Guest side project: Wonderscope
The main stage this week is handed over to Rob Tatnell, our Technical Artist and VFX wizard. In his spare time Rob has been working on his own project which he is very happy to share with everyone in today’s blog post. Take it away, Rob…
I’ve been asked to do a guest blog piece on what I’ve been working on in my spare time, so I’m going to talk a little bit about the game that I’ve been building!
Over the past few months I’ve been spending my evenings and weekends working away on a little game project. I’ve started a few side-projects over the years, and out of all of them this game has been the one that I’ve been most invested in, and have continued to develop. It might seem a little strange working on games in your spare time, despite having it as a job too (maybe it is strange… I dunno) though it’s quite common for game developers to have their own side projects. We’re a pretty creative bunch and I think it’s pretty hard for us to just sit down and not make things when we have a spare moment or two.
So about the game!
The Elevator Pitch
You the player are tasked with building up a village from merely a few houses into a happy town filled with cheerful residents. Experiment with interior customisation and decoration to create different buildings; with each unique type of home, or shop bringing a new villager to the town. Each villager has their own story and personality, and their own likes and dislikes. Create and customise your ideal village and try and attract all the different characters available!
I’ve always been a lover of games such as The Sims, Animal Crossing, Black and White, Tamagotchi, as I love creating and customising worlds, and I have a real fascination for AI characters you can interact with. I wanted to make a game that touched on the things I really liked with these types of games. It’s resulted in something that’s pretty similar to Animal Crossing, however with more focus on interior and exterior customisation of buildings; as well as having deeper story and emotion behind the characters you interact with. The game started off on a pretty different track (pun intended) and you can check it’s origins over on my blog (link at the bottom) and over time it’s become filtered down from a bunch of ideas towards something close to what I myself would want to play.
One feature I hope is going to be interesting for players is the slight twist on interior/exterior decorating. Based on what type of building you place down, be it a shop, house, or hall for example, and what combination of furniture you add, you will turn that building into a set “type” of building, like a cafe or maybe something like a library. Different buildings have different “recipes”, each requiring different furniture combinations. This means that instead of players being given a task to build a certain type of building with a list of requirements, they can build the buildings they want to create, and through a little creativity and experimentation, unlock new villagers along the way. There will be some guidance in the game, so players aren’t just trying out random combinations of setups; though I’m hoping that players will naturally find the right combinations by just creating what they want to for their own village.
I’m also going to make each resident unique, in appearance as well as personality. I think the characters in Animal Crossing are wonderful, however I feel they lack real depth. I still want the game to be light-hearted, but I think it would be really interesting to have deeper dialog with the residents, and provide conversation options along the way. Perhaps even you could help out by giving advice on life problems they’re having… or maybe they’ll just want you to redecorate their bedroom!
When it comes to art inspirations I want to hit somewhere between the colourful, cute and fun nature of Animal Crossing and other Nintendo games, and a more realistic toned, watercolour illustration feel from children’s books. It’s going to be tricky hitting the this spot, but I think it’ll be good fun giving it a go! I go into a little bit more detail on art inspirations on my blog (link below), if you’re interested.
Some of the artwork I’m very inspired by has a great, and somewhat exaggerated use of bounced lighting, and that’s something I’m keen to bring into this project too. I have a few ideas of how to do this, or at least “cheat” the effect, and I’ll be working on that over time. Here’s an early test image I made showing the colour transferring from the spheres onto the other items using the system:
As for progress, I started around November last year, and have been primarily working evenings and weekends. I was intending to get a trailer up but for various reasons (see blog) that didn’t happen. I got pretty far (as you can sort’ve see from the images below) but it was too rushed and not true to the game I wanted to make, so I took a step back and decided to re-focus.
My goal thereafter has been to really get the gameplay functionality up and going before really digging into the art. As it stands right now, you are able to place buildings, customise their exterior and interior, as well as place and rearrange furniture. Building recipes are in, and residents tied to those building types will be attracted to your town when you’ve successfully built the right building and filled it with the right furniture.
My next area of focus will be to get player and villager interaction going, complete with dialog choices and event/location based conversation topics. I also want to get a player avatar in so they can run around and really start interacting with the world!
I’m planning on getting a demo together over the coming months, where I can really show people what the game is going to be like and start getting feedback on what players do/don’t enjoy with it. It’s going to be very exciting (and scary) to see what people think!
Anyway, thanks for reading, I hope it’s been interesting! I can wholeheartedly recommend getting involved with your own little game projects if you’re interested in video games; it’s really good fun to make something other people can interact with and hopefully enjoy!
If you want to continue following along with the development give my blog a look: Wonderscopegames.com
I’m also on Twitter spurting images and thoughts every now and then!