Saturday, 23 November 2013

BA7 - Gamesalad test

Through learning more of Gamesalad at a workshop held at university I also used a series of on-line tutorials to further my knowledge. What I found most helpful was a series called Gamesalad recipes, Linked below.

Here I have created a small test using some imagery from my storyboards which effectively shows the navigation I wish to expand on in my game. The player clicks on a door bringing him to the door, then upon clicking again reveals a ghoulish man behind the door. Then the game goes into the comic element where the player can click anywhere and and the next image appears. Although this test seems rather basic it clearly shows an example of the type of pace I wish to aim for.


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

BA7 - Storyboards

In this post it shows my storyboard sketches. In creating these story boards it greatly helps to visualise and conceptualize my story. It doesn't completely follow the short story because I decided to condense it down. To help understand what is happening in some of the story boards I wish to address a few things. The game is a mix of both graphic novel and point and click game elements. You can notice the switches between the two. in some case you can see the protagonist and then in others you are faced with a first person view. Also I did not write out the audio logs so if you wish to read them refer to the previous short story post. In some images you will only see a object, that is because I am designing it as if someone is p[laying it and has picked up an item. There are also instances in which an arrow may appear. This indicates the player can now exit the room. The images with the lines through are the ones I felt did not suit the game.  

Sunday, 17 November 2013

BA7 - Imagery in Sci-Fi Horror Films and Games

Since I have now written my narrative I want now start conceptualising it. Firstly I will be looking into various imagery in horror films, Not just looking into the scary moments but the setting and atmosphere as well. I am doing this to draw inspiration from in the future when I will be creating my own imagery.  This post will not go into depth about the imagery I have found but act as more of a mood sheet. Something I can always look back to if I am unsure about the style and setting of my game.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Among The Ashes

By Kane Winchester

A cool breeze brushes over an endless grassy mound, tall grass softly sways. Atop the mound is a single solitary bench, there sits a young woman. Slowly the sun rises and an orange hue engulfs the land, the woman closes her eyes, tilts her head back and sinks into a euphoric state. She whispers to herself “this… this is bliss.” Then a piercing pain grows inside her mind, her face grimaces, she begins to hear a faint distorted screech, it gets louder and draws closer. She opens her eyes to find a black withered tree before her, and from behind steps a man, skin burnt, face ghoulish and deathly, bearing lifeless eyes and a mouth open wide. The young woman recoils and shuts her eyes, the screeching stops. When she opens her eyes it is clear, it was only a nightmare.

The young woman has awakened from cryo-sleep, alone and scared. She leaves her cryo chamber to find all other chambers empty and the smell of death in the air. Although bewildered by her surroundings one thing is clear, the spacecraft is derelict and silent. As she paces the room passing each chamber she realises she has no recollection of this place, she stops. “Where the hell am I? What happened here?” Then an even worse thought comes to mind “Who am I?” On the cold floor she sat for a while, repeating those questions in her mind, over and over. The light above her begins to flicker, releasing her from her puzzled mind. Her confusion turns into curiosity when she spots a computer at the end of the room. The monitor is cracked but still working. On the screen is a logo, it is Earth. The foreground of the logo reads “International Exploration of Space” Going through the computer system she finds a document entitled “Side effects of Cryo-sleep” It reads.

“Cryo-sleep is used for long space voyages. It consists of the low temperature preservation of a human kept in a controlled environment. Side effects may include; nausea, drowsiness, headaches, temporary memory loss, inflamed skin, muscle pains, weak muscles and stiffness in joints.”

Upon reading the document she feels a sense of clarity in knowing the cause of her memory loss. Before leaving the computer station she notices a flash light and a key card on the desk and underneath lay an audio log, she plays it.

“Audio log #1 - This is Nick Barrett Executive Officer of the IES Pheonix-SDD1 we have just awoken from cryo-sleep and arrived safely in X-9A’s orbit. After I know each crew member is healthy and ready for duty, I will waste no time in sending a team down to the planet’s surface for examination.”

