Last weekend me and a group of students at the University of Lincoln took part in the Global Game Jam event, if you do not know what it is well I’ll summarise: The global game jam is a 48 hour event where teams from around the world take part to create innovative and exciting games around a provided theme.
This years theme was: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
This year I decided to work on my own to see how much I could realistically do on my own within a set time frame and as it turns out quite a bit (even more if PC hadn’t lost first file), I decided to create a game in UDK cause tbh its the engine I understand the best (still learning unity) and given short time frame decided it was best route to take. Now like any good games designer you do not rush into creation and I spent around 3-5 hours playing around with ideas on paper some including a mobile AR game, a board game etc until I decided to go down the episodic story puzzle route, thus LIfE was born.
I spent a good 24 hours making the first iteration of the game then DISASTER my PC (which has been acting up alot recently) decided to lose my files and thus all my work and as such this meant I had less than 24 hours to remake my game as such had to compromise on features and assets. Anyone who knows me can vouch for me saying when I get into level design I kinda get totally adsorbed and can happily spend months making one level before adding in any of the gameplay elements, this sorta shows in the build for the Jam as alot of the game play features such as Twitter NPC’s were never to be.
So what was the game meant to be?
The game was meant to be an exploration puzzle style game where the player could explore the island, collect toems or destroy them and thus change the islands appearance and available quests from NPCs. One of the innovative features was going to be the option for players to ‘talk’ to NPC’s via twitter using a third party on-line application, by asking the NPCs the right questions they would be messaged back with clues and pass-codes and information that would open up more quest routes thus game play. Sadly this didn’t make it into the Jam version due to concerns regarding third party management system and the fact I had to rebuild the island from scratch.
The player at points in the game will have the choice to nurture or destroy parts of the island which will change parts of the islands appearance (done via level part switches) thus changing quest logs and gameplay elements open to them. The game is simple has a survival element to it whereby the player must also gather food and water to survive as over time they will lose health thus driving the player forward to complete quests and solve puzzles quickly.
In the jam version there is one half completed quest and that is it which makes me very sad however cause im stubborn I won’t let this lie until I have at least implemented the features I originally wanted in there as such will continue developing LIfE bit by bit when I find time.
Since the Jam I have learnt new tricks and mechanics implement into UDK and even solved a memory leak issue that would arise from having such a large play space loaded at all times, the island can now be incrementally loaded as the diagram below illustrates the island is split into sectors each sector / chunk loads and unloads based on players position in overarching handler level.
I hope to develop this game into a downloadable episodal series where each object in the game will open up a separate interactive story level e.g. A pushchair may load up a level where you are looking for your lost child e.t.c. the aim is to get various writer friends of mine to create little game stories around the theme of LIfE all accessible via this central island nexus. It will be a larger scale transmedia project than that of #Suspicion but is in theory easier to distribute and IF focus tests deem it fun may even start a Kick-starter for it to expand it further past the realms of just UDK.
I will post updated version links to this blog site under Projects > LIfE from build to build until a more stable version is made then its future will be reviewed.
Game Jam (Sh**y version): http://globalgamejam.org/2014/games/life-short-exploration-game-sorts