The Locked Door

One of the biggest obstacles I have encountered with creating an interesting adventure game, is something Im calling The Locked Door.

The Locked Door is the predisposition to divide your game into a series of room, where the challenge comes down to getting through a door. The horrible thing is that these types of challenges just feel so ‘natural’ with Adventure Games-but they get old VERY quickly!

The challenge for me, in being a ‘one man design team’, is how often I hit the wall of ‘OK, so you have to get to the next area, but the door is locked’. Im sure with a few people to bounce ideas off of, this would happen WAY less, but the truth is EVERY area that I create starts off with that basic design. The trick is to try and train your brain to get out of the habit of ‘The Locked Door’, and try to find other obstacles for your character to circumvent.

Walking Around The Door…

Sometimes-the locked door is inevitable. Having a locked door just comes hand in hand with Adventure Games. So how do you make it interesting? Well, every door needs a key. If you have an interesting key, the door becomes interesting. Now, a key doesn’t have to be a literal KEY. When I have a locked door, Ive tried to be as creative as possible with the keys-from puzzles involving turning on power to a certain area, to resetting security computers. I have very cool ‘key’ that involves a kitchen knife, and a tattoo-but I dont want to give to much away. 😉

Less Inventory Puzzles!!!

Something that Im also trying to do with the game design is to steer away from INVENTORY puzzles when I can. I dont want the game to devolve into a ‘use everything on everything’ click fest. The screen below is a small example of other forms of interaction that will take place in STASIS.

The Breaker Box

The Infirmary

And for those who just come for the candy, here is a new area, briefly hinted at before. 😉

-Chris

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INFIRMARY

Here is a shot of a part of the infirmary. Dont wanna give away to much.. 😉

I also occasionally get an itch to do something else. I LOVE the Fallout series of games, and really was pretty disappointed that Fallout 3 was ditching the Isometric camera. I would have loved to see another Fallout game, keeping the Isometric angle, so played around with my own version. This is my take on a night time shot, where a travelor comes across a ‘reclaimed’ air force cargo plane. Just something to get the creative juices going. 😉

-Chris

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STASIS in the IGM Magazine

I was lucky enough to have a preview of STASIS in the IGM Magazine a few months ago. Here is a copy of the article. 😉

A very big thanks to David Bruggink for the opportunity!

IGM – Stasis Preview DOWNLOAD ME.

http://www.indiegamemag.com

Here is the unedited interview. Some info has changed since this, but it does give some nice incite into the game.

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What are some of the inspirations behind Stasis?

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The discovery of the Space Jockey in the original ALIEN film served as the first seed for Stasis. The feeling of forboding…of being alone…of exploring  something truely strange and alien. While that premis of petrified alien remains is very different to the story in Stasis, the ‘feel’ is defintely something that has carried through the design process. In its current form, Stasis is the bastard child of every SciFi film I’ve seen-from ALIEN, Event Horizon, to Sunshine. If it has shots of space ships in it, chances are there is a sliver of it in the design!Visually, the original FALLOUT (I and II), and the Commandoes series of games have been a massive influence on me. I’ve always adored those rich, detailed  isometric game graphics, and I just coulsnt resist the opportunity to create something like that!
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As far as genre, how would you describe Stasis as an adventure game (eg, purely sci-fi, survival horror, etc)?
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its quite difficult to nail down as a genre. Does survival-sci-fi-drama count as a genre? The game is very much a ‘you against the world’ story. There are some  truely lonely moments in the game. I always tend to go back to that feeling in ALIEN of being boxed in…being forced into these narrow dark areas. It definately  has a survival feeling to it, with a story thats quite emotional aswell. Thats really what I want to get accross…not only the cool sci-fi set pieces and  concepts, but a quite highly charged emotional story. Without that grounding, without feeling anything for the characters or the world, the time spent playing would be a waste.
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It seems like the protagonist of Stasis, Captain Maracheck, is on his own in most of the screens. Will Stasis be very dialogue-driven or feature other npc’s?
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The captain is alone for most of the game. There are some NPC’s involved, but not in the traditional NPC sence of the word. One guiding light is the comm system  that is always open to your ship, Hawking. He is kind of the captains best friend, and the one that helps him out in whatever situation he can. The thing is tho,  that Hawking has no emotion. He is JUST a computer, but the captain almost imbues a personality onto him-kind of in the way that people give their pets more  personality than they actually have. Its been quite fun to come up with dialog between the two-because Hawking really just doesnt ‘get’ humour, and as a result, can be quite funny.
Other NPC’s that appear in the story will nudge the captain in certain directions, with some of them even forcing him into some quite horrific moral dilemmas and  situations. The NPC’s wont all be tradtional ‘characters’ tho, and will come in the form of other computers, robots, and…well…Im almost saying to much here!
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You described a bit of the plot on the AG forum. Have you finished the storyline at this point?
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Yes, the entire storyline has been written, and many of the rooms drawn out. I find that having something down on paper makes my life so much easier when it  comes to the actual graphics, and game logic.
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Is this your first game, or have you done others in the past?
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Ive been involved in some indy projects in the past, and got quite far along with a space adventure game with my brother called ALIEN ME. Life  tends to get in the way, and non of them ever got completed. I learned a lot from all of them tho, and have taken those lessons into Stasis.
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Do you plan to release Stasis commercially?
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Honestly, right now I am more focused on finishing the game! What I may look at is a free version of the first  act, with the other acts being a commercial  game. It will more than likely be self published. Something I really want to look at doing is going back to the old days of adventure games, when you got ‘stuff’ with your game. A map, a pen, a magazine that was integral to passing a puzzle. I really enjoyed plotting my course in STARCON 2, and decifering the Homing Becon puzzle in Space Quest 6. having that ‘stuff’ almost demands a commercial aspect to the game. But like I said earlier, Im more focused on finishing the actual game right now.
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You mentioned on AG that you’re a 3d artist by trade. Was it a difficult transition for you to focus on creating an adventure game?
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Definately not. If anything, my love of game graphics, and the more fantastical elements of the art that goes with that transitioned me into my proffession. I  will say that, if it wasnt for ‘easy’ game creation softwares, I would have no idea where to even start with a project like this!
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Is anyone else working with you on Stasis?
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Right now, Stasis is a solo effort, and it will stay that way until Im very far along into the project. I feel that it would be unfair to bring someone else in  on something like this until I’m A LOT further into development. Something I will be looking for at a later date is voice actors, because I want the game to be  as immersive as possible-and voice acting goes a long way in that department!
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How far along would you say the project is at this point?
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Im only really scratching the surface of the actual development, however having everything planned out already will speed development up exponensially. Right  now, perhaps only 5% of the game is actually completed, and thats being rather forgiving! But with the amount of planning that has gone into it, the rest of the development should move along quite quickly.
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If anyone else has a blog. or wants to ask some questions about STASIS, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Ill even throw in a few exclusive screen shots! I must say that the Indie community is incredibly supportive of projects like this. You guys have no idea how much it means to indie developers to get this kind of support from you guys!

Thanks again!

-Chris

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