Hey there, Gamers and Game Makers!
In this week's blog, I'm going to talk a little about what it was like remaking a game I made a few years ago that is also one of my favorites, Fading Light.
So, the original Fading Light, for those who don't know, is a short first person horror game set deep underground in the fictional Arkham Caves. The player finds themselves here after wandering from a tour group in the caves and while exploring falls down deeper into an unknown section of the caves. From this point on the players given objective is to find a way out of the cave. What could go wrong, right? Well, soon enough you discover you are not alone down in the depths of the cave and you find yourself being hunted by creatures of a dark primal nature.
Comparison of the games opening. Left: Original Right: Remake
From a mechanics point of view, while the original was good and well received, there were certain aspects that I would have liked more time to improve on.One of the main things the original lacked was a save system. Now while the game is short enough that players tend to finish it in a single sitting,I still would have liked them to have the ability to save. The monsters in the original were never inflicted much damage to the player and I had the players health regenerate. So while they were scary at first, they soon became clearly no real threat and as such just an obstacle to avoid.
So what are the main changes in the remake? One of the first things I wanted to address in the remake was the monsters. The original game had humanoid creatures that while they were scary, didn't feel quite natural to that environment. So the first thing from an artistic and aesthetic point of view was to change them. In the remake, the creatures are now arachnid monsters which right away feels more natural to the environment. In the original, the monsters didn't deal much damage and as a result didn't pose much of a threat. So in the remake, I knew right away that I didn't just want to make them more of a challenge but to make them a real terrifying predator. I removed the regenerating health system and made the monsters insta-kill the player. With improved pathfinding and AI, this makes them much more of a threat in game and with their spawning times and locations random, even I get surprised by them. With how they move, adding a scratching sound effect for their walk cycle makes for a good warning system to alert the player that one is close while at the same time acting as a sort of fear mechanic.
The next thing I wanted to improve upon was the reading of notes in the game. In both the original and the remake, you find journal entries. In the original these were marked as single illuminated pages in the environment. Reading one brought up a very basic GUI texture and placed text over it. In the remake, the journal entries are found in the environment as actual books that once you you interact with bring up a journal created in photoshop to give a better effect in game.
Original game note pick-up.
Remake note pick-up.
The next thing I wanted to improve upon was the lighting of the game. Mainly the players source of light, the lantern. Both original and remake are dark games for the simple fact that when you're deep underground it's pitch black darkness. Anyone who's been on a tour of a cave will be able to tell you that when they turn off the lights, you are left in complete darkness.
Now, in both games, the players main source of light is an old lantern that they find. In the original the lantern light flickered as you'd expect an old oil lantern flame would. The main problem with the lantern light in the original was that the flickering was perhaps to intense and unnatural. In the remake I've toned down the flickering and adjusted the colors to emulate a more natural effect you'd imagine from an old oil lantern. As for the overall color palette, the original was in hindsight far to yellow in its tone. In the remake I've reduced the intensity of the colors and went for more of a slight orange to the lanterns light.
Lighting in original game
Lighting in remake
The other notable changes in the remake include changes to the games pacing and structure of gameplay. Nothing to major but small changes that make certain parts of the game make more sense and improve the overall player experience. Having finished the remake I'm happy with how it came out. I was afraid going into it that it wouldn't be as good but I think it definitely improved on the original keeping what made it good while bringing something new to the game. If you'd like to check out the original, you can find info here. If you'd like to check out the remake, you can find info here.
Until next time!
Hi Gamers and Game Makers!
In this week's blog, I'm going to talk about one page Game Design Documents and why they're a really handy tool for prototyping games.
So, by now you know I like to prototype my game ideas as early as possible in an effort to ascertain whether or not the game idea actually makes for a good game. Now while the prototype is meant to be a very rough small build to demonstrate gameplay and mechanics, you still need to keep track of what it is you're going to make and more importantly, understand what it is you're trying to make.
A great way of keeping track of and understanding your design better is with one page Game Design Documents(GDD). These are great not just for organizing the design of your own early prototype, but also if you're taking part in a game jam. It's a quick and effective way of conveying your games design to other people and members of your team so that you can work more effectively towards making the game in the given time you have.
So, what should be in a one page GDD? Well, it can vary to an extent depending on the type of developer you are and the type of games you tend to make but, a good overall one page GDD will consist of a Game Overview, where you give a quick summery of what the game is about.
An Objective section where you outline the goals and motivation of the player as well as structure.
A Mechanics section where you describe the core mechanics and features of the game. Preferably in bullet point structure, keeping it clear and concise.
A Gameplay section where you describe a typical scene from the game and how it should play. Be very clear and descriptive here so that the person reading it can easily imagine the game scene in there head and understand what it is you are conveying.
