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: