 1990 the USSR nukes it right back and just leaves it lost. The USSR undergoes a military coup that prevents it from reclaiming Europe, and is now under a new regime, known as the Socialist Republic of Russia. Later, the USA splits apart into the American Republic and the loyalist United States. All three of these parties are involved in a humanitarian operation is Europe, trying to repair the damage they did, for various reasons. The SRR knows it can strengthen its economy and get the faith of the people doing such a "noble" thing, the USA is being forced to do so by the AR and Japan (the latter forcing them to do this being why they split), and the AR is doing it because it is allied with Japan, which wants the damage repaired, and the EU, which is the damaged party. As well as it was going at first it's slowed down massively now and huge sections of Europe are still unlivable (but no so bad as to be impassible), and that looks like it's going to be the state of things forever.
It is now 2015. The SRR has decided since it didn't do most of the damage, did do most of the clean up work, and has had a stronger presence in central Europe for a while now, it's just going to take Germany from the EU. The EU isn't so fond of that idea, and between them, their Japanese and American Republic allies (the loyalist US stayed out of it and just took it as their cue to duck out of the cleaning) they have decided to show Ivan the door. Most of Germany is now a war zone, on top of being a heavily irradiated pseudo post-apocalyptic wasteland with horrible monsters and extreme weather conditions. And guess where you live.
The player character is a custom character, so here's the only consistent things:
1. They are a child. Their exact age, sex and appearance are all up to the player, but they're a child.
2. They live completely alone, in an old house. It seems likely this was always their home, but what happened to any other inhabitants the house may have had is left to the player's imagination or lack thereof.
3. Their resources are quite substantial, and they have the means to collect more. The food in the house alone would last the itty bitty player months (of course, at their size they don't eat much), and the presence of fresh meat and loaded firearms implies they can hunt. Which is totally a mechanic in the game, by the way.
Your house is located in the Black Forest, Germany. The map around your house is one kilometre by one kilometre and is one of very few hand crafted areas in the game. There's a toolshed, a garage with your little dirtbike, a treehouse, slide, swings, monkey bars... If all this is for just one kid you are spoiled rotten, but that may be the case. There's woods out back, and a house a little ways off full of zombies that are likely the source of the meat in your fridge. Don't think too hard on that. Normally, there'd be more outside of this area, but all directions are blocked by snow drifts and it's still snowing.
You can get clothes from your dresser, or if you'd prefer armour there's a tiny motocross outfit in your closet. There's backpacks, coats, weapons of various forms, and of course there's toys. Most notably, a little dirtbike out back just the perfect fit for you.
Sometimes, you may spot a child that looks just like you, staring directly at you and non-verbally expressing an emotion associated with the act, either in the distance or hidden in the scenery. Their appearance means you completed the hidden objective for that act.
Sometimes, you may spot a figure in the distance. He wears a thick black cloak, has large white angelic wings, gripping a sword, with gall dripping from its tip. He can be seen, staring directly at you, either in the distance or hidden in the scenery. His appearance means you failed to complete the hidden objective for that act.
The player wakes up in their bed at 9:00 AM. When you first start off, you have no clothes and no items, so you'll have to collect them from the house as you go. As the loading screen text said, something is different today. It feels... Wrong. Ominous, even. Something bad is going to happen. And indeed, something bad happens. Five times, with increasing severity.
1. First, your player wakes up hungry and thirsty. Easy to take care of, teaches you to handle that part of the game. This actually teaches you that you have needs to manage, how to get food/water, and even shows that crafting (in this case, cooking) is possible.
2. Second, right from the start, a pack of stray dogs comes into their yard and stalk around, attacking the little one if they see them. But hey, more meat for the fridge. Wouldn't want the little one running out would we?
3. Ten minutes after the dogs come through, a stranger, a looter, approaches the house and starts trying to steal the truck. Get them to stop, or let them take the truck. Or just talk to them. They'll reveal they're a father themselves, and while they can't take you in themselves they offer to come back and pick you up later if they can take the truck, and they'll take you to the looter compound where you can get a place to say and don't have to live alone anymore. Sadly, that will never happen.
4. Twenty minutes after the looter comes to steal the truck (thirty minutes from the start of the game), the snow picks up massively and starts snowing you in.
