Digital Design Studio II: Hamlet, the Video Game

Brief and Research

We were assigned Hamlet as our play. Hamlet is a good starting point as there is a strict deadline on the project. It also leaves a lot of free reign as far as artwork and mechanics go, however the narrative still needs to be true to the original play. I feel that we can push the boundaries of the brief by justifying all of our decisions as far as narrative and artwork goes.

The Story of Hamlet

From the brief research I have done so far, I have noticed that Hamlet follows a 5 act structure. This makes narrative easy to create and alter as we see more development in the character and level designs. Having two artists working on one project seems like it will be problematic in the future with regards to continuity. In an attempt to counteract this pre-emptively, I felt like it would be a good idea to have one artist on environmental creations while the other works on character. I will know more once we brainstorm and come up with some mood boards and mock ups. I will create some sketches of different genres to start the ball rolling.

The 5 act structure of Hamlet

Capture

The structure of hamlet above should be fairly easy to follow and adapt. As a group its important to have a clear and similar view as to the theme of the game. As the game developer it is my job to ensure this is done and that I learn the strengths and weakness regarding the group so that we can either work on these areas or avoid them as the time limit draws near.

The Plan

As a group we need to decide what we can achieve early on so that we don’t get distracted or overwhelmed. My hope is that we can follow the brief as tightly as possible by completing the game and releasing it as a completed prototype. Since we have 2 game artists, we should be able to achieve a high standard of work in a short amount of time. While aesthetics are important, I believe that we can substitute them for completion and mechanical polishing. It would be a good idea to get stuck into this project ASAP. Knowing this, I have planned a meeting for Tuesday so that we can all start to work on our respective areas. I will hopefully be able to help in all aspects to ease stress and stick to the deadlines I will set tomorrow.

Game Review: Against all Odds  

This is another in a series of interactive story games which aims to educate people in societal problems. This one in particular has many different stories and aims to simulate experiences that are unpleasant for the player. This tactic of education is in my opinion rather brutish, but I cant fault it as it can work for some people. I personally was not moved by the stories in the game. This is most likely due to the fact that I am aware of these issues already. For someone who is not educated in what happens in countries where your rights are taken from you because of something you have no power to change, these games are so important. It raises the issues in the safety of a game platform where it is easy to simply disregard it as ‘not real life’. The game pushes past this by relating back to enforce the point that actually, this is real life. I enjoyed playing through the game and reading about all of the stories and I would recommend it.

Game Review: Lay Off

Lay off is a small game which builds on the simple yet popular mechanics of bejewled and candycrush. The game uses this to its benefit as the game is based on the idea morality and ethics being lost in the modern world. I thought the overall game was well thought out however it did not interest me. I like games that are narrative driven vs the mechanical focus of this game. Still, I can appreciate the message they are trying to convey.

Game Review: Hyper Light Drifter

Hyper light drifter is I game I purchased at the start of the year as a research example with my own game. While it is not a 2D platformer, it has solid mechanics and if I had more time I would have incorporated similar ones in my game.

The game opens up with a mysterious character, followed by a curious darkness. You are launched into a foreign world with a little direction on where you should start. The game is somewhat reminiscent of Darksouls which was a big factor in leading to my purchase of the game.

I was a little confused the first time I played the game as you are dumped randomly into a huge world. I did not realize the game had actually given me a clue as to which direction to take the first time. The combat system of the game was incredibly rewarding because it was simple, yet difficult. As I got further and further into the game, I found I was dashing around and through enemies, simultaneously shooting and attacking.

The music and art style is what made the whole game come together for me. There were tiny pockets of lore throughout the game.

The Story of Ravenswood: Digital Design Studio

This post details the story elements of the game and what happens at the end.

I ended up spending a lot of time on this game because I got so enveloped by the world and the story. It felt wrong to leave it unfinished and while it could be much more, I am simply glad that I was able to share this story in the end.

As you play through the game, you learn more and more about the world and what kind of a character King Redmond is. In his final moments (after defeating him in the final boss room),  the player learns of Redmond’s intentions. While the blight was of his own creation, he sought to defeat it in order to save his kingdom. Blinded by pride and damned by the corruption, the Ravenswood would not accept him as a sacrifice in order to reverse the damage. This drives him mad leaving you one option. To kill him or to die from the blight. Soon after however, the player is given a choice: Take the throne, or sacrifice yourself to heal the blight and restore the kingdom. There is no consequence of either choice and this is because I want the player to decide what kind of a person they are. It surprised me to learn that all of my playtesters chose to take the throne and hold the responsibility to rule over a dying kingdom rather than give themselves in the hope that the corruption would end.

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The Finished Product? Digital Design Studio

After more than a few long nights,  I managed to complete my game. I added my boss fight at the end and created economy within my game using a stamina feature. I found a simple royalty free soundtrack on freemusicarchive and looped it through my game and I created a simple intro cinematic and control menu. The final game has very little in the way of bugs and is polished to a point that I am happy with. It is now time for me to create a 1 min game trailer using the intro cinematic and some game play footage.