A Style section which you use to describe the visual style of the game. Attach any reference images that may be applicable to help the person reading to understand or further research the style. Also make use of this section to describe the style of music the game will have and the role audio will play in the games design.
I've attached a basic template version at the end of this post for people to use if they wish. One page GDD's are make for not just better communication about your games design with other people, but also helps you better understand game design by seeing how all the elements of your idea come together to work or in some cases, you see why it doesn't work and you can fix it. As always, I hope this was of use and if you want to ask any questions or get in touch, please do or leave a comment below.
Until next time!
Hey there, Gamers and Game Makers!
Before I get into this week's blog, I just want to take a moment to say that my blog has been awarded a Top 30 Game Design Blogs on the web by the folks over at Feedspot. It was surly a surprise as the list is comprised of some very popular creators such as the folks of Extra Credits. You can check out the list of blogs here.
Ok so, in this week's blog, I'm going to talk a bit about the pros and cons to having random elements to your games. These can range from random enemies spawning, random level generation and more. I've made some games in the past that have used random elements to an extent and I'm currently working on something that makes use of some random mechanics too.
A pro for me in using random elements to a game is as a developer, it can make the game I've spent a long time working on more fun. Simply because there will be moments where even I don't know what's going to happen. It makes a nice change from having made a linear game where I can predict every moment of it. Now the downside to this is the same as the upside. Not knowing what's going to happen can be fun but at the same time can be a pain for directing a game. Sometimes that random gameplay can end up frustrating the player more than being fun and even prevent them from finishing the game if a random element of the game such as an enemy spawns somewhere preventing the player from progressing.
For example, I'm currently working on a game that uses a random enemy spawn mechanic. This works better than placing the enemies as it's a horror game and allows for an element of unknowing each time you play. However, this mechanic could prove to just be annoying if say an enemy spawned right next to you when you start the game or if too many spawn at once making the game simply unfair.
So, how do we have random gameplay elements but also keep the game balanced? Using my game as an example, I create variables that I can use to set certain limits to the random spawning. First, I define areas where the enemies can spawn, making it impossible for an enemy to spawn next to the player when the game starts. Secondly, I define a max and minimum number that can spawn at a time. This way the player will never feel as if there was an unfair number of enemies at the one time and also they won't be left with nothing spawning.
I love having random gameplay mechanics to a game as they can bring a whole new feeling to a game but it's important that you do it right. Plan out what it is you want to do and keep testing and tweaking your mechanic until you feel you've struck a good balance with it. As always, I hope this has been of use and if you have any questions or want to get in touch or leave a comment below.
Until next time!
Hey there, Gamers and Game Makers!
This week, I want to talk a little bit about getting requests for review keys for games. While we can see reviews for games we're looking forward to on some very well known sites such as Rock Paper Shotgun, IGN and more. As indie developers who may not have a deep pocket for marketing, we tend to rely on more sources talking about the games we make. These can come from other smaller sites and especially Youtubers.
Now, I get several requests every week from various small game review sites and Youtubers and sometimes I tend to be apprehensive about giving out a review key for the game. It's not because the Youtuber or site is not very popular. As far as I'm concerned, all the smaller sources add up to some good coverage of your game. Especially if that Youtuber or review site has a following specifically interested in the type of game you are making. My concern comes from just how many of these have become scams to get games for free or to get keys to sell themselves.
I even at one point had an individual ask for a review key claiming he was from a particular gaming media outlet. Upon proving that he was not part of that outlet, I politely refused to supply a key and ended it there. The same individual then purchased the game (same email he used to contact me was used in the transaction) This was all very well and good until he right away demanded a refund for a DRM free game. Thankfully for me I had enough evidence from emails to prove that his claim for a refund was not legitimate.
So what can we do to avoid the scammers? Well,there's a few basic things you can do to quickly filter out the real from the fake.
If a Youtuber contacts you asking for a review key, make sure the email they contacted you from matches the email linked to their Youtube channel. You could even confirm the request through messaging them through Youtube itself. If it's someone claiming to be from a media outlet, the email's tend to have a particular format you can check or you could reach out to an editor at the site to confirm.
Check to see if the Youtube channel or media outlet is real and that they have posted content before and that that content is in keeping with what they are asking from you. If a Youtube channel has no subs and no content then that will raise some red flags.
These days if I get a creditable request for a key, after a bit of quick vetting I'll supply a review key or I'll often refer Youtubers to my Gamejolt page. Gamejolt offer a way for Youtubers to apply for an account that lets them download games for free to review them. This is a fantastic integration into the site for the simple fact that people actually looking to review my games can do so legitimately and saves me time on having to follow up requests.
I hope this helps some folks avoid being scammed out of game keys and let's you focus on actually making your game.
Until next time!