What I am working on
A bit later than I planned but I was still unsure of things, but ah well. Plus gamescom stuff got in the way! (Also everything shown is very very early, as in a week or two of prototyping etc!)
So I said last week that I was working on a "top down shooter with rpg elements set in a sci-fi like city influenced by various media", the influences being GTA 1 and 2, Borderlands, Diablo 3, Ghost in the Shell and Deus Ex etc. The influences from GTA are pretty clear once you see the screenshot but that's pretty much where it ends. While the mega drive was my first console, the PS1 is what I grew up with and if I can make a game that has the look and feel of a game from that era, I'll be very happy and is what I am currently aiming for.
Naturally ripped graphics crudely put together, but this was just me trying to get the look down and explain to my artists what I was looking for. I'm not great at explaining things (that may become evident in this journal) and there was a mood-board somewhere of games and styles that I liked, but this seemed to do the trick. I wanted the sense of depth with over hanging objects and lights giving the feeling of a fully living environment. Although it's hard to explain with a screenshot, the lights have randomly generated behaviour and act differently (flickering etc) that is different every time you play and react to time of day etc if told to. It's just small details that I experimented with to try and immerse myself in an environment.
I was going to talk about sound but I'll wait till I can get a video up to demonstrate it (my net is horrifically slow at uploading). But I really liked it in games such as Saints Row 1, where you walk past a car and you can hear the heavy muffled bass coming from inside or you walked past buildings where it has ambient sound specific to that location. But I want to use such a system extensively to really immerse the player in the world and if they rather listen to something, then maybe have a radio as some equipment!
The above screenshot was done by hand (all the tiles placed one by one) and was of course beyond tedious so to make level layouts quicker to edit and create, a quick tool was thrown together which works perfectly.
Checkboxes display where a floor tile is, walls are then calculated based off that data. It's simple but effective, but needs expansion as I get more ideas such as height layers etc. I am playing around with the idea of randomly generated "dungeons", but I think I would rather have randomly generated content and challenges inside pre-existing layouts instead. It kind of gives a false sense of security, you think you know the area well but its inhabitants may have changed that leave unexpected surprises for the player
So far all I have talked about is immersion, a little a bit about tools and very little about gameplay, but to me atmosphere is really important, it's one of the things I love in games. I love exploring worlds in games and being fully immersed, also as I've nearly nailed the look and feel I want I found it easier to talk about! But that's not to say I've been ignoring gameplay, that's definitely being worked on but it's not final and I'm not entirely too happy with it yet. But here's a little bit about it:
The numbers on the character in the first image is damage, as said it has rpg elements so shooting someone isn't necessarily going to kill someone outright. It will all depend on what equipment you have and how much you have customised it to the situation or your play style (and also the enemies gear and play style ;D). Change your entire arm into a built in gun for example, with automatic quick reloading as a bonus! Or change both into guns for some serious quick damage low cooldown firing... although you can no longer throw grenades or access areas that require hands so that might be an issue! Maybe your character is REALLY heavy from all the gear so the footsteps are really loud and the enemies can prepare in time for your arrival because they heard you coming. It's still an area I need to nail down and will go into more detail in the future once I'm happy but it's the area I am currently concentrating on so should be soon!
If you've made it this far, then thank you for reading!