andyblaa

[RELEASED] Eventually Your Breathing Will Stop

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1.10.19

Long time follower of the Idle Thumbs and Wizard Jam, first time game maker! Started a day or so ago researching what software I’ll build the game in and brainstorming ideas of what will be interesting and the ‘easiest’ for me to do.

 

I’m interested in story and character, so it made sense to begin with something simple using dialogue choices and information. Looked through some titles and found some very evocative ones for Terminal 7. ‘Eventually Your Breathing Will Stop’ has the biggest emotional impact on me so I went for that..

 

I wanted to tell an engaging story so a Myst-like, point and click game will be easiest for me. I wanted to utilise any vaguely relevant skills I already have, rather than trying to learn too much, so I decided to use pre-rendered 3D backgrounds from a previz app I use called FrameForge. I can very quickly create sets/rooms/backgrounds, then filter them in Photoshop to create a ‘look’.

 

I’ve been researching different options for the engine. Stuff like Twine, GameMaker popped up. The one I’ve settled on, for now, is Unity + Fungus. The challenge will be setting a tone for the game, and keeping things realistic, without feeling too much like an RPG. I’ll be stripping back as much of the Fungus UI as possible.

 

Plot outline:

Eventually Your Breathing Will Stop

In 1920’s Birmingham, a police inspector is brought in to talk to residents on the street he grew up in, to determine the perpetrator of a recent murderer. There are three suspects - some more likely to be the murderer than others and one very unlikely; an ‘easy’ conviction. It’s your job to find the truth.

 

Feel and Tone

Realistic. Nothing surreal, or magical. Simple, engaging story. About people and truth. The player has to deduce based on what they learn. There’ll be no inventory or notebook in game, so they’ll have to take notes as they go.

 

Inspired by games like Sentient, LA Noire, Deus Ex, Thief, Baldurs Gate.

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1.11.19

Spent today at the USCIS office with my wife waiting to be interviewed for my green card. Fortunately that was successful. I spent the small amount of the free time I had researching deaths by strangulation in Birmingham, UK between 1911-1920. Surprisingly interesting and varied. I wanted to find an actual murder from that period to use as the basis for the murder you have to solve.

 

Tomorrow begins the actual game engine testing in Unity with Fungus!

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1.12.19

Went through the main Fungus Udemy course today to learn the absolute basics and began building 3D environment in FrameForge.

 

I like the simplicity of Fungus, and it reminds me of a few other interactive building apps I’ve used, but I worry that it may not have the complexity to create the investigative dialogue system I’d like to use.

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1.13.19

Today I’ll be researching branching dialogue choices. The aim of this jam is for me to learn more complex game design mechanics. So deciding on a branching dialogue style is key. I want to avoid creating too many variables and needing to create systems of information being stored, so I think using a ‘hub and spoke’ system, whereby the player constructs questions and hopes for a useful answer rather than choosing from predefined questions, is most interesting to me. I need to work out how to add additional words and options for them as they discover more clues. As far as I remember, this was sort of how conversations worked in Sentient, one of my influences on this game.

 

An option is to allow the player to input with a keyboard and additional information they discover - I like this idea because it forces the player to keep track of new information rather than have the game do it for them. But this may be beyond my non-existent game design skills.

 

Update:

I’ve been experimenting with an art style for my backgrounds in photoshop - taking a rendered frame in Frameforge and fucking with it. I’ve created a set of layers that I can drop any rendered frame in and instantly see how it looks with my art style. I’m essentially trying to hide the low-res nature of my 3D renders and the old photo effect works pretty well. The look and feel of the game is important to me to set the tone, and make the player feel like they’re in an actual world so I wanted to get something visual pinned down early on, then spend the next few days experimenting with systems in Fungus.

 

Attached: current visual style for my backgrounds, and NPC portrait. And the very basic 3D street I'm using the make the background plates..

Background Street Test 1.jpg

Arther Kelly Portrait.png

shot_00001 -  Wide Street RIght .jpg

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16 hours ago, ke51n said:

Real life note taking, nice!

This is certainly by necessity rather than design!

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1.19.19

The last few days I’ve been building the main mechanics and spending way too long learning very simple things in unity, but it’s been pretty satisfying. I’m still using placeholder artwork for most things so no useful screen grabs yet.

 

I have a central hub menu, and a UI over the top counting down your time available to complete your investigation. Working out very basic game concepts like hiding and showing buttons has been time consuming. But I’m learning a lot.

 

I wanted the UI style to fit with the look of the game but I’ve realised that a bit harder to do. The question is does the UI detract from the overall game feel if it’s a bad implementation of the game visuals style. Will it just look way nicer using a clean, simple UI that functions and doesn’t intersect with the game visuals. So I think clean and simple is the way I’ll be going. I’d rather spend time making the game fun than creating buttons etc that fit the look of the game.

 

Next steps are tidying up the layout and UI and learning about variables and text input to add the ability to type a question keyword to get specific answers.

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1.20.19

today was a bit of a backwards step with the UI , I spent way too long trying to simplify my control buttons to the point where I thing I’m going to have to rethink how you navigate around the whole game. Things have got too complicated as they are and I’m spending way too long creating solutions for things using the very basic skill set that I have rather than doing things in an efficient way.

