I’ve been doing some thinking recently in regards to the damn Wall level, and to a lesser extent, the bloody Tower level. The reason why I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around the concepts, the idea of expressing a 3D type space in a 2D type area. My original idea of having a front and a back of an area just didn’t seem to jive. No idea or rough layout that I did held any water. The reason is that the idea couldn’t ever actually exist anywhere but an M.C. Escher drawing. Ironically, considering it’s a 2D game, it had to do with the view. Think about this. So the player is walking to the right and enters a door set into the wall behind them (away from the player). They then appear on the other side, and as a Designer I have 2 options there. I can either consider the behind space to be just the other side, and flip the view around, so if you were to look through the door just passed through you would see the other side. Or, I could render the wall and everything in the foreground blank and only show the background.
With the first option, while working, it has the nasty tendency to reverse all the controls and the directions since I had basically flipped the imaginary X Axis. So left is right and right is left while up and down have remained constant. So, if you were to hold down the Right Arrow key (or button or whatever) and enter one of these doors, it would place you and then odds are, you would walk right back into the door you just came out of. That’s confusing so I abandoned it.
The other has the problem with foreground interaction. Basically if I make the foreground stuff invisible, I can’t honestly expect the player to interact with any of it. Like when I was 3, if I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. So any doors I use are a one way trip, which defeats the entire purpose of the concept.
Which brings me back to the title. The solution is to flip the X Axis 90 degrees. So when you enter a “door” the engine resets you at a space which would be perpendicular to the place you just were. So hypothetically, if there was a woodchuck statue on the first screen with the door and it was facing you, after you’re through the door said woodchuck would be looking to the left.
The really cute thing about this idea is that it requires exactly zero modification to the engine to work, just clever application of what’s already there. The trick lies in the layouts, as I now have to consider them in 3D space and how pieces connect together. A larger mock up and top down approach may be required here. Thankfully, due to the nature of both levels I don’t have to design anything that goes in 2 directions or anything with a high level of scripting. In the future if I decide I hate myself I’ll design a level with 3D spaces and traps and a stupid amount of terrain deformations. Or find a bridge, a really high one.
-Castle still isn’t in the can yet. I went to a concert instead. It was sweet.
– In other crap, I discovered that I have a terrible habit of needing to check my email every, oh, 5 minutes if I can manage it. After the initial idea that I’m just crazy OCD I began to wonder why. I think it’s because I’m the Producer. People send me stuff. I don’t know when they’ll send me stuff or require instructions or advice or guidance or any score of other things. Email is checked constantly just to be sure. I considered getting a Blackberry just so it’ll buzz or something when I get an email, freeing me from constantly thinking about it.
To put it another way, it’s like playing an RTS without graphics and the only thing you know about are what your troops tell you and when. Responding to said troops as quickly as humanly possible is the only real way to play well.
Oh, and boredom. I check whenever I’m bored too. Especially so.