Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Level 2 Design: Furnace Area

One of the more exciting places that the player sees the role of lighting is following the toy factory area.

Mike was very concerned in placing all sorts of environmental obstacles throughout the game. In the first level we had giant snow balls to avoid, and following the toy factory he placed fire that shoots from the pipes. The player needs to time when he should jump from box to box in order to avoid the fire. Careful use of lighting helped give this corridor and the shooting fire the effect we were going for.

While the toy factory was well lit, and the corridor was illuminated by fire, the next big room is a bit darker. Perhaps that is a function of he confusions that Mike and I encountered design in this area. An earlier iteration of this room had a large gap that could only be crossed by a narrow rail. As I said, Mike likes environmental challenges. However, during play testing, neither of us liked the effect that this area was giving. The player simply traversed the challenge to quickly and easily. So the room had to transform, and instead of a semi-challenging bridge, it became a winding corridor.

This turned out well for a couple of reasons. First, we were able to place more enemies and this have a couple of nice fight encounters. Another thing is that by slow in the player down, he could enjoy the fantastic machines that Krystal designed.

We had originally wanted these machines to be placed in the toy factory. After all, that seems like the most reasonable place for machines. However, a quick glance reveals that these designs clash with the primitive shapes that form out the factory. For a while we had tried to force them in place, but they looked forced, and it just didn't work. We didn't know where a nice place for these machines would be, and we actually considered leaving them out of the game completely. We were also considering placing them in this area when there was supposed to be a bridge and gap. But then the player would race through too fast to he able to appreciate them. However, after turning this space into a winding corridor, placing them was easy, he effect of these furnaces really shined.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Level 2 Design: Toy Factory

The player finally reaches the toy factory. He now gets to see up close what he saw from above in the pipes. In addition to introducing new factory worker enemies to fight, we had to figure out what kind of design we wanted for things like machines. Since the rest of the design of the game was fairly straightforward, we decided he beat way to go would be to simply use primitive shapes, and put hem together. There are a lit of cubes, cones, and cylinders that are placed all through the toy factory. All we did was places them in interesting positions. So the player will see a lot of those cylinders and cones at odd angles relative to their surroundings.

We also went simple with color schematics, too. Really, only the floor and walls have a texture map that has any sort of dynamism to it. Everything else has a flat color mapped, and little else. One way we spiced up all the flat colors was to use lighting in different ways.

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And download the Full Game or Demo

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Level 2 Design: Intro Area

After fighting through the elves, yeti, and snowmen in the mountains, the player then knows that he must fight through the factory to get closer to the nemesis, Santa Claus. This, of course brings back all sorts of terrible memories for our hero. This was the setting of his torment and suffering.

Again he would have to challenge his brethren who are still brainwashed, and don't realize the hero is fighting for their liberation. But he is in for a surprise when he sees that the inanimate toys that he used to build have been given life in order to stop him, in fact, hey are the first enemies he encounters in the second level.

Crawling through a tunnel in the first level mountain brings our hero to a pipe, through which he enters the factory.

From the earliest iteration of this level, we wanted this pipe to give the player a sense of claustrophobia, and with the colors, perhaps an epileptic seizure. I remember when I was a kid, I went to Universal Studios (back when there was only one, and it was in LA). The part of the tram tour that always had (and still has) the worst effect on me was the avalanche, when we drove through an enclosed tube, and he tube spun. This always made me sick, despite the fact that there wasn't any real movement. Since then I have always been fascinated with this sort of optical effects that challenge the orientation of the viewer. But I also realized that we're trying to make a commercial game, so there had to be a compromise, and so it ended up the way it is.

Another aspect of this pipe entrance to the level that Mike really wanted was that this entrance would reveal to the player the later places of he level. The only way to do this within a claustrophobic pipe would be to cut holes in the pipe. So the problem was that we needed to cut holes that the player could not pass through, but were big enough to get a good view of the factory portion of the level. The solution we came up with was bars.

Once the player passes through the drainage pipe, and sees the factory he will soon get to, we felt we had to put a buffer between these two portions of the level.

We decided on a simple hall way where all the excess presents from the toy factory were placed. Here the player finds the new toy villains he will face, including the teddy bear, the clapping monkey, and the rocking horse. He is also reminded of the elves who tried to kill him on the mountain.

This short L shaped hall offers the player a nice transition between the pipe and the toy factory.

Remember to visit Give Up Games Here
And download the Full Game or Demo 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Krampus - spoiler alert

When Crystal delivered the final Santa design, she coupled it with a demon Santa version as well. We wanted to implement some sort of twist or surprise ending to The Elf Who Killed Christmas, but it was originally going to include the reveal that Santa is really a robot/ cyborg. This seemed cool and straightforward to me, and I liked it. However Mike and Crystal came to the conclusion that Santa should turn into a demon instead.

After seeing Crystal's design, I was very upset and against it. For one thing, the demon had a ridiculous tail. Certainly it looked cool, but it would be a pain to animate! Secondly, there was a big puff of fur around Santa's main, and like the Yeti, that would be difficult to deal with. Last but not least, why would Santa turn into a demon? That made no sense to me. Clearly Santa turning into a robot is much more sensible. For these reasons I refused to produce the demon Santa.

But then I did some research on my own, and learned that in some cultures, there was actually a tradition of a Christmas demon, Krampus. When I learned this I insisted that we implement Crystal's demon Santa as Krampus. Of course, they told me that this was the motivation for this demon character all along. So, Krampus would be the surprise at the end of the game.

I still had to resolve the problems I described above about the character design. I decided to jettison both the tail and the mane. But that would mean that the character would look too much like the original Santa, just with goat legs and horns. I had to figure out what to add to the design to give it just a little extra something.

That's where his pecker and balls come in. If he's not wearing pants, then he's not wearing pants! I was a little worried about how Mike would accept this change. But after all, we are Give Up Games, so it we agreed that it fit perfectly with what this game was.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Santa Claus

What would a Christmas themed game be without a Santa Claus?! It was clear from the start who the final big boss of The Elf Who Killed Christmas would be. It perfectly fits the subversive nature of Give Up Games that at the end, you have to shoot up and kill Santa.

The question, however, was what kind of Santa would this be? Doing the research, one can easily find lots of different Santa designs out there. I believe that Crystal, our designer, did a good job of making a Santa that we hadn't seen before.

The first thing that pops out to me is that he has no feet or legs. How would he move, then? I went for a solution whereby he would do a sort of waddle to get from place to place.

The further question is about how Santa should attack. We didn't think that giving Santa a big gun like the RoboSanta would feel right. Nor could he just throw thing like the Yeti. However, by studying Crystals design, we were better able to develop an interesting solution to the problem.

Seeing an evil wizard deep within the character's design, Santa's attacks would resemble a spellcaster. He would summon some sort of magical orb, and something would emanate from these orbs. It was a neat solution because the animation for summoning an spinning orb would not be complicated, yet it still retained the ridiculousness that we were aiming for in this game.