Welcome to the first dev log! I’ve decided to start this as a way to see how this idea has developed over time and to keep track of what’s been done and what I need to catch up on. This week I thought it would be a good idea to talk about where the idea for the game came from and also what initial ideas I have came up with for further developments.

Where did the idea come from?

The first prototype that I made was for a module for the first year in my degree called ‘Developing Interactive Media’ . The brief specified that we had to make an interactive prototype. It was purposefully open to interpretation so I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to try and make a prototype for a game. I wanted the game to revolve around an interesting mechanic and then go from there. I decided on a game in which the player rotates the level to unlock pathways and reveal secret items which is inspired by the game Fez because of it’s perspective rotation of viewing a 3D world from a 2D perspective. I also wanted to experiment with a pixel art design for the game, something that it is very simple, like Undertale and Nidhogg. After a few months of work and many late nights later, I had made my first prototype which is on my itch.io page.

What have I learned/want to change from the prototype?

Though I’m still very proud of my first prototype, it does still have a few bugs and a lot of features that I would like to change. So at the start of this development, I am going to move this project from GameMaker to Unity because I feel that it will be a lot easier to implement some of the new features that I would like to add. These are some of things that I have learned from making the first prototype and what I would like to change:

One of the first levels from my first prototype.
  • Level design – One of the first things that I noticed while trying to implement the rotation mechanic is that the way that I could design levels was very restrictive. The only way I could keep the entire level on-screen was to make sure that it was square shape which made it really difficult to come up with puzzles. I could have the camera follow I.N.D.I.E around larger levels but then I thought that it would be difficult to see the full puzzle and how the player needed to solve it. So in the first couple of prototypes, I’m going to be looking into making the levels in a side-scrolling platformer style but with puzzles still able to fit on the screen. This way I can be less restricted when coming up with puzzles that fit the previous square shaped space.
  • Rotation – The rotation mechanic has been something that has been constantly changing since the start of this project. Initially, I wanted to have the levels rotate in very small increments but after having a lot of trouble implementing it to GameMaker, I decided to stick to 90° angles which made me rethink how I came up with the puzzles. I may try to implement smaller increments in the next build, so then I can have more control over how I want levels to work, perhaps have the rotation stop at every 45° /30° and see how that changes how I come up with puzzles for the game. I’ve received mixed feedback on the rotation mechanic so far. Some people think that it is difficult to see which way the environment rotates because of the quick transition whilst others like how quick it is. To try and make it easier, I am going to include a quick animation as the object rotates so that there is some visual feedback for the player to know which way they are rotating the object but the action is still quick.
  • Story – I do like the story that I have for What Goes Around but in future builds, I want to experiment with how the story is told. I’ve been debating on whether or not I want written dialogue in the game because I think that action based dialogue is always interesting and in some ways more of an impact when you can’t actually hear or read what they’re saying but their actions explain it clearly. So, further into development I think I’d like to redo the introductory scene using only animations, once I have used Marmoset Hexels more.

What is the goal?

I know that goals can change drastically due to a wide variety of circumstances, but I think that it would be very interesting to see how these goals change as I develop this idea. These are a few features that I would like to implement that I didn’t get to put into the first prototype:

  • Enemies – I want to include other characters in the game. These could be both broken robots in the scrapyard levels that are enemies in the game, to other robots that are also lost and trying to return to their owner, but this will all be implemented in later stages of development.
  • Physic-based objects – I would like to also include physics based objects such as liquids and boulders because I think these could make some really interesting puzzles to solve. I did have the idea of implementing boulders when I was making the first prototype for What Goes Around and I drew the sprite for it, but then didn’t have enough time before the deadline to add it into the game. Hopefully I can still use the sprite in future builds depending on how it will fit with the art style if I change it.
  • New environments – I have a couple of ideas to for the different settings that the levels will be in. The aim is to have 10 levels in each setting and then change to the next environment, kind of like a Super Mario game set-up. I would like to make around 40-50 levels but this may change through development.

What’s the plan for this week?

The plan for this week (and possibly next) is to have a basic platformer game in Unity and then start to add in the rotation mechanic. I would like to re-do a lot of the art for my game so I’m going to mostly focus on how it feels to control I.N.D.I.E and use the rotation mechanic.

As I am studying a degree full-time and have a few extra commitments, I’m going to try and develop it in my spare time (without burning myself out of course!) I would like to try and get a dev log out every one – two weeks, basically whenever I have anything substantial ready to share but for more smaller updates, I’ll post it on my Twitter. Blog posts and updates will also be announced on the game’s Twitter too so make sure you’re following both!

Dev Log 0 – Initial Ideas and Concept
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