Monday, 30 January 2012

Mobile game UI layout

This mobile project has changed completely from when I started and I have to say that I am very glad that I did make all of those design changes.  Hopefully this new version will show that I have produced something good that can evolve into something great.

So thus far I am tinkering with Unity to create a PC demo version of the game for a few reasons:

  1. To gain feedback on the design and gameplay so far so that I can tweak things.
  2. To see how well the game will be received by those tantalised by puzzles, word games and even puzzling word games.  I hope this will also give me enough data to judge whether it is worth developing the full mobile version or whether to just complete the PC version.
  3. To gain some support and players who will look forward to the release.
  4. Once I have created this within Unity I should have sufficient knowledge of how to implement the full version and should be able to modify the game for a mobile least this is the plan anyway.
This is the intended layout so far for the PC demo. 

I have tried to keep the layout simple and adaptable for the mobile game.  Since the mobile game will be played horizontally and vertically both layouts have been considered. 

The button positions across horizontal and vertical fairly similar, so hopefully the differences in layouts will not confuse players too much.

The PC demo version will probably use the horizontal layout. Hopefully I'll have something blocked in and ready for people to play with soon. 

January Target Completed!

  • Complete: Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
One down!  It's such a good feeling to know that even at this early stage in the year I have completed something on my Resolutions list already.  Hopefully the rest of the year is as successful.

As I'll get a slight headstart on February's task I am inclined to set two goals.My main focus will be to get the PC demo finished (I can see a few speed bumps already but I'll see how it goes).

I was interested in playing Relentless' first digital release, Blue Toad Murder Files, so I bought this last year on Steam during a sale.  It's a short game so I think it shouldn't take up too much time, and may even provide a nice break between development.  All work and no play etc.

  • Complete: Blue Toad Murder Files:  The Mysteries of Little Riddle
  • Develop PC demo of mobile game idea
Wish me luck!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Bounty: Facing the Captor

Feel free to comment on this my first attempt at a scene from a story idea that I have had for a game with the working title, Bounty.  Over the next few months I plan to post different scenes from the same story to gather feedback on my style of writing and possible improvements to the scenes/overall story.

Any feedback is welcome though so crit away!

Facing the Captor

The woman looked towards her husband and daughter's faces.  Her husband's she could barely see from the position he was laid in.  The tall strong, man that she had always known her husband to be had been reduced to a small, still curled up mass.  His face, arms and legs were covered in black and blue bruises, cuts and welts.  His wounds had gone untreated for so long that it looked as if infection was setting into them. 

Her daughter was kneeling down over her father, quiet while continuous streams of tears rolled down her face.   Her father could no longer protect her and this she now realised.  Her eyes, big, brown and glassy, were looking to her mother now for protection.  To carry her away from these monsters who had ripped her from her slumber in the dead of night.

The woman collapsed to the her knees on the cold, hard, marble floor and sighed.  "What do you want from me?" she said slowly raising her head to face the one responsible for shackling her and abducting her family prisoner.

A man sat on a large throne a short distance in front of her.  He was elaborately dressed in layers of silk clothing.  The throne he sat on was tall, gilded with gold and set with rubies and small emeralds at the top of the chair back.

He leaned forward slowly, a smile slowly creeping across his face.  He knew he had finally gotten his way.  "Why, your remarkable and legendary skills of course".

New Year, New Targets

The end of January is very nearly upon me and I have been reluctant to write yet another resolutions list for the year as it always pains me to look back over it mid-year and in December having realised that I have fallen short of my targets.

So I'd like to make monthly targets this year to see if these are easier to achieve.  These will be both expanding my level and design experience as well as helping me make a dent in my games catalogue.

This month:
Complete Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

So far I'm not doing too bad with this target. I had a good run on it over the last weekend and thought I'd have it finished by the end of the month.  However, I've just gotten halfway through the game and although I now am much better at the combat, the boss challenge's have certainly been raised.  I hope this isn't another game that gets left "to complete another time".

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Gears of War 3: Reflections of the Story

I completed the single player campaign of Gears of War 3 a couple of days before the end of last year.  I have really enjoyed how the story that has progressed throughout the series and how it has wrapped up during this last instalment.

I am going to briefly discuss my thoughts on the story that has developed from the first to the third game (mostly focusing on the third).  I do warn anyone that has not played the game or completed the game yet that there will be spoilers within this post.

WARNING: There are spoilers within this post, so if you don't want to know stop reading now!

The game is about Marcus Fenix, the lead character, finding out that his father, Adam had not perished under the debris of his house years ago, but instead was held prisoner by Prescott, the chairman of  the Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG), his boss essentially.  Adam was later held by Mira, Queen of the indigenous population of Sera the Locusts, to try and combat the real threat - the emulsion.

Throughout the previous games and the majority of the third, emulsion was thought of as a fuel, a resource.  However, Adam later explains that the emulsion is a being in itself.  Acting as a parasite it sought to infect every living creature on the world of Sera.  In the second game, the emulsion had only just started to affect the Locusts.  Those that were after were known as Lambent.  The locusts lived underground before the emulsion started attacking them so they emerged to the surface, E-Day was upon humanity.

