Second game complete: Time

Time: An Interactive Short Story

gameSS

Description: An interactive story about 3 animals fighting against the biggest villain: Time.

Finally, I finished my second game.

A little interactive short I made in about 3 months (on and off). It’s very silly and random, very dissimilar from my previous work. I’m working on 2 huge projects at the moment, so I decided to make something small, creative, and simple. All the art was created by me, and… well it’s terrible. I’m a programmer, and I seem to have some difficulty finding a 2D artist…

But alas, it is what it is. Maybe if I have more spare time I can revisit this game with an art overhaul and come up with a solid episodic structure. Regardless, I did learn a *ton* about 2D graphics, animations, and blending/tweening. I hope you enjoy it!

Web (May take some time to load): Click here.

Windows: Click here.

I have a Mac/Linux build in the works, I just want to test it out before I release them. I hope you enjoy my weird little game!

The music is by various artists I found online, mostly from freemusicarchive.org

Here they are:

  1. Foamform
  2. Jackson F. Smith
  3. Japan Japan
  4. Krackatoa
  5. Lucas Perný a Miloslav Kollár
  6. Mudlark
  7. The New Mystikal Troubadours
  8. Soni Ventorum Wind Quintet

As a side note, if I have more time in the future I will probably continue making more mini shorts like these. The Show of Shows won’t end that quickly!

Current Projects

Here’s a few projects I’m currently working on. All the games will be completed at separate times, but it seems like I’ll be finishing Time first:

The Museum: This is the game I’ve been posting the most screenshots of on my blog. It’s quite a big game, and hope to finish it some time before the end of 2015. I’ll spend the most time developing this one during the summer time, since that’s when I’ll have the most free time. Also, my cool friend Matt Guringo is helping me out with the story and writing.

museumSS3 MuseumSS2 museumSS1

 

Time: Time is a game I’ve been developing mostly as a fun little side project. The reason I’m making this game is mainly to practice my writing and character development. I’m mostly a programmer, but I enjoy creating whacky characters and environments. I have this weird idea that it’s good to practice all fields of game development, even if you are the best at a certain area (mine being programming as opposed to art).

TimeSS1TimeSS2 TimeSS3

 

Broken: This game is being developed for a game development class I’m currently taking at my university. The class requires everyone to assemble in groups of 4-6 people, and make a video game using Unity3D.My group’s project is a side-scrolling action game where you ride on a bike and take down biker gangs as they try to attack you. It’s refreshing to be able to work on a game that’s focused on tight mechanics.

BrokenSS

Inner Vision conversation, stats

I recently responded to an e-mail. It was someone asking about Inner Vision, asking for some data and my motivations behind it. So, I thought I’d just share our conversation (I’m also too lazy to actually write a blog post about this, heh):

Message 1:

Hello Sunil,My name is [].

I am currently working on my PhD in Clinical Psychology and my research focus is in suicide prevention. Someone forwarded me your game Inner Vision some time ago and I’ve wanted to talk with you about it since.I think that the game was a fascinating experience. I wondered immediately if you had a background in psychology or were familiar with suicide prevention research, since the game is so evocative of what the science represents.

Also, I would love to know if you have any data about the game (e.g. how many people were “saved”, how many times the game has been played, how many people have seen the game, etc.). That my be wishful thinking, but I would love to see some data on the game.

If you wouldn’t mind talking about the game a little more in depth I’d love to talk to you about it. What motivated you to make this game? Why this presentation? Why suicide as your subject matter? I have a ton of questions.

But overall, I did enjoy the experience. I’ve forwarded it on to many of my colleagues.

As a final thought. I felt the music for the game was outstanding. I don’t know if you had an outside composer or if you did it yourself, but kudos. It was the perfect complement.

