[Dev Log] A Person-shaped Thing is a Person

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Hi. I don't know what this game will be exactly, but it's gonna look like this. I think it's going to be first person, and definitely going to be trippy. Might get a little bit of the Witness feel or something.


For diversifies, I figured I'd get two birds with one stone by going doing a Shallow Copy of "The Return to the Obra Dinn", because I'll also get Focused Palette for free seeing as the game will only use two colors. I'll probably do Designer Notes again, though hopefully implement it better than I did in my last Wizard Jam game.


I'm going to write a shader for the humanoid models that let's me do several things:

  • Cross fade between silhouette, and shaded model
  • Do stencil buffer writes/reads to make silhouettes of people appear as though they are holes into other rooms/worlds
  • Fade/burn away with an alpha cutoff probably

If I can get that stencil buffer thing working, I could maybe do some non-euclidean trickery. Wherein characters or objects create holes into other rooms, and when your camera's frustum is completely obscured by the geometry that cuts the whole in the world, you're teleported into that world? We'll see how all that goes.


Update 1:


I think I need edge detection, as part of recreating Obra Dinn's look and feel. I opened the demo for that game up and it actually doesn't seem to dither at all, or rather, it does thresholding of the pixel's color by only looking at a single pixel, rather than using a 3x3 kernel to get a threshold value as I'm doing. I think I'll keep the dithered look, but as Obra Dinn seems to do, I'll invert the threshold value on edges. Edges are found using a grayscale (luminance based) version of the image before the dithering pass. Just outputing my simple sobel edge detection looks like this:




The top of the head's color is pretty close to the sky box there, so the magnitude of the gradient, and thus the prominence of the edge is very faint. I might opt for depth-buffer based edge detection, but I suspect the accuracy of edge detection isn't going to matter after the dither filter is applied anyway. Once I combine the two effects this is going to look pretty cool and I'll spend some time on other effects like cutaway alpha and particles to create some badass looking GIFs.



Update 2:


Eh you know what, I'm not crazy about the direction this look is going. It looks really messy when I blend it with the dithering, and without it, well it's just not the same feel as that original gif! So I think I'll skip on hard edges and stray a little bit from Obra Dinn's look. I did make a gif of something that is very Obra Dinn-esque, featuring the ominous suit and tie faceless man.




But for now I'll focus on what kind of effects I can make with the dithered look and scrap the edge stuff.


Update 3:


Gameplay! Okay, so it's definitely going to be some kind of First Person exploration game. I'm hoping I can use the 1-bit colors and lighting trickery to do stuff like this:





The corridor leading out of the room is always there, but it's completely invisible without the flashlight. I think I can use this in more areas too, especially when paired with some of my other shaders for silhouettes. I might even do narration for object interactions like in an adventure game, over some ominous/looming tones... things might get spooky, we'll see what happens.


Update 4:


Basically just making the game now, no more fussing around with systems and shaders. I wrote simple system for checking and setting flags (string/bool key/value pairs). Objects can also register a callback with the system to get notified if a given flag has changed. So now I can easily enable/disable stuff or play sound bytes based on player interactions.




The main character has an inner-monologue going on, voiced by yours truly. Also not planning on jump scares or anything, but I will try to create some really tense moments when I can. I also think from here on out I won't be posting any GIFs. This last one happens right at the beginning of the game so it doesn't spoil much, but going forward, most stuff I show could give away some plot beats I have planned.

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I'm so impressed by how great this already looks that I'm angry.

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Yeah, THIS is the power of minimalist presentation; Even a simple proof of concept can present as an amazing piece of work.

I don't even care how this winds up playing, it looks AMAZING already.

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Yeah, that gif is pretty (= really good)!

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Aww snap, Jake mentioned my game... better actually get something finished! Unfortunately I'll be away next week, so whatever I get done this weekend will be pretty much it. I guess it's time for Game Jam Mode: Engage!

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