Posts Tagged ‘interactive novel’

We invite you to play (Mono no) Aware!

Posted by (twitter: @thommaz)
Thursday, May 5th, 2016 11:33 am

mono no aware

Hi everyone! Voting is almost over, but we thought we should write a post inviting you to play our game before the end.

mono no aware

(Mono no) Aware is an interactive novel with platformer elements that discusses life’s shapeshifting nature. We were really trying to achieve a delicate result using watercolour and subtle dialogue and, well, please let us know what you thought!

Controls:
Arrow keys to move
X to interact and push things
Z to jump

The Monster Inside – Post-Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @tylerowen)
Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 10:11 am

titlebanner

Click here to visit the Ludum Dare entry page

This is the most fun I’ve had working on a game jam entry in a very long time. And the key to that was the scope of the project. This was my 6th game jam I’ve done, and I feel like I’m finally starting to understand what kinds of games can be accomplished in a short weekend. With The Monster Inside, we kept it simple and small, and the result is one of my favorite games I’ve ever created.

park

 

In my full time project, Lacuna Passage, I’ve been doing a lot of programming work that hasn’t felt very creative. For Ludum Dare 33 I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to take a short break from that and build something almost purely narrative with a distinct, simple art style. After the reveal of the theme “You Are The Monster” I started brainstorming ways to limit the scope of the project that would allow me to focus primarily on the story writing.

The first aspect of this was to use very simple art. I decided that I did want the game to be 3D, but I didn’t want to have to spend time animating characters, doing physics collisions, navigating obstacles, or managing an inventory or items. That quickly led me to consider doing an interactive visual novel. We could use simple static 3D renders in the background and just have text and dialogue in the foreground.

I was inspired by the memory of simple chapter art that would sometimes accompany young adult novels like Harry Potter. In the example below you see a small black and white image that appears at the beginning of a chapter and gives you a small taste of what you will encounter in the following text.

official-dh-chapter-art-harry-potter-26-the-deathly-hallows-200206_400_5011

 

I always loved these images as a child and I’ve always wondered why more adult novels don’t incorporate establishing art in a similar way. Some fantasy books include illustrated maps in the back cover, but why not full illustrations to really put you in the world?

Well, with our game we could do whatever we wanted. So I took the idea of simple “chapter” art and combined it with an isometric style that I am fond of. A reference image we used can be seen below.

low_poly_scene___first_day_at_monsters_university_by_kautsar211086-d6afvz4

 

Artist on DeviantArt

But we needed to go even simpler for our scope. With a film noir style we could go pure grayscale and avoid the complication of color. The result fit our needs perfectly.

docks

 

Our artist, Doug Auerbach, did an amazing job with this style. It gave me exactly the context I was looking for with the narrative, but without being overly complicated and time consuming.

After working more on the script I realized that visual novels have some interesting advantages over writing a book or traditional short story.

For example, I could control the pacing of the story completely. The player has an interactive button to progress the text, but I could fully control when that next line of text was revealed after a delay. I could make the player hang waiting for the next suspenseful line to appear. It also prevented the player from reading or glancing ahead to spoil the timing of a reveal. Obviously I’m not the first to discover this, but it was something I found very powerful while writing the script.

We were also able to leverage the benefit of sound and music. Clark Aboud, my long time partner for all things musical, did an incredible job on the soundtrack with a unique theme for almost every chapter. This really helped bring the static scenes to life and engross the player in the mood of the story.

As for the story, I was mostly inspired by having recently finished the first book of The Dark Tower series. SPOILERS for both The Dark Tower and The Monster Inside… there is a Succubus in that first book that stuck with me and largely led to the plot you see now in The Monster Inside.

I wanted to include some limited dialogue trees in the game that would make the player feel more like they were role playing the character of Jack, but I knew that I probably couldn’t make them extremely branched or it would make our scope too large. So I stuck with very few dialogue trees that had very short branches. It was a small touch that helped you feel more a part of the story rather than an outside observer.

I managed writing these dialogue trees with a program called Chat Mapper. I highly recommend it. I didn’t actually have time to create an xml parser that used the exports from Chat Mapper, but it was still very useful to keep the dialogue trees organized while writing. I ended up just copy-pasting the story text from Chat Mapper into .txt files with my own parsing logic. It was lightweight and simple for our purposes, but it did have a high probability for error (thankfully I don’t think there are any).

