dinsdag 21 april 2015

Spacestation design

The final design for the spacestation. My small gameplay demo will take place within this flying spacehulk

Creating a demo

I'm creating a scene of my game. It's one of the later stages of the story. I started the day with a little pencil sketch of the spacestation where the players need to go to.

donderdag 16 april 2015

Practising space vistas

A big part of my game will take place in space. (rhymes)
So I might as well practise a bit before going into production.

Also. Johan Terink, a former colleague of mine is helping me with some html programming. We just made a very small prototype to see which interface works best.

Wrapping up research

So weeks left untill a very important green light presentation. Might as well start wrapping up my research. I'm going to give a quick summary about all sources and books that where an influence or an inspiration for my project.


Framed ink by Marcos Mateu-Mestre
A book that goes over composition and storytelling with images. I learned a lot from this book.
I talked about this in the beginning of my research phase.

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
A theory book about the history and the art of comics. Written as a comic. So not only very usefull but also fun to read. The most important thing I learned from this book is Closure. The space between pictures.

Reinventing Comics by Scott McCloud
Not As usefull to me as his first book but defintely an interesting perspective on the future of comic books.

Dream worlds by Hans Bacher
As a painter for Disney Hans Bacher has an incredible knowledge of storytelling with images. He shares his experiences in this book. A good read!  

Color and Light by James Gurney
The artist behind Dinotopia shares his knowledge of color and light in an easy to read and interesting way. He talks about how light behaves and how colors act in the real world. A tough subject but very useful!

A bunch of other artbooks which happened to be in my room.
I like to collect artbooks of games and movies. Not only are the images pretty, those books give a great insight on the design pipeline in the game and filmindustry.


The Yawhg. 
 A multiplayer storytelling game. I got the idea for my project by playing this game. I wrote a small article about it in the beginning stages of my project. 

Telltale Games
The walking dead, Game of thrones, The wolf among us. Games that use the same succesfull format. Single player rpg's where choices affect the storyline. Just like in my game. 

Pen and Paper roleplaying games.
Games like The one Ring, Pathfinder and mutants and masterminds. Choices are made individually or as a team and a throw of the dice decides the outcome of situations. One of my hobbies and some mechanics proved very useful to me.



Guardians of the Galaxy
An inspiration to me because of the look and feel and the overall design of the movie. Colourful space vistas and crowded cities. Two things I really love. I looked at their design process to use for my own project. 
The Lego Movie
The story element was important for me here. Especially the switch to the real world near the ending of the film. 

The Matrix
The Matrix shows two worlds next to eachother. Things in the real world affect the fantasy world (the matrix) An idea I used for my project. 

Paultje en de draak
A short animated film about a kid battling his illness in a fantasy world. Just like my protagonists are doing. 

That's it for a short summary. I talked about most of the sources in previous posts. 
I'm of to write some more game mechanics and puzzles for my game! 

dinsdag 14 april 2015


About my interface. I have been trying out some formats and ratios. I'll probably go for 1080p resolution paintings. But I also need to describe those paintings and give players choices. The main point is that the text must not interfere with the images. So I decided to put the text in the top right corner.
People read from left to right so they will probably look at the image first and then at the text. And as I said. The textbox can't interfere too much with the important parts of the paintings. But painting and text have to interact with eachother somehow so I have to keep the text box in mind when I make the paintings. There shouldn't be important information on the spot where the textbox is. I have to keep that in mind when I make the composition for the paintings.

An example below

as you can see all the important stuff is happening outside of the text box. I have to keep in mind that the text needs to be readable for all players but in the end the game is about the artworks and players make choices based on what they see so the textbox shouldn't be too dominant. I think the composition above works well. Because according to the golden ratio, the focal point should be on or near one of those four intersections. The place where the textbox is is usually an empty space or a space supporting the focal point. So no vital stuff happening there. If I use those composition rules with my paintings the textbook will never interfere with the rest of the painting. The painting below is showing the Mri machine, the most important part of he painting, placed on one of the four intersections.

