[001] All Our Introductions

(... the above picture, Shiho is actually "Yuito" now...)

Welcome to the silent announcement of AOA 

  • The title is unannounced for now.
  • I will start a TIGSource devlog once the title is announced (with a trailer)
  • I'll aim for weekly posts here! Every Saturday, let's say.
  • If you're new to my games, I'm the co-creator of Anodyne and Even the Ocean, and primarily did design, music, and programming work on those games. Both are available on itch.io. 

The game page has a description of the premise, I want to talk about the UI, the art style, and motivation for the game, and some other things.

Progress?

  • I'm balancing a lot this summer (including planning a video game music composition course for SAIC), but this is my primary focus. I'll post a timeline on the forum, but the gist of it goes:
  • Around the end of February I started playing with ideas for a 3rd-person game. March and April were hashing out the general feel of things, atmosphere, ideas, etc. Slow progress because of my teaching and also releasing Even the Ocean in Chinese.
  • Starting in May is when I sat down to really write out the scoping, outline and script of the game. 
    • Throughout this time I also implemented various systems (dialogue, UI, area transitions, camera controls, player controls). 
  • By early June I finished the first draft of the script. Since then I've been making revisions, starting on things like the music, modeling/texturing the levels, etc, basically the grunt work of putting the game together. This work is actually not so tough... the script was probably the hardest. But I am lazy, so I have no estimate of when this will be done.


    • I'd like to release by the end of August, before I get busier with teaching two classes. 

Motivation for AOA

  • Learning 3D.  Current 3D engines are powerful. The ability to code editor scripts, fast compilation and modularity of scripting makes this a good approach for me, after writing my own editor for Even the Ocean.  I could see complicated art being tedious but for reasons I'll explain that's not a huge issue for me.
  • Theoretical concerns about 3D space in games. I'm interested in learning more about the use of the camera and light, as well as how 3rd-person controllers let players engage with exploration. So the game is set in the 3rd person and features a number of camera perspectives and angles.
  • Wanting to push the 'lo-fi' as an art direction. As far as I can tell there are very few recent games using lo-fi (PSX-y) 3D graphics and 3rd person perspectives. I think it's a very approachable way to create the art for a game, where you worry less about getting everything perfect,  clean or HD, as well as a useful way to abstract reality - so I'm making a game with this art direction to hopefully inspire others to look into 3D. Note that lo-fi doesn't mean "bad atmosphere or artistic direction", but to the complexity of textures, models, shaders.
    • Also I would love to see less 1st person games overall...  though I get the appeal and reason for using them, there are a lot of them, and 3rd person games give a lot more flexibility with cameras and framing places, etc. Also as a personal preference I don't really enjoy playing 1st person games. 
  • Storytelling practice. I've written some fiction in the past years, as well as the occasional essay. I wanted to use this game as a way to tell a story about themes I'm grappling with, namely the position of Orientalized-Americans fitting into the overall global struggle against Orientalism. The game's dialogue runs around 13k words and is primarily conversational dialogue.

That's a weird UI...

The UI is from wanting to experiment with a 'clean game view' as well as making the game seem like a story is being told or interacted with through a window. The UI has 5 sections. The game area (top left), dialogue (bottom left), interaction notification box (bottom right), area name (top right), and miscellaneous box (right).  I don't anticipate their being any playability problems with the game area only being about 60% of the screen, as it remains quite readable.

The interaction notification box is used for indicating there's a door or NPC or object you can interact with. Most games give some notification when you can interact with things, normally it goes inside the game view, but it seems easier (and more stylish) to place the notifier outside of the game view.

The miscellaneous box will contain things like the occasional character portrait during dialogue (I will be hiring a friend for this), or other little things.

"Memory World"?

  • The game is set inside of a "Memory World" - sort of a 3D representation of memories of a person. There's the potential for such a concept to end up entirely surreal, but this game is fairly rooted in dialogue so you won't be totally lost (I have no interest in leaving it as a bunch of weird sights). Of course, the game ends up being... much stranger than just that, but that's generally the setting. A mix of surreal, realistic structures and environments.

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