[]

Message 2:

Hello [],

Thank you for taking the time to play my game, I really appreciate it. Now to answer some of your questions:

I actually have no background in psychology. I’m currently a junior undergraduate student going for a computer science bachelor’s degree. Some of the characters and conversations found in the game are based on real life situations I found myself in while having intimate conversations with friends. I wanted to share my experiences and feelings on suicide, so I decided to go to my favorite artistic medium: video games.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really implement any data tracking into the game. The only data I received were from the e-mails/messages I got from people who were really moved by the game. Here are some things that I’ve collected:

- People had the most difficulty with the last character, Oscar, who was homeless and suffered from drug addiction.
- People felt very sympathetic towards the first character, Miranda, who was struggling with her bisexuality (Interesting note: This character was 100% based on a real friend of mine)
- People universally hated Yama, the skeleton that heckles the player throughout the game.
- Everyone that I’ve gotten messages from stated that they beat the game and thought it was relatively easy/simple

I made the game at a very interesting point in my life. I was severely suffering from depression without really knowing the cause, and I needed an outlet to share some of my dark/morbid thoughts that had been circulating in my mind. Then the idea of making a video game out of my feelings came to my mind. I started to ask questions: Can I make a game that touches on serious/dark subject matter while still retaining a positive message? Do I even have the skills to do this? At the time I was very new to game development. I heard of a few success stories online, and just thought, hell, why can’t I make something too. So, I stared developing Inner Vision mostly to express the strong emotions I’ve held, and to prove to myself that I can make a game that derives from the norms and tropes of mainstream video games.

After spending a few months on it, spending all the spare time between going to classes, I finished the game. I posted it to Reddit hoping that some people might think it was neat/touching. Lo and behold, it kind of exploded. It got ranked number 1 on Reddit, video game outlets started writing articles about my game (Kotaku, RockPaperShotgun, etc.), and I started to receive e-mails. Since then, I’ve been working on another project that hopefully will delve into more topics that video games don’t really explore.

I hope this helped, and again thanks for liking my game. I would be happy to discuss the actual design of the game further if you’re interested.

Oh, and the music was not created by me. It was created by a very talented Cellist known as ‘Takenobu’.
The song is called ‘Exposition’ on Takenobu’s album called ‘Introduction’

From,
Sunil

First Person Brick Breaker

I made a little game for a class I’m taking. You can play it by clicking here. I also attended the Global Game Jam last weekend, and I’m still in the process of writing about my experience. To put it shortly, I learned an immense amount, mostly pertaining to my limits as a developer and what I’m good at and not so good at. ‘Till next time.

Hackajam

So I just came back from a 12 hour game jam with the theme 30 seconds. I stuck with flash since I still haven’t tinkered around with Unity2D from the newest version.

Instead of making a single short 30 second game, I took a WarioWare approach and chose to make 5 6 second games. You can play it here. Also, my good friend Carlos helped out with the art (Look at that well drawn butt!) It’s a very silly/broken game, but I had fun making it. Always love me some game jams.

 

The Museum: Redesigning and Gameplay Art Style

I’ve been making progress level design wise, and I thought I would share what they looked like. I’ve been working on the first area that the player will start in, and it’s taken me a while getting the right structure. I was trying to strike a balance between the player wanting to see more and explore, and the player avoid seeing the movement as a chore.

Here are the 3 redesigning phases it went though:

Phase 1 (When I thought this would be a third person game):

Design 1

 

Phase 2 (Shifted into first person, redesigned all gameplay):

Design 2

Phase 2.5 (Replaced placeholder cubes with new art style with the help of particle effects, first person perspective):

Design 3

 

I hope to share more as I get further into the game.

The Museum: Sneak Peek

Ah, to hell with it. I guess I’ll share some of the story.

Here’s the first part of the introduction. I don’t want to show anymore to avoid spoilers, so this will just have to do for now. Still working on it with all my free time and I can see progress slowly being made.

The music is temporary, and the song is Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, Pastoral, composed by Beethoven. I highly recommend checking out this ‘Best Of’ for Beethoven, it’s a great listen at a reasonable price. I’ve been listening to a lot of classical music lately and it’s been perfectly accompanying the scenes I’ve been working on. So I decided to just use the songs as placeholders until I get to work on the music.

Gameplay wise, I’m also making tremendous strides. Although I shared a few details on the gameplay, I’m keeping it under wraps until I can make a trailer that expresses the mechanics in a quality way.