Some actual test shots of the game coming soon.
And to make things clear, you can't walk through the paintings. The paintings are describing the situation and players can react on that and give their own interpretation to the story, like in comic books.

Talking to people.

Last week I had two appointments. One with Jelle van Doorne, a game designer who graduated last year and with Keoken Interactive the company I did an internship with. I wanted to talk to these people about my tools, my story and gameplay.

I did my presentation to both Jelle and Keoken and they were pretty positive.
I'll try to summarize their feedback:

About the platform. Unity or Twine

Jelle suggested Unity because the programm is more versatile and in Unity I'm able to implement a score system. Where you go to a scene based on a score instead of only the choices you make. That way it's easier to incorporate more gameplay possibilities.

The guys at Keoken on the other hand suggested to use Twine. Because the story and the art are the most important thing in this game. A platform like twine is easy to easy with decent endresults. They thought that for a game prototype, Twine would be ideal.

The story part seems alright according to the people I talked to. It's just a matter of making the gameplay interesting they say. And I couldn't agree more. That's why I'm going to make some small playtests this week to play next week. Those tests would probably be small parts of my game without the artwork. Because artwork is really a production thing and takes too much time for a small test. Just to test if some situations are interesting and if players are interacting with eachother to make the choices.
As I said before choices the players make are either made individual or as a group. Making choices would be the core mechanic but I don't want to make a movie where the players just click and look at images. I want them to interact with the game and with eachother. So I have to come up with some interesting situations where I can focus on these player interactions.

About the world itself. We talked about what the world should look like and we agreed on a big thing. Since the heroes are actually children in a hospital the fantasy world shouldn't be too complicated. Simple forms en simple text. No swearing and foul language for example. And Doctors would probably speak in an incomprehensible language because children don't understand medical terms.

They also suggested that when writing the story I should come up with the end first. At this moment I have most of the situations, characters and locations in mind but the end is what it's all about. It's the climax. And there should be different endings.
The end game so far is that the players find out that they are actually in a hospital and were making up the fantasy world the whole time. The rest of the game leads up to that endgame. I think there should be different endings but we'll see how that goes.

So I'm off to write some small tests. I hope I cna come up with some nice small playtests for next week.

donderdag 9 april 2015

Possible Locations

So for my gamestory I'm going to need locations and characters. I already told about the general things that should be happening in my game.
The heroes are off to their goal but underway they are being obstructed by things happening in the real world. (surgery, family visit, dinner etc.)

I can build my locations around this idea.

So a starting point for the players would be the location where they get their spaceship and their assignment. Probably taking place in a huge office building in a city. The office where Crohner is would probably be very similar to a doctor's office.
So the city with the big office building.

The colors would be cold and a little bit hostile and intimidating.

Second we're going to need the interior of the spaceship. This is where the players spent the most time navigating and talking to eachother.

 The universe is also a location in itself. The players will be travelling from location to location through the beautifull quietness of space. Much like they do in the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy. But at less improbable speed.

There will be a point when the players are hungry and the ship is out of fuel.
Therefor they will be visiting a near planet with a nice and cosy spacebar.

In the restaurant they will find out that they get hospitalfood instead of what they ordered. A visual clue for this world being a fantasy world.

From here on things get worse. The heroes get more and more clues of them being in a hospital. The doctor's are also after them, trying to take the heroes to their homeplanet. (in reality they need to undergo surgery or examination) They ultimately succeed to take over the player's ship.

That brings us to the homeworld of the bad guys, the doctors. A cold planet with big intimidating square buildings.

In the end the heroes will find out that the doctor's were only trying to help them. And that Crohner, their boss is actually the bad guy. (he is a manifestation of their illness)

Other locations based on the hospitalroom could be:

Jungles (based on plants in childrens room)
Abstract worlds based on children's drawings
Big oceans based on the ripple's in the children's bedsheets.

