Solo Game – Inspiration and Planning

I mentioned in a previous post (my game review about Oxenfree here) that we’re going to start the development of our own practice projects for our Programming class. The idea is that we’ll have some experience for planning and designing our own simple 2D game, keeping in mind its something we’ll be doing for the exam, game jams, future projects, etc. It’s also an idea that we could progressively add onto the project and develop it as time goes on, so it can evolve with our studies.

My vague concept right now is making a game primarily story-driven with basic puzzle-solving mechanics. Dialogue choices will dictate the direction of the story, which means I’ll need to heavily implement activity diagrams to keep track of what’s been done or what choices are made by the player. However, I don’t want it to be a simple visual novel or Choose Your Own Adventure, I want there to be more involvement than that.

graphical_projection_comparison

One thing I’ve been thinking about is perspective in the game. Although we’ll be doing these games in 3D, I’ve been thinking about how to toy with the perspective. I currently have two options: either it’ll be isometric or top-down (oblique projection).

I found it really interesting that one of the first games to utilise an isometric view was Q*Bert back in 1982. There are loads of other examples – I play Monument on my phone and it is an EXTREMELY clever game. It’s a perfect example of a game with a unique puzzle mechanic built straight into the environment. I’m not the best at graphics and drawing to begin with, but there isn’t necessarily any need for complicated artwork if I stick with a Lego-block sort of layout. This stands for both isometric views and top-down (oblique).

I do have a massive love for these styles of games. There’s something more retro about the look, which might be why I’m favouring this over isometric. While I don’t plan on beginning too complicated, I think I could explore sprite sheets and prefab a lot of the game elements to make it easier to build levels. For example, the original Pokemon games from 1996 were simple enough in design, to the point each town looked almost identical and 90% of the NPCs were duplicated throughout.

So, the planning stage will comprise of the following:

  1. make a draft of the start of the story (taking the player through the introduction and the first few levels)
  2. an activity diagram for said story; ie, what choices can be made, how the scene might change based on those choices, what items the player needs for simple puzzle solving, etc.
  3. flesh out the level layout – start with simple game design and work on the the first few levels for now
  4. pin down the perspective I’d like to use and the art-style I’ll be working with

I realise that some of this may seem ambitious, but at the same time I’d like to challenge myself more on the scripting/coding side of things, as well as gain as much practice as I can while the opportunity is there. I’ll post again as I make progress through the above list, likely in the next few days.

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