Grand Overtures

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Well, I didn’t manage to post at all this summer, but my team and I worked a lot to change our game into something we all enjoy over the past three months. None of us really liked the direction we were going before and EAE Day revealed some serious problems with our design that needed some dramatic changes to be fixed. Chief of them all was the fact that most people who playtested the game relied primarily on their vision rather than their hearing to play the game, which is the opposite of what we want. So then we took away the player’s vision entirely, but it proved too frustrating without some kind of direction from the game or someone else. Which led us to the game’s current iteration, which is a 2-player cooperative game where one sighted player leads a blind player through the environment. The blind player can hear invisible monsters and can “shoot” them to reveal them to the sighted player. Once the monsters are visible the sighted player can then take them out. We feel this version is a lot more compelling than the first-person stealth game (Lamb Among Wolves) and it ensures that at least one player will have to rely on the binaural audio to play well. Here’s the gameplay demo footage we showed for our presentation on Tuesday:

With this new direction in gameplay comes a lot of other changes in theme, setting, characters, etc. So on Tuesday I talked with our five artists and together we decided on a fantasy island setting inhabited by┬ásupernatural monsters. For the art style we were inspired by games like RIME and Ori and the Blind Forest which have nature settings with lots of bright colors and a slightly cartoonish style. Today we had our first real sprint planning session (we’ve decided to do one-week sprints for both artists and engineers) and I feel confident in all of the tasks we’ve assigned for next Thursday. As for myself I drew up a one-page design spec of the game as it is now in order to help the team keep a common vision. During our Production III class yesterday, Scott Campbell of Eat Sleep Play told us the merits of small design documents, and I think it’s worth trying. You can view the design spec below.

Razor: Game is a two-player, cooperative, first-person game where a sighted player leads a blind spirit player through a series of challenges using binaural sound cues.

The blind spirit player has the power to reveal invisible monsters and obstacles, enabling the sighted player’s power to interact with or destroy them.

Pitch: A game with a unique binaural audio mechanic

Setting: Magical island inhabited by supernatural monsters

Story: Help the spirit get back her sight from the evil shadow monster things.

Characters: Young female blind spirit. Entity that can see, possibly larger character.

Monsters (creepy but cute, invisible), maybe shadow-like?

Aesthetic:

Colorful, cartoony, beautiful.

Similar to RIME, Ori and the Blind Forest, Firewatch, Gigantic

Levels: Mazes made from natural objects (trees, rocks, stumps, bushes, etc.). Consist of encounters with monsters and maybe simple object puzzles.

Gameplay: Spirit player listens to environment, has some sound cue powers, hears invisible monsters, reveals them with spirit power. Sighted player leads spirit player through environment with sound cues and defeats monsters once they are revealed. Monsters attack the sighted player. Players win when they defeat all the monsters in a level and/or escape through the exit.

In our team meeting with our excecutive producers, Jose Zagal and Brian Salisbury, we were told we are really far behind and we need to polish and iterate towards the best game we can create as fast as possible. It’s true we have less than 9 weeks now before our IGF submission needs to be in, but I’m confident that we can turn what we have now into something great. The team seems reinvigorated after the summer break and genuinely enthusiastic about the new direction. We had a lot of trouble with team buy-in last semester so I think our group mental state right now is a really good sign. Personally, I think we have one of the strongest, if not the strongest, concept in the Cohort at the moment; we just need to deliver the best version of it that we can and the rest will be gravy. We don’t yet have a new name, but I’d really like something like See No Evil. I’ll be sure to post more gameplay next time once we have the new build. See you on the next level!

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