Thursday, November 4, 2010

TIGjam Day 4 and Night Hike

Like I mentioned before, in addition to TIGjam just generally being awesome and inspiring, it was also really productive. This post is about the game/experience that I produced, and how it evolved from a little nugget of an idea.

Whenever I go hiking with Adam, at some point or another during the trip, the conversation turns to talk of making a hiking simulator. On the fancy end of things, hikers would wear backpacks with cameras/laser scanners/microphones mounted to them and record as much of an actual hike as possible. This would perhaps allow someone else to virtually experience the hiking later. On the simpler end of things is something like our Night Hike: a hiker walks along through a rich, beautiful environment and encounters a variety of sights and sounds.

night hike version 3

I had spent the first day of tigjam getting more acquainted with flixel. (Adam spent the day writing a paper.) I made a few demos (described in a previous post) like a broken pong game and a thing where a guy sort of ice skates around, but I didn't have any brilliant, complete game ideas. But! Late that night! I said to Adam that we should make the (simplified) hiking game that he's always talking about. Vanquish that headcrab...! (Headcrab here being a nagging idea that wraps around your brain until you bring the idea to fruition.)

The project seemed like a good size for tigjam: we could get something finished in a few days, yet there would also be tons of improvements and new ideas to expand upon if/when we had time. Here's the evolution of night hike:

1st night hike sketch

Aesthetics of night time and silhouette stuff decided on fairly early. As you can see in the sketch, we did sort of talk about how the game might end. Perhaps, after walking all that way in the dark, you'd come to the warm glow of a lit up tent or campfire. Maybe, when you walked into the light, your face would be turn out to be horribly grotesque! The end in nighthike right now is jut that you walk off the edge of the screen after moving right for about 10,000 pixels.

I drew up this picture of how the whole scene might look:

nighthike

Adam sketched out all these additional layers:

adam's proposed night hike layers

He also drew this picture, which except for the wormy caterpillar hiker blob, sort of put my drawing to shame.

night hike (layer compositing mock-up)

Great. So, our aesthetic style is in order. At this time, I was working on making the terrain randomly generate itself and let the character walk along it forever. This is the first hikable night hike, with pokey mountains everywhere:

night hike in the very beginning

Soon, the terrain-walking improved. I gave up procedurally generating the distant mountains (for now) and just drew them. I also drew some grass and a tree and planted those in the scene. The second version can be played here:

night hike version 2

In between the second and third versions, I think we added new trees, a single sound, more hilly terrain, and a dark fringe effect. The game got a little tooooo dark, so I added a 'lightning key' -- 'D' and a fast-walking key -- 'F' so I could see all the trees more easily and dash along the world. The third version can be played here:

night hike version 3

While I don't expect the current version to suck you in and keep you entertained for very long (it is no dolphin olympics 2, nor dino run) I do hope you find it kind of pretty and soothing! Maybe some day I will make that hiker's world a bit more interesting... more explorable... and more treacherous!

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