A lot has happened in 2011 and there is even bigger things coming for 2012. We just finished the new and improved version of YS. The demo version is available for most Android devices. You can search for “YS Maze Shooter Lite” on the Android Market or go here.
Happy New Year!
I have always been interested in concepts surrounding the mind and how we might one day share thoughts as easily as we have conversations. Its one of the reasons I really liked the movie Inception so much. It also got me thinking about how we could do something like this with a video game. More specifically the question was “Could you plant an idea in someone’s head through playing a game?” Obviously something like that would be incredibly difficult so I scaled it back a bit to “Could I evoke an specific emotion in a player without them realizing it?” I chose fear because it seemed the easiest to me and the goal was simple. Without particularly scary looking imagery or scary sounds could I give the player the impression of fear? Here is the game concept I came up with:
The setting is simple. You are a volunteer for the Pel Company (based on the Finish word pelko which means fear). You handler is Broadus (After John B. Watson for his famous study on “Little Albert”) who guides you through 13 “simulations” which you are told are helping to test a new brain-computer interface system. The game-play itself is quite simple. The area you play in is a small maze with enemies scattered around it. Your goal is to eliminate these enemies to proceed to the next level. To incorporate the fear element I themed each of the levels to be based on a simple fear. The first level is a tutorial. The enemies are cockroaches and the maze is designed to look like you are underground. The idea was to invoke the feeling of creepiness if you were to crawl underground and find a batch of bugs down there. My idea was to start with more base fears and move on to more and more abstract concepts. Here is the list of levels:
Level 2 – Snakes
Level 3 – Spiders
Level 4 – Ghosts
Level 5 – Clowns
Level 6 – Other People
Level 7 – Tornadoes
Level 8 – Intimacy
Level 9 – Commitment
Level 10 – Money
Level 11 – Public Speaking
Level 12 – Failure
Level 13 – Death
As for the motivation of the character in the game you are actually committing a sort of psychic murder. Pel Co. paints it as you doing various “simulations”, but these simulations are actually you interacting with another sentient mind. More importantly you are trying to destroy it. The text between levels is the mind attempting to communicate with you. It’s trying to tell you that you are killing it. How are you killing it you might ask? My idea was that, by confronting the fears this other mind has, you are destroying its psyche. More specifically you are getting rid of its fear of death and therefore forcing it to let itself die. For the communication sections there is actually a theme behind each stage. I chose the five stages of grief and distributed them as evenly as I could across the 13 levels. You will notice the tone of the messages changes according to this distribution:
1. Denial / Isolation (Level 1 – 4)
2. Anger (Level 5 – 7)
3. Barganing (Level 8 – 9)
4. Depression (Level 10 – 12)
5. Acceptance (Level 13)
I ran into several limitations. Mostly to do with my artistic ability, but also what could be done in 2D web game. Although I am pretty happy with the final result when releasing it into the wild it got very negative reactions. I think this is mostly because no one actually got what I was going for here and just saw it as kind of a crappy 2D shooter. I blame myself for this failure since if no one gets what you are trying to do then obviously you have done it wrong. I would like to explore this concept deeper, but I think I would need to work closely with an artist to really get the visual design I am looking for.
We made some major improvements to the game controls. You no longer have to press buttons rapidly to move. You just press and hold and your avatar will move continuously. It actually increases the pace of the game a lot and helped us find some other major design issues that we are trying to figure out how to address. We’ve started with changing some of the enemies behavior slightly. Hope you like it!
YS is still only half the dream I want it to be. To get it polished and ready for prime time I will need the help of some artists and maybe some musicians. This means I need to pay these guys so I launched a kickstarter project to get some funding. Check it out here:
Theres a lot going on her at Ionmark games and as time goes by goals change and some projects get shelved while others take more of our time. I’m happy to announce a project that was shelved thats actually being un-shelved and given back some priority and resources. The Aventura project isn’t so much a game as an engine for creating RPGs. One of the main goals of Ionmark Games was originally to make this engine and let users create their own worlds using this engine. We came across a lot of technical challenges which proved we weren’t quite ready for such a massive endeavor so the project was shelved until further notice.
We’re still probably not going for such lofty goals as a massively multiplayer RPG world full of user generated content, but we do want to finish the engine so we can build some fun RPGs of our own. Hopefully this will later lead to the full dream becoming a reality.
This also means the design for YS is changing a bit. Originally YS was going to be a Pacman like game with our own twist, but now we’re shifting it to be a bit more RPG-ish. Exciting times!
I actually posted it last night because I wasn’t sure how long the delay was going be. I’m a little worried I might get some backlash because the game isn’t free. At the same time this game has taken a lot of my time and although a lot of fun I can’t afford to keep doing it for free. I would love nothing more than to keep making free games for everyone to play anywhere they want, but the reality is I get paid way more to program things I don’t like. At the end of the day my cat and I need to eat. That being said I’m still offering free versions of every game on the web and I’ve tried really hard to make sure they function on as many devices as possible. They may not be as polished as their Android/IPhone counterparts, but they will still be playable and fun. That is a promise.
Perfect transition to what is next. I’ve got a half finished YS which I put on the shelf until I finished ISOY for Android. It’s time to get rolling on that again. So far I’ve got the little pink dot moving with the keyboard and shooting with the “WASD” keys. Also a randomly generated simple mazes. Finishing might take a bit more time since it is more complicated than ISOY, but I think I have a good beginning.
Oh right get ISOY for android here.
Got a bunch of traffic today! Looks like the funnel is on. Now it’s time to step it up and get ISOY on the AppStore.
I made some decent progress on YS the other day. Probably going to switch to getting ISOY on the AppStore first tho. Since, you know, I need money to keep doing this.
I am also planing on adding a Hi-score feature so people can compare scores easily.