I've decided that whilst I work on my new project Seablite, a 2D adventure game inspired by the original Zelda on NES, I will use this blog to share my ideas, development progress, art and more. Obviously take all of this with a grain of salt or two as development is still in the early stages and everything is prone to change at least 30 times before I'm done.
Today I want to talk a bit about how the world of Seablite is being designed.
In Seablite, players control a nameless wanderer who finds themselves trapped in an ancient island complex. The island is full of mysteries and adversity, but the player is more or less free to do as they please. The driving themes of this game are 'Freedom', 'Mystery' and 'Adversity'. I'm hoping that by using these ideas I can create a game that encourages exploration by putting the player in situations that make them ask questions, with answers hidden behind interesting challenges, and with the freedom to approach everything from multiple angles. With all this in mind it should come as no surprise that I've been spending whatever daydreaming time I can on the layout of the island the player is stranded on. So let me explain what details I've considered so far.
So first things first, the world of Seablite can be roughly divided into 2 distinct parts: the overworld and the underworld. The underworld includes caves, tunnels and the 'dungeons' of the game, all of which I'll talk about some other time. The overworld is everything else. It's where the player will start their game and will most likely be where they spend most of their time. There will be enemies to fight, puzzles to solve, and generally speaking a whole world to explore.
OPEN WORLD, LOCKED-OFF AREAS AND PLAYER FREEDOM
Does this mean that Seablite is OPEN-WORLD!?
Sort of. A large chunk of the world will be open for the player to explore right from the bat. Going back to the idea of 'freedom' it's important for me that I don't try and force players down one specific path by cutting areas off until they get a specific power-up or something like in Metroidvania style games. I don't like that, but I DO like the idea of being able to access new areas. My solution? Like everything else, it's to steal ideas from Zelda.
In the original Zelda most of the world is traversable right from the start. Apart from this little section in the West (highlighted in pink). The neat thing is that whilst this part of the world is locked off from you there isn't just one way to reach it. You can enter it from the South, through the Lost Woods (green) if you know the solution to its puzzle (which a nice old woman will tell you for some rupees), OR you can enter further North if you have the ladder to cross the river (red). What this means is that you aren't FORCED to do either. You can go the whole game without needing to go through the Lost Woods, and whilst you will need the ladder for other areas it isn't essential to access the West of Hyrule. I love the idea of having multiple routes to locked off areas but even more than that I love the idea of having a mix of HARD locks (you must have the ladder to cross the river; you must have the key to open the lock) and SOFT locks (you can trial and error your way through the woods, find the solution from the old woman, or get it from a friend, or remember it from an earlier play-through!).
The idea for Seablite is to expand on this idea and use it to create a world that allows players to interact and explore it in a way that they dictate rather than what the game dictates to them.
So suppose we have 3 main areas of the island. We have a central area that is open from the start, with 'locked off' areas to the West and South-East. Each of these 2 areas has at least 1 'hard' lock (red) which would require a key, item or something, and at least 1 'soft' lock (purple) which could be the presence of a particularly tough enemy or a fiendish puzzle. I have also included something borrowed from the Souls series of games: shortcuts (green). These would be gates or obstacles that could only be opened or removed from one side, rewarding players with a shortcut. Seablite will NOT have a fast-travel system but will aim to make back-tracking less tedious through a few different methods.
BACKTRACKING AND CHANGING LANDSCAPES
First and foremost the aforementioned shortcuts will allow the player to journey from each of the 3 sections with relative ease once they are all opened up.
Second, much of the world will change as the player progresses through the game. As the player explores and interacts with the world the landscape will change, thus making the act of back-tracking a little more interesting (I hope!). Let me give you an example!
At the start of the game the island will be a dusty wasteland, with the canals, reservoirs and lakes all dried up. This is both a blessing and a curse: some areas will be open to the player (they can walk across the dried up banks of the canals) whilst others may be inaccessible (say a gate requires a water-wheel to be turned in order to be opened). Upon spending time in this landscape the player accomplishes something and in doing so revitalises the water system of the island. Now the water wheels will turn! The Lakes will refill! Good things! But also, those canals and riverbeds you could walk across are now treacherous waterways that you cannot cross. And as life returns to the area new enemy types will also appear. Slightly LESS good things...
I want the player to have a real impact on the world around them, and I'm hoping that will make the world feel less static. I want to believe that will make traversing through previously explored areas will be a bit more interesting as you now get to see what changes you have made.
(Don't worry either, if player's uncover secret spells they'll have access to everywhere even IF they've been cut off with water or something else.)
If you have any questions or anything don't hesitate to ask!
For what it's worth, I actually DID write that musing I insisted I was going to post. The problem is that I didn't post it. I wanted to mull it over a little, proof-read it and make a couple changes.
But then none of that happened because LIFE happened.
And now I'm back again! I'm currently in the throes of my teacher training (full time PGCE) with little to no time for GameDev, sketchbook doodles, musings on game design or any of that fun stuff...and I feel like I didn't have a lot of time to begin with. Yet, oddly, I'm here jabbering on in a new blog entry. What's the deal with airline food, and more importantly what's the deal with this?
