[Almost] One Room Post-mortem – Part 1

Posted by
December 19th, 2016 6:16 pm

Ludum Dare #36 was very special to me. I was on my town, at 1400m above the sea, with barely no connection to the Internet (only a weak WiFi signal from the town hall, no mobile access). I was alone, and I wanted to use the jam a perfect moment to learn Unity3D. I spent the days before the event day to watch some videos and I was able to complete a little but full game.

By creating [Almost] One Room for this one I wanted to repeat in the sense of learning. But this time I was not alone, I joined forces with Carlos Coronado (@carlosgamedev); he’s the creator of Mind: Path to Thalamus and an unnoficial Unreal Engine evangelist. He is also a friend of mine and one of my clients. Some years ago a guy of barely 16 years came to the gamedev forum I had and asked for a project to join and learn, we made a barricade system for L4D. Now this time it’s me who is asking him for help.

The idea was simple, I’ll “code” (with blueprints) and Carlos will do the art and will show me the basics of the engine and will aid me every time I get stuck and ¡spoiler alert!, it was often.

In fact we have not opened UE4 until the afternoon because Carlos was late and I spent the whole morning taking notes on paper about ideas with the theme in mind. When Carlos arrived I presented the best idea I had and we wanted to spend as much time as we can in the design stage.

We wanted to make a puzzle game playing with the idea of a room escape. For me it’s very important to find a twist to the Ludum theme, to go further than the obvious choice and that’s why I did not want to make a game with a single room. I played with ideas like turning the words, “What’s behind Room One?” or “You’re the room”, tried to think in a twist in the “CounterStrike rats map” making the players not humanoids. Finally we found something in the Room Escape idea that we liked, only one room, but many times.

The initial idea was to be locked in a room like a normal room escape but once you opened the first door you will find the same room again. From this point we started to think how you will need to open the doors, from lockpicks with mini-games to find-the-pieces ones, but it was hard to find something really fun, or something that the player cannot solve by trial and error. And more important, something we can achieve in the given timeframe.

At some point we though we nailed it, the room will be “the same” but in different timelines, past, present and future, and you had to change things in a time to affect the others and unlock the exit door. It was great, but it was impossible to find something readable enough to be solvable and not frustrating.

Time was running out and finally we went back to the beginning and started again to think. Then we decided to follow the KISS principle and we decided to make a simple puzzle game: Find the combination of the exit door. The twist? That the number will be hidden in the room, one number per room on different versions of the same room.

We then started to design how to hide numbers, but I will write about it in the second part 😉

Tags: , , , , , ,


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

[cache: storing page]