…Another Begins.

One Step Back

It’s less than a week before presentations and I’m starting over. But I have confidence, I may be lacking for time, but my plan has a drive. My project is going to be a game. More specifically a game that expands upon one of my previous game projects. Currently titled as One Step Back, the original premise of the game is set entirely in a single room, when exiting the room the player is lead back into the same room, with some variation. A narrator directs the player through the game, though the player has freedom to go with or against the narration.

With revisiting any project, the first step is digging up the original work. This was a 2 man project involving myself and Bradley Sandford, over a 72 hour period; 9th – 11th december 2016, (2 years ago today) so the pre-production was VERY limited. Nonetheless, revisiting the old concepts has brought new ideas to mind and highlighted some of the original ideas that were not possible for the time frame. On top of gathering the original material for the project I’ve created PDF’s of the game pages including comments and the synopsis of the game at the time, all serving towards understanding the thought process behind the decisions and whether any of those decisions can be expanded on.

Original Production Work

Why a game?

I’ve always been interested in games and gaming, the first thing I did when I knew how to model, texture, skin and animate in maya was to take it into making a game. Turning images to polygons and polygons into something that you can control in real time, it’s really an extension of yourself. Our first game dates back to December 2015 with Project Vi, a 2D game using Java. The leap to 3D in 2016 was a game changer, since then we’ve worked together in 3 other game jams;

LudumDare 38: Spherit
LudumDare 41: Journey to The Core
UoP Game Jam 2018: SwipeD

Where to start?

Game development is different from creating for a frame as there’s an additional element of, is this game fun to play? The plan before development is to familiarize myself with Unity once again and explore mechanics that are enjoyable to the player. Writing Game Design Documents, outlining assets and their functions and furthermore a baseline for level progression. This projects pre-production will be challenging as it is unlike any of my previous projects.

The original One Step Back blog post

Why not something new?

As a team we both said we would revisit One Step Back to develop the idea further. One Step Back has been our most well received game to date and is one of our proudest accomplishments. The concept had simplicity and a lot of potential for expansion. At the time it was build from tropes and mechanics but the plan is to expand it into an expression. We’re taking influences from The Stanley Parable, Portal, The Island and The Truman Show.

Challenges

After 2 years of studying narrative through a frame, it’ll be difficult to reimagine narrative as interactions. With a medium that gives players control, the narrative becomes passive rather than active, building expression is not a matter of what to tell the player but more an element of what the player experiences themselves.

Game mechanics create expectation; using expectation we can have a direct impact on the player. A character’s emotional journey should conveyed through players emotional journey. It’s not about what happens to the character, it’s about what happens to the player. A boss for example is hard and usually concludes a pivotal moment in the story, the struggle and relief that the player goes through in order to beat the boss is more valuable than having a cutscene that depicts the character struggling and beating said boss.

Current Progression of New Content

Within the time of deciding to change this project I have immersed myself back within Unity, experimenting with new shader tools and render pipelines, gathered and revisited original concept art, assets and game design documentation and attempted to expand upon ideas with a new design document and imagery.

Did some further experimentation with Shader Graphs in Unity and to go along side the shader I wrote a script that detects whether the object is being selected and clicked by the player. These elements aren’t directly related to the game itself but it has been good to explore how shaders, scripts and materials interact with each other.

using System.Collections;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using UnityEngine;

public class MouseOver_jej : MonoBehaviour {

	public float HighlightValue = 0f;
	public float HighlightSpeedUp = 0.01f;
	public float HighlightSpeedDown = 0.01f;
	public float HighlightClick = 0f;
	public bool Hover;

	void Update() {
		if(Hover && HighlightValue < 1f) {
			HighlightValue += (HighlightSpeedUp * Time.deltaTime);
		}else if(!Hover && HighlightValue > 0f) {
			HighlightValue -= (HighlightSpeedDown * Time.deltaTime);
		}

		if (Input.GetMouseButton(0) && Hover){
			HighlightClick = 1f;
		}else{
			HighlightClick = 0f;
		}

		GetComponent<Renderer>().material.SetFloat("Vector1_BEF707AF", HighlightValue);
		GetComponent<Renderer> ().material.SetFloat ("_ClickOn", HighlightClick);
	}

	void OnMouseEnter () {
		Hover = true;
	}
	void OnMouseExit () {
		Hover = false ;
	}			
			
}
Unity Shader Graph

Unitys shader graph is powerful, but with so many possible combinations I simply followed a tutorial on creating this basic shader. With some more research i’m sure I’ll develop a confidence to create whatever may be needed.

Playable version of the original

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