My first project for Studio 2 is to make a game based on a life experience or experience from life. At first I thought this would be pretty boring as well as a bit difficult to do but then after checking out a few games I realised I had more of an issue with what a game was. I was and keep looking at building a game in the traditional sense, which means that it must have certain core features in order for me to classify it as a game, otherwise I see it as just an experience (not that, that’s a bad thing). The things I felt that had to be included to be considered a game are:
- scoring system
- goal/aim to achieve/reach
- input required from player
- desire to replay to get a better result or travel further
After playing a few games on itch io I have come to realise and recognise that a game can also just be an experience, or exploration where there is very little input or interactivity between player and environment. This in turn made it a bit easier to come up with a concept that combined experience with play-ability.
The game I have in mind is titled Lifugglar which is a play on the words Life and Juggling. The concept is based on making life choices and keeping your life balanced, especially when unexpected life events occur. The player has to stack their life choices and life events as high as they can and keep it all balanced. It is supposed to be a very, very simple game that represents that, no matter how hard or skilled you are in life, and no matter how well you try to balance and juggle life, it will at times all come crashing down, forcing you to pick up the pieces and start again.
To get some ideas and how I could represent this in a game I looked at the following games:
Itch Game: Feel Good – could not understand controls or get blocks and objects to stack. Also without the explanation I would not have identified the relation to life. You are trapped in a room and objects/blocks fall from the ceiling. You have to somehow stack them on top of each other building a structure for you to get out. It is supposed to represent over coming obstacles in life. I could not see this representation but understood the concept. The game is similar to my idea as it uses different shapes to stack upon each other, although there is no balancing really required.
Itch Game: Could You Carry This – would not work unfortunately, but once again an interesting concept, where you are in a room filled with family members. You move through the room talking to various family members who will ask you to carry a load (problem/issue) for them. You have to decide which and whose loads to carry. knowing that you will hurt the ones whose loads you drop. Would have been nice to try. It is similar in the fact that there are loads/pressures that the player must deal with and decisions that need to be made that will affect others.
Itch Game: The Crossroads of Life – Beautiful visuals with well constructed environment and buildings. You have three paths to choose from. Make your choice and then explore. Only a demo but very interesting concept. The one path I went down did not produce anything exciting or worth the travel, but as I said, it is a demo. This had no real similarities to my game but it did show me that an experience can also be considered a game.
Itch Game: Bridge Balance – I tried this game just to check out how the objects stack up and how they are balanced. The game was quite cute, with pleasant graphics, the balancing and stacking was done quite well, in the fact that items joined existing structure and became rigid. I do like this concept and thinking of making it so that if certain Lifestyle Choice shapes are stacked they become joined as one rigid structure. This will make it so that if any Life Choice shapes are stacked together above a Live Event shape and it comes crashing down, there is still a chance to not have to completely start over or lose the game.
What I have found….
From the games above as well as a few others I have checked out, I have found that there are not any so far that are very similar to my project. Although a lot of these games do have deeper meanings hidden behind metaphors and game play they are very hard to actually recognise and identify. Unless the designer of the game mentioned the idea and concept in the introduction page, I would never have guessed the game had a deeper meaning.
Representing a greater meaning in the game…
As Lifugglar is about juggling and balancing life and its’ various events that one encounters in life, I will have a main character player but have not decided if the player will actually control the characters arms to maintain balance. The character is a male figure as it is relevant to myself but still appears pretty generic as I don’t want it to distract from the actual game.
The player is then presented with Life Choice shapes (LCS) which are generic and more simple shapes to stack and keep balanced.
Some of the LCS will have unique shapes but all will have a fairly large and a lot of nice flat faces so that they are easier to stack and keep balanced. These blocks will spawn one at a time. The player selects the shape and stacks it on the player characters hands, either left or right hands. The player does not have to choose a
shape if they don’t wish to. The player may skip that block and see the next LCS available. The LCS will spawn five different shapes and then a Life Event Shape (LES) will spawn. The LES must be selected and added to the stack, either on the left or right side.
I thought it prudent that I label each shape, so that the player can see the effect of such a choice or event and how it affects the balancing act. The premise is that these are foundation blocks and should be stacked in such a way to form a more solid base. I have already made a lot of these assets with Blender and Unity so the real test will be see how much tweaking and code I will need to make the blocks balance on their own.
The point is to make the right choices and fill and use as many LCS to make a sturdier and steadier stack.
As you can see from the screen shot the blocks are quite simple and should be a lot easier to stack as well as keep balanced. To apply this and represent life and its pressures I will have Life Event Shapes (LES) that will spawn after every 5 LCS have been spawned. The LES have to be chosen and applied to the stack. The LES are more complicated and harder to stack and keep balanced.As in life there is a lot of unexpected events that can make life tougher to keep balanced, in order to represent good fortune in life, I have also included a Good Fortune LES, which is a generic shape that is easier to stack. As in real life, good fortune can come and go at any time, I thought it would be a nice touch to give odds of ten to one for this shape to spawn.
Playing Field and Background
The background and playing surface should not distract the player but simply represent the passing of time through particle effects. I want to have clouds as the sky-box and clouds rolling by in the background. The playing surface will reflect the sky to add to the surrealism of drifting through time.
Music and Game Camera
The music will be mainly pleasant, elevator type music at first, that is meant to make the player feel a bit relaxed and along for the ride through life. When a LES is spawned the music will sound ominous and heavy for a short while before reverting back to pleasant listening. As the stacks get higher, the music will either speed up in tempo or change to a more urgent and tense track.
I haven’t figured out how I want the camera or game view to work, I was thinking of making it static like the Bridge Balance game but the shape details may be harder to see. The other choices are to:
- make the camera pan out as the stack gets higher.
- give total control to player so they can zoom in and out to place shapes more accurately.
- keep the camera static.
I guess once I start building and testing this will be decided then.
Well that’s it for this post, the design preparation and ideas have been thrashed out so now time for putting on the gloves and getting my hands dirty constructing this baby. I really want this game made and completed by its due date next Friday. I feel that it is simple enough to do and will be an achievement as it will be the very first game I have designed and built from the ground up, using minimum assets from the asset store.
Thank you so much for your company and time, I look forward to seeing you again soon, until then…..
God bless you with abundance.