Posts Tagged ‘ Amnesia

The Genesis of a Survival Horror

2004

On my hard drive as ‘mygame.app’, for Mac OS Classic.  The beginnings of a point’n'click adventure around the concept of dream-logic.  Learning to code after 10 years out.

2005-6

Began to develop the editor I use for Lone Survivor (at least, the point’n'click side of it.)  At this time I was re-doing the art in 3D, and the game had a name: Amnesia.  Which as you can guess was never released (although another one was!)

2008

Made Soundless Mountain II for a one-month competition, using my ‘platform engine’, a separate framework.  Getting much more interested in survival horror as a new direction for Amnesia.  Or maybe a hybrid approach…

Began building Amnesia engine 2.0 – a hybrid of platformer and point’n'click engines, all powered by the scripting language.  Initially in XNA, then I reverted to my original plan of using BlitzMax. Began to develop complex lighting treatments, a simpler implementation of which still exists in LS.

It initially looked like this…

Then this…

Then this…

2009

And finally this…

The bedroom has been part of the plan since the start.  I spent a lot of time getting it right, then ended up with something much plainer in the end.

But it was getting too ambitious.  Each treatment more elaborate than the first.  I abandoned Amnesia at that point, and to contain my disappointment, I decided to work on something that was small, silly, manageable*.

Thus was born LONE SURVIVOR.

It was to be one level, one weapon, one enemy, simple survival mechanics.  Everything Amnesia wasn’t.

First three mockups I recently found, probably done on the first day of development.

I’ll share the development images in the next post hopefully.

*SPOILER It didn’t turn out small, silly or manageable.  It turned into Amnesia, but at least I’ve finally made it now.

Another new image. And Demon’s Souls.

Progress Report

This hallway connects the street scene to the bedroom. There will be another similar one upstairs. It’s not finished yet. Work is slow.

Demon’s Souls & Positive Feedback

Now I promised to talk about Demon’s Souls in a previous post. Well, where to begin?

This game is revolutionary.

Most modern titles use what we designers term ‘Negative Feedback’ – this is not what is sounds like. A real-world example of this is a heating system, that pushes itself on when the temperature drops below a threshold. A game example of this, and the clearest I can think of, is the Blue Shell in Mario Kart. Get too far behind and the game attempts to balance itself out by giving you a massive advantage when you’re trailing (Blue Shells almost always get given to the player in last position, never to the leader, and are pretty much unavoidable when as the leader.)

This seems like an intuitive way to keep the play tight and competitive.

A ‘Positive Feeback’ loop specifies the opposite: that the further ahead you are, the better you do, and the further you trail, the worse you do. In the example of the heater, this would mean getting warmer when above the threshold, instead of below it, so in theory the heater would keep heating until it blew up, or never heat up at all.

Demon’s Souls uses this counter-intuitive system through virtually all its mechanics. The primary method being through the loss of souls and ‘downgrade’ to Soul Form when killed (you have half your normal HP). In other words, the game gets harder when you fail.

This shouldn’t work – so why does it?

Stay tuned for the next episode to find out!

Ok, so I lied when I said the room was final…

I can’t write much because I seriously need to beat 4-1 in Demon’s Souls right now. I plan to write at length why I think this game is a revelation, and maybe more regular musings on music, games and movies if people actually read it.

I’m in the middle of busy things at work and in my music… And I don’t have much time to work on Amnesia at the moment – but I’m still using every lunchbreak to do a little painting of the backdrops. So, now I’ve got the street done, I decided to look back at the room again to bring it closer in style.

Without further ado:

I’ll be back with a piece about Demon’s Souls soon.

“You’ll find shards of hardstone past here…”

Geek Out

Here’s a very techy post about the back-end of Amnesia – the hotspot system. If you’re not interested in geeky stuff, look away now:

Work on codebase is progressing nicely now. I can press a key during the game to flick into the hotpspot editor, which is separate from the map / gameobject editor. There I can place hotpots add special conditions to them and their corresponding scripts, which can do anything from say a line of dialogue, to run a complete program. Hotspots can also be attached to gameobjects, in which case the hotspot moves with it, in case I need any special case monsters or pickup items. To save game all I have to do is save copies of all the non-local variables, as well as the position and states of all game objects.

Hotspots can also be characters in which case they have a bunch more parameters and speech tree editors. I can also edit each room’s scripts, one for init, used for making sure each game object is in the right state and playing the right animation, one for each logic loop, to alter things in general play like lighting effects or simply running a timer.

