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  • Writer's pictureJack McPherson

I AM JOE Dev Diary 22/09/20 Movement, swords and a quest.

Hello all! A little later than normal but here is the 3rd Dev diary for the ongoing project (Working title) I am Joe.

In this entry I'm going to talk about some quest design, 3d Modelling, character movement, a small amount of animation and what's next.

Quest Design

So I have A BUNCH of books relating to game design, and a couple of the key ones I like to keep in mind or refer to are, "An architectural approach to level design" by Christopher Toten, he speaks a great length about how narrative, worldbuilding work in tandem and support each other. The spaces we inhabit in games are the descriptions we would read in books like Tolkien's lord of the rings. But just as important as this is keeping in mind the balance between the ludic (play) spaces as well as it's narrative elements.

Another book which is coming in quite handy for the quest design and fleshing out the vertical slice is a book called "The game narrative toolbox" from focal press game design workshops. It has multiple narrative designers and writers. One thing that made a sense to me but still caught me off guard (because of how easy it is to get lost in world building, a skill in itself) is pointing out not every NPC needs to have an extremely fleshed out background. Sometimes their dialogue and how they engage with and reward the player is all that's really needed. And it makes a great deal of sense, the amount of NPCs in games you only see a handful of times but still remember fondly. And the only reason at least in my opinion is because of the agency we hold in those situations. The most important thing about creating good and memorable NPCs is the purpose they serve, just like any other mechanic, interactions can have rewarding and punishing outcomes.

This leads me to a quest I've started designing for the vertical slice, a side mission of sorts. I've decided on the run up to the main bar/cantina there can be a few places the player can go and interact with NPCS, One of which is 'Sneeze' he's going to be a small green slimy NPC who owns a shack just off of the build up to the entrance of the main bar. (An area I'll likely end up filling with content)

some of you may remember this screenshot from the last dev diary:

Well I'm going to have 4 NPC armoured like below in the annotated area above. The Quest is Sneeze charged them all for ammunition and some drinks and they didn't pay up. Sneeze isn't confident enough to collect the payment so he enlists you to collect the payment and return it to Sneeze. Sneeze will give you a bag of coins/currency which could be used at the entrance of the bar.

How you deal with this however is down to the player. The game will have optional combat, but if you engage in a fight before you even enter the bar it will be much harder to enter. The only way I've planned out so far, is to get them to disturb the nest of the giant alien bird to the point it retaliates and takes one of them away. (They all flee immediately after to the bar or inside the ship.) I might have other ways to collect the payment, but I like the idea of being tied to the nest. Once you return with Sneeze's loot, he gives you a cut of it as payment. Player adds loot to inventory and has a way to pay off the bouncer.

For this vertical slice I want the player to be rewarded in big and small ways for observing and engaging with the world they're in. To keep them engaged with the main quest and to engage with other beats of the story. Next Dev diary I'll show a breakdown of the main mission, and planned side missions.

3D Modelling

Another thing I've worked on during the past couple weeks is the players main tool something I've for now named "Living Steel" It's essentially a shape shifting rod that can turn into 4 - 6 different things. Those things are entirely up to the player and their inventory. The main weapon it can turn into is a sword. This was partially inspired by a book my brother has that belonged to our dad.

It's the Bane of the Black Sword that hooked me. Just hearing it set off all these pictures in my head of this awesome black blade shrouded in infamy. In my head cannon unwritten until now I suppose. The Black sword is the first form the rod takes when the player acquires it. Here is a small clip of the sword shifting from the handle to the sword itself.

I'm SUPER pleased with how this turned out. Exporting it into the game and creating animations in which joe wields the thing are an entire other ordeal which will happen in due course but in the mean time good job me! Next I'll make an animation in which it shifts into a shield. I was using 3DSMax over the last two years but have recently made the switch to blender. I think it's amazing.

Character Movement!

Lastly for this weeks dev log is character movement! I've done some coding tutorials and studied blend trees which I definitely need to build on more but I have a working character movement script and animations! All of which currently are mixamo, but once I've got it down in blender I'll make my own. I'll also have a more detailed model of Joe with a bit more character to him.

I'm still remaining with a low poly style but I'm going to aim for a more detailed character, closer to Roki from Polygon Treehouse(@PolyTreehouse on twitter). This is the first iteration of joe and his movement. I've got big plans but now a solid foundation to build off of! The downside to using a cube for previous tutorials is it's very hard to tell without animations how good the movement is! But I was able to build a strong base for my movement script. Animations are separated to remove dependencies. Programming is the longest part of this but at times the most satisfying. One of the Joys of design is coming up with solutions and there is an abundance of that in programming.

THANKS AGAIN For stopping by and staying with me on this journey! If you know any great blender tutorials, please throw me a message on my twitter @JackMcPGamesDev, where you will see I've been making swords! Or my email! Or if you just want to talk about the project drop me a message!

Stay safe, and be excellent to each other.


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