Monday, October 6, 2008

41. Still Alive

Okay, that was a long enough gap. The results:

We didn't win.

No surprise there though, to be honest, we were hopeful, which did surprise me. I told my team from the outset that, hey, adventure game. It's fun, but they'll only have a little time to play it, so they won't get too far in, and they won't get the full experience, but let's do it anyway, for _our_ experience.

So we did. And we had fun. In fact, I had an awesome time. I'm really impressed we got along so well, especially in such close quarters and under such a tight deadline, and I'm looking forward to the holidays for more than just the obvious reason.

We did get one award, though: the Most Ambitious Game Design award. Yahtzee himself presented it, and said that the game had beautiful art and music*, so with such praise as that, how can we be upset? And from Yahtzee... We're practically Portal. :P

Just kidding. But it was a wonderful time, and I'm hoping, probably prematurely, that we can go in next year's competition. But we'll see what happens - for now, we all need sleep (I think the average per team member was about 4 hours) and time to rest on our baby-step laurels. And then the hard work begins again.

*A note about the music, and by no means hidden, though we didn't really get a chance to talk to the judges too much (a mistake, in retrospect, but we were all pretty stressed toward the end) - the music, while edited by Katie, actually belongs to a wonderful man called Justin R. Durban. He has most of his songs up, free and available for download, and he's one of my favourite instrumental musicians. You can find more of his songs here.

We'll get some original music done up for the January release, but for now, please know that the music in there is copyright protected, and all praise to Mr. Durban for his composition (and to Katie for editing it so beautifully).

Thus ends the saga of the 48-hour challenge. Are you sad? Well, me too. But check back over the next couple of days - I have a surprise in store for all our dedicated readers (and those who are new, as well).

Until then, thanks for reading, and take care!

40. And When You're Dead I Will Be Still Alive

Behold! Landscapes! These are smaller versions of what we used in the game, all painted by the extraordinary Murry.

This is the room where you first meet Summertime. The lamps are tiny suns, and the walls are made of gold. The star on the floor is what he used to teleport you to his hideaway. He awaits you on the dais, the vaulted ceiling above him rising into darkness. There are mountains visible through the door, underneath a heavy purple sky.

The crossroads directly above the starting area. The obscure signpost is multi-lingual, but not very useful. In the distance, you can see the Triangle Temple, which is so special it doesn't even need a sign.

The Square Temple. Vines have pulled part of it down, and some of the fighting from when the man-eating watermelons came has split the ground along a poorly-constructed fault line, but for the most part it's still standing. The statue on the right is Summertime's symbol - a leafless tree aflame. This is where the first puzzle takes place.

The Diamond Temple. My personal favourite. Home to the muses of this lost civilisation, and beautifully lit and reflective. Of course, it's my favourite for reasons that aren't shown in this image, but I also think the room itself is beautiful. This is the most well-preserved of the three temples, except for the hidden antechamber.

The Triangle Temple. The one that was off in the distance from the crossroads, and home to a very interesting puzzle, the first one I designed. Apart from the Alpha channels somehow deciding they hated us, also the second puzzle Katie and Ian got working. You may have noticed there was no puzzle mentioned in the Diamond Temple - that one wouldn't do compare strings, or something, and so we'll have to try and sort that out another way, once this semester is over.

So those are the backgrounds Murry painted for us. What's that? You want to see the hidden antechamber? Well, I'll tell you one thing...

It's hidden. :)

Play the game, and all (well, most!) should be revealed!

39. While You're Dying I'll Be Still Alive

So, as I said, I'm going to post the character and background art for Helwet and the Starspinner here, right here, exclusively here.

First up are the in-game character portraits drawn and coloured by the very talented Rimon.

This is Hewlet, our protagonist. He was teleported to the unnamed planet by Summertime from where he was floating, somewhere in space. He doesn't talk much, and he rarely gets excited, but he is very curious, and gives names to all the objects he acquires. Why? No one knows... yet.

This is Summertime, the somewhat-lord of the aforementioned unnamed planet. He was once a Starspinner, a creator of galaxies, who came to this planet to witness the life that his stars made possible. Unfortunately, although the indigenous race worshipped him as a god, once they accidentally found his true name they thought it would be a good idea to start carving it on everything. Each time they carved it, it took a little piece of Summertime's soul.

