Drowning. That’s what it feels like most of the time I’ve been developing my Indie project, Mecromage. I’ve averaged about 12 hours a day on this week alone. Crafting story concepts, game mechanics, graphics assets, animated sprites, and 2d techniques I’ve done my part to push the first level of the game to about 70% complete. But really, at the end of the week, all I can think about is how fun the elevator challenge was, and how that success is what helps me to rise to the overwhelming challenges I will dive into yet again tomorrow.
Before I unveil a most likely underwhelming (to you) elevator Flash demo, I’ll address the 70% of Level One topic. I’ve been working on this game concept for a year and a half, and full time for at least eight months of that. That’s a lot of time to still be on Level one, right?!
OR is it? I actually think its not too bad considering our tiny team (two guys and their incredibly supportive wives). Level one is the most difficult hurtle I’ve found in my very limited game development experience. This is because that game area requires that you have a ton of the game actually figured out. There are many questions that have to be answered to a presentable degree in order to arrive at the point that we are in the first level development. (Check out the below link if your interested)
So you see there are some big concepts to work out. The ‘little’ things can be challenging as well, like how to emulate water, weather, wind; all things present in the first section of the game. Easy stuffs, trust me..
Another aspect of this first entry to consider is that the initial few moments of the game can mean the difference between success and failure. As a study exercise a few years ago, inspired by OC Remix’s Guitar play Goat and his Unchosen Paths re-master of ‘Castlevania 3’s entire sound track, I decided I’d try my hand at re-envisioning the graphics of the same game up to the first level boss fight. It turned out to be quite daunting.
This first area included the greatest variety of monsters and scenery the game had to offer. I had to design the user interface, Intro sequence, hero’s sprite, a decent portion of the games enemies, sub items, and establish my personal updated graphic style.
As any journalist will tell you, the headline and first paragraph need to be front loaded with all of the most important, exciting, and relevant information. It’s the same for game design, you need to be very clear about communicating the tone early on so that the audience know what they are getting themselves into, and if they’ll want to stick around to learn more.
So.. back to the Elevator, because that’s what this post really should be all about. We needed an elevator, because what would a side scrolling adventurer do without elevators to get you in and out of those tight spooky subterranean caverns, or sky screaming high rise death traps?
As is my norm these days I started off with paper and pencil (I highly recommend ye ‘ol analog) Then moved to drafting the motion through basic shapes and symbols in Flash laid over the top of a demo screen shot. Finally, I ‘painted’ the basic symbols in Photoshop and replaced them in Flash so I’d have my glorious elevator! I can’t wait till we get it all rigged up in game with lights, shadows, sound, and particles (I CAN SMELL THE SPARKS COMING OFF THAT THING!).
What you’ve all been waiting for:
I plan to do continuous updates on the process of making the game. Let me know what you’d be interested in learning more about? Here are some topics I’m considering:
– Our process in casting the right hero
– The three core gameplay aspects
– Scaling a game to a motivated tiny team
– Setting a tone and atmosphere
– Weighty plot points and artistic statements
– Techniques in crafting the look of a modern role-playing platformer
– My experience in re-envisioning Level 1 of ‘Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse’
Until we meet again,
Keyes aka Raihn
♪ ♫ Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming – HA HAHA HA… ♫ ♪ – A Very Wise Fish
Thank you for sharing the thought processes behind developing an indie game. That’s a crazy amount of work that goes into just trying to translate your ideas into game format! Great job.