In the third game, humans that had been in contact with emulsion for longer lengths of time were now showing signs of infection and behaving just as destructively as the Lambent in Gears 2.

The mission is to find Adam Fenix and help him finish working on the machine he had built to exterminate emulsion infected cells from all living things on the planet.

Introduction to the third instalment
The flashback at the beginning was good.  I found that it helped me remember and sum up what was previously occurred within the story.  However, I'm not sure if I was a new player that there was enough content in this section to do a sufficient recap for them but luckily the remainder of the game focused more on rescuing Marcus' father rather than relying on previous information gained from the other games.

Did the story unfold evenly across the duration of the game?
The game was comprised of five acts.  We learn that Adam is alive during the first act but only get to him during act five.  I felt that although I got to experience a lot more of the different environments throughout Sera, came into contact with more COG and Stranded so I could see how the war and E-Day had affected each of them, that I'd have liked to have had more information fed to me about Adam's whereabouts throughout these in-between acts.

I think something simple and short would have sufficed.  For example, before Mira started tracking Marcus and the rest of Delta we could have been shown scenes with Mira talking to Adam trying to coerce him into working harder to save the Locusts.  I think this would have been interesting to see as you find out that Mira and Adam had a relationship for a long time where Adam seemed to sympathise and genuinely wanted to help the Locusts if there were more time.

This would have been a nice addition but it was not essential.  The varying number of challenges that the Delta squad had to overcome throughout each act was enough to keep me amused and still focused in getting to Marcus' dad.

High points within the story

Emulsion infected humans
I wasn't expecting the humans to be infected by that emulsion.  But I suppose it makes sense when you think about it, although during the scene where you come into contact with the first infect human I was expecting more of a typical zombie than a fluorescent, raging and quick moving zombie.  So this was an interesting twist.

R.I.P Dominic Santiago
My fiance had played Gears 3 on the day of launch with his friends at my house while I was working all day  (much to my annoyance as I wanted to play it through in co-op with him, anyway...).  When I got home that evening I found the house still, perfectly silent.  Not the atmosphere of roaring orders at each other and swearing at the enemies.  So I presumed they had finished an gone home.  When I entered my front room I walked in to find four adult males in total silence eagerly watching a cinematic.  I said my hellos and left as I didn't want to see something that would spoil my experience later.
So when I saw this cutscene with Dom dying, I instantly knew that this was the cutscene that stunned all of those men to silence.  In my mind Dominic Santiago was your brother, he was the constant character throughout Gears that survived, that would be there at the end.  Not any more.  The death of his wife and kids just got too much for him and he nobly sacrificed himself so that the rest of Delta could live on.  However, Dom was emotionally going downhill from the beginning of the game.  His appearance was ragged as if he didn't care about keeping himself presentable and at the point of his death you could argue that he just wanted to end it all.  So he did.  Even so, his character went through a lot of pain, and turmoil so he deserved to go out whichever way he chose.  I loved his character, he was a great sidekick.

The reason behind E-day
I found it interesting to know the real reason behind E-Day.  The Locusts were just running themselves.  Who knows what would have occurred if Adam has come to a mutual understanding with Mira, the Locusts may have lived peacefully underground co-existing with humanity on Sera.  We don't know who attacked who first.  The Locusts could have been disorientated when emerging from underground and attacked out of fear.  Humanity may have also struck the first blow for fear of the unknown, which led to the fifteen year war with the Locusts.

Marcus' dad dying
Another emotional moment in the story.  After all the time Marcus spent searching for his dad.  He was killed by the very weapon he had created to save humanity.  Adam also seemed to be torn up by guilt and regret throughout the majority of the final act.  It was almost like he was punishing himself  for the devastation the Hammer of Dawn caused at Ephyra and not preventing E-Day.  At the end of the game, Marcus looks more lost than ever with no goal to persevere and no family left.

Anything missed?  Not covered?

The true fate of Marcus' mother
I was hoping to find out what happened to Marcus' mother.  She had apparently gone missing in the underground caves when Marcus was about 16 years old and she was a biologist.  The fact that she gets lost in the caves, Locust queen looking very human-like and Adam Fenix working with closely with the Locust Queen for 20 years is rather a coincidence no?   Did Marcus' mother turn into the Locust queen through some sort of experiment that went wrong?  The locust queen's very human-like appearance was mentioned once by one of the Delta squad but not expanded upon.  I think that this may have been a clever and deliberate thought provoking question for players to agonise over.  She may have been taken hostage in exchange for Adam's cooperation to work on the existing emulsion problem for the Locusts?  I don't know and I guess I won't find out.

After analysing this game's story it has taught me a lot about the building blocks required for a good linear story.  The twists and heart wrenching moments are just as important as the unanswered questions that make the player want to explore and persevere to find the answers.  One thing that I will keep in mind when creating a game story is to build up a character who is believable and likeable so that the player wants to help them achieve their goal, cares about their difficult decisions, feels and believes their pain.