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I’ve gotten some questions lately about the gun in Grief.  The general consensus is that Company was a quiet, thoughtful game, so why is the sequel going to be a mindless shooter oh god it’s going to be horrible why oh why is it a shooter?

To sum things up, Grief isn’t a shooter.  Grief is a puzzle game.  There are no enemies to shoot.  The gun ends up being purely a tool that you use in solving puzzles.

Aside from the game mechanics involved, having it be a gun is pretty important to the mood of the game.  The second chapter in Grief is Anger, and this is when Henry gets his pistol.  He’s frustrated with everyone and wants to feel powerful–A pistol sums that up in one concise package.  The real trick is going to be making sure that getting a gun feels like an important event, like it would be in real life.  Having a gun in a video game is often par for the course, so there’s no real impact when you get one.  In Grief, we’re going to have to set this up thoughtfully enough to make it feel genuine.

Substantial, empowering, and most importantly, somewhat dangerous.

As a side note, I’m back to work on You Find Yourself In A Room.  It’s not going to be entered in the JayIsGames contest, because A) it would be disqualified anyway, and B) I already missed the deadline.  The demo for that one is updated with some actual content.  There are just three simple levels at this point.  Hopefully it’s somewhat clear how the game’s flow is going to work–It starts out pretty straightforward, and slowly gets sick of you.  Then it starts to resent you.  Then it starts to hate you.

It’s fun as hell to write, by the way.

Deja Vu…

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I feel a little strange bringing this up, but whatever.  It made me chuckle a bit.

Here’s a game for you to try out.  It’s a moody little puzzle game about a lonely protagonist who can make copies of himself (by pressing the space bar).  He can stand on his copies, and his copies can stand on him.  He talks to himself throughout the game, which is shown as text overlays that appear over the level art.  The music featured is an original song, focusing on lonely sounding piano work, with some synth thrown in for good measure.  When he is limited in the number of copies he can make, the number left is shown as a number in the top left corner.  His chief personal motivation ends up being a girl.  The goal for each stage is to get to the square shaped exit.  Sometimes there are platforms that only copies can pass through, and sometimes there are platforms that only the original character can pass through.  The ground is a dull brown with grass on top.  Each level is exactly the size of the screen, so there is no scrolling.

Now, here’s the kicker.  I’m not talking about The Company of Myself.  I’m talking about Little Thing.

Play Little Thing

Anyone else feeling a little deja vu?

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I figure I’ve held off long enough, and since no one really knows about me anyway, there’s not a whole lot of point in keeping secrets.  Here’s how Grief works.

Grief is about the psychologist from the end of Company.  His name is Henry.  Near the beginning of the game, he finds out that he is dying of a newly discovered illness.  The rest of the game is split up into chapters that are based on the five stages of grief.  These are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.  The player unlocks abilities that coincide with the current stage.

There are four characters in Grief.  Henry is the lead.  His daughter, Liz, is the most directly affected by Henry’s illness, though she doesn’t understand it, since Henry doesn’t want to admit to her that he is dying.  Dr. Parson shows up periodically to study Henry’s illness, though it’s clear that he has no intention of finding a cure.  He is only interested in making a name for himself.  Finally, the grim reaper shows up periodically to help Henry understand and manage his fate.  The grim reaper is interpreted differently than the average “black cloak and sickle” that we’re all accustomed to.  In Grief, Grim looks like an average person (In fact, in this case, he looks like Henry).  He’s generally laid back and calm; possibly indifferent.  He’s not trying to show off and terrify people.  Intimidating because of his position, maybe, but not because of his demeanor.

If you take a look at the current version (the tab near the top of the page, under the title), you can test out the first version of the gun that Henry acquires at the beginning of Anger.  For those who are interested, the bullets are physically simulated–They have mass and all that.  In certain cases, it’s possible to bounce one off of something and hit something else.

I’ve also been looking around for voice actors and a character artist.  I’ll let everyone know once I’ve got a team on lock down.

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So, Grief was originally supposed to be a game that featured pretty big levels that contained lots of little challenges that you could approach in any order.  I like the idea, but I don’t think it’d quite work out in the end–It doesn’t have enough focus.  I think I’m going to instead aim for an approach more similar to Company–Small levels that feature one main challenge per level.  It’s much easier for me to control, design-wise, so I think I can create a tighter overall product like this.  As a side effect, smaller levels means less stress on the physics engine, which means better performance on slower machines.  Box2D is incredibly fast, but even so, better performance is better performance.

There are still more design problems to solve, but I’m getting much closer to having a full view of things.  The story is reaching some awesome places as well.  This is going to be good.

More info.

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Since I still don’t have a title for it yet, I’m going to be referring to the new game as Grief for the time being.  I wish that Grief would work as a final title, because it does have a bit of zing to it, but it’s completely un-Google-friendly.  Way too common of a word for a Flash game that relies so heavily on the viral nature of the internet.

So, Grief.  The story is coming along very nicely–I’ve got some good ideas cooking.  It’ll turn out good.  I still approve of Company’s ending, but it’s a little too out of left field for me to be completely satisfied.  A really good twist ending should come from somewhere that makes sense, while still being surprising.  I don’t know whether or not Grief will have a twist ending.  It’s possible.  We’ll have to wait and see.

I did some more work on the engine and editor.  They’re both coming along gorgeously.  The editor is going to be capable of some pretty cool shit by the time it’s done.  The engine has some basic postprocessing stuff worked in now, too–This is possible because I’m using my own bitmap renderer instead of using Flash’s standard stuff.  At this point there are two effects.  The first is a desaturation filter, which just takes out all the color in the image.  The second is gloom, which is like the opposite of bloom.  Bloom makes bright light sort of spill out into shapes around it.  Gloom does the same thing with dark areas.  Much more fitting to the tone of the game.

More editor work for now, and we’re getting ready to start working with the game’s visual style.  Should be an interesting process, for sure.

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One Response

  1. Nice idea with the musical instruments, that’s suuuuuuper important for learning something completely. Like you’re going to know about different materials and how sound works, thats cool. I learned about how meat dries, and now I have an idea of how things dry. Also, for the cell game, (maybe) making it more realistic, by like making it kinda like a 3d osmosis jones will make it more visceral and real. maybe. Yea but it’s gonna take you a while to make anything, just like my cousin who’s an artist, each mosaic takes like a month, depending how big it is. A big project, like on the side of a building took him like 8 months, but his work is…. rigorous and detailed and very thoughtful and carefully crafted. His works are good, old museum art good, like roman vases good. Anyway, yea it’s good that you are making your own instruments because i’m doing the same thing, but with economics. It really helps you understand precisely how the physical world works. It’s nice.

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