Game Design From Outer Space

Heading towards the end of the Bosch Art Game competition, we evaluate our prototype, sharing with you the good stuff, the problems and the happy accidents.

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Zwan: A World Is Growing

So, we’re almost there. Less than a month to go, and our prototype is almost ready (don’t know what I’m writing about? Check out the Zwan project page to get up to date).

Right now we have put up a nice environment, which decays when the swan loses energy, and we have some pretty basic interactions working. Basically, creatures roam some zones of the world, and then attack you when you get in sight. I especially love the giraffe, which somehow feels really alive.

We had a bit of a problem (actually, LOTS of problems) with the fish school, though. Basically we wanted to have this school of fishes flying through the world and disturbing you, just by interfering with your flight. Unfortunately the swarm algorithm is still clumsy at best, the fishes sometimes rotate in weird ways, and they cannot reach a point with the precision we need. Right now we are evaluating if we should simply use a waypoint system and have the fishes roam the skies of our game in a scripted way. We’ll see.

Flying through the world

Don’t try to pick those berries!

We have closed parts of the world, so you can reach other zones only when the world itself decays. It’s a good way to direct your exploration and to let enjoy a more complex and interesting world throughout your journey. We really want you to feel like you’re in one of Bosch’s works.

As for our little helm and beak guy, now he patrols here and there (we used a pretty simple waypoint system) and he tries to kick you with a bizarre jump when you’re near. Originally he should pick you with the beak, but almost by chance we stumbled on this behavior. And it convinced us to the point that we have left it in the game. Neat! The fact that sometimes coding errors or bug can open up new possibilities is so true!

Generally the world is becoming more and more complex and we’re starting to add some human elements to it. You will be able to see creepy human heads and limbs and other bizarre stuff. Remember: the entire point of the game is to explore and enjoy the world.

The flute demon

The particle system is temporary, but he’s still quite dangerous

Oh, and we introduced a new, neat element: now, when the world decays, the camera gets closer and closer to the swan, making the sense of tension grow more and more. We love this, it’s such a small change, but we feel it gives a lot to the game.

On the other side, we still have too few hazards and the world, right now, still feels a bit dull. Obviously, being this a prototype meant to show some basic interactions this shouldn’t be much of a problem. But we can work a little bit more to try to mimic better the final experience we have in mind. So we’re reviewing come objects and try to think a bit more about them and about how we can add some new interactions.

All in all we’re pretty excited about how the prototype is coming up, and hope to be able to reveal it soon! In the meanwhile, you can watch the teaser of the finalists showcase which will be held in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Netherlands), October 10-12. We hope to see some of you there!