Napkin Quality Layout Sketch

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Napkin Quality Layout Sketch

Post  jenn.johnson on Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:40 pm


The pink area on the map is the "Candy Zone." The rest is more realistic.

Okay, so here's what I'm thinking. Feel free to disagree with any of this, it just gives us a starting point for discussion.

2D intro to give a little bit of backstory: the player is supposed to be doing chores, but is goofing off in the woods instead.

Game begins. Forest environment. A trail of candy is visible. When the player follows the trail (do they even have a choice?) they cross a bridge over the stream and make a bee line for the bowl of candy (the motherload!) The greedy child is so excited to find this sugar stash that they don't even notice the big gates or hedge maze. While the child binges on candy, the gates close, trapping them in the fenced area.

If the child didn't make a bee line for the candy bowl, he could have explored the forest clearing/meadow instead. The hedge maze looks like normal hedges from all angles that the player can reach before getting trapped. I'm thinking the fence and gates are iron with some hint of candy-ness to come in the detailing or design of the ironwork.

The vast majority of the maze itself is candy instead of hedges. I think this will simply make it more fun for the player. I also like the idea of some barriers (fences) the player can see through but not get through. This will also let the play see out of the north wall of the maze to the forest and meadow beyond without needing to fully explore it.

I think we can get away with a grass ground cover throughout with sections of candy "pavement" or stepping stones in parts of the maze. I don't want to deal with coating it with frosting or shaved coconut or any of those other gingerbread house type ground covers. They used grass pretty successfully in both the old and new Candyland board game illustrations, so that's my reference there.

General question: how close does the camera follow? This will determine how wide the alleys of the maze need to be. I'm thinking about as close as it follows Raz in Psychonauts. Thoughts?

Where the stream intersects the maze, I want to do some platforming where the player needs to jump from stone to stone to cross the water. Also, swedish fish in the water, just for fun.

Will we be outright telling the player that he need to reach the house to find a way home? If so, how? Sign on back of the gates that he reads when they close? Message at the bottom of the candy bowl? Or just let him wander around and figure it out himself (hey, gee, there's a maze, and once I'm in the maze, I can see a house on a hill at the center. I bet that's where I need to go)?

Afternoon-ish, sometime between spring and early fall (before the leaves turn), fairly clear skies sound okay? It sounds like we're aiming for a "fun, cute, enjoyable" tone rather than "disturbing, you're in danger of being murdered by the cannibal witch."

On maze design: personally, I think dead ends are discouraging and not fun. It forces backtracking. I'd rather see (and explore) loops or paths than branch off and then reconnect later on. I reconnected some of the dead ends in the napkin map, but not all. I figured the white-boxing sub-team will probably redesign the whole layout anyway.

End game: something at the house triggers something which creates an opening to the front of the maze, allowing the player to leave without having to do the maze again. What is it? I don't know. Will the player even want to walk to the main gates again after finding the house? I don't know that either.

Good times. Now, your turn! What do you like? What don't you like? How can it be better?

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Re: Napkin Quality Layout Sketch

Post  brandon.orden on Sat Jan 21, 2012 8:37 am

Sorry for the lateness here, I know we'll probably talk about some of this stuff during the Skype meeting, but I figure I'd give my two cents here now just to get my thoughts running on this.

First off, I like the idea of starting off with the trail of candy. It would be cool to give them a choice to not go on the trail, but I think that would just raise more problems that wouldn't be worth the trouble. I mean, where would they go instead?

I also like the simplicity of the trap where the kid binges on the pile of candy as the gates close on him. A thought that occurred to me while I was thinking about this is that maybe we could save any sight of the house until after the boy realizes he's trapped and the gates are shut. If we reveal the house after the boy has been trapped, it will become a little more clearer that that should be the player's destination. We can also take advantages of camera moves to direct the player, like clearly staging the house in a shot after the gates close. I know Zelda and God of War make tons of use of camera moves to show where the player should go next, so perhaps we can use the same tactic here.

The meadow that you could explore before following the trail of candy could be neat, but I think there should be something more there in that meadow if we are going to include it in. I was thinking, maybe there could be signs of other children that went into the maze, or little hints as to what's inside the maze, like candied ornaments like you mentioned. Something that would make the meadow interesting to explore for the player. I just think it might be kind of dull if it's just a meadow for a meadow's sake.

I second the camera being about Psychonauts distance away from the character. It's far enough away so that you can look around to properly explore and see the environment.

I also support the idea that more of the maze should be made of candy. From what visual research I've dug up, I really couldn't find a lot of regular hedge mazes that were really visually interesting, unless of course you were looking at them from the sky. Having more of the maze made of candy can help with breaking up the monotomy of regular ol' hedges everywhere.

Ooh, the stream platforming part would be cool, though my one thing about it would be the logistics of it, like what happens if he misses and drops in the water? Ah I just thought of something. For the folks that played Majora's Mask, for Deku Link, when he fell into the water after the last of his jumps, he'd sink, and then he'd "reset" back at where ever he left solid ground. I don't know how complex that'd be to code, so all in all, the steam platforming part might be a "nice" thing to have rather than a "need" for now in my book. But iif it turns out to be easy then I'm all for it. Maybe the water could only be ankle high or something so he can't drown? I guess that kind of destroys the platforming experience for that then.

Last thing I'll comment on is the crumminess of dead ends. I agree that dead ends are bad, I would hate running into them if I were in a maze. I'd be cool with having "teleporting" passageways at these dead ends, as long as you can always see the house from each entrance/exit for each passageway, that way the player can stay oriented roughly. Bridging dead ends somehow in other ways sounds good too. Just as long as the maze isn't a breeze for the player, but at the same time the maze shoudn't have really imposing roadblocks that make you feel like, "I gotta go all the way back...". Maybe there could be collectibles at these dead ends or something nice to make it worth the player's while.

That's about all for now. Some pretty good thinking all around. =D





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Re: Brandon's Input :)

Post  jenn.johnson on Sat Jan 21, 2012 4:39 pm

Yay! Better late than never.

I was also thinking that he wouldn't have a clear view of the house until he's already trapped. (The non-candy hedges are tall enough to mask it out) I also like the leading with camera moves idea.

The meadow is largely so Aenok can get what he wants out of this project, too. If I understand him correctly (please correct me if I'm wrong!), he's not terribly interested in the candy bits for him portfolio, so I wanted to expand the woods/meadow area to :
a. let Aenok go crazy with whatever realism forest stuff his heart desires and
b. let the player get in and crawl around at least a small patch of it.
You're probably right that it isn't interesting enough as is. The lazy way out is to put some collectables out there (but if the player never bothered, then they can't ever get them? Or can only get them at the very end of the game?). Here I open the floor:

TEAM: what's an interesting real-worldy (but possibly candy themed, out of real world materials) thing that would make exploring that meadow worth while to you?

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Re: Napkin Quality Layout Sketch

Post  rillani on Sat Jan 21, 2012 7:29 pm



here

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Re: Napkin Quality Layout Sketch

Post  rillani on Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:51 pm

It just occurred to me that if there will be tunnels, it will be important for the player to re-orient themselves when they get out of the tunnel. Making the house visible at the entrance/exit will go a long way, but if the house is too symmetrical, it still might be hard to tell which side of the house they've moved to. Each side should have some distinct feature, like a big, decorated door on the front, a chimney on the back, etc.



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