Monday, 3 September 2018

NEW GAME RELEASE!!


TALES OF THE OUTER ZONE: CYBORG SEPPUKU



I made this point-and-click adventure game in only three weeks 
using AGS (Adventure Game Studio). 
It was a blast :D

It's a short cyberpunk adventure about marriage and selfdestruction.



Monday, 30 April 2018

RADIOPHONE BROADCAST #3



!!! ALL ABOARD !!!


Jesper and I moved into an office in Copenhagen together with three lovely game studios: Lohika (Machineers), PortaPlay (Tales From The Void) and Triband (Keyboard Sports and What the Golf?).

Finally we had a real office to work at. Though not the finest offices in the world, the place was perfect for us :)

Jesper busy at work.
And a lot of reference on the walls!

I'm not at work, but that's my office table.
And a Triband beer..



That's me (Malte) and my daughter Franka :)


In the first couple of months we tried out two different prototypes before making our current (3rd prototype). In the first prototype we focused on the house and how you could drag and drop patients into different rooms. The concept included a cross-section of the house which would probably look really good once fleshed out. Here is the placeholder:

Map of house (main menu).

Each room had a separate screen. In these screens you could perform different tasks. You paid rent and set the level of security in "The Lobby", gave out tasks to the nurse in "The Kitchen" and treated the patients in various "Treatment Rooms". We wanted the player to experience the atmosphere of the house by moving in and out of the rooms. This sounds nice as a concept. But it turned out it was way too complicated and took away from the core experience: treating and managing the patients.

Nurse duties.


We did include a treatment and an examination in the first prototype. The treatment worked ok, but not great. In order to start the treatment, a machine had to be set correctly according to the patient. When the machine was ready a patient-zapping minigame began.

Treatment


The examination was basically designed as an interactive interview. The player was to point-and-click through the room of the patient (all rooms were tailored to fit each patient), making the patient talk about his/her stuff. Hereby the player would gather information, enter the information in a strange device called "The Lunatron", resulting in the diagnose. Again this sounds quite nice on paper, but it was, once again.. too complicated! ...and boring.

Examination.


So we took a hard look at the game and ended up scrapping the whole thing and started from scratch.
Well not completely from scratch. We still had some functions that went on to the next prototype.
Including an "Start new day screen" in an office and an "End of day screen" which would include a dinner scene with the patients.

Office (begin new day)

Dinner scene (end day)

In our second prototype we focused on the characters. We still made use of the drag-drop system, but this time, the camera stayed outside the rooms, instead of entering the rooms.

We worked out a system where you had to drag and drop each character to a slot which activated a function. And we figured this would be a fitting system to put into a boat. So we went out to sea! Instead of a house, the asylum was now a ship which went from port to port gathering new patients.

2nd Prototype: Ship Map (main menu)




During this time, I also did some art tests to figure out the artstyle of the game. Here are some of the styles:
Big flat shapes.
Low res pixel art
Bright, clean and soft shaded with mild colors

Earth colored. Dark, horror and organic.


Skewed shapes. Patterns. One strong color.
This went into the 3rd prototype.

The job of the engineer was to move the ship forward, but if a machine broke down, the engineer would have to repair it - and the ship would lay still for a day. The nurse was making food, but if a patient room needed cleaning, you would do the food yourself. And so on. An interesting puzzle...


2nd Prototype.
Each character has a function.


But AGAIN.. we forgot the main deal: treating the patients.
Sure you could examinate and treat the patients, but the focus was on the ship-puzzle all the time and the patients became a secondary thing. Not good.
So again we threw that prototype in the trash and started anew.

The third prototype is our current one (as of April 2018). It is much closer to the original vision, but we are still not quite there. There is a stronger, more minimalistic design in there somewhere.. we just have to dig in and find it!

3rd prototype

The next Radiophone Broadcast will be about developing our current (3rd) prototype.




Thursday, 19 April 2018

EARLY PREVIEW TRAILER

! THE FIRST TRAILER IS OUT !

This is an early preview, so a lot will happen to the game throughout the rest of development.
All you see is work in progress.

Hope you like our direction so far..


Monday, 2 April 2018

TRYING OUT A NEW LOOK FOR THE GAME


I wanted the game to have stronger colors and put emphasis on the retro futuristic, mysterious and surreal aspects of the game. I intended to make it much brighter, but while working it got darker and darker. Guess it just fits the pulp style I was going for..