If I've learned anything these past few months it's that teaching is very difficult. And whilst it's easy to point to the misbehaving kids and the paperwork those aren't the things that I'm most concerned about (although they do weigh on this matter), rather the thing I've found most difficult is mainting my passion and enthusiasm for the very subject that I would like to teach: game design and development. My love for creative media has had to take a backseat as I've stuffed my head with learning theories, action research, college office politics, safeguarding and marking...and it affects my teaching.
So how about a little rejuvenation?
New site layout, new colours, new plan of action. I'll post more interesting things soon (for real this time) but I'll start by saying that blog duties will be split between this and my tumblr over at: http://made-by-mustard.tumblr.com/
Things like gamedev posts and musings will be cross-posted, artsy stuff will be on tumblr, and more 'bloggy' stuff will be here....I think. I'll figure out how I want to do this as I go along, I'm sure.
It's nice to be back! See ya all soon.
Just a brief post to touch upon a new musing that I have in the works! (On the off-chance that you thought that I'd already fallen back into a slump and forgotten about my blog)
I promised it would be Zelda free and indeed it is!
So what's it about instead? Well, it's not about one video game exactly but rather an issue with video games as a medium that I have as a developer.
Golly, that sounds serious!
There'll be talk of Aubergine, "early-access", George Harrison, Team Fortress 2, Buddhist principles, and many other non-Zelda things.
I am TRYING to remind myself that these musings are meant to be somewhat rough around the edges, so hopefully I can get out of the planning stage and into actually writing this pretty soon. Hopefully you can expect it over the next few days!
This is something that I've been mulling over for a while now but I'm officially putting it into effect to streamline Aubergine's development process.
There are some mechanics and features that I'd totally love to implement and put into Aubergine but frankly you need to draw a line somewhere or you'll never finish your game. However, Turbo HD Remixes are totally a thing; and you can do them to your own game (just look at Edmund McMillen!).
So, to save me some grief I've decided to create a feature list for what that deluxe edition of Aubergine might add. That might seem a little pre-emptive but I'm thinking of it more as a "THINGS I'M NOT PUTTING IN AUBERGINE, NO MATTER HOW COOL I THINK IT'D BE" list. I REALLY want to finish Aubergine so I'm trying to cut down my workload as much as possible.
Anyhow, here's what I hope to add one day:
- Multiple/Branching Paths (this is something I tried really hard to get working in the last build but to no avail; saving myself a headache and opting to forget about it for the time being)
- Hidden/Alt Bosses (tied into the multiple paths)
- Unlockable/Secret Characters (I have some ideas for them but by cutting them out I'm removing the amount of art, design and balancing work needed)
- Alt Colours (just a nice little bonus; definitely something to save til the end)
- Higher difficulty/Turbo mode (would have to effectively balance two games; let's save some time and just balance the one for now)
I'm back! More after the break. This part is just to say that Aubergine is happening again and that this blog, my twitter and my trello board are the best places to peruze for updates regarding the thing. I've actually just finished the very first version (0.1, whoop whoop!) of Aubergine's game design document for your reading pleasure. You can find that on the trello board I mentioned a sentence or two ago (but you can also click this if you want) or right here on this site on the Aubergine page (which is under Games, but you can also click this; click, click, click!).
For those who want to know more about where I've been and what I'm doing I'll see you after the break!
Small update regardings things! I'm planning a much bigger blog post with a whole bunch of news but for now I just wanted to have something up for anybody who happened to wander this way.
I'm trying to get a bunch of stuff done and one of said things is a bit of a re-design for the site; so if it looks a bit weird right now it's because I'm in the midst of applying a new coat of paint.
If for some reason you're curious about Aubergine or any other projects of mine then be sure to check out my twitter because I've made a few smaller updates there regarding things. Otherwise feel free to wait here for that other blog post I was talking about!
This was something I wanted to touch upon in my last post but that was running long already. So bear with me as I'll be talking a little bit more about Zelda. Next musing will be 100% Zelda free, I promise!
For now I'd like to talk about how two of my favorite games utilize the 'quiet/loud' dynamic to great effect, and how a 'quiet' overworld might be detrimental to the dungeon design in Zelda on Wii-U.
This is the first post in a new series I'm calling 'mustard's musings'. I really want to talk more about game design on this here blog and this is the vehicle I'm going to be using. These pieces will tend to be short-ish and will lack the glossy sheen and thorough editing of my videos (which are totally still happening). As a result these may be a little ramshackle but hopefully I can get my points across!
So to start I'm going to be talking about The Legend of Zelda and how something as simple as an overworld's design can drastically change the tone, pacing and focus of a game.
I'm going to keep this sorta short and sweet, really!
Stuff that's happening/I am doing!
WARNING: The word "shmup" will be repeated to the point of nonsense in this post. I'll use "shooter" here and there for the sake of variety but it really don't break it up enough. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.
Shmups, or "Shoot 'Em Ups" rather, have a long and rich history that can be traced back to the earliest days of video games. Whilst Space War (1962) is often taken to be the first shmup, it's Space Invaders (1978) that really lead to the birth of the genre we recognize today with all of its recognizable conventions and sub-genres. It was, simultaneously, largely responsible for the Golden Age of gaming and the rise of the video arcade.
And indeed, shmups of every sort, be they fixed, on rails, multi-directional or scrolling, have a deep-rooted connection to the arcades. And to examine the genre you are required to examine the place they were all born and raised and the effects the environment had on the product.