Broken


Broken is my newest game; you can click the above image to check it out. Alternatively: here. There’s also a Universal Mac OS X build and a Windows build.

It is, to some extent, a game I’ve been wanting to make for a long time but, well, it ended up going in a somewhat different direction than I had always wanted to take that game. Oh well. The metaphor isn’t exactly what one might call subtle. It’s a strangely personal and yet impersonal game and I’m glad I finally got around to making it. And I owe a big thanks to colleague Josh Sutphin for composing some music specifically for the game based on a prototype and some information that I passed along.

And I guess when I said that I was done with the particle-styled games I was, really, just completely lying. I just like the style too much.

Aside from the more narrative/thematic goals I had for the project, I wanted to do something to evolve the style I’ve been working with for the last year while still keeping to the fundamentals of it: abstract visuals and a very dynamic scene. This was also my first project using the new version of Unity, so I wanted to see what kind of visual effects I could work in that I hadn’t messed with before. Strangely enough, the two biggest changes I made had nothing to do with the change in platform at all, just a change in how I composed the scene. The first step was putting a 2D plane in the scene and attaching point lights to every object, then modulating the range/intensity of that light whenever I wanted to draw attention to the object (generally when it was hitting something or when the object was destroyed). The next step was creating a 7.5%-sized render target — which was a duplicate of the finalscene minus some additional post effects — and overlaying that on the final composition for the pixelated look. Without any bloom, the frame buffer acted as a new-retro-styled bloom effect, which I really dug. I then went the extra unnecessary step and added Star Trek (2009)-style lens flares to everything, though, because… Well. That one has no deep meaning. I just thought it looked good. The final real stylistic step was to also apply a noise filter to the 7.5%-sized render target to get a more dynamic background.

One of the goals I had for the new style was to incorporate more pixel art into the game, but I really only did that with the individual heart pieces (the mines are untextured 2D quads too, I suppose). I’m going to be relying a lot more on low-fidelity pixel graphics for my next project.

All things considered, I’m happier with the way the style turned out than I am the actual game systems, but the design of the thing does accomplish all of the “storytelling” goals I had for it. Those goals just happened to turn out to be far more cynical than I was originally anticipating. Still, I’m curious to hear any reactions to the game. The next project, which I’m loosely describing as a “Monster Hunter shmup” at the moment, is going to be a somewhat more traditionally-played game.

One of the experiment that came out of my visual style exploration is the following image; I think this game needs to be made:

  • justin

    i’m sorry, but the game is just… to hard to control. if you are trying to convey or express some sort of philosophy, message, story or hiden meaning, it would be that “it is very difficult to navegate around the heart to protect it” thus making the game unplayable…

    but it’s a very pretty games, the shiny neon-like graphics are beutiful!

    to bad i couldn’t play the game though :/

  • Cam

    I have to agree with Justin. Moving around was just too hard, and the game quickly got frustrating and I stopped. The style was definitely good though.

  • http://www.polycat.net mittense

    Are you dudes trying both the W/A/S/D (or directional arrows) and the mouse-controlled (which requires you to hold down LMB to move) movement styles? They’re still, mostly, the same physics-managed movement styles, but they are very different interaction types.

    If neither of those are proving awesome, it’s probably something I can look into.

  • mariam

    Trent! I like this. Contrary to these two guys, I think the controls are appropriately difficult and actually kind of hold the entire game together. It might not be subtle, but it works.

    But I 1000% agree that the visual style rules.

  • http://www.polycat.net mittense

    <3