She feels confused by this, but it seems familiar. “Time to find some answers” she tells herself. Then, she is met with a terrible truth, there is only one exit from the cryo room and it is a corridor leading into a pitch black abyss. Only wielding a flash light she ventures into the shadows. 
In the darkness she could barely see further than her arm’s length, she finds comfort in the directory lines beneath her feet. This gives her guidance, this gives her strength. Her steps are short and slow and her demeanour is cautious, this worsens when her footing is lost. She takes a moment to recover, telling herself to remain calm, she closes her eyes then counts to three, “one… two...” as she continues, she is interrupted by a chilling sound, the sound of heavy breathing in front of her. Hands sweaty and shaking she slowly raises her flash light and opens her eyes, only to be met with the end of the corridor, with a directional sign and an air vent above. The sign points left, it reads “Medical Bay”.

Leaving the shadows and approaching the medical bay, the flickering light which shone through the door's porthole made her feel safe, but that feeling didn't remain long. The smell of death got stronger with every step closer to the door. She brings herself to look through the porthole. The walls are stained with blood and in the centre of the room is an operating table, on it lie a lifeless body covered by a blood soaked sheet. As she peers into the room through the porthole darkness slowly surrounds her and the light cowers away. Until this point the light had always continually flickered but this time it didn't return. There she stood in complete darkness waiting for a release from the blackness. She remembers her flash light and shines it towards the porthole. Peering through is a man, the man from her nightmare, his eyes lifeless and cold, never breaking contact from her own. For a while he stared then in the blink of an eye he was gone. The light then came back. This time it wasn't flickering. She now felt safe enough to look again, the room was empty. Using the key card she found in the cryo chamber she entered the medical bay.

The stench of death is nearly unbearable. It comes from the operating table. She slowly pulls away the blood stained sheet covering the dead body. The smell is overwhelming. She covers her nose and mouth with her hand and the sheet drops to the floor. The body is of a man, it has been decomposing for some time because skin has begun to liquefy. Upon closer examination of the body she notices his bottom jaw had been ripped off and he had been stabbed several times. She covers the body and explores the room. Among scalpels and saws she finds another audio log, this one titled Audio Log #3.

“Audio Log #3 – This is Executive Officer Nick Barrett, Something has happened. We have just found Chief Engineer Leon Reed’s body in the medical bay. He has been… killed. His lower jaw removed and he has been stabbed several times. This is an act I can only describe as pure evil. What kind of person could do something like this? Austin Palmer our other engineer has gone missing, and I believe he has something to do with this. Crew members have told me they have seen the two arguing on several occasions. I have told the crew to remain calm and to stay together at all times. We cannot risk another loss.”

Austin Palmer, she is familiar with his name. Is he the murderer? Is he the one from her nightmare? She needs to find answers and recover her memory. Ready to leave the medical bay she sees an exit door with a sign above, it reads “Living and Sleeping Quarters” Using the key card she goes to exit. The door won’t open. The key card won’t work. She searches the room for a different key card. Then, she notices a grill lying on the floor. It is from the vent in front of her. Pitch black and narrow, this is her only exit. She enters the ventilation system.

Cautiously crawling through, she turns on her flash light. The walls are covered in words, written in blood. The words seem illegible and unclear. She takes a moment to read them. She realizes all the writing is the same.


Crawling further, the writing begins to change and grow larger. 


Then finally getting smaller but completely covering the walls are the words.


Then she notices something which stands out, among the hundreds of “KILL”s was a single statement. 


She hurries out of the ventilation system and now stands among rows of bunk beds. It is the living and sleeping quarters. She searches throughout the sleeping quarters and finds an unlocked bedside locker, inside is a key. It has a tag linked to the chain. On the tag is scribbled “Anna – Locker Room” Leaving the sleeping area she enters the living area. The dying lights sitting overhead cast a dull gloom throughout the room. The sound of static from a broken monitor fills the room. Cabinets wide open. Utensils and books cover the floor. In the centre of the room is a large round table, probably where people sat and socialised, now lonesome, crooked and broken. Behind the table was a computer station like the one from the cryo chamber. 

