No pretty pictures this week as it was mostly spent researching and writing documents.
In fact, there’s probably going to be a shortage of pretty pictures for the foreseeable future. The game looks way too good for what little actual game there is and I get a bit nervous when someone looks at a screenshot, pats me in the back and says a version of “good job, you did it”.
This industry is riddled with good looking games that turn out to be not so good. That’s partially the reason I turn most effects off when working – to avoid the trap of thinking something is good just because it looks good.
Last week I mentioned how I was going to focus on making the camera more useful and dynamic.
Remember this nonsense?
I started the week by watching some playthroughs of games like Shadow of the Colossus (with the sound off) and catching up on some GDC talks (with the sound on) about camera design, taking notes on rules of gamatography and how to implement things. Then I just used ProCamera2D instead.
It’s really good and seems to work perfectly with my 3D game. It has way more bells and whistles than I’m going to need for this project but it’s flexible enough to let me just use the things I need. With it I can both translate player intention (like looking in the direction of travel) and subtly direct the player’s attention (by having the camera look at an important object).
Here’s my old camera. Notice how the the avatar is always in the center of the screen:
And here’s my first implementation of ProCamera2D:
Super happy about it!
Cooperation and Connection
Last week I also mentioned how I removed the AI creatures from the GDMLL3 build. I wrote about how it was becoming a game about figuring out what to do, in order to “correctly” interact with the other creatures. Since interacting with the creatures is a core part of the game I spent the later half of the week researching some psychological frameworks and how other games deal with player to NPC (Non Playable Character) interactions.
It’s becoming clear that adding tasks, puzzles or challenges that require cooperation between the player and the NPCs would easily fall into the trap of dehumanizing the interaction. Like ordering fast food and needing to interact with the cashier – it’s a mechanical task without any real connection. Other creatures would become tools or resources rather than fellow world inhabitants.
Hopefully I’ll start implementing things again. I’m okay with spending most of the week on google docs and sketches for now – it's a much faster way to fail than implementing a bunch of things and see what works – but it is taxing dealing with all the uncertainty without making something tangible.