Nov 25, 2010

...But That Was [Yesterday]: Sketches!

As I mentioned earlier, I usually don't like to draw anything for my games until it's time to actually make some art assets. This game had its fair share of complex shot sequencing, so I wanted to make sure things made sense before I dove head-first into Flash. The following is a set of scans from my game design sketchbook, mostly sketched out in one sitting at a coffee shop whilst getting lost to the sounds of Toro y Moi.

Keep in mind that these sketches are about as spoilerific as it gets, so if you haven't played my game yet, it's highly recommended you do that first.

Click here to play ...But That Was [Yesterday]!

The girl's story was the easiest one to start with, since I already knew a lot about her from [Together]. This page plays around with some swingset designs (which were ultimately scratched) as well as ways to represent her being gone via the bedroom and surreal airplane flybys. The phrase "The wind comes..." at the bottom was a note to myself about the possibility of having the sound of wind be an overlying element to tie the various stories together. I ended up not using wind literally, but the transition that I use in the game is comparable.

Some familiar scenes can be spotted here, such as the schoolyard rain sequence (top left), the patience of the doggie (middle), and the rooftop-jumping sequence (bottom left). Note for the rooftops that I wanted the interactive smoke stacks very early in production, yet I didn't get time to code them in until the day the entry was due O_o. I also have a list of visual effects that I felt were necessary to help drive the story/gameplay forward (middle left), the only one not making it in being water refraction (during the underwater sequence).

In the top right is one of many deleted scenes from the dog's story (which has unfortunately been reduced to a day playing in the snow). The hearts (middle right) were originally supposed to act as warp points in a sort of hub world, the player choosing which story to experience in his or her own order. This was nixed once the teachings of the various friends was simplified down to an ascending level of interaction.

Rounding out this page, we can see the moment I got the idea for using the swings to rotate the world 90 degrees at a time (those black squares under the dog), found through slouching on a couch and having my sketchbook fall over in my lap. The dialogue in the bottom right is me discussing with myself how the game should end.

These two pages are the biggest spoilers of the lot, spelling out - in words - how the various stories should unfold. At first I designated specific ages of the main character during the three stories, but I eventually decided to keep him relatively the same (a difference of years as opposed to decades).

The right page has probably the most important content in my sketches: the rules as a game designer for building this thing. My last two games were a little more than difficult to complete (to put it lightly), so in order to be sure most people would be able to get through all these different stories, I simplified both the gameplay and the inputs. It was much more important to me that people be able to play the game from start to finish in one sitting, rather than lose or get stuck and then already know half the story on a second playthrough.

The rest of the page is a series of rules for how the world works, how it transitions, and various ways to end the game. The ending in [brackets] eventually went on to evolve into what is currently in the game. An alternative to the heart hub world was a room of statues (bottom left), the statues acting as relics of memories that are glorified and trapped in stone.

That pretty much does it for my sketches (at least for this game). After I drew these up I pretty much jumped right into the production phase and didn't stop until 2 months later. Along the way, lots of content was cut, stories were altered, scenes were removed (sorry, doggie ♥), but it was all necessary to both tell the story that was most important and to of course finish on time =P.

One of the scenes I did cut almost made it in, so I figured I'd finish drawing in the characters to show you something that could have been. This shot was fairly complex and did things story-wise that weren't found anywhere else in the game, so it was cut to keep things simple.

Lastly, I thought I'd also share the only sketch I ever made for my last game, [Together]. I already had the heart types figured out, but I felt like drawing them one day to see how they looked together. I suppose it was worth it since I went through four different types of hearts for outerspace, eventually settling for the comet type.

That's it for this week! I'll be putting out the soundtrack to [Yesterday] sometime in the near future, closer to the end of the competition on Dec. 6th.

Links to my games mentioned above, in order of release:

And lastly, my thanks go out to everyone for playing, enjoying, loving, hating, etc. If you think you've learned something from playing this game, just imagine how I feel :] ♥

Nov 16, 2010

...But That Was [Yesterday]: Unveiled!

My newest Flash game has finally been finished! After about two months of working in my freetime, I'm proud to announce that my game made it just in time for's latest Casual Gameplay Design Competition.

This is easily my most complex game yet, involving dozens of characters & animations (including variations of recurring ones), four dynamically-layered songs, and multiple endings. I usually don't write anything down while I conjure up everything about my games. I've found that once something has been drawn or written, it has an associated visual and becomes much harder to evolve, toss out, or modify. However, I had way too many scenes this time around, and made a storyboard out of Post-Its on my mirror:

I purposely kept this image small since it's technically a spoiler of every single thing that happens in the game. The missing areas in the grid are where I had to cut scenes because of continuity and/or time constraints. That paper in the top-right was my schedule for the last three weeks of development, which has its own baby Post-Its for when I moved tasks around (and eventually I just stopped looking at it since I couldn't afford to waste time making time).

I did, however, release a few teaser shots in the last week, so here are the Post-Its that went along with them:

I think the Post-Its were more so to organize my thoughts and not necessarily to communicate the details of each scene. That would explain the scarcity of the title screen Post-It:

...This should make more sense once you play the game :]

I'm posting this a little before the competition goes live, but it's likely that by the time you read this, it will have started already [Edit - competition is live!]. So, here's the link!

My game is titled: ...But That Was [Yesterday]
Click here for a direct link to play!

To see all of the fantastic entries, check out: Casual Gameplay Design Competition #9: "Friends"

And for any and all news regarding updates / changes / words of thanks for my game, be sure to keep an eye on my Twitter since I update it much more regularly than this blog. I plan to do some more making-of posts in the future, so come back soon!