Tuesday, 27 March 2018

RADIOPHONE BROADCAST #2:



! DANISH GAME FUND IS FUNDING MYSTERIOUS ASYLUM !


My initial idea for House of Lunacy came at a visit to Museum Dr. Guislain in Gent, Belgium. The museum is placed at an old psychiatric hospital, and is dedicated to show the history of psychiatry along with an art gallery with works inspired by and made by, people with mental illnesses. The many strange devices, machines and methods used in the old days of psychiatry were an immediate inspiration.


Imagining the interaction with these bizarre instruments felt like a game to me. And not just interaction with machines. Interaction with people as well.


Diagnosing and treating patients are such manipulative actions. When we play with game characters, we are essentially playing with dolls. The pulling of strings, and discoveries made by doing so, triggers a natural stimuli - the curiosity of the human being. Exploring and manipulating the mind of another person and the responsibility that goes along with it makes the challenge naturally attractive.



So I began writing down the concept, trying to focus on manipulation of the patients. As I am an artist, my mind naturally drifted into story, atmosphere, specific scenes and how the whole thing should end and so on. Artsy stuff. I forgot about the most important part: the game.

I quickly restrained myself and started focusing on the essentials, which is a challenge when you have not designed a management game before. Though three things were clear: 1. The game would be closer to Paper’s Please than Theme Hospital. I wanted to focus on the patients, and not on the asylum. 2: The game was about ethical choices, and not about actual psychiatry. 3: The treatments had to be highly interactive, outrageous and out of this world.

An actual treatment - The Cat Piano

My game developer skills are very broad, but when it comes to programming I am a newbie, so I needed a coding partner. The person that came to mind was game designer Jesper Brun Halfter, a guy I met while studying game design at the university. He liked the idea and joined the project! Hurrah!


Early prototype for DFI
After a couple of meetings and a lot of beer, a small prototype was pitch-ready for the Danish game fund at DFI (Danish Film Institute). Thankfully, they loved the concept and gave us enough support to develop the idea, which led to these last four months. (We are currently seeking funding for the next step of development).

Next up, I will talk about moving into office and designing our first prototypes.

For diversity and the mind!
-        - Malte Burup

Friday, 23 March 2018

RADIOPHONE BROADCAST #1



! HOUSE OF LUNACY OPENS FOR PATIENTS IN NEAR FUTURE !



Four months ago, we (Malte Burup and Jesper Brun Halfter) began development of a mental asylum management game for PC and Mobile. The working title, “Doctor Kiefer’s House of Lunacy” and the game’s atmosphere is inspired by the Belgian artist Gideon Kiefer.


Unlike many tycoon games, House of Lunacy will focus on the patients, instead of the asylum itself. The player will be diagnosing and treating the patients based on the bizarre methods used throughout history.


Even though House of Lunacy is inspired by psychiatric history, the game is purely fictional, and will take place in a surrealistic parallel world out of time and place.

We are very excited about House of Lunacy as it deals with one of our favorite subjects: the abnormal. When can you define a human as “normal”? Is it better to be “normal”? Throughout history, our society has tried to deal with people who stuck out of the norm. Sometimes to improve the life quality of the those diagnosed, and sometimes improving the life quality of the people around them. We have not yet solved the many mysteries of the human brain, and this game will not try to solve anything. Instead, it will try to mirror the ethical dilemmas that emerge when dealing with psychiatry and the diversity of the human being.


One of the challenges with this game, is the many taboos associated with the theme. By taking a few steps away from our world and timeline, we will be more free to show the absurd, bizarre and darker side of psychiatry without pointing any fingers. It is not our intention to make fun of, or in any way expose psychiatry, people with diagnoses or psychiatrists. Like most other people, we too are confronted by mental health problems in our lives and in our friends and families. We simply think that this important subject matter deserves a place in game history.

A number of films and documentaries has dealt with the subject, but games tend to use asylums primarily in survival horror games. This is totally fine, but we think that psychiatry deserves another kind of game as well. The player’s manipulation of a game character has many parallels with the manipulation between people. Police and crook. Teacher and student. Doctor and patient. We think psychiatry is the perfect match for the interactive media.


By putting the player in the role of a manipulative psychiatrist dealing with difficult ethical choices, we can challenge the emotions of the player, and letting these emotions play a significant role, we can create an experience that is only possible in a video game.






HERE you can read more and look at screens from the current state of the game.






We will continue this development blog by going through the progress of these first four months, so stay tuned on your Radiophone..

For diversity and the mind!
-         - Malte Burup