Hey there, Gamers and Game Makers!
With Halloween just about upon us, I thought it only appropriate to talk about my favorite topic, horror! Halloween is easily my favorite time of year. It's the perfect time binge watch some scary movies, read some terrifying tales or step into the shoes of the main character of a horror game in a brutal and tense struggle to survive. So, what is it about horror that we love so much? Why do we like to scare ourselves?
Most people like to experience horror through media such as movies, books and games because it affords them the opportunity to face some of their greatest fears in a safe way. While the experience may be frightening, in the back of our minds ultimately we know we are safe and no harm can come to us. Afterwards you often have a good laugh at it wondering why you even got scared in the first place. And boy, do we love to point out the flawed logic in horror situations!
For me personally, I love psychological horror. It requires so much more to scare the audience than sudden loud noses and things popping up on screen. Psychological horror relies more on mental and emotional states to scare the audience. If you feel uneasy, then it's working. A game that does this very well is Silent Hill 2. It's one of my favorite games of all time and for good reason. It manages to put the player in a state of constant unease and fear using very dark themes that are delivered in very subtle ways. When you think back on the game, it's not the monsters or the location that terrified you the most. It was that feeling in the back of your mind that you understood what was going on with these characters and that even you as the player could be a horrible person. Everyone has their own demons, their own darkness inside them. A nature that we all know we have but so rarely want to admit we have. A truly good horror won't just scare you, it'll show you that darkness that we all have and it'll make you think about it.
So when it comes to creating a horror experience, no matter what medium you choose, the key is not shock value but rather not shying away from the dark themes that is our own human nature. We have such a great capacity for good but we also have the capacity for such evil and true psychological horror is about exposing that harsh truth and forcing the audience to question themselves somewhat. The difference between good psychological horror and a scary monster movie or game is with the scary monster experience you come away having a laugh at how scared you got at the jump scares and that feel good feeling of knowing none of it was real and you're safe. A truly good psychological horror however will leave you coming away from the experience with a little bit of an uneasy feeling for a while. That sense of dread because while that experience was a work of fiction, you know deep down that there was a truth to that horror. A reflection of yourself you don't want to see but once you've seen that reflection, it takes a little bit of time for it to fade from your mind.
A good example of a psychological horror movie from the past year that I really enjoyed is The Void. Under the vale of monsters lurks that same dark reflection of human nature that we don't want to admit we have.
That just about does it for my ramblings on the topic of horror. As always, I hope you've enjoyed reading and have a happy and scary Halloween.
Until next time!
Hey there, Gamers and Game Makers!
So with six weeks into college as a mature student, I thought it was time for an update on all things college life and what's going on with my Game Dev projects.
Six weeks in and I think I'm as settled in as one can be. First round of assessments out of the way and all is going good. It's interesting to see how having a background in game development can give an advantage in some subjects such as programming and from having had years of dealing with folks in a formal manner also giving an advantage to Apps and IPC.
Thankfully I've been able to stay comfortably on top of all my college work while still allowing time for working on game projects. Maintaining a solid routine is key to that. With that said, I am very much looking forward to the Christmas holidays and just relaxing for a bit. Although let's face it, that time off will be spent on game dev work and holiday food of course!
So, work on my current project is still going strong. Obviously being in college means I get less hours to work on it but I get about three hours an evening during the week to work on it and more on the weekends. I'm still not ready to post what the project is exactly but, it's making solid progress. The latest iteration of the prototype is turning out exactly as I'd like it to and the art style is shaping up to be pretty great. All going to plan, I'm hoping to be ready to show off some teaser content after Christmas when the game should start being representative of its final form.
That's about all for now with the updates and once the game is ready to show off, you can expect more in the update posts as well as blog posts specifically about the game.
Until next time!
Hey there Gamers and Game Makers!
I recently got an email asking about my process when it came to crating the art for The Concierge. So I decided it might be a good idea to start a small series of blog posts where I talk about some of the tools I use when making my games and the process I use with each tool.
