Give the Breach 3 demo another try. It’s got some new goodies, including a more standard level progression (no more of that slider business) and some personality. The game is now set inside of an AI, where you are tasked with removing viruses that are corrupting her systems. She talks to you between levels. It gives me lots of room to write, which is always fun as hell for me, and the game can get some humor and mood chucked in there for good measure. Bonus points: This is the same type of AI as the one featured in You Find Yourself In A Room, and the much more belligerent AI from that one can make appearances here. The two games tie in with each other in at least a relatively interesting way.
Oh, also, make sure you try out the Zero Writes. They’re bombs that kill everything on the screen. I’m really satisfied with how they feel at the moment, and I can’t wait to get sound worked in so that these guys can make some noise.
Most of my dev time lately has been spent on Breach 3, which won’t be called Breach 3, but that’s still what it is, so whatever. YFYIAR is pretty close to being done, and at this point I’m waiting on David to hammer down the music (which is approaching something awesome very quickly) and sound (which ought to add something nice to things). Grief is briefly paused while I finish up these other projects. Chris is still messing around with art styles in various mediums, so progress is being made there, it’s just not progress that I’m responsible for.
Anyway, Breach 3. I haven’t said anything about it yet, other than tossing out a quick demo (which is updated now, by the way, so go play it). The game is my attempt to maneuver around modern casual game design–Upgrades are very prominent, because they give you a very direct sense of progress. It’s also very un-punishing: When you successfully complete a round, you get a bonus. When you fail, you aren’t penalized, but you just don’t get the bonus. Even though it’s still obviously better to complete a round, losing doesn’t seem to be a bad thing. Instead, it’s just not as good. The bonus is extra, so failing to get it isn’t bad. It’s just not as good as it could have been. It’s a euphemism for failure.
Also, something that I enjoy way more than I should: When you complete a round or visit the upgrade shop, the titles of the screens are randomized. You get a different “you win” or “you lose” message each time, and the upgrade shop has various titles. It doesn’t add anything in the utilitarian sense, but it’s just some extra flavor. We did this a bit in Spewer, too–When you completed a level, you were given a few statistics (steps taken, jumps, etc). The last statistic was always a random statistic with a random value (for instance, “Laws broken: 6″). I got a shitload of chuckle-worthy emails asking about some of those.
Oh, and one of the titles for the upgrade shop is “Happy Item Room.” If you understand this reference, then you are a superhero and I’m sending the president to your house to give you a handshake and a beer.
I’ve gotten some questions lately about the gun in Grief. The general consensus is that Company was a quiet, thoughtful game, so why is the sequel going to be a mindless shooter oh god it’s going to be horrible why oh why is it a shooter?
To sum things up, Grief isn’t a shooter. Grief is a puzzle game. There are no enemies to shoot. The gun ends up being purely a tool that you use in solving puzzles.
Aside from the game mechanics involved, having it be a gun is pretty important to the mood of the game. The second chapter in Grief is Anger, and this is when Henry gets his pistol. He’s frustrated with everyone and wants to feel powerful–A pistol sums that up in one concise package. The real trick is going to be making sure that getting a gun feels like an important event, like it would be in real life. Having a gun in a video game is often par for the course, so there’s no real impact when you get one. In Grief, we’re going to have to set this up thoughtfully enough to make it feel genuine.
Substantial, empowering, and most importantly, somewhat dangerous.
As a side note, I’m back to work on You Find Yourself In A Room. It’s not going to be entered in the JayIsGames contest, because A) it would be disqualified anyway, and B) I already missed the deadline. The demo for that one is updated with some actual content. There are just three simple levels at this point. Hopefully it’s somewhat clear how the game’s flow is going to work–It starts out pretty straightforward, and slowly gets sick of you. Then it starts to resent you. Then it starts to hate you.
It’s fun as hell to write, by the way.