Still working on a more detailed version of the story.


woensdag 8 april 2015

Story Elements

After browsing some websites for help I made a short list of the elements in my story.
So of course a story needs to be built uit of something. There has to be some kind of structure about it.

The first thing I tried to do is to come up with a premise.

I did that by asking myself these questions.

Who is the protagonist?
The children in the hospital are the heroes. Space travellers, travelling through the depths of space searching for freedom and fortune. 

 What is the situation? What is the hero’s personal condition at the beginning? How will that 
condition be changed, for better or worse, by the hero himself or by the antagonistic force?
The Heroes are under contract from a big syndicate lead by a mysterious man called crohner. They are to discover something in a vault. They're free to go when they find it. Crohnar however tries to prevent this by sending his men to capture the heroes.

 What is the protagonist’s objective? At the beginning, what do the heroes want? What moral (or immoral) choices will they have to make in their attempt to gain that objective?
The heroes are to find the treasure in order to be free with a big reward. In the real world it would be to leave the hospital. In order to leave the hospital they have to undergo some things that seem negative and scary at first. Things like surgery, medicine and examination. To the heroes this seems like a bad thing. And the bad guys turn out to be the good guys after all. So the heroes are after freedom and adventure. And in order to get what they want they have to face some inevitable things.

Who is the opponent? Who or what stands in the way of the heroes achieving their objective?
What will be the disaster? What misfortune will befall the hero as the result of her attempts to achieve her objective?
The opponents or antegonists for the heroes are the doctors in this case. The heroes don't see that the doctors are only trying to help them in the real world. The heroes will be captured by the "bad" guys because they need to undergo examination or surgery in the real world. The players are pulled out of the world into reality. Another enemy can be a manifestation of their illness. Crohner in this case. Crohner is a manifestation of Crohns disease and is a crime lord. It seems like Crohner wants to help the heroes because he sees the bad guys (medical staff) as the enemy. In the end Crohner is the bad guy and the doctors helped the heroes overcome or stabilize their disease. A disaster could be one of the heroes being taken away by the bad guys. Resulting in the heroes being seperated. (in the real world one of the kids needs to undergo surgery)

What’s the conflict? What conflict will result from the hero’s reaction to the disaster? And what is the logical flow of cause and effect that will allow this conflict to continue throughout the story?
The bad guys will always be after the players. But in reality they are only trying to help them. This is an ongoing situation showing how intimidating the situation in the hospital is. On their adventure the heroes are being interupted all the time. Dinner time for example. Or parents visiting, or examination by the doctors.

I have to use these elements and build a story out of it. So to summarize it.

The heroes are on a journey in their ship (their room in the hospital), looking for freedom and adventure. Everything in their universe is based on what the children see in the hospital. They have to find some kind of treasure for a man named Crohner (not sure about this) On their way they come across various locations and aliens. (more on that in the next post) The bad guys (the medical staff in the hospital) are trying to stop the heroes from reaching their goals. But in the end it seems that the only way to reach their goals is to do what the bad guys want. And not what Crohner wants. Crohner is actually a personification for their illness. The bad guys are actually the medical staff in the hospital. Each entity has their own form language.

This is what I have now. Now it's on to find some cool locations for the players to travel to that can also be linked back to the real world. 

dinsdag 7 april 2015


So about this presentation. The main feedback from my teachers was about a few things.

Story. What do you want to tell with this story?
Check. I'm working on a storyline as we speak! They suggested I used a premade storyline or structure. I'm looking at nice structures with which I can make a story so I don't have to make anything from scratch.

They also asked. Do we need the real world? Do we need to switch between worlds?
I already talked about that in my previous post. Their comments made me think about it. And I'll probably go with a story that confronts the player with the real world in the end.

How can I give that extra layer to my images? 
I also talked about that a few posts before this one. It's either Animated Gifs or layered paintings with a parallax movement.

