When the theme was announced on Friday evening, Team Infection’s Daniel Snd and Thiago Adamo (PXLDJ) hurriedly sat down with Rachel Rios and I (Taunia Sabanski) and we immediately had troubles coming up with a simplistic concept that people likely would not have thought of yet. After ditching an overly-ambitious idea about WW2 and bird poop, we ultimately resorted back to one of the first concepts that were pitched: “You are the weapon.”
At this point, I expressed extreme frustration at how most people seemed to be falling into the trap of handling the concept of “An Unconventional Weapon”. With this sort of theme, most people were focusing on what their weapon was going to be, rather than how the weapon would function in terms of play and fun-factor. Instead of going from game play concept to weapon, people were going from weapon to game play — I wanted to be extremely adamant about not falling into that trap. Game play and fun-factor would always come first — the weapon design would then follow.
As we began pondering exactly how to implement the sort of game play we wanted, Daniel started messing around with Unity. It was then that he made a simple sword shape, enabled movement on the sword shape, and began laughing.
He then sent us this.
The collective shouting of “THIS IS PERFECT!!”, “OH MY GOD YES!” and “LET’S DO THIS.” could likely be heard from orbit.
The concept of the game simply fell into place after this. Naturally, it was decided that the sword should cut grass. Now, not wanting this to be “Lawn Maintenance Simulator 2015″, we decided that this would be an unconventional sword — an enchanted sword, with a face, a name and a personality. A pacifist sword, that disliked killing things.
Our sword was then named Rusty, and given real googly eyes.
Why googly eyes? Because we could.
At this point, we were pretty pleased with ourselves, but we couldn’t start work on the game yet. Unbeknownst to most, there was another game that needed to be finished and submitted to another contest (Daniel Snd’s “Rocket Fist”) on Saturday evening that was monopolizing Daniel’s (and Thiago’s) time. I helped where I could, but our Ludum Dare development was tied up until the submission deadline for “Rocket Fist” wooshed past.
In the meantime, I worked on some concept art, as I knew Rachel Rios needed solid references to assist in creating 3D models. I also decided this would be the best way to solidify our color palette, stylize the graphics and map out exactly what we needed in terms of “loose” assets.
I had initially wanted to give Rusty hand-drawn/animated eyes, a mouth and eyebrows. I’d also wanted to position them on the blade of the sword. I realize now that you likely would not have been able to see the eyes. I wanted the hilt to look like the collar of a shirt, and be representative of his body, but with how the googly eyes got placed, the hilt still looks like the collar of a shirt — but the blue jewel and blade look like a giant tie. So, you end up cutting grass with his tie. Which is awesome.
Here is the concept art/3D reference and color palette for the animals.
As you can see, we also planned on having chickens, but simply ran out of time. The method behind the madness of having goats and sheep is that we could use one rig and one set of animations for both, as well as use a modified goat mesh for a sheep mesh. With minimal alteration, we could have two animal types meandering around instead of just one. I’m fairly sure that if we had chickens, they’d also ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO lay eggs. There is simply no working around that.
Environment concept art/3D reference and color palette.
As you can see, the trees also didn’t make it past the cut. Simply not enough time. Also, we had planned to have a “sword in the stone”-esque platform to act as a “start and/or end level” — this also didn’t make the cut, though it was simply superfluous to have it in the first place. We wanted everything realistically destructible to be destructible. We wanted sign posts to become chopped up, and trees to leave stumps when hit multiple times. We had also planned destructible fences. Again, all superfluous.
I’m starting to really realize that all my years experience scaling down and scaling down and scaling down projects has really been worth its weight in time and effort. It really is something you need to learn to do — simply, how to strip projects down, realize what you don’t need, get rid of it as quick as you can and implement what you do have to its utmost potential. Figure out what can be re-used, reconfigured or most easily created, and prioritize accordingly.
More on that in my next post.