A file on the computer called “IES Pheonix-SDD1 Crew Members Dossier” grabs her attention. It appears to be a list of the crew member’s occupation and photo identification. “Is that… me?” she whispered to herself. The profile was of a Chief Medical Officer Anna Eckhart. She begins to finally feel a small piece of happiness in knowing her identity. Then, Anna recognizes a face. A less ghoulish and burnt face, but she knew it all the same. Austin Palmer, Engineer, he is the man from her nightmare, the one she saw earlier in the medical bay and the one that committed the act of pure evil and hatred. Anna lost all sense of happiness when she saw that face. Her mind loses track when she hears a sequence of banging coming from the vent she entered through. It’s coming closer and closer. Louder and louder. Scared, Anna leaps up from the computer and makes her way to exit. She stops right before leaving and stares intensively at the darkness within the open vent. The lights begin to die completely and the room grows darker. Then… silence. Whatever is in there has stopped at the exit of the vent. The lights continue to fade, making it harder for Anna to see the vent, but she is not in complete darkness. She stands with the exit door open, letting partial light shine in. But, Anna does not like the idea that this means whatever is in the vent can see her. After a few minutes passed Anna grows confident in thinking it was nothing. As she turns to exit, she feels breathe upon her ear and a man’s voice sharply whispers “Anna...” She swiftly turns around but nothing was there, she runs though the exit.

Anna stops to gain her breathe at the end of a long passage. She has reached a door, “Conference Room” as the sign above her reads. As quickly as Anna enters, she recoils and leaves. The smell is revolting and unbearable. Anna forces herself through the stench, telling herself that she has to do this, to find the answers she needs. Inside the room Anna becomes disoriented from the smell, and takes small steps around the room, which is blackened and burned. The remnants of a huge conference table lie at the centre of the room. Whilst pacing the room Anna sees something which will forever remain in her mind. They acted like camouflage, so blackened they were hard to make out against the also blackened wall. In the corner of conference room lie four dead and burned bodies, all huddling together. You can still make out the pain and fear on their faces. Anna is taken over with emotion and falls to her knees, she cries “What kind of person would do this!” Anna sits and thinks about the mad man which did this. Anna realizes she won’t be afraid anymore. She will not be a victim of fear any longer. As she collects herself a glimmer catches her eye and Anna notices something in one of the corpse’s jacket. It is a key, similar to the one she found earlier. This key has “Nick – Locker Room” scribbled on the tag. Anna decides to check all of their pockets. She finds another audio log, Audio Log #5.

“Audio Log #5 – This is Malcolm Keenan. I, Nick Barrett, Eleanor Blackburn and Ryan Mills are in the conference room, we have locked ourselves inside. We are trying to figure out what to do. We don’t know. We just don’t know. We are scared…”

Anna becomes emotional again, sympathizing with what they endured, wondering how much they suffered, why they came to such a cruel demise and where exactly was Austin Palmer. Anna quietly mourns, “Those poor people.” she says under her breathe. Anna slowly rises and stands silently for a moment, she then exits the conference room only to be faced with another long and dark passage way. Anna paces as quickly as she can down the corridor, remembering how unsettling her previous similar experiences were. Anna stops, the light above her begins to dim. She turns around. Each light is shutting off in the distance, each time the darkness drawing closer to Anna. She turns and runs, hearing the faint electrical burst every time a light blows out, they grow louder. It is gaining on her. There, in front of her, a door. She looks back, darkness is close. Anna looks ahead. The door is in reach. She frantically opens it and slams it behind her. Inside the room now, she is safe. 

Looking back through the porthole she sees nothing. She rests her head on the door and lets out a breath of relief. A raspy whisper comes from behind her “Anna...” She trembles in fear. Anna swiftly turns around in the hopes of nothing being there. But, there he stands, in the shadows opposite her. She tries to sound confident and brave, but all that comes out are shrill sounds. “What… what do you want?” He did not respond and for what seem like an eternity stood silently. Anna begins to ask again, but is interrupted by loud violent screams of pain. He becomes erratic and paces around the room. Anna flings herself into the corner of the room in fear and shuts her eyes as tight as they can go. Suddenly… silence. Anna, reluctant at first, begins to open her eyes. Austin’s face is in front of hers. His eyes are dead, cold and open wide. His stare is powerful and piercing. He slowly moves his face closer. Anna shuts her eyes again and darts her hands up to her face. For a while she feels his breathe upon her hands, but then, it is gone. She has never felt such fear before. A bang in the distance catches her attention, a door shutting. Is he gone? Is this a trick? She has to know for sure. Anna slowly removes her hands from her face. Then hesitantly opens her eyes. The room is empty.