Intro Sequence:

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I made these 3 painting for my intro and layered some text on top. While its not a fantastic intro, I am pleased with its short length and genre setting. I made sure it plays at the start so everyone has the chance to watch it and made it re-playable in the title screen.

Controls menu:

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I have been rather lax with my weekly game reviews as I have not been able to find the time to invest in playing the game to an adequate degree before forming an opinion on it. I have however played a good amount of hyperlight drifter which I will write my review on soon.

Game Testing:

Once the game was finished I began using playtesters. Quickly I noticed that a lot of people would skip past the controls and this was a serious problem as the mechanics are complicated. I thought of ways I could resolve this and the decision I came up with was to change the order of menu items so that controls was first and play was second. These options are then followed by intro and quit.

The first level is possibly too difficult but I feel that it introduces the player to the mechanics very well, setting them up for the rest of the game. (provided they read the controls). Hossien actually played through the first level and while he was a little confused and possibly rushed, he did say that he enjoyed it. Despite not being able to attack.

Several people found the boss fight to be difficult but all of them managed to defeat it after a few goes.

Overall I think people found the game to be captivating but not necessarily challenging, with the exception of a few levels. I am happy with this result.

Game Treatment:

Main Characters:

 

Protagonist: Marcus Lockhart

 

Dispatcher: Bishop Trest

Helper: Bishop Trest

Person Sought-for: King Redmond

 

Who is the protagonist?

 

The protagonist is Marcus Lockhart. As an orphan growing up in the slums of Ravenswood, Marcus had to steal and hide from the authorities to survive. One day, King Redmond sealed the slums off from the rest of the kingdom without notice or explanation. Seeking answers and a chance at freedom, Marcus finds a way past the wall, with the help of Bishop Trest.

 

What is the main conflict?

 

You start the game just outside of the walls of the slums on a mission to find King Redmond. Bishop Trest is with you and seeks the king as well although he seems nervous to travel through the kingdom on his own.

 

How is the conflict resolved?

 

Marcus uses what he has learnt growing up to make his way further towards the heart of the kingdom and to the great Ravenswood. This must be where King Redmond has gone.

 

What causes the tension to rise?

 

Soon after leaving the safety of the walls, Marcus discovers why the slums where sealed off. The kingdom is gone. The land is barren and those who inhabit it seem to be plagued by a mysterious blight.

 

What is the deciding factor that brings the story to a climax?

 

When Marcus enters the castle, he is attacked by King Redmond who has obviously gone mad. After retaliating, Marcus becomes aware of the blight effecting the king and puts the king out of his misery.  In his last, sane words, the King pleads with Marcus to save the Ravenswood, which he corrupted with his own greed.

 

What happens in the resolution?

 

Marcus approaches the ravenswood, unsure of his role to play. He did not come here to save the kingdom for he has no love for it. Was this a chance for him to do something good in his life? To atone for his past wrongs? When he approaches the tree, he is given a second option. The chance to take the throne. To be given ultimate power and the remnants of a broken kingdom.

 

What elements of interaction can support each point?

 

The player is able to make the final decision and decide the fate of Marcus and Ravenswood.

 

How does interaction or gameplay cause dramatic tension to rise?

 

The increasing difficulty of the levels are meant to challenge the player, forcing them to struggle on the journey much like Marcus. The game music is supposed to counter this. With its calm tempo and minor tones, the music is supposed to reflect the story and slow the pace of the player as patience is a key part of gameplay.

 

What deciding factor in the game play brings the game to a climax?

 

The defeat of King Redmond

 

Is there a pivot point?

 

When Marcus realises that there is no kingdom left beyond the wall, he simply has more questions he expects the king to answer for. This also leads the moral decision of whether or not to save the kingdom and end the blight.

The Importance of Backups: Digital Design Studio

As your game becomes larger, so too does the chance for corruption. Game Maker tries to avoid this by backing up the game several times but in my case, the main backup was corrupted, and previous versions were too far back that it was not worth starting from there. So I stayed up late and re-made my whole game. Thankfully all of my artwork was intact.

Dynamic Lighting and Stealth: Digital Design Studio

Because one of the main mechanics in my game is stealth, I needed a way to accurately show your characters detection radius. I did this by adding in a dynamic lighting system. The light has several other uses as well. I ended up using it for path finding and for progression. I created levers in my game which destroy obstacles. I designed them to be braziers that you have to light.lighting 2

lighting 3

When activated, the braziers light up and a flame appears on top. The obstacles in the room then disappear.

Demonic Presence: Digital Design Studio

As the game progresses, its supposed to get harder. To represent this increase in strength for the enemy knights, I made corrupted versions of them.

DemonKnightRestingDemonKnightWalk2DemonKnightWalk1

This also gave me a chance to design my boss stages. A mechanic I intend to implement is a stage system for my final boss. This means that when the boss takes a certain amount of damage, his sprite will change and he will gain health. To keep this simple I only designed 3 stages for the boss.

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Stage 1
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Stage 2
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Stage 3