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.




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