Busy with work, life, and the silly ideas in my head, and what happens? I start to neglect this adorable, little blog. I'm here to repent. Starting with a quick art:
I've missed so many PS3 games during this hiatus that I don't where to begin. Even if I start playing 2 games a month, the sheer number of releases will just murder my game time like some, uh, game time murderer.
Last month's game design challenge from GameCareerGuide.com was all about the iPad, and they were asking for ideas that would make a great game for the device. I wasn't even planning to join the iPad hype-train, but while doodling about during my break -- a day before the deadline -- I just stumbled on an idea of square heads you can attach on 'empty' bodies. So for the entire 30-minute or so break, I just thought about how funny it is attaching and removing heads like Lego pieces, with the bodies struggling for freedom from the player's godly, sausage fingers.
Nothing concrete on the gameplay, admittedly, but maybe this could work on a Lemmings- or Lost Vikings-type of games, where you have to switch heads to complete a level. Or something.
Anyway, this rush-job piqued gamecareerguide's interest enough to include this in their Honorable Mentions list.
I haven't had the courage to take another dive into the crazy-ass Philadelphia-ish world of Heavy Rain, mostly because I was barely impressed with how everything turned out in the end (especially with that guy), but partly because the character couldn't even be bothered to bring a fucking umbrella.
Story-wise, it's like Indigo Prophecy all over again: off to a great start, then things went horribly wrong and you know exactly when it went downhill. Much to my surprise (and disappointment), the things David Cage promised to avoid this time around (supernatural, etc) didn't matter anymore, as the story itself became the problem regardless of the premise.
But yeah, I liked the concept of the Origami Killer (but not the motive behind it), and the gameplay is a big improvement over Indigo (and could be a template for future adventure titles), I liked some scenes that didn't feel forced, and other moments that are just there and they're subtle and unsettling at the same time. There's just this nagging feeling that the writer just listed down independent scenes, cool on their own but distracting in the whole scheme of things.
I guess there's another time, Mr. Cage. Try adapting a regular bestseller first, if you don't mind. :-)
So yeah, a Philippine console launch on March 27... 2 months after I bought mine. Could've changed my mind if I knew back then that Sony will be launching it officially.
It's a big deal because:
1) We've never had any real console launch in the country. Nintendo doesn't seem to mind, and even though I've heard that the 360 is 'official' here, support/promotion is weak at best. I bet thousands will attend just to experience what it's like to have an official release, even if we're almost 4 years behind everyone else. At least we're not Brazil! ;-)
2) I've been using a Canadian account for my PSN (don't ask) all this time, and if the forum insider rumors are true, they'll also launch a local Playstation Network (or at least they should). Which means, I'll be "coming home" in a matter of days.
3) It's a vote of confidence: it's a given fact that many third world countries have a significant piracy problem, and while an official launch may not remotely slow it down, at least Sony now know how much gamers here are supporting the platform for years and they are willing to back us up.
4) There's also a rumored 3D gaming demo at the event. That's good enough for me. And I just bought an HDTV this month, so it's gonna be depressing as well.
5) Official support: Right now majority of malfunctioning consoles are being repaired by 3rd party shops, and even though they do a pretty decent job at fixing them, an official go-to shop is well worth the wait.
So what happens now? Time for some speculations:
1) Local ratings = could be bad. Only once or twice did I see a local article reporting about some official wanting to do something about violent video games -- negligible compared to what you guys have to put up with every day. It could be a problem later, when gaming really hits mainstream. In a country where contraceptives are still being debated and 'questionable' TV content is under scrutiny, this could become a catalyst for a total mature video game ban.
2) Local support = local Sony Computer Entertainment studio? Who knows, right? I mean, if a Philippine developer can get to help develop Uncharted 2, anything's possible. A local SCE studio may just happen, even in my dreams at least.
3) Nothing: maybe they're just selling the product. it's just business, after all.
Okay, last post I promised that my Global Game Jam story will be concluded in the succeeding post, but due to a very interesting development, I'll keep the 2nd part on hold for now. Why, you ask?
Because our entry, Crease, won both the Jury Award and the Participant's Choice Award! :D
You can download the game on this site (just look for the /release/ folder).
Anyway, here's the gist of its gameplay:
"[Crease] is a puzzle-platformer where the player must literally fold the game environment to help the slug reach the door."
A lot of ideas have been shelved for this build, some of them are listed below:
1) Multiple creases -- certain framework limitations, uh, limited level design to a certain degree. Our sole programmer told us they can be fixed, but not within the 48-hour time limit.
2) Character can move -- the platforming part of our puzzle-platformer wasn't all that represented because we've decided to focus on the folding mechanism and how much we can get from it. Future versions of this game will definitely include character movement.
3) Multiple folding platforms -- this is also due to the time limit, but we're pretty sure this can make the game all the more interesting.
4) The sticky side -- one crucial idea we came up with is that the character can move only within the sticky floor. This adds another layer of strategy because now the player must navigate within the allowed area. If we add the folding mechanism, this means the the sticky sides can be flipped and rotated (depending on the crease and the fold, of course).
5) Portals -- yeah, we'll be taking something from the cult favorite FPAdventure.
I think we're all interested in how far this game can go in the future. The 48-hour limit definitely affected how the concept, but from the looks of it, mayba we can expand Crease further, folds and all. ;-)
It's been a great-great-great learning experience, and I congratulate all Manila Game Jammers for not going insane in this 2-day fun crunch!
Production pics below:
Because our game is based on paper folding -- fun fact: one title suggested for this game was "The Origami Killer" because of the origami reference -- we used an unusual method of designing levels by actually using strips of paper folded in many different ways. Prototyping was already complete way before the levels are coded.
Our technical designer checking some of the level proposals. WIN means it won't break the game, and FAIL means we're idiots. Haha.
QA was also done on paper, which made the whole bug-testing process easier than expected.
Because the number of fold combination was daunting -- our programmer set out to define each of them, again on paper. :-)
It's been an interesting night. Arrived late at the venue, and I missed all the talks from some of the master developers. I was so late, in fact, that a friend only texted me the theme (which I cannot reveal for time-zone reasons). When I arrived, they were just wrapping up on the "pitching" part, and there was already a pretty long list of ideas on the board. I pitched my idea too, but of course nobody bought it (and I call myself a designer, sheesh).
A friend at work pitched his idea personally, telling me how he needed help in this particular design. I reluctantly agreed -- reluctantly because I found the design too broad for such a limited time, and because I kept hoping that I can still push forward with my own (I can draw, but I need a coder to complete the "team.") Still, I said yes to his concept.
Around midnight, my friend suddenly proposed a new (but related) design. It was the first sign, and fortunately I convinced him to focus on his previous design because it would be such a waste of time (5 hours I think) if we have to start over.
By 3 AM, he told me that it wasn't working ... and we're not in the prototype stage yet! His arguments were valid, I gotta admit, and I kind of scolded him about it, that he should've seen this coming, that game designers should be "two steps ahead" of everyone, especially on what can and can't be done. Still, there was no other choice, and we were forced to scrap everything (although no significant code work was wasted, thank goodness).
After a while I came up with a seed of an idea, and a long discussion ensued for almost an hour. We talked about it during early lunch and we kept on paring down its excess fat. I googled the very concept, thinking that there must be something somewhere (like, you know, Kongregate) we can use as basis for the design, but luckily/unluckily there was none. We finally settled on its most basic form and now a new day awaits.