What will the interaction be like?
Basicly 3 players are faced with situation and they can make choices individually and as a group. Each choice affects the world and the other players. I hope to make people interact with eachother outside of the screen. The writing has to be humorous and good to do this.
The interaction so far doesn't seem like much but when done correctly text and images can make players interact with eachother.

There are quite a lot of games that face people with choices. But they are mostly single player games like The wolf among us. I want to use mechanics from roleplaying games like dungeons and dragons where players can make decisions individually or as a group.

My game will be very similar  to a Gamebook but for multiple players. I think that describes my game in the most accurate way. The game tells a story to the players through text and art and the players can alter the story by making decisions that affect the world and it's inhabitants.

So how am I going to create this story? More on that in the next post.

The red pill or the blue pill?

Well. Last week was presentation time. We had to show our research process and our general ideas about our graduation project.
My presentation went pretty well. I had a lot of drawings and paintings to show.

I told about my idea about the children in a hospital creating their own science fiction world.
More about the feedback later.

The main question for me at the moment is. Do I want to face the players with the fact that they are in a hospital at the beginning? Or rather at the end as some kind of climax. The idea would be to give the players a lot of hints about them being in a hospital, without actually showing it to them.

I can go for a middle road by switching to the hospital world in the middle stage of the game.
In for example the matrix. The fact that there are two worlds is being shown to the audience in the beginning of the movie. In the rest of the story the scenes switch between the matrix and the real world.
The audience gets a visual que when things are transitioning from the real world to the matrix. Most of the time they do that by plugging people in to the matrix. It's also very clear for the audience where they are because rules are either bent or broken in the matrix. But before Morpheus gives Neo a choice the Matrix seems like the only world. But everything changes when Neo picks the red pill.
Another story with a fantasy and a real world is the Lego Movie. Entirely different from the matrix, The lego movie takes place in the fantasy world and the audience only gets to see the real world near the end of the movie. However, there are a lot of hints for the audience that there is actually a real world. For example the kraggle. A glue tube that doesn't really belong in a Lego world. This is very relevant for my own story, as I want to give the players and audience some clues and hints by basing everything there is in the fantasy world to the real world. The audience should know there is something wrong and the world they play in might not actually be the real world.

My story will probably a bit more like the lego movie. Giving the audience some hints and clues but not showing the "real" world untill the end of the game. I still need to talk to some people about that though. Get some other insights apart from my own vision.

So to summarize:

Switch between worlds troughout the game? Or. Let the players stay in the fantasy world and showing them the real hospital world near the end of the game. As some kind of climax.

Some Dilemmas

I talked about dilemma's in the early stages of my graduation project. Tough choices affecting the world and the players in the game.

Now I have to make some tough choices about my game. After the last presentation I received some feedback and some questions. I'll go into that a little bit more later.

First I need to answer a few questions, and I'll probably need some help for that.

question 1: 

Will my game be made in Unity 3D or in Twine?
I talked about both platforms. Twine requires almost no programming skills but is kind off limited when it comes to images.

Unity is a more versatile platform but I'll probably need a decent programmer to help me with that.
To answer this question I'm going to talk to Remco Dazelaar. A former internship collegue of mine. He's a unity guru so he probably has some answers!

question 2:

About Images. My first idea was to create Gif's for each situation. But that will probably eat a lot Twine's power. I'm not even sure if twine can handle so much Gif's. As there will probably be 50 or more unique gif's in this game. Another option is to create camera movement in Unity by layering my images in the Unity 2D engine. I'll need to make sure to paint my scenes in different layers. Seperating Foreground, middleground and background. That will probably look pretty cool. I've actually done it before in a previous project.

This is the painting I used for the camera movement. 

The trick is to make a 2D painting look like a 3D environment. This can be done by as I said, by seperating foreground, middleground and background. A virtual camera can then be used to suggest movement.

I already posted some examples for the Gif's I think they would both look cool but I haven't made a decision yet. I guess it all depends on whether I'm going to use twine or unity.

More on that later.