Sunil's Blog

I make games! Mostly weird ones.

Month: April 2013

Learning from other media

With the recent debate of what the definition of a “game” is, I thought I would write this post up. Video games are not movies. VIdeo games are not books. Video games are video games. But at the same time, I find it valuable to learn from other media to empower the medium that you are woking on.

Many game developers, including myself, get angry when studios, especially triple-A, try to develop video games with this hollywood-esque movie format (i.e. quick time events, lengthy cutscenes). Instead of playing a game and experiencing a story through the gameplay, we are subjected to play a game, watch a video for about 10-15 minutes, than go back to playing. This pattern pretty much goes throughout the entirety of the game. This is a very common format in video games these days, and I feel as if we’ve hit a wall in this regard. We need to learn and experiment with new ways to represent the stories and experiences in video games.

Video games are going through an identity crisis. We don’t know what we are, consequently sucking up all parts of different types of media into one cesspool. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if used wisely. There have been amazing games that have incorporated music videos, and animations quite nicely (go take a look at POP).

It’s organic in a way. We look at the past to try and improve the present. This viewpoint can be directly linked to video games. Game developers are looking at past media, and trying to improve upon it. If we can learn about what makes movies good, and what makes books good, maybe then we can learn what makes games good. For the game I’m currently developing, I’m looking at a certain movie opening (For the curious, the opening scene to the movie Enter the Void) that I’m trying to incorporate into my game. The difference is that instead of just copying the opening, making it into a video, and stick in as the intro of the game as a cut-scene, I’m trying to “gamify” it. In other words, make it video game-like, somehow. This is where the challenge comes, but a welcomed one.

Lots of developers. including myself, bash games for having too many elements from other media, especially movies. After some thought, I disagree. Instead of completely removing aspects of video games that aren’t games, let’s try to gamify other media!

Let’s take the movie Lion King. It’s a great children’s movie with some important themes that are good for children to be taught at a young age. If one was to go about and make a video game about Lion King (SNES!), and Instead of just using cut-scenes and cinematics, we should be looking at the important themes present in the movie, and try to make those themes into a game, somehow.

This all may seem a bit idealistic, but I do believe that we can learn from other media in a positive way. The problem is that it’s simply hard because of how new video games truly are. The reason I make games is because it’s the only medium where everything feels new, where there’s plenty of untapped potential. So with that pioneer spirit, let’s make some cool games in weird ways!

Decided to temporarily call the game Robot + update

So I’ve been hacking away at Robot this past weekend. Did a lot of programming, and got the tilemap and collision working pretty well (which took me a while to be honest). The character can move around, as well as jump and animate. I still have one big programming problem I need to figure out, and that is the player’s special abilities. (Oh, and Robot will be a puzzle-platformer by the way)

The player will be able to change the center of the character’s gravity with the push of a button, and the center of gravity will be floating globes in the map. This may seem a little tough, but there are plenty of physics based engines out there for flash, and flixel handles a lot of it too. I’m pretty excited to program that aspect of it since I love solving weird programming problems like that. The other special ability the player will have is still in the works.

These special abilities directly feed into the story. I’ve been writing a little script of the story, and it’s coming quite nicely. I’ve been putting a lot of work into this game, and it seems much larger in scale compared to Inner VIsion. I’m excited to where it will lead!

This project will have much more art assets than Inner Vision, so I’m a bit worried since that is my weakest skill. With that said, I still enjoy myself while drawing out the sprites, so we’ll see what happens.

I don’t want to get into the details of the story in this post, but in short, there are two robot races with different values. There isn’t one “bad” race and one “good” race of robots, like most games tend to have. These are some mockups/sketches of one of the races. Just like Inner Vision, I hope to make Robot meaningful and not just serve as game “candy”. Until next time!

Block Head Sketches 2

Back in gear

Well, time to get back to working on my flash game. Yeesh, what a long break that was. You know, it was just one of those “oh god what am I going to do with my life I’m going to be poor because I’m not a good enough programmer to make into the gaming industry”  kind of breaks. We’ve all been there.

Here are some sketches/mockups of the main character of my game. Whenever I make sketches, it means I’m working towards something that I’m going to finish. This time around, my game will be a lot more positive and upbeat:

Robot Sketches

 

Still don’t know what the game’s title is yet. Until next time!

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