I can now basically write the whole rest of the game from within the game, with nifty things like code highlighting, and even a basic intellisense. The nice thing is if I ever port it all I need to do is re-write the graphic engine, gameobject engine and script parser and the rest of it is data driven.

I still want to add a more intelligent animation system, and a neat editor for it, so you can place animations like cells with unique positions, and add attachment points and specify hitboxes, but overall I’m excited with the rate of progress! Time to iron out the little bugs and begin the long process of content creation.

Factual Update

Thought it was time to collate where I’m up to with all my unfinished games, in order of oldness. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture I’m afraid.

Super Super Ice Balls – the Bubble Bobble clone I’ve written three times. The last time I got really far but put on hold because I wasn’t happy with the art style. I plan to re-do it in a pixel art style most likely.

Trip The multiplayer shooter I’ve been working on since ’91. There have been around ten evolved versions of it over the years. I hope to bring it to a console one day. Just waiting for the right opportunity, and a suitable answer to the one-player mode. Would also like to give it a graphical overhaul soon.

Amnesia A psychological survival adventure. The most personal project I’ve ever undertaken, and hopefully one day in the next year or two it will be a reality. Check my earlier entries for more info, I’m working away at it right now.

iLoveWar My iPhone SRPG. This has been put on hold not because I didn’t like the game, but because I feel it is the right time to make Amnesia. I will definitely finish this one day!

Soul Brother – There’s a feeling of solidity lacking from the game, perhaps in the mechanics, which Stephen Lavelle pointed out to me. My heart sank a little because I knew he was right, I felt it too. There’s nothing ostensibly wrong with the game (I know Dock is not a fan of the non-linear format and perhaps he’s also right), but I’m not really sure how to fix it. It might just come to me!

Painting Pretty Pictures

3 weeks it took to do this piece, the main alleyway in Amnesia’s hubworld. Main reason being I’m crap at drawing – I have to do it by sheer force of will, by throwing enough monkeys at enough typewriters if you will.

But hopefully this sets the art-style for the rest of the game so without further ado, here it is for your viewing pleasure:

In other news, the new Harry Potter was rubbish.

Developments, developments, developments…

So things are progressing a little after a hiatus where I  focussed back on my music career for a while.  I’m liking switching between the two to keep them both fresh.  Only problem is, with a baby on the way and a full-time job it’s very tiring!

Here’s a little image, partly to apologise for pulling the teaser video (I edited that post to say why):

The Players Bedroom

The Player's Bedroom (Click to enlarge)

Anyway, this is my first screen of how I see the player’s room, and the kind of art I’m gonna be using – hopefully not much will change from this look – which is good because it’s taken six years to settle on!  I must have done fifteen versions of this room alone.  The sprite’s likely to change a bit though, as this is just my old one, and my good friend Dock will be doing the new one.

I’m playing with doing hi-res text as the game has a lot of dialogue…  I’m not usually a fan, but I feel it could possibly work here, especially for how much easier it makes dialogue to read? (This screen has been scaled down, it would normally be 1024 across – in fact you can have a look by clicking on the image.)

In other news, Super Street Fighter IV exists!

Amnesia – Teaser Trailer

Edit:
I decided to make this video private for the time being. The main reason is that I don’t think it does justice to the game at this early stage, and so I’m sorry about pulling it. I hope to show something more solid in the coming months. Things are progressing nicely from design to pre-production stage, in fact I’m just about to post a new post about it.

Edit 2: What the hey…

Post mortem of a dead game

Well I never made it to submission for Ludum Dare 15 (I finished that basic game at 1am, but realised I was too tired to package it up.) But I’m really glad I entered as it’s possibly opened up a major door for me…

It’s very close to what I had in mind for my first chapter of Amnesia Stories, the ‘prequels’ to Amnesia, a game I may never get round to making. In fact, the boy looks like a young Yuuki, the main character, and so this may well become the first chapter of said prequels. I think I’ve got something a little special, atmosphere-wise, and it’s a great template for the guaging exactly how long it would take to put a scenario together for AS.

So if you’re interested in 2D survival horror, keep an eye on this blog in the coming months, as there may be goodness contained herein!

Ludum Dare 15 – Untitled Cave Game

The idea is to find your way out of the cave, your only weapon being the torch you’re carrying. I don’t want to give away the story yet, but I think it’s quite interesting, an based on an idea I had over 15 years ago!

1 day left and I still haven’t written a line of code. Going great!

For Ludum Dare, the 48-hour game compo.