Friday, February 19, 2010

Game concept document

Like Mick Jagger said, "you can't, always get, what you want". Programming can be very satisfying (for the ego) when conquering new techniques or reaching milestones. At other moments programming can leave you restless in bed with a displeased feeling. I was hoping to finish the skeleton animations this week, but I kept seeing artifacts, missing triangles, and broken legs as if Steven Seagal just went by. Luckily someone on gamedev helped me out a little bit. Did I already say how much I love

I was also distracted by an article from the GPU Gems 3 book, "Light scattering as a post process". One of the effects I certainly want are light shafts. I know how to do it with shadowsmaps & quad slices, but this technique seemed way cheaper and easier to implement. But again, I wasn't pleased. It works, but only for background light such as the skybox & sun. As expected, it doesn't cast correct light shafts either, as the whole effect is just blurry streaks towards a lightpoint. I bet it looks cool when the sun shines through the foliage in a forest (Crysis had this effect), or when being underwater ("God rays"). But for a game that is mostly indoor, it's pretty useless. And not accurate enough to simualate the dusty lightshafts that fall through the apartment or corridor windows.

So, I achieved nothing concrete this week. Being grumpy already, the test-maps Í've seen thousands of times to try stuff like this also looked more ugly than usual. Depressing. I dried my tears and cheered myself up by implementing a cheap but effective motion blur (post processing) at the last moment. Not essential, but a nice addition to make the movement feel smoother anyway. And for a budget price. It still doesn't do motion blur on moving objects though, but that should be easy to add.

But hey! There is some good news as well. I'm making a "Game Concept Document", or whatever such paperwork is called. Anyway, it already contains more than 50 pages japping about gameplay elements, level design and the story. Nice to have such a thing if there ever comes someone with interest for the project. I'm quite excited about the story. The last year I made about six different stories, but each time it would feel "copied" or just not right after a while.

* Here's some advice: don't get blinded by your own enthusiasm. Write down the story. Then wait a few weeks to cool down. Let it read by a friend, and then judge again. Probably you're not that excited anymore. But if you're still in love... then you know you got it.

I would like to share my story, but even though I probably had zero visitors on this blog so far, I'm too keen on it. Every detail is a spoiler, and I don't want EA or others to rape it. Hard to prove this way, but I think it is quite unique. Most horror games contain the default ingredients:
- A lab experiment went terribly wrong, as always. Stupid researchers.
- The final boss is one cool/charming/wisely talking, bad motherfucker
- As a child you was abused / the mysterious youth syndrom.
- You was created by reverse biological engineering; you are your own grandma.
- All the enemies hate you, and want you horribly dead.
- The gates of hell (or dimension Xenoz 43) have been opened
- Open end... for sequel 2, 3, 4 and maybe 5,6,7 and 8.
But NONE of that! The whole game is a 'variant' on a well known existing story... You'll find out which one bit by bit. Things are not always what they seem, and who knows what is best for you? I'm sorry, but I won't give anymore hints.

At a particular day, the factory director said to his wife "Hey, let's make something!". "What my dear?", his wife asked. "I don't know. Maybe something with cars... or cigars. Just something!".

It's important to have a good story and game ideas as a back-up. It drives you into making concrete things, instead of keeping testing around with loose maps. I did a few hobby/amateur game (attempts) in a team in the past, but it would ussually get stuck in this phase. Everyone likes to add ideas, but in the end nothing gets done as nobody knows what to make exactly. Logical, you need a clear goal. So here it is, the holy grail of this project; the game concept document.

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