5. Thirty minutes after the snow picks up (an hour from the start of the game) a group of German soldiers come bursting into the house, being chased by Russian soldiers. The gunfight between the two parties becomes really intense really fast, and after a while once all the Russians are dead a roaring noise can be heard coming from the east and getting closer, then passing overhead to the west. The German soldiers panic, running for shelter and scrambling at the snow banks, but never make it over them. A blinding flash erupts over the map and the prologue ends.
While I've changed it so you don't have to make a new file due to any number of deaths later, if you die in the prologue you will still have to completely restart. If you haven't figured out why by the end of this thread, you aren't good at reading subtext.
You wake up in your bed at 10:00 AM, everything looking exactly like the previous day, only the snow drifts to the west are clear. This is the start of the real game. You retain everything you had on you, even though you're in bed. Everything from the previous day is exactly the way it was just before the soldiers arrived, except the western snow drifts are gone and you can now walk west. Heading westward (and up to 45 degrees north or south, from the edges of your square) you pass through procedurally generated areas with randomized events and encounters, as the rest of the game (save act 5's area) will be. In this case, it's all nice, semi-rural areas like your home.
This area represents denial. It's peaceful and all. Enemy encounter rate is pretty low at this point in the game, though it rises the farther out you get. There isn't much of an environmental hazard, you don't get snowed in like yesterday. There's no real danger in this area and nothing special about it. You start this actin perfect health, but every time you die you go back to the last time you rested and start again in worse condition. After five deaths, it's game over and you must completely restart the act, but that's unlikely to actually happen.
This act's main objective is to reach a square ten kilometres dead west from you, which is pre-built. This square looks exactly like your own home, but everything is destroyed, levelled. Your house, the neighbour's house, the shed and garage, the treehouse, all destroyed and on fire. There is a corpse, a small, burnt corpse, in the middle of it. Approach it, and the act ends. This act's hidden objective is to live out a full day without dying.
You are treated to a cutscene, with the perspective of an unknown object. This object is stored in a dark place, with a loud roaring noise on either side of it. A light suddenly comes from below, and it's falling from a great height, through the clouds. You can now see its target, a house with a garage, a shed, a treehouse, another smaller house a little ways off, a slide and a swing set in the back yard. As it gets close enough for the player to realize that's their house, the scene ends in a bright flash.
You wake up in your bed again at noon, in a cold sweat. You're not feeling so well. They get up, still with anything they had on when they went to bed and everything else (within your kilometre) is where you left it. This time, the eastern snow drifts are the only ones gone. Your only option is, obviously, to head east into more procedurally generated terrain. This time, it's trenches, battlements and military outposts, all destroyed and covered in danger and death.
This act represents anger. It is the most combat-oriented chapter. The environment isn't especially damaging and there's few NPCs to talk to, just the most enemies of any act. There's many more spawn points (but the same spawn chance per point) on each square of the map. If you failed to complete the hidden objective of the previous act, you'll start off just as damaged as if you had died once in the previous chapter and thus only have four lives in this one and an overall harder time. Otherwise, you'll be perfectly fresh.
This act's main objective is to reach a square ten kilometres dead east of you, also hand-crafted. Here, you'll find a mansion made of bones and a very bizarre man. A very tall, fat man. He wears a suit woven from the flags of the major world powers, wears a monocle with a watermark of the UN emblem, smokes a cigar rolled out of money, and after each puff blows a smoke ring shaped like a mushroom cloud. He drinks blood out of a wine glass, served to him out of a wine bottle by a blind Russian soldier with a bloody rag covering his eyes. Soldiers from China, Korea, the EU, the AR and Japan tend to his mansion. He sits on a "throne" made of similar soldiers from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Third World Union and the X Empire, on their hands and knees to support his immense weight. The fat man has his soldiers' eyes decorating his rings. At each side of him sits a vicious attack dog. He introduces himself as "War", and orders his minions to kill you. No matter how the fight goes the chapter ends when either you or he is dead. This act's hidden objective is really straightforward. Win the boss fight with War.
You are treated to another cutscene, the previous one, ending with a jump cut after the flash to before the fight, to your character's perspective on the ground, sitting in the truck with the looter as he drives off south, well away from the house.
You wake up in your bed once more, now at 3:00 PM. You get the drill by now. If you succeeded both of the optional objectives from the last two chapters, you'll be in perfect condition all around. Failed one, you start damaged and effectively have four lives. Fail two, damaged more and effectively have three lives. Easy enough. This time, the south snow drifts are the only ones open. And there's, you guessed it, more procedurally generated terrain. This time, semi-abandoned suburbs.