She sat for what felt like a lifetime, never parting her gaze from the door, never moving; paralyzed by fear. She eventually regained her composure, and slowly rose up from the ground. Gradually Anna paces the room. Upon exploring, it appeared to be a laboratory. A microscope sits on a work station in the centre of the room. Anna inspects it. Tiny microorganisms moved between the glass slides, they are dark red in colour and their movements are sharp and aggressive. She watches for a while, completely mesmerised, she felt oddly drawn to it. Beside the microscope lay an audio log.

“Audio Log #2 – This is Science Officer Malcolm Keenan speaking, umm… I am at a loss for words. We have just come back from X-9A’s surface… and we found something. It wasn't alien bacteria like we initially suspected. I have no idea what it is. Not yet anyway.”

Anna then notices the lights becoming dimmer once again. It is as if the dark has been following her, slowly approaching. She leaves the laboratory, at the end of a short passageway she is met with two options. To her left a small room filled with lockers and right is the entrance door to the cargo bay. The door to the cargo bay is locked. She peers through the porthole but cannot see anything. Then, she begins to hear a faint sound. It grows louder and clearer. Anna places her ear against the door. The sound is a man’s voice crying out for help. Quickly, she turns to the small room. She remembers the two locker keys she had found. Anna pulls her own key from her pocket, and hurries around the room trying to find her locker, to no prevail. She turns to trying each lock individually. Eventually, one opens. There is only one thing in the locker. In the middle of the empty space was a heart shaped locket, Anna tries to open it but it is stuck. Pacing the room Anna finds the locker belonging to Nick Barrett. Inside are two items a key card and audio log.

“Audio Log #4 – This is Executive Officer Nick Barrett, we have found Austin Palmer in the cargo bay, Malcolm Keenan and I have constrained him and he is secure, we are once again safe on this ship. We are starting to believe that Austin Palmer’s actions and our mission are connected somehow. If he has come in contact with what we first believed was alien bacteria then I feel we have no choice but to eliminate the threat of it spreading. We cannot risk any further outbreak.”

Anna is confused by this and begins to question how Austin got free. Was he set free? It makes her think about the bodies she has seen and how they could have been prevented. Using the key card from Nick Barrett’s locker she opens the door to the cargo bay. The room is much bigger than the rest she has seen. The cargo bay held several vehicles, containers and crates. As Anna searches the room, she begins to smell a stench she had grown all too familiar with. Following the stench she notices a man, sitting on a metal chair. It is Austin Palmer. He sits in front of a row of containers, still, and with his back to Anna. She approaches slowly circling him from a far. Anna eventually makes her way in front of him, she sees his face, and she notices something is different. He is dead. She walked cautiously to him with each step it became more apparent that he was not alive. His arms and feet are bound to the chair. He too had been burnt alive like the others. Anna becomes completely bewildered and unhinged. “What does this mean?” Anna calms herself, and spots something on Austin’s lap, an audio log. She slowly grabs it, still not knowing if this is a trick. She presses play, never taking an eye off of Austin’s corpse. As it plays the lights begin to dim, and darkness draws in.  

“Audio Log #6 – I am Chief Medical Officer Anna Eckhart… this… is my confession. I have been infected. I was foolish, when we went down to the planet’s surface… I came in contact with the “Alien Bacteria”. I was scared to tell the others, but Austin comforted me. See, Austin and I are… were engaged. But the IES has strict rules on the relations between crew members, and Leon Reed, Austin’s superior, knew this. He always had his suspicions but we kept on telling him he was crazy. He always brought it up. He would have gotten us reprimanded. I had… enough. Leon was reciting the IES rule book to me when it first happened, a darkness overcame me I began to feel overwhelmed with a feeling of hatred. See, that’s what the infection is. It is hatred, evil, cruelty and callousness. Austin found me on top of Leon with a scalpel in my hand, continually thrusting the blade into him. What scares me most is that I enjoyed it. Afterwards… it is patchy… but I remember Austin telling me everything will be alright as he kissed me goodnight. I awoke the next day with a foggy mind. Austin must have given me a sedative. I walked through… what seemed like an empty ship, but then I heard it. That… sound, it was Austin… he was screaming. They were burning him alive. I tried to stop it but couldn't. They told me he had confessed to killing Leon. That he had changed and was acting erratic.  That he was infected. They must decontaminate him. It must have been the kiss… I infected him. I can’t remember much after that day other than the screams of Nick, Malcolm, Eleanor and Ryan as I burnt them alive just as they did to my Austin. I have been plagued with visions of Austin and his burnt corpse and… his screams. I can’t take it any longer. I can feel the darkness growing inside of me. Without Austin I have nothing, I tried to fight the darkness but now I shall let it have me. I have nothing but pain inside of me now. I will show people my pain, they will know real pain. I have set a course for earth, I will awake on arrival.”

