Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Game Development - Escape Game #1

All right. Here it is. If I'm going to be talking this project up to people, I'd better follow through on my promise to myself and get some actual work done on this.

The "Escape the Room" Game (working title)
Progress: Early prototype phase

As I mentioned elsewhere on my website, some of my favorite games to play online are the "escape the room" games, which I usually find at Jay is Games. It was suggested to me that since I like them so much, I should make one. So, here is the beginning stages of that project.

For those unfamiliar with the genre, "escape the room" games are pretty much just that - you find yourself locked in some kind of enclosure, and you have to use the objects found inside the room to escape. This takes the form of logic puzzles, ranging from the simple (use key on locked desk drawer) to figuring out codes (combination locks) to sometimes bizarre leaps in logic (tie a sawblade to an eggbeater to fashion a drill). It seems that these games are popular in Japan; therefore, you'll occasionally have to sift through some Engrish. And sometimes it devolves into a tedious pixel hunt. Luckily, on the Jay is Games site, a walkthrough is usually posted within a few hours if you get stuck.

If you'd like to try these kinds of games out, one of my favorites is Vision. This one is a bit long, but anything else by the developer, neutral, is also very good.

I've decided to start out by developing this in Game Maker. Why? Because it's free, I know how to use it, and it's what I have. I would do it in Flash, if I could afford it to tinker around with it. These kinds of games are a little complicated for something in 3D, although maybe if I had the resources and art software, I could do that. But for now, Game Maker.

Right now, all I have is the room itself, and a crude navigation system. The nice thing about Game Maker is that it's set up as a series of rooms. My plan is that each view, or side of the room, or close up, can be represented with a separate room in Game Maker, and the inventory and such can be dealt with by "persistent" objects.

My main sticking point right up front is exactly how I'd like the game to operate. Oftentimes these games have an inventory on the side of the "room" picture. Since I'm experimenting here, I have currently implemented a retractable inventory (as indicated by the blue "I"). I'm deciding how I want the player to interact with the inventory, whether to select and highlight it in the inventory, or allow the user to drag the object around with the mouse. I need to sit down and either design out how I want this to work, or just fiddle with it some more until I get something I like.

So that's what I got so far. I'm going to attempt to get a fairly intuitive interface finished (at least by escape-the-room standards), and then I'm going to write up a story/design some puzzles.

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