 

I’m also probably going to create my own button and UI textures, I think that’ll now be quicker than hacking a downloaded set of assets together. Man, UI is tough!

 

Tomorrow I’m going back to my story and characters to flesh out details and begin writing dialogue.

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Just throwing these up here too - sketches of different screen layouts I did last week then recreated in-game

 

Actual in game screenshots to follow!

 

Spending today filling in all the 140 questions and answers I’ve written, and dealing with the inevitable bugs. Aiming to upload around 9pm PST TONIGHT!

647F5569-B8E6-4A6F-9EA9-AF374B62A751.jpeg

588D428C-8036-438B-AFF5-75DAAB0EB8AB.jpeg

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It seems that the current upload only has a macOS build. Are you planning to also upload any other versions? Unity should be able to build linux and windows versions, too.

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1 hour ago, Teljoor said:

It seems that the current upload only has a macOS build. Are you planning to also upload any other versions? Unity should be able to build linux and windows versions, too.

Yes! Thanks for your interest :-) I only noticed that after I uploaded, I guess I didn't check those options when I installed Unity. A new build with Windows and Linux versions will be going up later today or tomorrow, in time for the showcase.

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Following up with pictures of how the game turned out based on my original sketches.

 

This week I've been making minor tweaks, and adding in a few of the witnesses that weren't in the first build, and I've got the murder scene working with rollovers for details.

Screen Shot 2019-01-27 at 10.57.52 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-01-27 at 10.57.23 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-01-27 at 10.57.41 PM.png

MurderWide1.png

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My original sketch of the murder scene for maximum embarrassment, and the frame export from Frameforge, before adding the filter in Photoshop

IMG_1974.JPG

shot_00002 -  MurderMoodyLight .jpg

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2.1.19, 1st February 2019

I've just uploaded a version with everything hopefully working (everything definitely won't be working)! If you were holding off playing because it was only Mac, I've also done Windows and Linux builds

Now I can get on with playing all the other games. So many I've been desperate to play, but wouldn't let myself until I got to this point.

 

https://andyblackburn.itch.io/eybws

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It was a good idea to have a summary up front for each witness, because I expect I'd have a lot of difficulty getting a sense of their personality from their statements and keeping them mentally separated over like 8 different interviews. Having important topics in italics also really helped to know what information was important. I also really liked the sounds used to set the mood (the rain, sounds of passerby, knocking on the door, etc.).

Since I'm not really sure if I got the investigation part of the game right, I'll just write down a few impressions (this contains spoilers for the different endings).

Spoiler

I'm not sure what degree of certainty I was really supposed to get from the testimonies. I ended up guessing that the husband was the murderer based on the victim's still having some money on her, a witness's testimony referring to the husband scheming something with Bernard, and just the fact that the initial evidence made him the least likely suspect.

The ending where you accuse him does seem to be the most extensive, but it doesn't absolutely confirm that he is the culprit.

I am assuming the endings do not depend on your prior actions, repeating the whole investigation before your accusation. If interviewing potential witnesses is supposed to change the endings or alter information you can get in further interviews that should certainly be made clearer.

 

On the whole I feel the game sets its scene well, but lacks clear feedback the player's performance. For instance, it would help to have some indication of how much of the available information you have gathered, either in general or for each individual interviewee. I realize that given the theme this uncertainty in police investigations is part of what the game is trying to communicate, so feel free to ignore that suggestion.

 

I also noticed a few bugs, which I'll list here. I don't think any of them make the game unplayable or anything, so it may not be worth the trouble to fix them.

The first is that there are some tokens showing up in dialogue. This isn't really a problem. Maybe it is because I am playing on windows or hardware-related.
image.thumb.png.ec38887eb125c0b055ac5c858f906618.png

The second is that when time ran out, I got an error message and then a blank screen. I just restarted the game to proceed, so this also wasn't a problem in terms of being able to finish.

Lastly, I noticed that bringing up a topic to a potential witness that I heard from another witness seemed to switch the conversation to that witness. For instance, bringing up 'schemes' resulted in a response from Arthur Kelly, even though I was talking to someone else at the time.

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Teljoor, thanks so much for the feedback. When I did the keyword system I stupidly didn't even consider that people would then use those words to question other people. In hindsight that makes much more sense. I've at least fixed it so asking someone else doesn't bring up a different conversation. And I'm going to go back in and add more relevant responses for each person so you get an answer from the person you're currently interviewing. That will open up so many more interesting avenues of conversation. 

 

The end scene bug has (hopefully) finally been fixed!

 

Seems like those characters are from a certain type of line break in some of my text..so I should be able to find and replace those in my original dialogue document and replace them fairly quickly.

 

The suggestions of player feedback is super helpful too. I'd kind of envisaged it as an interactive story, but without any feedback, it's missing some enjoyment I think. So I'll be looking at that next pass. I love your idea of some kind of alert or message to tell you when you've got all the information from one particular person. I'll definitely aadd that into the next version.

 

Thanks again, really really appreciate you taking the time to play and give the feedback.

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Lovely atmosphere here, especially that opening title sequence. I found it quite difficult, but it was cool looking out for clues and doing some Victorian detective work!

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