Dev Update Sub Pre Alpha v0.001

Good evening and welcome. This week I’ll be taking you on a little journey. We’ll be taking a quick look at some of the concept art the boys have been putting together. Now this is all pre-pre-production. Super early. We haven’t even selected a game to produce as our first yet. We intend to create, or at least prototype, all of the projects that we are frantically designing or scribbling notes for in our free time, which is maybe half a dozen, but that’s a long term plan and obviously likely to change as everything does with time.

Our “grand narrative” as I like to call it, is being written as we speak. I’m taking a particular, and perhaps unusual, approach to designing that game. There has been quite a bit of discussion lately about involving the game writers in the production and design process from an early stage. I couldn’t agree more. If narrative is the cornerstone of your player experience, the crafter of that narrative should be involved in the design process. But I’m taking that a little extreme. I’m letting him write it first. Obviously it won’t be a typical “game script”. It will essentially be a story as you know it, as you would find on a shelf. A novel even perhaps. And it’s being written by a young writer with no game writing experience. He’s aware that it will become a game of course, but he has no concept of what “should” or even “can” be done with a game narrative. He has no preconceived limits. I don’t want him to. I want something pure to start with. Something that tells a story, that has a purpose in telling it. Then we will bend heaven and earth to bring it into a game space in a way that is both true to this original vision and entertaining and interactive. David will of course continue to be involved in the entire process to help us in that goal. I will talk much more on this process when we get further into it’s development.

But while he does that, and gets a first draft of some of the earlier scenes put together for some concept art production, the art duo have been throwing themselves at some concepts for a platformer. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that we would love to make a classic style platformer, reminiscent of the beautiful and fun Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, Mega Man X, Super Metroid, Rayman and many others. All of these completely nailed the control of the game. I don’t mean the controls, as in which buttons were assigned to what action, or the touch interface in the case of the brilliant Rayman Jungle Run, but the feeling of controlling the character. It was smooth, responsive, elegant, empowering. That’s the first key to unlocking a good platformer. A second could be said to be the environments. Great platformers don’t just take you somewhere, they take you many places on the way there. They give you a sense of journey and adventure. A feeling of exploration through constantly shifting scenery. A third key could be said to be the art style, though this clearly ties in strongly with the second key. As our concepts will show, we are perhaps a little torn between two styles. It may not be a massive surprise to see a little DKC influence in one of them, and a little Rayman in the other.

At this stage it is all about experimentation, fun, exploration and listening to our hearts and instincts. Watching out for things that leap out and grab our attention. Slap us in the face and demand to be examined. I do that a lot with the concept work these guys send me. I get lost in them. I still can’t pick a single image that is my favourite. If you can, leave a comment and tell us, we’d love to know what grabs your attention. We are making these games for you after all.

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