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...