There Anna sat among the ashes of her fiancĂ©. Emotions and memories flood back to her. She throws the locket on the ground, it opens and reveals two pictures, one of her and one of Austin. Anna sits on the cold floor in absolute silence. She realizes the pain has come back and has settled. The room is nearly completely pitch black and growing darker. The darkness has finally caught up to Anna, she fades into the abyss.

BA7 - Narrative Update

At the start of this term I had a story which I wanted to base my graphic novel (now a point and click game) on. It was originally in the form of bullet points scribbled inside my sketch book. But now I have been writing it in a more finalized version, a short story. I felt like creating a short story would be a great way to visualize every aspect for the creation of my point and click game. It was originally intended to be a gory alien infection story as you can see from my earlier pen drawn concepts, but through a lot of rewrites I have changed it to be more of a psychological horror story. Now I have finally finished and it is to a standard I am happy with. The next post will be my short story, Among the Ashes.

Friday, 8 November 2013

BA7 - Point and Click Games - Decay: The Mare

This is a game I recently bought on the Xbox Live Indie Marketplace, I wasn't expecting much because a lot of the indie games I have previously purchased on the marketplace have not been that enjoyable, but I was totally wrong in this case. Decay: The Mare is a gradually paced puzzling game, which from the start gets you hooked. The game starts in the protagonist's residential room in Reaching Dreams, a psychiatric institution. Throughout the game the player must advance further through the asylum unlocking clues and items along the way. For an indie game the graphics are sharp and realistic, making it an even scarier and immersive experience. The games environment is 3D so I can not create anything like this for my final product. But I can draw on various elements for inspiration, like the creepy imagery and atmosphere. Below is an example of this (go to 5:28)


As you can see the use of flickering lighting greatly helps to build a terrifying atmosphere. Something I can easily produce in my point and click game. One aspect I really liked navigation throughout the game, for example when you are faced with a corridor you can click on doors and the player is then in front of the door, allowing them to click and enter this adds pace and tension to the game. Another thing  I liked about the navigation is you are not forced to go anywhere, you can freely explore the institution to uncover the clues unlocking more areas of the institution. At one part of the game the player is faced with a room full of identical doors all leading to another room filled with more more identical doors. (see the beginning of the video below)

This is great because it makes the player feel crazy, a great addition to a game set in a psychiatric hospital. But I don't feel I want to use an open map in my game. I want my game to be linear and story driven. The puzzles dotted throughout the map in Decay: The Mare (as seen in the video), are subtle yet challenging, such as analyzing a letter and remembering a sequence of numbers placed throughout. These numbers are for several dials placed further on in the map. Like Crimson Room the player in Decay: The Mare can also utilize an inventory to examine clues and even combine clues. The last aspect I want to address is the sound. It is mostly just a chilling and eerie ambient sound in the back ground but it really does help the environment get the creepy feel. I think in a future post I will try to create my own chilling eerie sounds. Overall the things I feel I can further draw on from Decay: The Mare are the navigation throughout the game and the sounds.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

BA7 - Point and Click Games - Crimson Room

Crimson room is the next point and click game I will be looking into. At its surface crimson room may seem like a pointless game, but its simplicity and challenging puzzles keep the player involved and immersed. Crimson room tasks the player with a simple goal, to exit the room. The door is locked and the key is nowhere to be found, or is it. Throughout the game the player finds many objects which aids them along the way. A lot of the time I found objects through click around the room in frustration.

A lot of the fun of crimson room is found through the feeling of finding out what objects uncover or unlock to only find more mystery items. 

One aspect I liked is the use of an inventory, this let the player keep track of the items they found, and even allows them to combine items. Which then uncovers more items. 

Throughout my time playing crimson room I could not believe such a simple game with such a simple goal kept me hooked. The game definitely had an puzzling element. Which is something I will have to think about having in my game, or whether my game will be straight forward and narrative driven.