Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Somehow I have unintentionally cast James Hetfield as the lead protagonist in my GDD?!
Well, James Hetfield spliced with a Gorilla...

In brief, he is the only other character in Kold with abilities which (almost) match Sheol's. And he too, is an outsider with no frame of reference as to where he came from or why he's there. This guy (nameless as of yet) has been 'awake' a little longer than Sheol and being somewhat older, has kind of taken on the role of town Sheriff, policing the area na d protecting from the Departed. I won't spoil my story idea just yet, but the two are linked in some way.

Additionally, here is a mock up screen of the 'Sustenance Gauge' or Health/Ammo meter used in the game and it's brief description.

Health & Ammunition monitor

All of Sheol's abilities are mutations of his own body. The Rifle, the Bio-Tool, the Cry and Consume are Sheol's body's natural adaptations to overcome obstacles in his environment. The ammunition used for particular attacks all comes from the same resource - him. Obviously during combat and occasionally through other accident's Sheol will also take physical damage and once again, his bodily resources are channelled to heal his injuries. These resources are known as 'Sustenance'.

Sheol's Sustenance is measured on a gauge which is divided into two sections:

The RED area measures the amount of sustenance distributed to HEALTH.

The GREEN area measures the amount of sustenance distributed to AMMUNITION.

By pressing the 'BACK' button, the player can pause the game and bring up the Sustenance Distribution Screen. Here they can adjust a slider attached to the gauge using the left analogue stick. Moving the slider to the left will increase the amount of sustenance devoted to ammunition while decreasing the amount devoted to health and vice versa.

This way, the player can manage Sheol's bodily resources and distribute them to which ever area they deem most important at any given moment. For example; if the player finds themselves taking a lot of damage from enemies, they can pause the game and distribute more sustenance to health in order to prevent Sheol from being killed. Alternatively, if they find that they have the upper hand in battle but need powerful attacks to take down an enemy, they can distribute more sustenance to ammunition.

Obviously, while each extreme has it's benefits, it also has its downfalls so the player will have to be careful to fine-tune Sheol's sustenance in order to meet their current needs.

The total amount of sustenance comes from food and rest. As Sheol takes damage and/or uses up ammunition, his total amount of sustenance will decrease and the sustenance gauge will reduce in size to convey this. He can replenish his sustenance at any time by sleeping in an empty bed or by eating small animals or fallen enemies. Sleeping will replenish the gauge to 100% however different animals will replenish the gauge in small chunks of various amounts.

(NOTE: if Sheol has a backpack, he can carry dead animals inside and eat them later on by selecting them from his inventory)

The bar will only appear on-screen during normal gameplay either when Sheol takes damage or when he is firing a weapon. It will remain on screen for 30 seconds prior to that, after which time, it will fade away. The on-screen representation of it will be a smaller, less obtrusive design showing simply the two colours and their percentages, horizontally along the bottom of the screen.

Finally - just an idea I had, hehe.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


OK this is just gonna be a quick one.

No looong text, I promise =)

I've been doing various bits and pieces here and there towards the GDD and I though I would just post a few sketches to show how my ideas are progressing. First off are some examples of camera angles.

Standard view.

A quick explanation of the coloured bar on the left -

As all Sheol's abilities are natural mutations, they are all fueled by the same resource - his body. Therefore I have created a standard health/ammo bar (Green = Health/Red = Ammo). At any point during the game, the player will be able to access this bar via the 'back' button (360) and move slider up or down to distribute the resources between these two elements. So for example, you could have the bar fully Green if you are in a defensive mode, or fully Red if you want to attack. The bar as a whole will be depleted if Sheol takes damage and as he uses ammo. The bar can be replenished by eating wild animals or fallen enemies and by sleeping.

Sprinting - the camera zooms in slightly and there are some nice comic-book speed lines and blurring to emphasise the change in speed.

Conversations - the camera will move to incorporate both Sheol, the NPC and allow room on screen for written text. The text boxes will be 'context-sensitive', changing in shape and form in reaction to what is being said within them along with the font which adapts to suit the character who is speaking.

Combat - When targeting an enemy, the camera will move to view both Sheol and the enemy. Comic book style 'decals' will appear on screen to emphasise the action of certain attacks (in the same vein as the super duper special moves in Street Fighter IV).

