Posts Tagged ‘ survival-horror

The Genesis of a Survival Horror


On my hard drive as ‘’, 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.


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!)


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…


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.

I got myself a tablet!

Greatly enjoying my new Wacom Bamboo.  It’s white and feels like writing on paper.  You’ll gave to forgive my inexperience with it, though: but anyway, here are a couple of sketches for Amnesia Stories (working title for prequel series.) You can click to enlarge them…

New location...

New location...

Floorman (early sketch)

Floorman (early sketch)

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):

what’s Amnesia all about?

Amnesia is a game I’ve wanted to make for ages… It’s in a pre-production phase and has changed from being a classic point’n’click to more of a Survival Horror title, partly due to the fun we had making Soundless Mountain II, and the fact that I now have a great artist to work with, ‘Lord’ P. Duncan.  The story is essential the same as the point’n’click I imagined, though – it’s about a Japanese man called Aruku re-discovering his identity through dreams and nightmares, in a recurring Groundhog day.  Solving puzzles ‘positively’ will give you a piece of a jigsaw puzzle that is white, solving them ‘negatively’ will give you a red puzzle piece.  When the puzzle is assembled you will regain your memory, although the ending depends on the makeup of your physical jigsaw puzzle.  

It deals with the theme of isolation from society so present in modern Japan (I lived in Tokyo until recently.)  In fact we hope to really tackle some issues about modem life with this game, the distance and loneliness people can feel even when surrounded by others.
Visually we’re using what we call a ‘Moving Mosaic’.  This is our tech term for chunky, grainy, dirty hand-drawn pixels with lots of noise and filtering.  As well as this we have dynamic 3D shadows, so the torchlight will be spectacular!  It still is very self-consciously low-res pixel art, but with a modern twist, scaled up 4 times as in SMII – although it is in a higher resolution than SMII and with no colour restrictions.  We’re using 3D cel-shaded characters, with a slightly Prince of Persia feel to the moment.  There will be a lot of ‘being chased’ in the game, and you’ll have to escape this unkillable antagonist time and again by any means necessary, pulling obstacles in his path, cutting rope bridges etc.  Dreams will range from flying to escaping a filthy prison, and that’s all I can give away at the moment!