blogging the games

At the breakfast table

Alain and Magnus: *engaged in battle to the death*

Helena and Lennox: *yelling at each other*

MC: *has a panic attack*

Jinhai: Are you serious? Right in front of my morning eggs?

Weekly Blog: Demo Demons

So apparently this week, we’re mostly supposed to talk about team dynamics and what not. Frankly all I can say to them is kudos for being able to accommodate my rather hellish emotional state. Between the general anxiety, the tragic death of my cat, and some other stuff, I’ve been having a really hard time holding myself together but the team always manages to put up with me when I’m really low. The designer even brought  me a shake yesterday, what a sweet pea. 

Met up with the designer earlier in the week, we finally got around to blocking out the spawn point for your demon. Once implemented properly, the scene itself will basically be the UI. Need some mysterious meat for your demon boi?? Just click and drag from the meat table, etc etc. So that’s something I’m looking forward to. I don’t really have much to say other than that, this week is just gonna be more parts making/level set ups. 

The Formidable Tale of Xenophever, Part 1

The weird concept of Xenophever assembled itself into my tired brain four days before having to present a pitch to my videogame class as an end-of-the-year project. I had rattled my head for a good month so I could gather as many ideas as possible given I had just thrown away my original concept, way too personal and fucked up for the casual setting of a school project.

So instead I went for a glittery nightclub for aliens. Close enough. I had this coming to be honest.

Like your regular normie nerd, I carry this irrational love for everything astrophysical coupled with an utter inability to remember the scientific details of what I learn. And I do have a serious history of messing around with nightclubs in creative projects, though no clue as to why nightlife is a recurrent theme of mine. I’ve only been to a real nightclub once, only so I could destroy my vocal chords trying to have a conversation about VR gaming in Europe over the sound-quakes of a questionable DJ.

Yet, there is something I hold dear about the idea of nightclubs. Maybe it’s the very concept of excess as a way to celebrate, to vent, to hide. Maybe it’s the flip side of loosing control. Maybe neon lights are just that dope.

Or maybe I simply thrive on shoving a bunch of strange fictional people together and see what happens. Don’t judge me. I design games for a reason.


So here I was at last, presenting Xenophever to my classmates with the original Powerpoint that fathered them all. To be honest I expected the project to die that very day, but two game artists asked to get on board as I was preparing myself to get reassigned somewhere else.

(yaaaay)

Funnily enough, most of what was presented in this original Powerpoint is still applicable today, but words don’t make games. Prototypes do.

The first intention for Xenophever was to go 3D. To be honest that was mostly due to the team composition than to any gameplay or art necessity, but we still cut the cake in half ; the artists were to build something on Unreal Engine 4 while I was to come up with the first version of the paper prototype and its set of rules.

The first version wasn’t that representative (nor that presentable), but it allowed us to pinpoint various problems before having to code them -which future me was very grateful for.

(I lost so many pawns that day)

After a first 3D test on UE4, we realized the current team did not really work for multiple reasons, and that 3D sounded good on paper but didn’t really suit the competences and preferences of the lead artist Valentine -nor mine. So we rebuilt a team of 5, a team that was to become the first iteration of Xenocorp and worked together all through the school prototype, and we decided to return to a the more cartoonish rendering of 2D. And I finally admitted that I felt more comfortable working on Game Maker than UE4 (I had missed some courses that sounded essential for the game’s ambitions, and could picture myself trying to solve issues on hard code more easily than using pre-built scripting boxes).

So now we were together. That’s roughly the time when we started to come up with the archetypes for the aliens, even thus their first versions were a farcry of their final concepts. We also rebuilt another paper prototype in hope of gaining clarity over our problems. This time Valentine helped (I think it shows somewhat).

(I actually pinned it to a wall for the pic, because screw gravity)

Despite a very chaotic and unsuccessful first school workshop together (we do not speak of it), we could propose the first testing room to our teachers in time. There was barely nothing in it besides an animation that was not isometric in a world that was not that isometric either, and a moving system that was not what we had in mind. But the idea was there.

So here we were, the group of five that ended up working on the game. Louis, game designer and producer, Valentine, lead artist and character designer, Florian, animator first and foremost, and Maxim, user interface and environment artist. And me.

We flew apart during the course of the summer so we could relax.


RELAX. HA.

That’s not a word I’m very familiar with.

During the whole month of august, I locked myself in a house with two cats and buffed up my Game Maker knowledge. I already had a bit of experience with the engine, but coding AI and complex game systems ? Not really. So I learned.

I wanted to have something tangible to present by September, with most basic systems implemented already in a bare-bones version of the game. So the AI and different alien species with their natures, a vague drinking system, satisfaction and stress, all the structures we had decided would be in at this point, and basic interaction with the NPC and between NPCs. And I kind of nailed this.

Here is what the game looked like back then.

(if you’re confused, well that’s understandable)

Also I wanted to work a bit on the paper prototype but my cats enjoyed the spot way too much for me to get anything done.

(figure above : cats being inconvenient for game design, or sacrificial table (interpretations may vary))

The path to completion for the prototype looked rough but manageable. It’s a good thing I worked on the engine and the project during the summer more than going to the beach, because I sincerely doubt we would have been able to finish it in time if I had waited for the first day to finally explore the engine’s possibilities.

But to be honest, that summer Game Maker camp was the easy part.

And what followed is a story for tomorrow.


Raquel, game designer and mother of the project, out.

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