Q.T.E's and action sequences - storyboard of possible 'Ned' sequence. As he fires at you, you have to move quickly through the forest overcoming obstacles whilst avoiding his shots.

Possible clothing mechanic - As Sheol's body has mutated, the clothes he wears at the beginning of the day won't fit him anymore so he will be forced to find others by exploring washing lines in peoples yards and raiding wardrobes etc. Clothes will have different effects on play e.g. Heavy coats will slow you down whereas as t-shirts will allow for quicker movement but won't provide the heat that Jackets do, meaning Sheol will lose health more quickly when attacked. Other items of clothing such as bags will allow Sheol to carry extra items. Others still will be needed to complete certain quests e.g. Camouflage for the sniper section of the Ned quest.

Consume ability - Once Sheol has mastered full control of his DNA, he finds that not only can he eat other living matter to re-fuel, but he can 'consume' still living creatures whereby he swallows them and combines some of his DNA with their own and then regurgitates them. Once combined, they become hybrids of Sheol and the animal that they once were. In gameplay terms, this allows you to 'possess' animals and use their unique abilities to explore new areas. On the example image I've shown:

A Chicken - land based creature able to get into small spaces.

Rabbit - able to burrow deeper than Sheol can dig and access new areas.

Crow - able to fly.

Frog - able to swim.

The final image is just a quick sketch of other possible abilities (from left to right):

A mutation which works like a lock-pick.

Items which can be picked up and used in combat (pitch-fork, rifle).

How Sheol interacts with windows.

A possible 'escape' maneuver, used to get out of 'sticky situations'.

Cross-hair ideas.

I've also recently written nearly 2000 words explaining the 'Ned' (now named 'Branka') scenario in full detail, including a new quest option allowing you to consume an animal and after stealthily entering the forest - persuade the other animals living there to all rush Branka at once and kill him off. Brutal!

Apologies for the rough scans but like I say, this was just a quick update!

More soon if all goes to plan! =P

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fear of GDD...

The pressure is on.

Seeing past student's GDD's (especially a certain 3-Book Colossus) has been fairly intimidating. On average, these things usually top 100 pages with ease. We have until mid-December to create one and so far, I can't stop drawing! =P It aint such a bad thing though and it is helping me form stronger ideas as Jim had suggested it would.

Above is another Pic of Sheol and you may notice that he's slightly more 'clothed' than previous drawings. I figured every time Day Zero re-starts, all of Kold's inhabitants will find themselves wearing what they originally had on that morning. Since they have all dramatically changed physically, many of them will find that their clothes are either way too big, or in Sheol's case too small and have torn. Where could you find shoes to fit those claws, eh? Thus, I am thinking of including some kind of appearance customization, although I don't want to just for the sake of it. I can imagine Sheol stealing clothes from washing lines in an attempt to disguise himself, perhaps?


This also ties in with a bit of research I've been doing on character movement. I took a look at 3 contemporary titles on 360 which encompass the kinds of fluidity I'm aiming for. They are Assassin's Creed, Prince of Persia and Wet...

First of all, Altair. The first time I played AC I was blown away, primarily by the smooth animation and the ease of which you could traverse the landscape. It felt good to play and with few complicated button combinations, you could scale a wall, hop across the beams of a collapsed roof and then leap into a hay-pile below. Interestingly in this case, you spend the majority of your time running away - something which I hadn't fully realised when thinking about my project. My only concern was the fact that you have to hold RT to run and then another button to jump and a third to Sprint. Why have to hold a run-button when you spend 99% of the time running anyway??
AC also made me think about outfits when I noticed that Altair's movements are made all the more dramatic by the constant motion of his loose clothing. A free flowing cape or robe of some sort definately enchances the experience.

Prince of Persia was nice... meh. That pretty much sums up my feelings for it. All I had seen previously was the concept art and I have to say I expected the Prince to be this dark, brooding, awesome warrior. And he was a dick. I actually had to turn it off after little more than 15 minutes because he pained me so much. In terms of movement, the wall running was interesting, the combat was noteable but I think the thing I really took away with me was the 'kind-of-cell-shaded-but-not' graphical style. Along with the recent Borderlands, I'm thinking it's a style that if used correctly would suit this world quite well.