The race has since been wiped out by the arrival of another race, of giant man-eating watermelons, and so Summertime is trapped, unable to leave, his powers dwindling day by day. This is where you come in.

This is Bobby, everyone's favourite character. He's a street-wise bodyguard for the watermelon president (he's from an alternate past where the watermelons had to choose between paisley or chiffon for their princess' wedding gown. I probably don't need to tell you which way Bobby's version went). Anyway, as the story goes, the president was giving his annual policies speech when Bobby noticed a shaft of light headed right for the podium! Selflessly, he pushed the president out of the way, and ended up on Summertime's planet. In a game sense, he acts as the in-inventory exposition tool, but he's mostly just a smart-ass. He may also be from Brooklyn.

And who is this? The Memory of Stone, who will have to remain enigmatic until January.

With all of the above, there are certain things that haven't been revealed. What are Summertime's true motives? What was Hewlet doing, floating in space? Why is Bobby such a policeman stereotype? Believe me, I have the answers, but, for dramatic tension, you must not.

So bear with me, dear reader, and prepare to take a journey to landscapes fresh and new...

38. I Feel Fantastic And I'm Still Alive

Okay, so that's a lie. I write you now from the far other side of the 48-hour challenge, awake and somehow alive, luckily facing a work-free day. I think Murry and Rimon had a lecture to attend at 9am this morning. I also think they're probably still asleep. :)

So, shall I tell you the judges' decision? No, let's wait for a moment... Build the anticipation...

Last night, after everything was over and it was all packed up, Murry, James from Laserback Turtles, Seth from Team Duct Tape and I all went on a jolly jaunt to Yug's place in the valley. We were surprisingly awake, and even managed to drink a little without falling flat on our faces. Yug's place is awesome, a two-story apartment with a massive open-air balcony that overlooks Brunswick Street. I asked if I could set up camp and live there, but he thought I was kidding, so I didn't press the issue. It did mean I had to carry the tent back to the car, though.

So how do we feel, now that it's all over? Tired, of course. Happy, I hope. I think we're all really proud of what we managed to create, not only the concept, but the actual content itself - Murry and Rimon created all of the assets for an entire level, and Katie and Ian almost got the whole thing coded. So congratulations, guys, I think you did an amazing job and I'm looking forward to working with you again.

And that, of course, is the next big piece of news - we're planning on finishing the level over the summer holidays and releasing an updated, new-and-improved version. Truna will be releasing our final build on the website sometime soon, so I'll link it when it's live, but keep an eye out for the next version probably sometime in January.

So - a warning for anyone who does play the game. Some functionality is missing, in the form of one of the puzzles, and a lot of the dialogue is either test dialogue or just completely missing. If you make it to the end, there should also be a screen saying "To be continued..." But everything that's in there works, and mostly what we'll be adding are tweaks. Well, if the engine will co-operate.

And how did we go?

Well, that's...

To be continued...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

37. I'm Doing Science And I'm Still Alive

The 48-Hour Game Making Challenge is officially over. Now all that we're waiting for is the judges' decision and their comments. Hewlet and the Starspinner works, as far as we could tell, and Murry's just putting it onto the judges' computer.

The rush is incredible - before I was so tired I could barely stand, but for the past hour and a half I haven't been able to sit down. I don't remember when or what I last ate, but seeing the game running, working, everything in place - it was a pretty proud moment, and the rest of the team felt it to.

I'm going to go 'enjoy' the sunshine or something.

Now... the wait.

36. Believe Me, I Am Still Alive

So, with less than 2 hours to go, we're on our way to getting the important dialogue and scene changes into place. I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I was in charge, dialogue wouldn't be left until the last minute, but, no, I have betrayed my profession in the hopes of getting puzzle mechanics working.

Rimon and Murry are now undertaking the last fun little things, while Katie and Ian are staring very intently at their screens, which is what I should be doing, too.

Speaking of... no time to blog! I'll write more later!

35. On The People Who Are Still Alive

Yug just gave me an apple! A real apple!

Tiny apple is tiny!