Dev Log: Design Doc

Concept:

Hook:

A light hearted story-driven puzzle game through the perspective of a peculiar man.

 

Pitch:

You play a peculiar man who experiences the world in fundamentally different ways, which the game represents mechanically and visually. Given a seemingly mundane task, you have to work through the challenges this experience presents to him. Pursuing this your character ends up on a surprisingly globetrotting journey that will change his life

 

Overview:

See previous documentation.

Note that for the remainder of this document, “distraction” refers to the in-game mechanic that abstracts the player character’s distractions to manifested obstructions for the use in puzzles and disrupting dialogue options.

 

Inspirations:

The Witness

  • use of perspective as a mechanic
  • clean, bright art style
  • game’s content as expansion and exploration of few and simple mechanics

shot_2014-01-30__time_14_46_n04

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

  • core mechanic as abstraction of narrative theme
  • game’s content as expansion and exploration of few and simple mechanics

 

Bastion

  • color palette, bright and saturated while distinct from cookie cutter mobile aesthetic
  • character proportions: large heads and eyes for readable expressions without being chibi

3d backgrounds and abstract image

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

  • out of game art style as below, though edges are hard, more rounded and possibly lighter color

Targets:

Platform: PC, Android (stretch goal*)

*will be designed with vertical mobile resolution in mind, but mobile remains a stretch goal given additional challenge

Tool: Unity

Audiences (in terms of what they play):

  • Primary: small, unique story-driven indie games
    • ex: Undertale, Transistor, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
  • visual novels, interactive fiction, ‘walking simulators’
    • ex: To The Moon, The Beginner’s Guide, Emily is Away

Play Time: 5-10 minutes minimum for project scope, 1-2 hours for total game (stretch goal, scalable as design space explored)

Session Time: ~15 minutes

Smallest Playable Chunk: ~2-4 minutes

 

Gameplay:

Core Gameplay Loop:

zzskb25

Possible Player Actions:

  • Character movement, restricted to Z-axis
  • Character orientation, rotation only on Y axis, and limited to cardinal directions
  • Character interacts with designated objects
  • Character talks to other characters
  • Select dialogue tree options from UI menu

Storyboard of Example Puzzle:

Red represents the player and her cone of vision. The grey line is the only path the player can travel. Light blue squares are the sources of the distractions, and dark blue are their manifestations to the player as obstacles. In this simple example the player is able to change their orientation to effectively disable distractions so that she can move on.

storyboard_puzzle_example

Mechanical Stages of the Game:

The following represents a rough initial outline of how the game may progress in introducing mechanics to the player.

  • basic movement
  • facing and interaction
  • dialogue choices
  • dialogue distractions
  • using facing to manipulate distractions + distractions as obstacles
  • manipulate distractions to remove occlusion of needed things
  • use distractions to occlude hindering things
  • work together with companion character
  • use distractions to affect what other characters can do
  • use distractions to occlude and reveal other distractions

 

Aesthetics:

Themes

  • positivity in the face of challenge
  • uniqueness but relatability of different perspectives
  • finding purpose and value in our imperfections

 

Tone

  • positive
  • whimsical
  • exploratory

 

Initial Experiments with Visual Style:

Note: faces extremely rudimentary, all shapes in grey field were chosen just to show palettes in different contexts.

palette exploration

 

Development:

Main Components, Prioritized:

  • movement
  • distraction mechanic
  • in-world obstacles
  • facing and line of sight mechanics for distractions
  • dialogue system
  • dialogue-distraction interactions
  • save game

 

Design Laws:

  • Introduce new interactions, not mechanics.
  • Distractions do not change reality. They only obstruct the view of unknown, but plausible events.
  • Use of distractions must never appear to harm someone else.
  • The puzzle solving mechanics of the companion must not undermine the narrative of her as a person.

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