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


  1. Don't worry about word counts - it'll be as long as it needs to be, lol.

    For the health bar you might want to have a bit more of a distinction between health and ammo. The colours right now suggest that green is the upper parts of his health and red are the lower parts. If there's no divider it's hard to gauge where one starts and the other ends. Experiment with dividers (lines?) or perhaps symbols?

    I like the dashing, be careful when zooming in to dash, you might get a Gear of War type thing where you can't really see what's around so you effectively all you can do is dash in a straight line. The manga lines might be enough to give the sense of speed and action without needing to zoom in to get more personal.

    As for conversations, considered voice actors or how the characters will sound? If that's the case you could free up a lot of room on the screen when viewing cutscenes allowing players to revel more in the graphical aspects of your game. Not all that needs to be said though.

    Combat pic is solid, love the illustration.

    QTE sections are illustrated well and communicate the ideas. Along with necessary text you got yourself a good few pages there!

    Jim already mentioned this, but don't get too indepth with the clothes. A couple examples (1/2 light, 1/2 heavy, 1/2 pocketed? etc) will suffice. Don't worry too much about illustrating everything as well if you feel you don't have time (even though you may feel like you want to draw everything).

    Consume is an interesting mechanic (gross as well), but I wonder if Sheol couldn't just accomplish those feats himself by using the animal's physical traits and incorporating them into himself? This could give Sheol a much wider range of dynamic looks and keeps the focus on the main character? Even though presumably the animals are expendable.

    This would of course depend on how many powers Sheol has though, and if the abilities he gives himself last for a certain amount of time, giving Sheol a new set of temporary powers? Nothing concrete here, just giving you something to consider.

    Overall, great job so far. I'm liking this game idea the more I hear about it.

  2. Top notch stuff John, you have jumped right ahead of the curve and chosen all the best most effective methods of putting an idea across. Storyboards, mock up screens, all advanced high quality GDD material. And you have continued to focus on the Ned/Branka scenario, demonstrating loads of mechanics through one clear example.

    You fell on your feet with the games monotone washed out look :P Let's you use sketches more without them seeming notably less developed than the main artwork.

    In contrast to Kaile, I actually like the regurgitate concept as is, because it has that dark humour pervading the game, and hasn't really been done before. Sheol has no many abilities already, to absorb more might be pushing it... but then again, if the actions the animals are performing get too drawn out or complex, you are arguably being detached from Sheol too long. The animal exploration would have to be basic to work it this way, not that this is a bad thing. Makes it more "one choice" among many.

    I do agree with Kaile that the health/ammo bar needs more definition. Green/red is a common gradient in games in standard health bars. Perhaps green/blue? Or as Kaile says, experiment with gauge/marker visuals. My only worry with this kind of experimental system, is that I hate it in games when I feel I am "killing myself" by using special moves. It is a mechanic seen in some old arcade games, and I never liked it.. of course, as both sides of the candle are regenerative and can be customised so as not to cut into each other, this has more strategy than "special king costs 10 health!". Instead players are balancing their reserves to match their play style. It's original and yeah, I'd say go for it.

    Excellent work John! Just again, watch yourself with all these approaches and angles. Not that it can't be done though! Highly reccomend you research a game called Dues Ex; it offered a very similar variety of choices to players, allowing them to deal with scenarios in an freeform way. Direct combat, stealth, even dialogue and computer hacking, were all options.

  3. Thanks guys! Giving me a lot of stuff to consider. I feel like I may have to split part of my final mark with you two at the end of the year, hehe =P

    I have looked at the health bar and played around a little based on your advice. I agree the gradient did make it confusing and also that the colours may be giving the wrong impression as to what the bar is all about. Saying that though, I played around with different hues and couldn't find any other combination I really liked! I will post my finished design soon.

    It wasn't even until you suggested it that I thought of the consume ability being something that could be a part of Sheol. There is a worry as you say Steve, that taking control of an animal could distance the player from Sheol somewhat. In response, I am thinking about restricting it's usage to some kind of time/energy limit whereby you can only possess an animal for a short period of time before it dies/regains consciousness/Sheol gets tired... or something along those lines. Along with the 'Cry' ability (where Sheol coughs his skeleton at enemies) I hope the Consume ability does convey the macabre humour I'm going for.

    Finally, I only read your replies at like 4am last night, as I was still up working so I went to bed thinking about what you had said. As is often the case when you switch off the lights and your brain goes into overdrive, Kaile's suggestion about voice acting sparked a huge thought process in my head and I think I may have solidified some ideas of what I may want to look at next semester, haha!

    - in basic terms, I've always hated voice acting. 99% of the time it makes me cringe and often I feel like games can almost get away with their B-Movie plots if they tell the story through text rather than awkward 3D models trying to mime some dialogue by an obscure 'actor' who also happens to do the voices for 20 other characters in the games. I'm aware that it's down to budget restrictions and it's still an ongoing debate as to wether games are 'up to it' yet etc. and it's not that I think developers shouldn't experiment.

    My feelings about creating an 'experience' wether it be a movie, a song, a book or a game are that it can sometimes be what you deny, the player(/reader/listener/viewer) that can make the difference.

    Zelda has always just used text for dialogue and the characters commonly make expressive 'noises' to convey their mood as they speak. For me, this is giving the player just enough to feed the imagination and allow it to fill in the gaps as to what that character may actually sound like. And this way, the experience becomes more personal to the individual. Similarly, most NPC's in Fallout or Oblivion will be involved in one quest where you will learn a little about their lives. Again, this helps to 'fill-out' the world as a whole because your imagination builds their personalities beyond that of what the developers have created and believes that once you have left those characters, they continue to exist.

    I don't know if this all makes sense - kind of a train of thought here but I want to write a full blog page to explain and explore what I really mean. And I have like a million other examples! Something along the lines of creating very personal experiences by offering a small amount of 'food' for thought. Perhaps allowing the player to craft their own adventures along the way by writing characters stories?

    Anyway - think I'm getting wayyyy ahead of myself!! =S
    Back to Sheol... hehehe

    (Oh, and I haven't had a chance yet, but will definitely look into Deus Ex - may try to borrow it from work. Cheers, man!)