This act represents bargaining. This is a social act, with lots of NPCs to interact with. Normal enemy rates, normal environmental conditions. Your actions in the prologue have a huge effect on this. If you accepted the looter's offer, he'll show up in the truck and offer you a ride, making it easy to get to the act's destination area. If you talked to him but didn't accept, you'll at least have a note that allows you free, unrestricted entry with no hassle. If you attacked him, you'll have nothing but shame. There are a lot of merchants in this act, especially at the looter compound.
The main objective of this act is to reach the looter compound and get a permanent place to stay there, where it's safer and you aren't alone anymore. This is a breather act, it's really just meant to help you replenish after the previous act. Once that's done, all you have to do is leave the compound and the act ends. When you do, you'll find yourself inexplicably back home, right at the south edge of the home square, staring right at your house. When you turn around, the snow banks are back and you can't return to the looter compound even if you were willing to trek 10km back there. Go to bed, and the act ends. The hidden objective is to meet the family of the looter from earlier.
You are treated to another cutscene, it plays the bit from the previous cutscene where you get a perspective from inside the truck as the looter drives south, but then it jump cuts to your character's perspective as they watch him drive off, alone, leaving them behind.
You wake up in your bed at 7:00 PM and... You get the drill. And you can go north this time. The procedurally generated terrain this time is all barren wasteland, where the occasional bit of shelter is ruined and everything around is dead. Radiation everywhere, driving snow, terrible visibility and cold as a witch's tit in a brass bra in the dead of winter in the Antarctic.
This act represents depression. There's really nothing you can do but go north, and you'll find nothing there. Normal resources, normal enemy count, normal NPC count, but the environment is by far more dangerous than normal. It deals much more cold damage than usual, it even deals a little bit of kinetic damage, it restricts your vision and slows your movement, and it's all slightly radioactive to boot. There's also radioactive patches as you travel that should be avoided lest you irradiate yourself and get sick, and the snow is so thick your dirtbike is basically unusable.
Your main objective is to reach a square ten kilometres north, where once again you find your house destroyed. And this time, the fires are all out, it's irradiated, and all covered in snow. Find the little corpse again, and the act will end when you leave the square. The hidden objective is to die in that square, instead of leaving.
This time, the cutscene shows the bit where you watch the looter drive away, and then you go into the back yard, listen to the roar and stare up at the sky until the flash ends the cutscene.
You already know how this act starts, same as all the others, just at midnight. Only now, there's no open snow drifts. This means you're stuck in your starting area, and nothing is procedurally generated. This act, of course, represents acceptance. This one has a series of objectives, instead of a single one.
1. As soon as you stand, an invisible creature starts moving around downstairs. It's blind, but its other senses are strong and it's of decent strength. It mostly sticks to the kitchen, where it is presently looting your fridge. You will have to sneak past it or fight it in order to exit the house. Once you do exit the house, a number of extremely fast skeletal canines arrive and start searching the premises for you. Fight them or avoid them.
2&3. These two can be done in either order.
Check the front, and you'll see the truck drive off without you again, this time without a driver.
Check the balcony upstairs, find the telescope. Peeking through it will show a figure, distant on the horizon. Azrael. Once you see him, he vanishes if you look away. Turning around will reveal he is right behind you, but when you look he vanishes again. Up in the clouds, there is a disturbance, the clouds vanish and the moon is visible, and he can be seen up there. He doesn't leave this spot, but the light of the moon reflects off of him into a beam revealing all in his gaze, which will summon any enemies in the level to you should you enter it.
4. Check the garage to find your dirtbike gone. At this point, several blind, skeletal soldiers rush into the room. They are all blind and cannot see the player, but will open fire on the player if they do spot them. In the mean time, they're distracted by gunfire from another group of blind, skeletal soldiers in the distance.
5. A child looking just like you is now standing at the top of the ladder to your treehouse. Climb up into the treehouse, and they're gone. But your treehouse now has a door it didn't have before, which swings open as you enter and reveals stairs upwards. Behind you, a winged monster comes flying over the horizon. You don't have long to get through the door, because it's moving very, very fast and ends the act with a flash, killing you and forcing you to restart, if you fail to get through the door in time.
