15 October 2009

First prototype and a heart attack

I'll post up the prototypes mostly in the order that I created them and the first one up is a camera test. It's very simple in that there is no movement, it's just a basic example of roughly how the view system will work in-game. It's been fleshed out more in a later camera prototype that I wrote in Actionscript 3 (this is the language I'm using to write the game, this initial camera demo is in Actionscript 2, a much slower language, albeit one that is faster to code in). As a white background would sort of defeat the purpose of how the camera works I threw in a rainbow. Everything looks better with a rainbow, although I don't think there'll be many, if any, in the game. For which I must apologise now.


Use the mouse to look around. You can use the keyboard arrow keys but they won't do anything whatsoever so you'll probably find it more interesting to use the mouse. You have to click on the swf (embedded flash movie) above before it works. Click on it again to disable it.

Working out camera movement got me pretty excited and the motion you see above there has very little change to it in the follow-up camera demo (the follow up includes movement and zooming). I'll only be showing that other prototype at a later stage as there are other things I did before I sat down to write that.

In the above demo the little guy doesn't turn around to face anything in particular, so you'll have to pretend for now. The principle is that what he sees, you see. In many games I would get frustrated by the numerous leaps of faith that occurred. The screen would show the character at a cliff edge but you wouldn't be able to look down to see whether the jump was safe or not even though it would be fairly obvious the character on screen would be able to see below. Much of this was due to limitations of early game engines, but I would have appreciated level designers not slapping it in my 8 year old face ever so much. In trying to cater for this, and mostly because I thought it would be a cool idea I came up with the camera system above. It's not entirely original of course - first person shooters allow you to look up and down but it was fun attempting to replicate this in a side-on perspective. I think there have been 2D games that tilt the screen for perspective but I can't really think of any right now, nor do I think any attempted to do it to this degree. I could be wrong, so feel free to slander my good name in the comments.

Since much of the game is about the limitations of the character, I wanted to express this visually, too. Showing you only what the character is aware of is a good starting point. Blurring the far edges of his focal range is also something I'd like to have happen. Double vision was mentioned in the previous post. Whenever he gets out of breath from moving too quickly or jumping or similar, the screen might fade to red or white and become hazy. Should he experience heart palpitations the screen could maybe shudder, bleaching colour away, fading certain objects out, zoom in close to his face. I'm hoping to integrate more ideas of this nature into the game to really create the atmosphere I'm going for. I want the player to feel weak and disadvantaged, but to try and surpass those failings. The character's struggle here isn't against a Big Brotheresque government or creatures from the deep but rather against himself.

I started building an animation system a while back that would allow dynamic animations (not frame-by-frame stuff) so an animated character could move around with regard to it's environment. So I wouldn't have to animate a character climbing steps, but could just tell it to move forward and it would work out where it should put its feet, replicating a natural step-climbing movement. I put the code for that on hold while I got involved in other things but I think it would find a good fit within this game. This could possibly lead to situations where a character (even an enemy) could have a damaged leg and have to limp around. I'm not sure if Flash will be powerful enough for me to do all of this alongside the other stuff that's going in here, but I'm definitely thinking about it.

While on the subject of damage to players... health packs are not real world entities. And I haven't met anyone in life you magically heals in less than five seconds if they just take a short breather after getting a 12 gauge to the chest. Any damage sustained by the character is going to be pretty permanent (at least for the game) as I don't see myself building in a hospital plan. A bullet is a fairly deadly (as fair as deadly is) object, at least when expelled from the barrel of a gun. If the character is hit by one he's going to go down pretty fast. If it hits him in a non-lethal manner (arm, leg), there's still the problem of bleeding out if he doesn't have it tended to. Not to say that he can't survive an unlucky shot, just that, like in real life, it won't be easily shrugged off. I'm not trying to make the game needlessly hard, but rather highlight the reality of how you can't really go in and take down 50 shock troops without a serious amount of forethought, planning and luck. The game won't be a kill-fest though. It's not about how many frags (kills for the non-gamers out there) one can get. It's about survival.

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