After all the work I’ve done so far, I’m happy to say that the game is still adhering to the central ideas I’ve been meaning to express since the design phase: Interpretation and enlightenment.

 

 

Narrative Expression

After working on the design and adding layers to the core mechanics, an art style and narrative started to emerge in my mind. I tried to express it while still retaining the theme of a painting-like art style and landscape. Nothing revolutionary in how the narrative is being expressed, but the art style I think really makes it special.

The result is this, in glorious 240p:

Approaching Game Design Through Systems

Listen to your game’s system

Most game designers these days follow a formulaic approach to making games. They use preexisting systems and fill in the missing gaps. For example, if I were to make a platformer, the conventional approach would be to make individual levels, then put these levels into “worlds”, and lastly make an overworld-like area where the player can access these “worlds”. There is nothing wrong with this approach, if anything it’s a tried and true way of going about things and is a great way to practice trusted game development. But there’s something lacking. By using preexisting structures, we’re limiting ourselves from exploring new ways to tackle these issues designers have faced since the dawn of games. The way I make games is quite unconventional, but I hopefully believe it will create games that are more rich and meaningful. I hope to share my current design process.

A video game, in its most simplest form, is a system. It’s an intricately designed system that the player is able to explore, play around in, and master using a variety of inputs (Keyboard/Mouse, gamepad, etc.) Good games often use these systems to convey meaning or a message. For example, the game ‘Papers, Please’ uses its paper checking system to express the stress and calculative darkness that being a passport inspector is like in a dystopian society. Not only did ‘Papers, Please’ express emotions through its system, but it was also able to express a narrative as well. If you don’t work fast/efficient enough, the player receives less money which in turn gives you less money to keep your family warm and well fed. If you make a lot of mistakes and take too long to do your tasks, your family dies. The mechanics of the game spoke for itself, and didn’t need bothersome cutscenes to convey emotion and narrative. These games, I believe, are the right way to go about designing a game. These games have confidence in their systems which in turn expresses meaning.

The first step I take when making a game is I start with an idea. Just to get this silly argument out of the way, all games are art. Journey, as well as Call of Duty, are art, although they may convey their messages in varying degrees. One of art’s purposes is to convey a message or meaning to the viewer, so when I make a game I start with the meaning/message itself. Once I have a message that’s personal to me that I want to share with others, I start to design a system.

Now comes the hardest part, in my opinion, of making a game. I now have to create a system that is well designed enough that it can express the meaning I want to express on its own. The creation of a system that voices a certain meaning I want takes a lot of time. There’s no step-by-step way in creating a well designed system (that I know of), but that’s completely okay. I just start to experiment. I come up with crazy ideas, even if I think they’re “bad”. If anything, some of today’s best games come out of “bad” ideas. This way of design is very difficult and time consuming, but I believe that it is necessary in making a well designed system. This step of design honestly takes me weeks to complete, but I believe it’ll be worth the effort.

Once I have a system that expresses the meaning I want to convey to the player, then I fucking pat myself on the back. I just accomplished something amazing that not many game designers even think of. From here on out, the creation of the game is all about exploration. I need to listen to my system, and try to explore the idea space. I start to closely examine the mechanics of my game’s system, and try to come up with a narrative. I start to ask my system questions. What is my system trying to say? What mechanics can I add to my system to make it better? How many layers does my system have? How can my system express a narrative? If so, what kind of narrative will it be? How can I mesh together the meaning that is being expressed by my system with a narrative? Once I have at least some answers to these questions, then I start to notice something… I see a narrative unfold right before my eyes. Sure, it’s not a fully constructed 500 page story, but it’s a start.

So, at the moment I have a game system and a light narrative that it’s trying to express… That’s about it. There is still plenty more to do, but this is currently all that I have learned so far and have used on the game I’m working on, and I plan to share the design process as I get further and further into it. Honestly, this is probably all bullshit, and maybe my game will be horrible. Maybe I’m going about design in all the wrong ways, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

I’m currently in the process of adding layers to the system I’ve created. I’m also trying to flesh out a narrative as well as a level structure that is well suited for the game’s system.  My next write up will hopefully try to answer some of these issues. Until next time!