Constructing a scene, Part 2.

In part 1 I went through the planning stages for a scene. Its important to note that this scene contains no inventory interaction. It is purely a ‘fluff’ scene, to set up the next few rooms. The planing gets more involved when puzzles are present. I will go through how I plan out puzzles in a later blog post.


I dont want to waste the players time with him thinking he has to return to the room, so I am going to place in a block once he leaves. It could be anything, from a malfunctioning door, to something falling and blocking the entrance.

I like to think of Adventure games as novels, or films, where you are a participant, but not the driving force in the story. The characters are. The environment is. The story is. Its not quite as passive as I’m making it out to be, but I would rather have the player feel the need to move forward IN THE STORY than constantly have to trek backwards. In a film, you very rarely visit the same set piece more than once-and if you do there is always a very specific reason for it, or the set piece has changed.For example, visiting a building AFTER an earthquake, or a detectives office DURING the case, where its covered in boards and notes.

At various points in the game, there will be blocks that are set up. This does prove to be an issue, design wise, as you have to ensure that any inventory item that is needed, is picked up BEFORE the block-else the game will break. This just takes a little bit of planning, and this is where the flowchart really makes a difference!


Now that I have my prop list, I have to create the individual elements that go into the game. In order to speed this process up, I have two building blocks that I use. Components, and Constructs. Components are individually modeled ‘things’. They dont nessesarily have a set shape or purpose for being that shape. They are random elements and objects that I have either modeled, or ripped off of other models. The components can easily be modified into anything, and using them I create the Constructs. These are fully modeled items, such as computer consoles, doors, chairs, tables, entire cockpits, gun turrets, satelites..essentially the items that make up the scenes.

Breaking things down like this means that I can easily and quickly populate a scene with a lot of detail. If I have a nice computer console that I really like, I save it as a Construct for later use. Essentially its like using many different model kits, and ‘kit bashing’ a scene together.

Here are some components….

And a quick look at my full components library. As I work on the game, I will continue to add to this library, to get even more interesting Constructs.

Here are some Constructs I have made already. These are more general, but custom ones can be made ‘per scene’ very quickly, by either JUST using the components, or combining Components with Constructs. This way, creating a scene becomes and almost ‘drag and drop’ exercise, and gives me the freedom to make changes very quickly. If something isn’t working, its never a waste because I can save out that elements for use later.

Using these elements, I can quickly build up the basic level layout. For some rooms Ill have this planned on paper first, and for others I just kinda play around. This one is firmly in the ‘play around’ category. I have a very good mental image of exactly what I want the room layout to be, and what I want the room to look like.

After some hacking and slashing away in MAX, I come up with this:

Note that the only thing that has been ‘custom modeled’ are the screens, and the waiting chairs. Those will get saved into my Constructs folder, and the next time I need cool propaganda screens, and waiting chairs, I can get the scene out even faster.

Time for some texturing! I have quite a large database of textures, mostly taken from incredible resource!

Its coming along quite nicely, but still needs a fair amount of detail. Some bloody hand prints…a few loose items of debris…something to tell a story of this space. Even if that small story is never explained, the fact thats its there, even on a subconscious level, fleshes out the world even more. I also quite like the juxtaposition of the happy posters, with the warnings of ‘do not cross’, and may try to add in a few extra details like that. Anything to make the world feel ‘lived in’.

One last pass, and the basic background of the scene is complete. I think its coming off as a little to ‘dirty’. The hard metal surfaces are overpowering the softer areas. I’m also going to kill out the colour on the chairs, to really punch out the red of the blood on the carpet.

And there we have it! Next blog post, i’ll go through the process of animating the verious areas, and bringing those into the engine. I have a few ideas about adding some random flickering to the advertising panels…I really think that will give it some life!

Im interested to find out from you, what story do you get from this image? Does that blood stain on the floor say anything? Or does it just come off as random ‘gore’? Do you agree with me about removing the metal grunge? Did that add to the image, or detract from it?

Any questions you guys (and girls) have, feel free to leave a comment below and ill respond as best I can!


  • JJ

    Thanks for starting this blog! It’s really interesting to see how you go about compiling a scene.

    The image conjures up images of a dystopian future – with the ship potentially owned by a mega-corporation or powerful dictatorial government. I’m guessing this is the first scene we would see upon boarding the seemingly abandoned ship. The massive bloodstain implies something terrible has happened onboard and immediately suggests we should be very careful progressing further. I do wonder if it might be better, for story-telling purposes, to be a little more subtle with the gore at this point.. leaving the question open as to why the ship appears to have no-one in control. I’m specifically thinking about Event Horizon here, where they take a little while to find the gory mess in the bridge – and even longer until they finally decode the video log. Of course, what direction you take is up to you – merely a suggestion 🙂

    Also, I actually liked to the blue chairs, but your chanegs to the metal seem appropriate for drawing more attention to the blood stains. I’ll be following this blog with great enthusiasm. It’s amazing to see such a wonderful production from a lone coder/graphic artist/musician. Merry Christmas by the way 🙂

  • Chris

    Thanks for stopping by JJ!

    You are picking up on all of the clues in just the first scene! I must be doing something right!

    Originally, I was on the same lines as you with the blood stain and gore, wanting to slowly introduce those elements as you go on-but as I played the scene in the context of the game, it just felt a little…empty. Bear in mind that there has been a good hour (probably half that for seasoned players) of game time building up to this point in the game. It felt a little disappointing to have the player walk into, what was essentially, and empty room (from a storytelling point of view). When I added in the bloodstain, suddenly the polite announcement voice had a very off putting quality!

    I also like the fact that the gore suggests someone trying to get out, the exact way the player has just come in.

    The coloured chairs will make a comeback in the next few scenes. 😀

    And a merry Christmas to you as well!

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  • Robotic WereWhale

    I would add some blood on the chairs too (upper ones). It would look like someone was killed sitting there, and when was dragged to the center of the room.

    Anyway, I like the result.