Tuesday, 11 February 2014

World creating process

Chaos Guns are set in a vast world on a distant planet, but it is not a secret, that I took inspiration from real enviroment of the planet Earth. Whole game can be divided in two parts - countryside and dungeons. To give you an idea, how designing and creating process look like, I have decided to write a short article. Let's start with dungeons.

Dungeons are designed manually. It all starts on the paper - I have to draw overall design, define size, number of floors, doors, walls etc. For each of seven dungeons I have already a list of puzzles and other details prepared in the main design document, so on the paper I'm preparing boundaries. When I'm happy with the draft, I start to implement objects and also I have to make decision of wall types and floor types. At the end, I have a list of objects, including sizes. This list then goes to our online Google Docs table, so the guys responsible for graphics can start to do their magic. This is how one floor of demo dungeon looks like on paper (it's not final version by the way):

Then, I'm redrawing map into digital format - via our own Maper application - made by MarK. It is simple tool, but we are expanding functionality. During this process I usually discover, that some corridors are stupidly long or short, so I'm modifying exact sizes. Also - graphics has to be in correct scale (one tile is around one meter wide and it has 16x16 pixels), sometimes I have corridors too narrow, so I have to expand them. Have a look at the older version of the demolevel:

In comparison - have a look at the screenshot from my yesterday's work - I have finished replacing old graphics with new one:

Note the difference of the source image on the left side of the screen - it's four times bigger, than two months ago!

Then I have to implement object. On the paper, everything is clear and prepared, but the process is slightly more complicated. I have to define the object first in separated TXT file, then I have to insert the object to the level. This is currently done manually and it's rather slow. But soon we will have new version of maper, with possibility to insert objects via graphical interface.

In reality, I'm using WinUAE for this process, because it has much faster response. On real Amiga, I'm sometime waiting too long to redraw the screen, but typicaly my working screen looks like this:

The TXT file contains all definitions - switches, lights, enemies, items, character positions etc., even this functionality is expanding with new versions of the engine.

Dungeons are relatively easy to create - when we have graphical UI for objects, of course ;). But the countryside is totally different story.

At the beginning, there is a image of the real enviroment, taken from Google Maps:

This image goes to Photoshop, where I have to scale it first (1 pixel = 1 tile = 1 square meter approximately - scale is identical to dungeons), then I'm reducing the colour count to 8, to have basic overview of ground types - soil, water, roads, forest... It requires some work, sometimes I have to polish real map, but at the end, there is PNG file, which I can import to our Maper application. It looks like this:

It is not perfectly accurate, but for purpose of the game it is enough. This way, I have prepared 2 square kilometers, imported to the game format. It still requires lot of work to polish it, but my intentions were clear - to provide a huge world with realistic feel. This is the best way and without Google Maps it wouldn't be possible. I'm so happy, that I can make this game in 2014! In 1992 I cannot imagine it ;).

For exteriors, it is impossible to fill it with unique graphics and also don't forget, that player has really small view - it will be so easy to get lost in this world! Therefore we are planning to implement various types of radars, sonars and other navigational systems, which will guide you to important places.

But the beauty of the game is in exploring the world - you will find historical maps in the game, you can study them and then discover something you would probably never find with radar. And of course - if you know, where exactly on the Google Maps to have a look, you might discover some interesting places just by exploring area online. On top of that we are planning to provide printed map (most likely A2 format) for owners of boxed version of the game.

Well, that's it for now, see you soon!

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