6. Once through the door, it vanishes. You go up, to find yourself in the treehouse again. The room is empty, unguarded. Taking a look outside, you find yourself high in the sky as a small mushroom cloud rises below you. The child waves to you, and walks up the stairs.
7. You exit to find your house on fire. This is the same square as the end of Act 1. Except now, with enemies, all the enemies from earlier in this act, except all revived, on fire and radioactive, with even weaker senses than before. Follow the child into the cellar of your destroyed home, either fighting or avoiding the enemies. Collect the attic key, and come back above. The house is now intact again.
8. The child points behind you, down the stairwell to the basement. Azrael is right there. You have to fight him at this point. The child has vanished, and stays gone until Azrael is defeated or trapped. On defeat or entrapment, he'll explode in a bright flash. When you finally defeat him, the child reappears and shuts the door, just as Azrael has manifested again outside and is about to come back in. Follow the child to your bedroom, where they lay down in your bed. The door closes behind you. Azrael is right outside, but all you can do is lay down.
There is no hidden objective in this act.
After step eleven, the final cutscene plays. The last four end of act cutscene segments play, leading right up to the player staring at the sky and into the flash. A child of about your age and sex narrates each, starting just before the first. "I know you'd like to pretend it never happened. I know what happend to you wasn't fair. I know, you feel like you could have gotten out of it. But you didn't, so if you could doesn't matter now." After the final cutscene ends in a flash, in the smoke that follows, death appears. "I understand why you're afraid." Azrael begins advancing towards the player. "But it's going to happen to everyone." Azrael stops advancing, finding itself outside a window. "It happened to you sooner than it should have, but everybody feels that way. I know it feels like you don't have enough time." Azrael begins prying at the window, sliding it open. "But even if you only have a moment, it's yours and you need to make what you can of it." Azrael freezes in place. "And in the end, maybe you don't have to go with him after all." The screen fades to black. "Not yet, anyway." And on that note, the scene ends.
The player awakens, to find themselves back at home in their bed. All the snow drifts are gone. Otherwise, everything is as it was the first day. You can now head in any direction, go through any procedurally generated sections. The ones previously generated will still be present as they were before, and you can no go as far as you want in any direction. The only thing you can't do is revisit any end of act zones. Neither Azrael nor the child ever appear again. Dying now just brings you back here to wake up again, although as usual you lose any items that were on your person when you die and have to re-acquire them when they respawn in their starting locations. Your condition when you awaken after each death is determined by the number of hidden objectives you completed. You do not start in worse health each time you die during the epilogue. It's a bit more difficult than the main game to keep it interesting, but not too difficult. The whole point is to let the player play around on the map, and make the ending ambiguous.
So, that's it. Feedback?
05 November 2014 - 04:56 AM
Basically, the things that are real in the universe the character comes from will perform like a real creature. When damaged, they'll bleed, go into shock and slowly die the way a real living thing does. Their attacks will deal physical damage to the player's body and inflict bleed. When they die, their body remains there and performs like a regular object. This makes these fights seem quite real.
However, the things that are completely fabricated by the player character will not perform like real creatures. When damaged, they just lose a fixed amount of health instead of bleeding. They don't go into shock, and keep functioning perfectly (aside from body damage, they still feel that) right up to the point of death. Their attacks don't deal physical damage, instead dealing fake damage composed of two other status effects (fatigue and pain) that mimics the effects of real damage on the player's body only semi-convincingly, and fake bleed that takes from the stamina and will meters instead of health and thus only mimics the actual effects of bleeding only semi-convincingly. These effects also all go away much faster than real damage heals, and the visual effects of the damage they're supposedly dealing will go away faster still instead of lingering until the damage heals the way regular wound graphics would. Finally, something strange (but different for each one) will happen to the bodies of these creatures that removes them from the game. Dissolving, exploding, catching fire, fading out of existence, vanishing in a flash of light, launching into the sky to never return, so on. Some of these effects (like them catching fire or exploding) will be able to harm the player, although of course with fake damage. This all makes the fights much more surreal, and much less believable.
So, how's that? Is it a good enough distinction that the player can pick up on it when they're not told they're in a psychological landscape, much less that some of the enemies are based on real things their character has encountered and some aren't? Because the distinction needs to be that strong.
02 November 2014 - 02:35 PM
A: The player creates their character, but a few things remain the same. The first of these is that they're a child.
