I have been working on graphic design work mostly to keep myself afloat over the last few weeks, while doing so I have been prototyping a game that plays through various points in my life up until graduation.
I think I have an interesting story to tell but hell if I'm going to write a book about it, a game would be way cooler.
This project may well be canned because I have realised, morally what it will take to finish the story.
I'm also worried if a player will feel at all attached to the story it if itís presented in this way.
This game is not in a playable state right now so Iím going to show you the rough work for the first chapter of the game, with is mostly a tutorial for the rest of the game.
Chapter one: birth
Yea I'm literally starting in the wonderful warm womb to really drive home the 'life story'. I feel this worked well in fallout in creating a connection to the protagonist. I would have a persistent text overlay that would tell a story throughout the body of the game, joining the scenes together.
Interactivity takes place in every scene with the joystick and the A button always having a function.
In this scene for example the joystick opens the eye. I imagine heavy rain style prompts would have to inform the player of the appropriate actions in each scene.
Btw: The art you see is place holder done by me while I find a decant artist ): I think the game would be nice in pixel art.
Ok so after ploughing out of the vag, you start growing up, as me, wondering around a room interacting with things from my memories while learning to walk. The narrative is written in the past tense and gradually builds up towards the stories climax (detailed in a bit)
Chapter one is the stage in my life where I dicked around as a kid with my bros making the tire forts and going into the local abandoned mineshaft. This presents possibilities for a combination of mini moral choices and Wario ware style rapid minigames.
Chapter 2 is where a personal challenge is presented. Amongst some fun events such as when I moved to Japan. Has scene that may well only ever remain on paper, which features a death of my younger brother. I feel it would be a dishonest to leave out such an important and dramatic event in my life. Much like I imagine an author would if leaving out crucial information in their biography.
On the other hand I think the emotional attachment is why I canít finish this project. I'm always looking for ways to advance our medium, this time I might have hit the limits of how far I'm willing to go. Or maybe I just have to sack up and take the jump.
The idea of the competition is to get Indy developers and students in teams of four locked inside a university for 30 hours makeing games. wooooo
We where given a theme of 'giants' at the begging of the competition and an unlimited supply of pizza, coffee and energy drinks.
Me eating microsoft pizza nomnomnom
Doughnuts and milk where also on the menu for breakfast
Tasted like cheerios but way better!
Anyway the competition went well for the team and I, we walked away with the "most experimental game" award, although it sounds like we could have made anything weird and got some sleep for the same prize.
We all got our hands on the new XNA 4.0 for development with windows 7 mobile and oh lord is it a sweet ass platform to develop for. The Rockstar guys seem to REALLY be on board with it but would not confirm or deny anything (even after many beers) in regards to why they where touting it as the best thing since sliced bread. But I would say seeing Chinatown wars on windows 7 mobile on release day is a strong possibility.
Also learned read dead redemption spent $90,000 on getting the horse reins to look right. hhahaa
Oh yea the competition!
Here is a trailer for the game myself and the team made:
The game was about learning from others in order to expand your world.
Based off the quote used by Sir Isaac Newton "to stand on the shoulders of giants" - basically means that to further our knowledge we must place it on the top of pre existing knowledge, created by the great scholars and visionaries of the past.
I don't really consider this game experimental I was trying to play it safe! What do you guys think?
Ill put it up for download you you really want but you will need XNA 3.1 installed and a wired xbox game-pad to play it!
I have nothing against Xbox indie games, its great to have a community of people makeing games.
I'm well aware of the vat of foul decrement that plagues it. And good games do get recognised.
But after my game went on sale recently I have been getting AWFULLY TICKED OFF.
I'm going to be honest last time I checked my game had 2.5 out of 5 user rating witch is shockingly bad and I'm totally ashamed.
This is despite getting a fewgoodmentions. It seems no one is interested, I would give it away for free if I could, I just want people to tell me that they think of my game.
Actually I'll call my bluff
Here take all the tokens you want...first come first serve
Oh yea my review.
First off this game was designed for both the iphone and Xbox. And is purely visual (has no text outside of high scores and title).
Perlmania is made by me and another guy, its a chill game, we made the music really mellow and relaxing. You can download the whole soundtrack on my website if you really like under water/elevator music. This is to make the puzzles less frustrating (and I made 50 puzzles they get a bit ridiculous).
The object of the game is to get your ball into the goal. you do this by exploding a bomb next to it to make it move. the ball or "perl" gets momentum depending on how close it was to the bomb blast. you have to get your perl into the exit in one hit, if you fail its no biggie you just re adjust and try again.
It gets tricky when I start throwing in lots of obstacles for you to navigate and colour coded perls and exits. I could compare the game to curling on crack in later stages.
I drew really cute faces on everything! it was around the time I broke up with my girlfriend and wanted to escape to a happy place. And in the credits I'm a giraffe.
Why has everyone walked right on by this little gem? Well I can think of a few reasons, The average Indy game player has every reason to be expecting a half assed attempt at a game when they download the trial. And my game requires a little perseverance to get to its real game.
Perlmania rewards you for making observations, I don't want to ruin the experience but an insider tip: The menus are also actually the tutorial, go figure.
All in all I would give my game a 3 out of 5, it has a lot going for it, its just let down by slow pacing and a confusing menu system. I'm rating it so low because I'm a father who beats his son.
These are examples of games with no definitive ending.
Why do we bother? These games in theory could start before we where born and end long after we are dead.
Perhaps that is the next logical evolution of the ongoing game.
I can see it now
"The RPG where the grind is your life, you only level up once a year on your birthday"
And with each new level perhaps you can equip more violent video games, harder examinations and eventually be able to drive that chocobo.
I know what you might be thinking.
Hey Oli you have it all wrong, we don't want a games that mirror our sad lifes, we want to escape to Huryle or the Mushroom Kingdom and forget our everyday woes.
I'm looking at an altogether different emerging genre. Games with themes that are distinctly normal.
From my EDGE magazine (issue 188, p53) Ben Bell the executive producer of the Sims 3 says:
"It's popularity (the sims) has often been a source of confusion in the specialist press...with its embracing of the ordinary suburban existence doesn't offer an obvious route to escapism"
The game is made personal so that we can connect with our characters and relationships. its not set in some far flung corner of the galaxy nor on in a dystopia future. its right here right now, in your house, in your neighbourhood.
But how many people you know play the sims as if it where themselves in a parallel universe? We all now what the sims is really about. Nothing like a good WooHoo and ritual burning of the neighbours.
"you can tell the story of someone you've never been before" says Bell
Its true the game is still pretty far away from reality. In many ways its a glorified tamagochi.
Maybe when Moores law ends (The number of transistors on a integrated circuit double every two years) and we see a slower steadier climb in tech. We could well see consoles and indeed their software last long enough to make this vision of a game that sticks with you your whole life a reality.
Why would you play such a game?
Much like Brain Training life games could judge you much like your grandmother. Are you doing well in life? are you married yet? where are my grand kids?
Or they could help keep your fitness levels up in a Wii fit fashion. They could be installed on your toilet, in your fridge if your diabetic they could be vital!
They could be introspective or extroverted, where are you in relation to the world? Or are you at its centre?
What does technology think of you?
Dr Kawashima is only the beginning.
This is Oli your local mad scientist of games thought of the day