And finally Wet. A game that had a lot of potential. With it's Kill Bill-esque heroine and its dynamic slow-mo gunplay the ideas were there, but to me it felt slightly rushed or unfinished. I like the way pulling the trigger during a jump or slide automatically slows things down and allows you more controlled and accurate shots ...but that is exactly where it fails because the analogue settings are SO sensitive, it's near impossible to get a precise aim at anything! Also, the wall-running, climbing element was there, but I found myself constantly jumping away from where I wanted to go, letting go of ledges and getting generally frustrated. The control scheme could definately have done with a polish.

Assassins Creed is without a doubt the closest representation of what I would like 'Again' to achieve. Hopefully, the impending sequel (ACII) will further this too. A fluid, smooth and easy 'free-running'. And a context-sensitive button is the way to go e.g. when standing by a wall - use A to climb it, when standing on a ledge - use A to jump it, when being attacked - use A to dodge/counter. Something that is also used to great effect and was (or may have been) pioneered by Zelda.
Additional games I may take a peek at include Batman: Arkham Asylum, Mirrors Edge and Prototype.

...and other stuff

In the other areas, I have kind of been going off on tangents. I had already preemptively done some plans for camera angles and menu screens among other things (and I will post them when they're more polished) but more recently I have done some paintings of suggested colour palettes and some rough quest ideas.

Here, I did a quick mock up of a village square and then tried to show how it may change visually over the course of the day. At night, the world is a dark inky blue, lit only by the yellow glow emanating from the homes of Kold's residents. As the sun rises, a small amount of snow falls so the morning is white and misty. By afternoon, the snow has begun to melt and the dark eerieness of Kold begins to shine through. As the day draws to it's epic conclusion, the world starts to tear itself apart. It is night but the streets are lit by flashes of lightning and wild fires. Since the game is set in the same place over the course of the very same day, I want to try to give it varying moods as time moves forwards.

This chap's one of the Departed. I haven't named him yet but in my head I've created a whole mission around him which I will now attempt to describe. (let's call him Ned for now) =P

On Day Zero he was a simple hunter. Ned woke up early and took his rifle and his dog into the forest at the foot of a mountain which surrounds his home, to look for deer. He spent most of the day stalking various animals and killing them to bring back to his family for dinner. When the time-loop began, Ned found himself acting out these events over and over again. As 'time' progressed, he evolved to become the ultimate hunter. His sight, hearing and smell developed past the ability of any known predators and his skill with his rifle became totally unmatched. Spending the day entirely alone had severe adverse effects on Ned. His mind became entirely focused on the task at hand and gradually, he forgot about his family and the village and his past. All he knew was hunting. Now he roams the forest silently like a ghost, picking off with ease any intruders who cross his path.
This is a major issue for the 'waking' towns-people who realise that Ned's family are trapped on the other side of the forest. Essentially cut-off from the rest of the village. None of them stand a chance against Ned.

In the game, the villagers explain Ned's tale of woe to Sheol, presenting him with an obstacle that you, the player, may choose to overcome in your own way.
Your options will be so-forth:

1. You may choose to enter the forest alone and try to either eliminate or avoid Ned. Once you approach him, you may attempt to attack, but his heightened senses will mean he will spot you every time and a bullet from his rifle will prove fatal. If you choose to run, he will continue to fire and you will be able to avoid his shot's using QTE's. You must sprint through the trees, using the lance to swing from branches and leap over obstacles in order to reach the other side and contact Ned's family there.

2. You may encourage a small group of villagers to enter the forest as bait (if they die, they know that they will return when the day starts over so it isn't THAT bad), this will rely on speech skill and dialogue choices within conversations with various NPC's. As you enter the forest, Ned will pick off the others allowing you enough time to make a break past him to the other side. Note, that if this method is chosen, the characters who get killed will remain dead until the day is reset.

3. You may train with a rifle of your own (up to a particular skill level, through combat), find an outfit that is camouflaged both in appearance and in smell (through NPC interaction/gathering items) and then silently enter the forest and try to 'snipe' Ned from a distance without him sensing you. This will take the most time and effort to accomplish but will result in a swift solution to the 'Ned problem'.

I want every quest to have multiple routes allowing the player a huge amount of options and experimentation which cover every element of gameplay. I may try to story board these ideas and also hope to post up more soon...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Please make my game =)

Pitch Document

My full pitch document in PDF format. Boy did it take me a while to get this up and working! But it's worth it - you can full screen it and then change the view mode and even browse it like a real book. Whoopee!