Friday, 25 November 2011

Level Design: Second Draft

After working through some top down paper based designs, I began my second draft of the level.

This time around, I aimed to not only create a mock up of how the level will run, but to form an overall "feel" for the level.

To facilitate this, I changed the village around to be nestled in a valley around a large, almost mountain like hill. In the shadows of this hill lies a ruined temple and catacombs, a shanty town built around a river mill, and - much higher up this time around - a fortified manor house, looming down on the peasant shacks.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Finished Level Design Concept

This is the 2nd sketch up of my game level, and is much improved on the first. I still need to add more building interiors and game challenges before getting further feedback.

This is V2 of my village level. The river runs through a valley, around which a shanty town has risen. The mill itself rises up over the hill and has merged with a fortified manor house to create an effective fortress. The only weak point is the mill itself - unprotected by walls for easier access to workers and the river. The other high point of the valley will be dedicated to small farms and shepherding huts, dedicated to feeding the peasants of the village.

Level Design First Draft

This is the first draft of my level, a fortified village built up around a mill. The player is a key soldier in a play by the rebels to take the village from the Empire for its valuable resources and defensible location.

The player must make their way through longhouses and the mill, fighting enemies, in order to assassinate the enemy mage, lowering the Empires magical protection and leaving the village open to attack.

This was a very quick sketch up of the level. The blue denotes the impassable river, red circles indicate combat events and the yellow circle is the assassination target.

This first draft is very linear and not all that interesting. There are a few optional rooms to engage player interest, but other than that the level is very flat. A small plains village would not be as flat as this, rather it would be built around a valley.

The richer areas around the mill would likely be place on the higher ground, with better defensive walls and ordered buildings. The poorer areas would be a far more ragtag affair, likely situated in a bend in the river as a natural defense for those unable to afford fortifications and walls.

With this in mind, I moved onto a second paper draft.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Devil May Cry Mechanics Analysis

Devil May Cry is a third person action adventure. Basic mechanics include running, jumping, puzzle solving, ranged combat and melee combat. Interestingly, DMC started life as Resident Evil 4, but was considered such a departure it was developed into its own IP.

Combat in DMC differs from that of God of War in that enemies are much tougher, but come in smaller amounts. Dante can string together combos using various weapons. Players are encouraged to “juggle” enemies in the air using both sword and gun attacks, and are given a stylishness rating for it. In both games, enemies award health and experience orbs, used to unlock further abilities for the characters.

Finally, Dante has access to a “devil trigger”. A cool down based mode that enhances all his fighting abilities to decimate enemies.

God of War Mechanics Analysis

God of War is a third person action adventure, and can arguably be considered the evolution of the side scrolling beat em up. The game includes basic mechanics such as running, jumping, puzzle solving and combat.

The majority of the game involves combat – Kratos has a light attack, a heavy attack and a special attack button, which can be strung together to create combos and moves used in wiping out the large hordes of enemies that face you.

A further combat mechanic involves slowing the pace slightly. Larger, tougher monsters cannot be killed the usual way – the player must enter into a quick time event and complete a series of button presses, either a combo or a “mash”, and finish of the enemy in a usually graphic and ‘satisfying’ way.

I began to look at Mills and housing that are found in these different environments. This inspired the interiors of my level. I felt that with the mill in particular there was a lot that could be done with a combat-focussed game. The feudal, "poor" feeling of these buidlings was also what made me resolve to add a fortifed manor house, suitable for a lord or baron. I situated this on the highest ground, with the village below it within the natural defenses of both the hills and the bends in the river.

This is how fortified manor houses were built up in history.

Environment analysis.

My level takes place in an interesting environment. The region is rolling and mountainous, but also contains vast plains and freezing tundra. I looked at real life areas including Africa, Mongolia and Russia, amongst other places. I resolved to create and area in which life is harsh, but with an abundance of resources to exploit. In order to make my level less flat and boring I decided to place it within a natural valley.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Game Level Design Group Work

Firstly we looked at other games that featured similar layouts, dimensions and mechanics that the game level design must have.

Level Breakdown

We divided our level into four primary sections, and discussed the features that would be introduced in each, in order to create and maintain a hold on the players interest.

· Main Assembly

The player take control of Baz, a disgruntled elf working in the tyrannical Santa’s toy factory. Having had enough of working all year, he takes his newest toy, a state of the art whip and sets off to escape the factory.

The main assembly is mostly an exercise in timing and learning to run and jump. The player is introduced to using the whip to pull and move inanimate objects. The will encounter conveyor belts, crushing machinery and moving cranes and platforms. The player will use their whip to move industrial lasers to cut through doors and enemies, pull boxes down to form platforms, and swing between platforms.

Finally, the player gains the electric whip power up, which they use to power a generator. This generator powers the end of level elevator, and the player takes it up to the factory roof.

· oRooftops

The rooftops continue in the same vein; however they introduce new mechanics in the form of chimneys. Chimneys can spew out dangerous chemicals, needing careful timing to be passed, or gusts of air which can be used to reach otherwise inaccessible platforms. The consequences of failing are now much higher, as Baz will die if he falls off the roof. The electric whip power ups can be used to charge lightning rods and power up the way forward. At the end of the section, he jumps down a skylight into the next section.

· PPackaging

The player must now make their way through packaging, dodging exploding xmas presents, more complex conveyor belts and angry enemies. The electric whip is needed to power generators, and the player is introduced to the second whip power up – the fire whip. This can be used to burn through wooden obstacles and set off alarms to distract enemies long enough for Baz to sneak past. Fire Alarms also open fire doors, which allows the player to move to the final section of the level, the Loading Bay.

