Development Blog – Week 8

Week 8 started off with a very successful half-semester presentation and only continued to get better from there!

All the functionality for Chapter 1 is in! Now that it’s all built, it will be a matter of refining and playtesting which there is plenty of to do. However, it’s great to see all of our hard work crystalizing.

There were some interesting decisions made as the latter part of Chapter 1 was being worked on. For instance, our artist took a lot of thought into the process of creating the particular chat bubbles for Alice and Brad:

While this could have easily been a “throwaway” choice and go with a boilerplate iOS or Android layout, that was not in the cards. While Alice’s chat bubble is framed around those standard mobile conventions, it sticks to the “grounded” color palette we’ve established throughout the experience. Brad’s chat bubble, on the other hand, isn’t as solid. The color palette certainly echoes the digital nature of Brad, but the “pixels” (and lack thereof) are what make it shine. While this also serves to amplify Brad’s digitalness, it also exemplifies the broken nature of the digital world as the chat bubble is missing portions. Choices like this serve to amplify the experience overall as well as exemplify the world and tone we are going for.

With the programming team finishing up the implementation for Chapter 1 and addressing some newfound bugs, it was time to address the next chapter of content as we went into the second half of the semester.

Chapter 2

We thought of a handful of game development concepts that could work as chapters, with coding/programming concepts as the foundation for Chapter 1. For Chapter 2, we decided to go with texturing. While this sounded simple in theory, there were a lot of questions to consider and address when linking this concept into our digital world and the experience as a whole:

  1. What does “applying a texture” actually mean in this world?
  2. Should Chapter 2 be intrinsically connected to Chapter 1 or should we set off for new ground?
  3. Can we push for further application of the RICS framework into this chapter given the heavy focus on art?

Our design team struggled with these questions leading up to this week. There was a lot to consider and even more to process. An early concept was that changing a texture would change the physical properties of an object. For example, Alice cannot walk up an icy hill, but changing the hill’s texture to earth or gravel corrects this problem. While this allowed for a down-to-earth approach in how we showcased textures in this experience, it also was very close to the logical mindset of Chapter 1. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing at the beginning, but with the advice given to us to “make Chapter 2 it’s own” and “don’t be afraid to take risks”, we wanted to push ourselves and try something new while still maintaining the heartbeat of the experience.

To this end, we looked for an aforementioned “grounded approach” to how we showcase ideas while attempting to think more about the RICS framework in how we implement them. With this in mind, more brainstorming occurred.

A question that came up during brainstorming is “where would the player actually get a choice of textures from?” After some vital meetings between art and design, we realized that an art gallery would make sense since, well, that’s “where art lives”. The above references were grabbed the look at how art in galleries is displayed, how different sized frames are positioned near each other, and how galleries can have interesting vanishing and focal points for future camera angles.

With a hub for gathering numerous textures, the idea became what the purpose of textures is in this world? For that answer, we thought back to the world itself and the challenges it was facing in our experience. With the concept of corruption and destruction being ingrained in the narrative, we leaned on it as much as we could. To that end it made sense that if objects in the world are corrupted, perhaps they would be husks of their former selves. In short, giving an object a texture is giving it a personality, a feeling, and ultimately a life.

Much like how the player is using parts of the world (Code Blocks) in Chapter 1 to take strides in fixing it, applying textures to the world in Chapter 2 will be breathing new life into it.

With concepts such as “applying textures”, “breathing life into the world” and “making the world your own” in our minds, we set out to construct a wireframe for how this Chapter would flow. The first draft of Chapter 2’s wireframe was completed this week!

The design team also thought about how we can push this idea of “making the world your own” further, especially given the “Create” portion of the RICS framework. While being able to choose a texture and apply it to an object is a form of customization, can we take it further? Can we customize the textures we’re using?

Texture Editor mock-up

While obviously still in the design phase, the idea of a Texture Editor proved too enticing to ignore right now. We decided to have textures be simple in nature, echoing gift-wrap instead of swatches of water, grass, etc. to make the artistic yet universal in their usage. Our editor mock-up also has some noteworthy attributes. While the color wheel to the right of the editing section would resemble one seen in Paint or Photoshop, selecting your chosen color does not automatically apply it to the Primary or Secondary color sections seen below the editing section. Instead, the color wheel acts as a “hex code encyclopedia” for the player to then enter into the aforementioned Primary and Secondary color sections. While adding another step to the process, we believe that it will reinforce the connections between art and tech in a practical way.

Another design idea that came to light revolves around the “S” in RICS; Share. If the player goes through the act of creating and customizing a landscape, why shouldn’t they be able to show it off? While chalking this up to saying “well, the player could simply press Alt+PrintScreen” make sense, we wanted to imbue the idea of saving and then sharing your work further. While also still in the design phase, having some kind of screen capture functionality built into the experience would push the concept further. While this idea makes sense for a PC build to store the captured image locally, playtesting this concept utilizing a WebGL build might prove difficult.

In short, Week 8 was filled with high moments ranging from the Half Semester Presentation to Chapter 1’s completed functionality to diving headfirst into Chapter 2. With so much learned already and the desire to push ourselves further and take risks, we’re excited on where the next weeks will take us!