Some people have asked us why we took a month working on our bigger projects to make a game within a month, thus adding yet more work to our schedule. The answer is simple - to see something conclude. Creating games can be a bit despairing at times. If the project is big it is inevitable that at points creators will tire. It felt like we were going to have nothing to show for our efforts for a large period of time and that was a demoralizing feeling. Adapting Lovecrafts “The Terrible Old Man” allowed us to suddenly pour our efforts into something completely fresh and jump right in. It was a real challenge against the clock, but that made it exciting. Also knowing that within a month, the game would be out there for people to play was a huge motivation. For me, the most exciting part of the process is seeing how people react to your game and I wanted that feeling again. As the game only had only a handful of characters and backdrops, it was also a real chance to get to grips with a more polished graphics style. Here’s a bit about how we made our decisions. I think Shaun was a bit pleasantly surprised at how committed I was to trying to make this game look decent.
With ‘The Terrible Old Man’ being such a short game I wanted it to have a high impact ending. Other than Lovecraft’s description of yellow eyes and white beard I felt the character was pretty much open to interpretation. To me it seemed that he still held some small connection to the community - we are informed that he scolds the boy who threw stones at his window but no harm comes to him. I therefore felt that the old man should not be overtly portrayed as a monster all the time and instead had the ability to transform to some degree when roused or under threat. I felt this worked quite well in the end and made his appearance all the more unsettling. He almost looks like he could be friendly but something isn’t quite right. There’s a deperate madness there - something tormenting has a grip over him and years of sea voyages have eaten away at his soul. I quickly roughed up a couple of designs but felt that only one conveyed that haunting vacant look that I was seeking. It’s always enjoyable seeing and hearing the reactions of people to the old man’s sudden close up in the game. With more time, I’d have probably done more with the hair but I’m happy with the result.
The same day that we decided to take part in the MAGS competition, these roughs were drawn up. I was watching “First Dates” at the time, which might have resulted in the rather overly happy faces for the old man himself.
There were two features I wanted to explore with this project to try and enhance the atmosphere. The first was the use of video files to convey the more dramatic moments and the other feature that I wanted to trial was the use of subtle moving portraits for when characters spoke - it’s a gripe I have with many click and points, images that don’t move seem a bit lifeless to me. This portrait use I think adds to the mood of the game and makes the whole experience a bit more unsettling. It’s a feature I’d like to use again and build on.
Shaun confined me to the 640 x 400 resolution which I find very tricky to work in (he wanted to go smaller!) There was no time to waste, so I quickly worked up sketches that would form the basis of the moving portraits. Goodness me, the eyes on the bottom middle character look a bit misaligned don’t they - they stayed that way. I’ll put it down as homage to Francis Bacon’s work :)
Most challenging for me were the backdrops. I seemed to spend ages trying to get these to look decent. The perspective is a bit off but I felt it helped with the claustrophobic feel that we wanted and so just went with it. Backgrounds are something I’ll need to work on getting better at!
Well, that’s it for now from me. Perhaps one day I’ll go into a bit more detail as to how we made the portraits move as I know one or two people have been asking.