The only real point of “gameplay” that I included was a simplified investigation mechanic where you are able to search crime scenes for clues, but it is very minimalist and again only really serves to put you more in the role of Jack by clicking on scene objects rather than just the NEXT button over and over.

The only thing that I did not have time for was to incorporate some simple motion elements into the art. I wanted to have a rain particle effect overlaid on the dock scene, and I wanted steam coming from the sewer grate in the alley scene, but we simply ran out of time. Thankfully these were just set dressing ideas and didn’t affect the overall game. We are extremely proud of the end result and hope you enjoy playing it!

 

A game about words: RMBR

Posted by (twitter: @Pitoum)
Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 2:25 am

RMBR is probably my most important game since I started to bake some pixeled stuff 2 years ago.

RMBR_01

 

If you have trouble to understand the concept of the game you can watch this Vine. Or try to imagine a Twine game where you “drag” the words and not just “click” on them. That’s a bit synthetic but it’s the closest description I can write with my poor English skills.

There are two main ideas behind RMBR. The first one was, I wanted to make a game about Alzheimer. I actually have a grand-mother who suffers from it, and I wanted to try to explain feeling you can have when you speak with her, but also what I imagine (from what I see and what she tells me) being her mind. How words are losing their meanings, how memories are becoming blurry and fade away, and how some of them, the oldest ones, are in contrary back vividly.

To be honest I totally failed to do it correctly, mainly because I needed a lot more time to write and include some contents. Time I didn’t have during the jam. But more on that later.

The second idea came from my recent interest in french surrealists. I’m presently reading a lot of novels/poems by Breton, Leiris, Desnos or Queneau (about whom I already develop with a game called Milmiliar – only in french right now sorry about that – which was inspired by Hundred Thousand Billion Poems). And Leiris specially worked a lot on the words and their meanings, how each one of us have their own  personal dictionary. If we think that the meaning of a word is shared by everyone, that’s an illusion. Because we all have our own experiences of the word, our own memories, our own understanding of it. So he decided to write his own dictionary (Glossaire j’y serre mes gloses in french, I didn’t find any translation of it sorry about that).

And because he was a surrealist and a poet, Leiris decided to write only definitions with puns.

For example in RMBR you can find this definition of “game”: a gem. This is something very personal for me. It represents the way I feel about games – well some games at least – and at the same time is an anagram of “game”.

This is what RMBR is about. You start with a very simple little story, told in few words. And then you can explore it like you would do with a landscape or a building in an adventure game, by exploring the words and what they mean in context. Until you finally find a definition like the one above.

The exploration is mainly about two points of view: mine and my grandmother’s. Exploring her mind or mine produces different results. In the boy’s mind things gets accurate and are a lot in the moment. In her mind things are confusing, words fade away. Well that was the intention at first.

I had a lot in mind while doing RMBR. But because it was my first mobile game so I spent a lot of time struggling with basics mobile dev problems, and didn’t get enough time to include all the content I wanted or all the features I imagined. But the main concept is here and the feedbacks I got surely convince me that I had something.

I like this idea of navigating in a text like you would do in an adventure game. As a fan of Simogo’s Device 6 I sure want to explore news ways to build a bridge between literature and video games. And mobile phone or tablet are probably the best media to do so.

That’s why RMBR is my most important game. I think I finally got something that’s really merging these two objects. And now I want to push it further.

I’m currently working on a full version of the game which will not be only about exploring a text but also will integrate puzzles and enigmas. The structure of it is a bit uncertain at the moment while I’m mainly trying to improve the “engine” and testing some mechanisms. But I’m also rewriting all the content, in french this time. Because I can’t do something good in a language I can’t really master. Two people are going to help me.

David (Badabing): He did some SFX and music for the jam version (at the last moment, thanks to him) and will be in charge of the sound design.
Violette: She will work on the English translation of the game. We’ll work together, because a lot of the texts will not be directly translated but in fact entirely rewritten.

So I hope this little post-mortem gave you some interest in the game. If so, you can:

– try the jam version http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-29/?action=preview&uid=7969 
– stay tuned via my twitter @Pitoum
– take a look at my unfinished website http://www.pitoum.net
– leave a comment if you have any question :)

Thanks for reading/playing!

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