· LLoading Bay

The loading bay is the final section of the level, and includes all of the things found so far, and is the final test before the player is considered to be into the game proper. New enemies and more complex platforming provide an increased challenge. Finally, the player finds and steals Santa’s sleigh, making their escape to LEVEL TWO.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

I also took inspiration from three main sources. The Grimm Fairy Tales, Nursery Rhymes, and myths and tales from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.

The nursery rhymes and Grimm Fairy Tales are excellent starting points, as the characters are all recognisable straight away. The fun begins when you start to subvert the plots and/or exaggerate the characters. It is all too easy to imagine a twisted, emaciated Big Bad Wolf, stalking the player through a claustrophobic forest, or a well forever abandoned due to a haunting by Jack and Jill.

In contrast, the other folk tales are less well known, however they contain far more macabre events and creatures than the stories we know and love, and all of them would make fine additions to a fairy tale game. Highlights include the Czech story of Otesánek - a tree root shaped like a human child, which never stops growing with an insatiable hunger, consuming everything it can - or the Scandinavian jötnar. Trolls and giants of incredible strength.

I will be delving into all these things in more detail in the future, exploring how each one can bring further inspiration and enrich my ideas.

Media Research (Part 1)

Title: Jak and Daxter

Type: Game

Plot Overview: Jak and Daxter are two best friends to must use their platforming skills to collect power cells and eco in a mad quest to save the world from darkness.

Analysis: I studied Jak and Daxter mostly due to its fantastic overall feel. Graphically it was bright and cheery but, due to dark eco corruption, each area still had a definite feeling of menace. This is the sort of graphical style I am looking at – bright and chunky, as befits a fairy tale world of magic and adventure, but also with a dark edge to it – the cautionary moral with a sting in its tail.

Jak and Daxter also used humour brilliantly, with the Daxter sidekick providing a number of excellent puns and quips. This is something I want to include.

Title: Commando

Type: Film

Plot Overview: John Matrix must single handedly kill his way through an army of terrorists to save his daughter.

Analysis: I did not select this film alone, although it is probably the perfect example of such. Many films from the 80s/ early 90s followed a similar format – the lone badass takes on the world and triumphs, usually with a hilarious one liner at the end of each victory. I wanted to capture this feeling with my game idea – ideally the player should believe they are John Matrix, making up their own one liners when the game does not provide.

Title: Duke Nukem Forever

Type: Game

Plot Overview: Duke Nukem is back to kill some aliens and save some babes. Again.

Analysis: I looked at this game, not to get inspiration, but to learn what NOT to do. I want to create an anti hero, full of bad taste and one liners. What I do NOT want to do is create a wholly unlikable character, fill him full of steroids and sexist jokes, and then turn him loose in a world that no longer has room for one dimensional meatheads like Duke.


This is very basic, and still very much a work in progress that is being added to at all times.

EDIT: Need to update and increase image size/quality.

Character Ideas


Description: The protagonist is King Charming’s younger brother. He does not fit the “handsome prince” mould at all. He is squat, balding, and sports a scruffy beard. He was sent away by the king of Everland to lead his armies in the North. The young prince has spent many years holding back the dark forces of the insane Sorcerer besieging the lands. During this time he has honed his combat skills, and is feared as a force to be reckoned with.

An anti-hero, his fondness for combat leads many to question his judgement, but beneath the harsh exterior lies the heart of a young man who yearns to serve his country. And bring home the gold, of course.

Three Word Summary: Loud, Sarcastic, Violent

Inspiration: Monkey (Enslaved). Captain Price (Modern Warfare). John Matrix (Commando).


Description: King Charming. The protagonist’s older brother. Tall and imposing, brusque and impossibly well groomed, the older Prince is a ruthless, cutthroat despot. He tricked his father into sending his brother away, he killed his father and took the throne and he incited a civil war while doing so. It was King Charming that invited in the darkness and began the corruption of Everland. He is not a very nice person at all.

Merciless and hedonistic, the King considers no vice too bizarre, and will stop at nothing to prevent his brother from returning to his kingdom. He is no coward either – stand up to this bully and he will only hit you harder.

Three Word Summary: Ruthless, Vicious, Cunning.

Inspiration: Logan (Fable 3). Revolver Ocelot (Metal Gear Solid). Gustavo Fring (Breaking Bad).

Game Idea

Genre: Fairy Tale.

I chose this genre after much deliberation and research. Although I found exploring the horror genre interesting - particulary a study into which games frighten us the most - it eventually transpired that I simply had more to work with in the Fairy Tale genre. I felt I could work with and subvert existing fairy tales and nursery rhymes, turning them into a believable world filled with both wonders and horrors.

3rd Person Action/Adventure

I settled on this decision after toying with the idea of both a first person exploration based game, and more puzzle oriented "point and click" style adventure. I felt that a first person action adventure will help showcase the world being created, and help players with a sense of immersion. The addition of both puzzles and combat will help create a real sense of urgency - the the world the player has found themselves in is both strange and dangerous.

After a botched battle in the frozen north, the younder brother of Prince Charming, controlled by the player, sounds the retreat, making plans to return to Everland and pass on the grave news.

On his arrival home however, he finds it a much darker place than when he left. His father, the king, is dead - Murdered by Prince Charming. Charming has seized the throne, and is abusing its power to fuel his own hedonistic desires. Civil War is brewing, and the Prince must fight his way through his own homeland in an attempt to bring peace back to Everland.