B: The second is that they have no friends or family, at least not that they have any access to. They are completely alone when the game starts. More specifically, they're alone, laying face-down in the snow by a ruined house, and they start with nothing, not even clothing.
C: The third is that as an added bonus, they can't forget, much less ignore, the horrible things happening around them the way a normal person does and all of it comes back to haunt them no matter how hard they try to block it out. And they are going to see some horrible, horrible shit.
D: The fourth is that in this game, death is permanent and unavoidable. You will die eventually. There's no escape and no hope for you. The only goal is to survive as long as you can. And then there's the hidden goal, which is to come to terms with that. Once they come to terms with their demise, they might begin to see what the game is really about, and why things are so surreal. And then the hard part begins.
Now, for what I want to do, I need to convey the emotional state of a semi-silent protagonist to the player. The player character is a semi-silent protagonist in the sense that their lines of dialogue to other characters are chosen by the player and are not voiced. They do vocalize, but the player never hears them speak. Vocalizations are okay, and manipulating their dialogue to other characters is okay, and I've already thought of both so don't suggest them.
I also want to manipulate the player's own emotional state to more closely match that of their character. Making the character's emotion clear is a part of this, but I think more than that is required. Once the player's emotional state is in line with the character's, I need the game to recognize it and guide it to the next stage.
The player will undoubtedly start off ignorant of the game's true meaning. To them, they're just waking up in the snow by a ruined house, and they likely don't understand anything more than this. Then, I want to subtly begin cluing them in to what's really going on. Their first death will likely accomplish this. And I want to doubt it, ignore it and avoid it. Denial. Then, I want them to throw a fit. This is the simplest part of the process. Anger. Then, I want them to try and find a way out of it. Try and escape, find a safe place, hold out, something along those lines. Bargaining. Then, when that fails no matter how they try, I want them to break down. This phase is the most vital to understanding the main point of the game, but also the most likely stumbling block in the way of that understanding. Depression. And lastly, I want them to come to terms with it and move on. Acceptance. They can realize the true meaning of this game at any point in the process and the process should continue on anyway, with only the reasoning behind it changing. The process will also work just fine if they never figure it out, but it WILL NOT if they already know when they enter. Which is why I'm so big on keeping it a secret.
And that's it. That's what I want to do and as little information as I think I can afford to give (don't want to spoil it, after all) and still have enough for others to provide helpful tips. (I could be wrong, but if it isn't enough information I can always give more, and I can't take information back once I've given it out.) Just keep in mind there is a lot to this game I haven't told anybody and a lot I hope I don't have to.
29 September 2014 - 05:42 AM
Alright, so I have a slight issue. I can't seem to find a way to make a particular thing in a game realistically more difficult to pull off and I need to. Now, the game isn't made yet, but I just realised how little it's going to take to do something and how absurdly effective it is. Basically, in this game there's ten areas on the opponent that can be damaged by your attacks. The right and left legs, the right and left arms, the abdomen, the chest, the neck, the head, the heart and the brain. There's sections mapped onto each for other effects, but that's the gist of it.
The problem I am having is that a shot through the heart, note that the game only counts the ventricles as heart shots and doesn't count shots to the atrium because they're totally different, while not an instant kill most of the time, is unsurvivable even with medical attention due to extremely heavy DOT that lasts an impossibly long time and a special constant damage effect (if large enough) that never goes away. This is realistic, being shot through the heart in any situation you'd find in game would be an absolute death sentence. (The circumstances in which you could actually survive such a wound are squarely in the "not goanna happen" category anyway, and they're impossible to replicate in-game.) The problem is, the heart is not an especially hard target to hit and such a rapid death is a big deal in a game where it's normally rare for a single gunshot wound to kill you and dying from anything tends to take rather a long time.
Now, it's a cooperative game and not a competitive one on the rare instance it's multiplayer at all, but it's a serious issue. If the player can just shoot every enemy through the heart, they're going to do it and never do anything else. And worse, many enemies in the game also use guns, and if one of them manages to shoot the player character through the heart they're done for in VERY short order. But here's the thing: I don't want to make doing this weaker, because honestly that's about what a heart shot is like anyway, I just want to make it harder to do in actual combat. That way, a sneaky player who manages to get the drop on their enemy can pull off a heart shot for full effect, but the player won't get shot in the heart by the first thing they fight smart enough to use a gun and have to start a new game.