A history of Amnesia

This is my ongoing project I first came up with the story for about six years ago.  I’ve tried and failed to make it many different ways before, most of the reasons came down to having an immense amount of assets to produce.

Version 1: BlitzMax Pure Point’n’Click Adenture

I wrote the full engine for this including a windows GUI for the editor and a script language you could enter with code highlighting etc. The problem was animation… I could do a walk cycle fairly well, and render characters out of poser and use Max for the backgrounds, but the animation was beyond me in Max.  Left it to simmer.


Version 2: XNA Survival Horror

After Soundless Mountain II I hoped I could use some of the apparent popularity of it to launch an indie career with a similarly designed game.  I felt I could adapt Amnesia really well to this style. I had a great like-minded artist to work with, Phil Duncan on monsters and environments, and the mighty Dock (Tumbledrop / Sweatdrop Studios) to help out with portraits.  But I didn’t really know where I was going with it at the time, partly because I still hadn’t fully figured out how it could survive as a survival horror but keep the story in-tact.  But again, it wasn’t so much that but the fact that I felt the need at the time still to make it commercial, and that to me meant writing off a lo-res look we initially mocked up like the one above.  

I learnt XNA and then we decided to use 3D models all because I wanted shadows.  This was at the edge of our skills though (Phil & I certainly as Dock was busy with Tumbledrop – and rightly so!)  Phil’s a great 3D modeler, but not yet that experienced with animation. In the end the prospect seemed too daunting, especially combined with other life pressures.  Put on hold again.

Version 3: Lo-Stress, Lo-Fi BlitzMax Hybrid

I’ve begun again.  I can’t help it. I keep coming back to it even though right now I have a really cool game coming on the iPhone that I really have to finish.

Above is a shot of the new tech I’m using for it – a way of applying a sort of 2D dynamic pixel-lighting. It comes out really organic and it feels more ‘magical’ than doing it by bump/normal-mapping, even if it is quite time consuming.  I keep getting effects I don’t quite expect.

Anyway Phil is excited and has already started putting our main baddie into the new format.  I’m excited too! 

The idea this time is to keep it simple, hence going back to the BlitzMax language.  So I’ll be working on it on and off, and I’m just trying not to consider money or anything like that.

Anyway just thought I’d share the story with you guys, I’ll keep you posted on it…  For now, please enjoy this short video of the new lighting in action (it’s a really poor quality video, I’m afraid):

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  • Comments (7)
  1. avatar

    how many time i do not do what i want to do but do what i dont want to do

  2. avatar
    • superflat
    • July 15th, 2009

    I didn’t drop the first look because I didn’t like it – rather because I don’t have the skill to rig and animate 3D characters… So unfortunately it just wouldn’t have been possible!

    One day I hope to recreate the game in higher resolution, but when it comes down to the choice of a beautiful-looking game that will never be finished, or a stylized one that will, I have to go with the latter.

    The 3D locations you see above will make their way into the new version though, don’t worry!

  3. avatar
    • KYTE
    • June 21st, 2009

    I really like the look of version one. It sort of conjures up thoughts of Goichi Suda and “Killer7”.

  4. avatar

    That 2D shading system looks AWESOME!
    The cost of content is always the bane of producing a large game world.
    Keep things simple, add restraints by CUTTING the ‘FANCY’ and you’ll get something done that WORKS.
    I’m an interface designer, so if you’d like some feedback feel free to ask me.

  5. avatar
    • fullspectrum
    • May 19th, 2009

    ‘The Finisher’ is a good name for a game, maybe I’ll make that my debut game! Once I’ve learned game-maker, that is.

    Seriously though I’m glad this project is still in development, it does make sense to make the most of the work you put in to Soundless Mountain II and use the georgeous, grainy pixelated style.

    Can’t wait til your next game is up for download bro, keep ’em flowing!

  6. avatar
    • superflat
    • May 13th, 2009

    Oh man, I dunno what to say… Thank you so much! That’s the kind of comment that makes all the effort worthwhile. I don’t care if 99% of the internet hates me or my games; if I can touch one person, actually get to them, I have achieved my dreams.

    There is a lot of negativity around indie gaming at the moment, partly IMHO down to the cliquey-ness and different perceptions of what being indie means, and more importantly what is a game. It makes me sad because I currently work in the ‘real’ game industry and feel it’s bogged down by different problems.

    I applaud anyone who can finish a game, no matter how rubbish the end result, as I know how difficult it can be, and have failed many times. This is why I fall in the camp of, if you’ve got nothing nice to say about someone else’s hard work, don’t bother saying anything unless you genuinely feel you can help. Equally, shower praise on those who have managed against all odds to produce something other than a turd!

    We should all share the mantra of ‘keep it simple’. When I have conversations with ‘finishers’, friends of mine who time and again get things done, the common thread is not what extra feature it’s gonna have, but rather the key saving in resources. ‘This one’s gonna use just outlined 3D but with 3 outlines to make it cool’, ‘this one’s gonna be fully rendered but in lo-res black and white’, ‘this one’s only gonna have one character, but lots of animations’. This seems to be the kind of thinking that separates finishers from unfinishers.

    I highly recommend it as usually the games I’ve actually finished have had some kind of proviso in like that. (Not to you personally, Orel, as you yourself are a finisher!)

  7. avatar
    • 0rel
    • May 12th, 2009

    nice work! the last revision of the graphics looks very promising. at first, it seems like it was built out of low-res sprites, but in motion, the 3d lighting adds a lot to the atmosphere, from what i could see… nice.
    out of the three techniques surely the most original, and most feasible i think, cause it will not be compared to all the huge high-end games out there, and shouldn’t be too hard concering asset creation… (although i’d really like the looks of the first one too, but i do see the problems with that one… still a very impressive achievmenet, esp. with the script powered in-game editor!)

    you’re one of bright lights on the indie sky, for me… i just hope you keep doing what you do :), and don’t get overwhelmed by the waves of the upcoming troll storm thanklessly eating up all the new works coming out for free… it’s gonna be hard, i guess… – so, KISS (“keep it simple, stupid!”) is still one of the best rules i keep telling myself over and over again, as well… concentrating on the actual game, not too much on the surface details… but that only after day of undirected searching around here…

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