So this week, I'm going to talk a bit about the art for The Concierge and what I used to make it. The game is a 2D point and click adventure game and I decided to go with the pixel art style for two reasons. The first, simply because I'm a big fan of pixel art in games and secondly for the fact that pixel art can be made quickly.
I used photoshop to make my pixel art for the game. I know what you're thinking and yes, photoshop does seem like overkill for doing art as simple as pixel art. However I'm very used to using photoshop for other purposes such as texture art and high res art. So, right off the bat, I was more comfortable using it than some of the other tools I used and while pixel art may appear simplistic in its design, doing really good pixel art requires a few more tricks that photoshop just makes much more easy.
With pixel art you have to work on a very small canvas in photoshop and then upscale once you are ready to use it in engine. The hardest part to making your pixel art look good is getting the color palette right. I spent quite a while playing around with colors until I found a palette that suited the vibe I wanted for the game. As for drawing my pixel art I use a Wacom tablet as it feels more natural for me to draw with a pen. The lighting you see in the game is a combination of some shadow effects applied in photoshop using layers and then the rest by using lighting in engine to get the desired look and feel.
When making pixel art in photoshop it's important to set your image interpolation to nearest neighbor and keep your canvas small (300 x 300 is a good size) and use the pencil tool, not the brush unless needed for a specific reason. Pixel art, like all art takes practice. If you want to get good at it just start playing around with it. You don't need photoshop to get started, that's just my tool of choice. You can use a number of free tools to get started.
I hope this has been of some help and if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch or leave a comment below.
Until next time!
Hey there, Gamers and Game makers!
This week, I'm going to talk a bit about when you should start talking about your game and my opinions on how you should do it.
Deciding when is the right time to start talking about your game with the world can be a very tricky thing. On one hand you want to start talking about it as soon as possible so that you can start growing interest in it and get a fan base established before launch. On the other hand, you don't want to talk about it too early as ideas and concepts can change and you may come to feel that your game idea wasn't that good and you cancel the game in the end and now people are mad that a game they were potentially interested in is no longer in development and they have lost some faith in you as a developer.
In my experience, years ago when I first started making games I would tell anyone who would listen about my game idea. This is way before I had the sense to prototype my ideas and I just assumed the idea in my head was pure gold. It rarely was. So what I found was I would start talking about this great game idea I had and all the features it was going to have. The good news is I was good at getting people interested in my game. The bad news was I hadn't wrote a single line of code or even a basic design doc at this point.
So, when I would start on these games that I had talked up so much, I quickly realized I was in way over my head. the game was too large in scope and beyond my budget and skill to develop. This meant the game was soon dropped. Sometimes and this goes for AAA and indies today that you'll have developers talk about a game they are developing and mention aspects of it or features but when the game comes out, that feature is not in it. This often angers people because something they expected to be in a game is not there and they feel ripped off. Now what often happens in these cases is that a developer will talk about a feature that they plan on putting in the game that sounds good on paper but once they start testing it, they soon realize that it's not fun and they remove it. The player never got to play the feature so they don't know that it wasn't fun. They just know something they were told would be in the game now isn't.
So how do you know when the time is right to talk about your game? Well, in all honesty that really depends on you and how you feel about your game. Some people like to talk about it right away and share development news right from the start talking about things they put in the game and a week later that feature could be cut but they want to share the whole process. This is a great approach for your first game as you can learn along the way and document your process.
I personally like to wait until after I've made several prototypes of my game idea and establish a solid core gameplay loop or I've nailed down the narrative of the game. People who follow your game development progress also want to see that you are sure of what you are doing and that you are taking the time to develop on ideas before releasing them to the world. Before you start talking about your game, make sure you've developed your idea fully, created a design doc even if it's a basic one and prototyped your game to a level that you are confident in the games design and are ready to move forward. However if this is your first game, I would say talk about it and share its development right from the start as you'll get more feedback that will help you learn as a new developer.
As always, I hope you enjoyed this blog and found it helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an email or leave a comment below.
Until next time!