Friday, 28 February 2014

Readers Challenge - The Immersion is BLINDING!

Two weeks ago I set a challenge to make a game which you could not use visuals, and used sensors on the players hands to play. I was set a similar task during a university module, but my challenge was just to make a game with no visuals. I have added to the idea I had since the module to make the experience more interesting.

Lets start with the visual aspect of this brief, and the fact there isn't any. My first thought when i got this brief, was that the obvious choice was to do something with the main character being bind. But I added something to the brief for your guys that you could use in your ideas. I said that your controls attached to your hands could be lights instead of contacts, and hence you could do something with them changing color to signify something. That being said, I'll leave that for now as I didn't have that in my brief. Another thing that I had in my brief was I had to use a 3D sound-scape, so a player playing could hear what was going on around them. For this I thought that a good horror based game would be appropriate for the brief, as ambiance is usually something commonly associated with horror. I had also experienced a sound based game, where players listened to a recording with their eyes closed. This recording had the sounds of a rather disturbing haircut, while other things happened ether in the background or to the listener. One of the events in the recording had the barber put a plastic bag over your head, which makes you feel short of breath. Next I needed a setting, so i started thinking about that. When I made the game I was taking notes on Mass Effect 2 and Dead Space, so i jumped to space being the preferred setting. This wasn't a bad jump as a space theme actually gives me a bunch of machinery and electronics to make sounds out of. Buzzing wires, flickering clicks from malfunctioning lights, metal crashes, and glass thuds from asteroids all where available for me to shape into an environment. Now I had a setting and a base genera, all I had to do now was come up with some mechanics. I began thinking about how hard it is for us to discern where objects are just by sound, we mostly use sight and touch for spacial awareness, so making navigation as simple as possible was important to me. I also though that because sound was important that there should be a way of the player making sound to figure out where they are. With these things in mind i decided that the game would be about walking down a corridor, and tapping on the walls or sidling up to walls to get past obstacles. These controls when i made the game where as simple as up and down on the keyboard to move forward and back, tapping left and right  knocked on the walls of the corridor, and finally holding left or right put made the character put their back to that wall. So where is the horror, you might be asking. Well there needs to be some sort of threat so the simple thing to do was to add a monster that is a recurring obstacle. Finally I just added some other obstacles that get in the players way, like swinging electrical wires, doors which need keypads to be pressed, and lockers to hide from the monster. That was it, everything I made for the module, but I always wanted to add more to the experience. I decided that the game could have the player on a treadmill which was rigged to move forward or backward in relation to the player, and also that the player had to actually reach up and touch the walls with gloves that had contacts in to tap or outright sidle up to the wall to do the commands. Next you could also have the player duck by touching the ground, all the time having the movement of the players head change what they heard. Now you have my full explanation, but lets make this into a high concept shall we.

You play as a worker on the space station tilde. Alien life as invaded the station causing mayhem on board, and after an encounter with one of the alien lifeforms which unfortunately blinded you, you found a place to hide. Hours pass and you exit your hiding spot to find help, but the station is quiet, and destroyed. You need to go through the corridors of the station to get to safety, while avoiding the aliens. You have to do this only using your sense of hearing, and your intuitive use of the environment around you. Can you get off the station, or will you end up being just another meal.

So what did you guys come up with, I would love to see the designs in the comments below.

Don't forget to check back on Monday for the next post about game worlds.

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