W.A.R.P. - VRJam Log #1

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I'm not sure how often I'll post these, but I figure I should post something at least now.
This log entry will encompass what W.A.R.P. is, and what I've done previously. The next one will cover what I'm doing at the time of writing, more or less.

After scrapping my other game ideas, and coming at it from a new angle, I remembered a vague idea for a game mechanic that I thought of previously. The general idea for it was standing in certain spots and seeing things you couldn't see from anywhere else. As if when in that spot you're looking through an invisible window into an alternate reality where say a book on a shelve exists, but not in your normal reality. It was interesting, but the mechanics of the idea as it was would have been little more then a Hidden Object game. Those are cheesy at times. In VR with my idea it might make for a little unique fun, but I doubt I'd win anything with it. And besides, the player would be more focused on moving around 1 step, looking 360, move 1 step, look 360, etc. Just seemed repetitive and in the case of a larger scene with a lot more going on it could be extremely hard to find what you need.

I thought about a few ways to alter the idea, but most I just didn't like. I soon thought about having the window being a known object, instead of having the player find both the spot in a room where you see through to another reality, and the object that's different. Having a obvious window uncomplicates things a bit. So here I'm at the point, of "ok, you got a obvious window, the player should be able to find the object that doesn't add up easy enough. Then what?". Obviously the focus is more on the object now, so having the player obtain that object makes sense. And with that, the object needs more importance. Just a random book or vase of something doesn't cut it. The object has to be useful to the player. It's kind of generic I guess, but if the object is essentially a key to a door to allow the player to progress to another area, that works. Look through the window, find the key, bring it to the trigger, open the path/level cleared. Very basic, but its enough. But rewind there a little. between "find the key" and "bring it to the trigger", there needs to be a little more clarification.

It's obvious at this point that the game is barring some similarities to Portal. Honestly, that can be both a good and a bad thing. Good as in, the people who enjoy that would hopefully enjoy my game. Bad as in, I just don't want my game to be a bootleg Portal. I'm fine with it continuing expanding a genre of First Person Puzzle Platformers, but I want my game to be as original as possible. So I need to take notice any time a element of my game is similar and ponder doing something different. And in the case at hand I decided, it could have a huge impact on keeping the game unique if I never have the player go through the windows himself, instead just reaching through in some manner to grab a object. I could explain that easy enough, like the windows only support inorganic matter. And the reaching through, maybe some sort of telekinesis, robot arms, or whatever. I can think more about that later.

So yea. At this point I have the basic idea of the game, so I start thinking of how I could expand on it. How I could add more mechanics in future levels. If Level 1 is "you see a window to another world, something that screams 'put a key here to progress', see a key through the window, reach through and grab it, use it, goto level 2", what would level 2 be? What can I change up. My idea was, to simply swap the key and the trigger. Instead of the key being in the other world, the trigger is., Then in level 3, both are in the other world. Seemed like a fine idea at the time. So level 4+?

Well what I came up with was, in level 4, what if we have the user move the window to be able to reach the key? That works. Level 5, he move the window to be able to reach the trigger, level 6, move the window to reach both.

6 levels worth of things, all pretty basic though, but its a start. At this point, while I wasn't quite stuck yet, I figured it would be good to bring in someone to bounce ideas off of. So I got a hold of coznefx. He was supportive and encouraging of my ideas so far. Over the conversation I thought of. "what if instead of the door requiring a key, say the door was made of ice, and you had to shatter it or melt it with help of the windows. He countered that with, then what if you have to do the reverse of destroying matter to progress, and have to create it. My initial thought was to dismiss it based on that it sounds like a magic effect, and my general idea for the game is based in science atm. After thinking about it later, I found a workable sciency explanation.

Refining the ideas, I figure, what if the other worlds the windows go to have different environmental effects that transfer back through the window? Like a really hot world, that melts everything a certain distance from the window, or a cold world that freezes things near the window, or just plain deposits a lump of snow or frost (basically the way to create matter). This sounded good. Like I could go a lot of directions with it and expand on it. Having several different alternate worlds to use, and maybe even play them against each other with having 2 windows at a time.

I was satisfied enough that I had an idea to work with. So, keeping in the spirit of a game jam, I waited until the start of the jam to get started. Once started I tried a few different methods, and only got the windows working mostly as intended a few days in. I've been battling a dev funk for the past couple months, being unable to dive into working on things like I used to, and instead falling for distractions like T.V. and Minecraft. The first Friday after the jam started I found I had the start of a cold. And the milestone 1 was fast approaching. I hoped to get my milestone 1 submission ready before the cold hit hard, but it hit faster then expected. At this point, I didn't even have a name for the game. For some reason I didn't think one was needed, so I didn't think about it much. I only realized I had to have one when I went to fill out the form early. I spent the next couple days thinking about it, and finally came up with W.A.R.P. It can work a couple different ways. The meaning is subject to change, but I'll at least say the A.R. is for Alternate Reality, as that was the whole reason I thought to do a acronym name. Alternate Reality as part of a name just doesn't sound right to me. But the A.R.'s meaning are subject to change too. I even consider it more just a codename/working title, and the real title could end up being different.


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