I wanted to give a bit more of a thorough and informative post about the project and the ideas behind the game, it’s going to be long so brace yourselves!
I’ll start with a slight bit of background story. My name is Alex Dawson and I am presently a freelance artist. I previously worked for a games company named Zoë Mode which I left in 2011 in order to follow my own path. In between contract work for the past year or so I’ve been developing the project from it’s early conception to what it is now, it’s been a labour of love and something I had been wanting to pursue for quite a while. It’s something I was really excited about and something that I felt hadn’t been done quite just yet.
The project so far has been developed from scratch using the XNA Framework. Originally I wanted to look into supporting as many platforms as possible and researching into all the avenues led me down a path of using MonoGame as it seemed like the route which had most platforms covered in some way. MonoGame is a write once, play everywhere open source implementation of the XNA which adds support for Andoid, iOS, Mac OSX, Windows 8 Phone, Windows 8 App Store, Linux, OUYA and Playstation Mobile. Couple that with the existing support for Windows 7 Phone, Xbox 360 and Windows PC it seemed like the best choice.
So far I’ve created various handy libraries to create the game including a tile map rendering library, an input handler, an event driven graphical user interface library, a sprite management system and a panel based cinematic system. All of these work in conjunction with XNA and MonoGame and the aim is to release these as free open source libraries for indie developers once the project is over and I have the ability to clean up all the code.
Now to the interesting part, the game info.
As you can see the game is isometric when you are wandering about the world. The artwork is still in the early stages of development and isn’t exactly how the final thing will look. With the art I’ve tried as best as I can to get as close as possible to the final look so that I can get a better understanding of how long all the content will take to create and to also to build up a process and method for creating it all.
The game uses mouse control to walk about in the desktop builds at present as this was an early way of porting the tap controls from the mobile side of things which was created first. The controls are certainly not final and nowhere near polished but it’s been a fundamental step to get something working and learn about whether that felt right or not. The final game will also have gamepad support.
A lot of the core mechanics are there in some way with objects that you can interact with, maps that you can transfer between and aliens who you can trigger to fight, the aliens will eventually patrol and do all kinds of interesting stuff but for now they sit there and block your path gunning for a show down.
Speaking of show downs the fight screen is something that I haven’t shown of much of yet due to the fact it has only recently started to come together. The fight screens are inspired by the type of screens you get in classic RPG games, the ones that seemingly whisk you off into an abstract landscape. The look I was going for was of a camera peering through a whole in a war torn building. As the game is real time and aimed at working on mobiles as well as desktops I took a lot of inspiration from other mobile games including Infinity Blade and wanted to create an experience that could work well with the simplicity of touch screens but which could also be opened out into a slightly more complex variation on PC.
The aim is to have the cover present options for fooling the enemy if you switch at the right time. I also want lots of actions that can be learnt and used in a way similar to the power wheel in Mass Effect pausing time for a few seconds before you attack. There’s still a lot of testing and prototyping to do in this area but it’s already proving to be quite interesting.
Cinematics are incredibly new to the game, the aim with them is to create a simple and effective story telling device but also to add extra dynamics to the fight screens without resorting to 3D models which would increase the amount of work required. They are more impressive in motion clearly so I’m looking forward to getting a game-play video up soon to show them off.
So far the game has a pretty in depth inventory system with the ability to store items in your safe house. There’s quite a few variations of items including drinks, food, ammo, grenades, guns, medical products, traps, barricades and turrets. There is still more to be done in this area but the core purposes are there. The aim is also to be able to combine items in order to build and modify weapons much like in other survival games and to be able to find templates or recipes to help.
Later down the line the hope is to also have documents, keys and other items which can be found to unlock doors, solve puzzles and provide story.
I guess the final thing to talk about is the survival aspect of the game. Unlike a lot off games where water and food is just a way of replenishing health Will to Survive treats water and food very differently. I’ve read survival books and garnered information to give food and water a strong purpose in all this. the bars in this screen literally represent what is in Will’s body at present and these levels go down as they would in a normal person, if you move or do a high activity these levels drain faster. When you return after exiting the game it will simulate how much water and energy has been lost and Will tops up the levels by eating should he be running low. If you run out of either you die.
Something interesting that I want to do further down the line is to have the idea of thirst and hunger, if you go too low on any of these levels then things like accuracy, speed and wits will be significantly lowered as happens in real life.
There’s lots more planned for the game and lots more going on already which I’ve not mentioned but hopefully this rather long post should give you a bit more insight until I can fix a few bugs and film a game-play video.
Phew! That was long and it’s a hot day… I need to top up my own fluid levels!