Dev Blog #008 – Fumbling, Stumbling, but Focused

Character_July_3Once again we had a week with a messed up schedule and we found it difficult to gain traction. There was a holiday in the middle of the week and most of the team had make up classes that ate into our development time together. At times it felts as though we weren’t making any progress at all, but by the end of the week we did hit our goals. As previously mentioned, we had to take a step back from our production to focus on two core items: Art Style and Story.

We saw significant progress in our art style on all fronts, at least enough to consider it locked at 60%. Helen had been working incredibly hard on nailing down what characters in the game would look like. In the previous incarnation the characters were all flat shaded and had a realistic outline (we drew over photos) and we wanted something with a bit more depth this time around. After compiling a large quantity of reference images, we were able to narrow down the aesthetic we wanted.

One of our goals with the art style was to make them feel as though they were made with paper, so we used that as a base for all the drawings. Next, we decided that we still wanted the characters to be flat, but with some shading to give them more volume. One of the challenges we had was ensuring that there was no specific light source, but still had some shadows. Finally, we had to decide on how realistic or how caricatured we wanted the character to be. For this Helen did several mock ups and showed them to the team. We really liked the hard, clay-like shading of one of the caricature heads, but felt that the eyes were too cartoony. Luckily, we really liked the eyes from the realistic head and with a few quick tweaks, we had something we felt hit the nail on the head.

On the 3D side, we finally had a two storey house with a staircase and all the rooms we might need. While Marcelo was pumping that out and building assets, Monkey was busy working on our AI system. He was successfully able to have the AI navigate the entire house, including up the stairs and to dynamically find a new location based on spawned “evidence”. Finally things started feeling like a game!

Tell-Tale_HouseLayout

On the story side of things, we made several breakthroughs. First, we figured out our meta-story, the overarching narrative that we want to have permeate throughout every elements on our property. This lead to a ton of research and scenarios being developed. This took us part way to our goal, but then we hit another roadblock. We knew the big story and the Poe stories we wanted to use, but not how they connected. Additionally, we had an even larger problem, in that Monkey needed dialogue for the question elements of our AI system. This made us realize that we needed to figure out exactly how the crimes were committed and how the police would search. This sounds simple, but it was actually incredibly complex. The reason for this is that we are planning on having a significant amount of procedural randomness in the game. We don’t just have one tool for killing someone, but a box of tools that can be used. The crime must also be able to happen in multiple rooms, with evidence discard in different rooms, etc. Once we figured out a system for us to keep things straight, we could finally understand our story as a whole! Our universe is finally coming together!!!

“Indeed, there is an eloquence in true enthusiasm that is not to be doubted.”
– Edgar Allan Poe

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