Monday, 15 July 2013

Poultron: Intro

To unwind a bit from working on Brian Storm for almost a year, the guys at Titan Forged Games decided to do a small one-week (starting today) game jam with the least busy members of the team. It was originally meant to be one artist and one programmer but due to the intricacies of fate I now find myself alone working on a small prototype I call Poultron.

But what is Poultron?

Let's start with where the idea came from. For some reason I was thinking of Power Rangers and realized it must have been hard to have each person in the team control a different part of the robot. I imagined it would be something like multiplayer qwop.
Obviously such an idea can't go to waste. I quickly wrote up a small story (I'm weird like that):

The peaceful people of the planet Pa'inis realized the universe was eventually going to be attacked by an evil empire of anthropomorphic aliens (and by anthropomorphic I mean humans with a slightly blueish skin, but that's beside the point here). In order to defeat them they did what an ancient people focused on saving the universe usually do: build a huge modular robot which has to be assembled by different parts, each driven by a different teenager.

Soon, the rest of the universe followed suit and built there own robots just in case.

Eventually the evil guys came (they were pink) and the defence robots were activated. However by this point no one was entirely sure which parts belonged to which robot. Not to mention teenagers are not famous for their driving skills...

 Eventually I found myself with no artist and had to lower my expectations: instead of a friendship crushing game I would have to settle for single player one (as I had no one to play with for every iteration I made).

The art style (or lack thereof)

While the decision to make this single-player (for now) fixed some of my immediate concerns, this still left me with another problem: the art style. I'm a programmer guy that writes code, not an artist.

As you can see, this proves I'm indeed a programmer

I started doing some sketches (slightly better than the one above) when it hit me: I could try going for an intentionally bad "made of paper" look for the whole game. I mean the whole idea was to make goofy looking robots doing goofy things. It took me around 5 entire seconds to sketch the parts of a robot and a couple of hours to crop the pieces, build some 2D shaders and put it together.
This led to some other problem: if the mech was made of paper this would lead to some expectations that the universe would be entirely made of paper: soon I had a grid paper sky, with paper menus that floated away softly when you clicked on them and... That was it. I had no idea where to keep going with the paper motif. How could I make firing a projectile interesting without non-papery particle effects? When I was testing out hit sounds nothing felt natural - I couldn't just pretend the robot was a huge construction made of steel when the player could clearly see it was made out of pieces of paper.

So I went back to the drawing board and settled on another approach: I am fairly decent at making 3D models and animation but I suck at texturing. Maybe I can get by with a plastic-y/cartoonish look without too much effort.
Hopefully by the end of the day this thing will be doing things already
Despite looking like the least practical design ever, it will probably the easiest robot you'll be able to pilot in Poultron :)