Beforeshadowing or, always leave a door locked from the other side.

This is the second post in my Adventure Game Theory series, if you haven’t already please read the first – What is an Adventure Game?

In stories, foreshadowing is a fantastic device that allows the reader – or in our case, the player – to get little nudges every now and then as to the outcome of various plot points.

Used correctly these nudges can subtly point to any twists and surprises you have in store for the player without them realising it until after the surprise happens. Without foreshadowing there is a strong chance the player will feel cheated, or at least a little disappointed, that the twist came seemingly out of nowhere as if you added it on a whim.

The problem with foreshadowing is that to do it well you really need to know exactly where your story is going from the beginning as this allows you to sprinkle the foreshadowing points across the story.

This isn’t a massive problem in itself, it just requires you to fully plan everything out from the beginning and then stick to this plan religiously. This, however, can be a problem.

For some people, ourselves included, making a thorough plan from the beginning is hard. Now don’t get me wrong, we did have a pretty good plan for Forever Lost however in the paraphrased words of Captain Barbossa, this was more like a guideline really. To continue the piracy metaphor, it was like a treasure map with just the locations listed and not the instructions for getting between them. I’m fully aware that this is not really how maps work, but I started writing the sentence and by the time I got halfway I figured it was too late to stop.

We knew the major story points we wanted for the beginning, middle, and end, but in between that we just had lots of ideas that we wanted to get in.

The other issue with this is that even if you do spend however long it would take to come up with an absolutely perfect plan of your entire story, sticking to it can be a problem in and of itself.

Stories are fluid and should evolve as you go, don’t decide what your characters will do for them, instead just put them in a situation and let them tell you themselves. If you decide every event and every action ahead of time there is a very strong chance you will miss out on amazing things simply because you weren’t letting yourself see them.

Now I’ll let you into a little secret, a number of the foreshadowed parts of the Forever Lost story, set out in the first 2 episodes and coming to a head in the forthcoming episode 3, were all just luck. Now hopefully by the clever use of foreshadowing in this very post this hasn’t come as too much of a surprise.

Now to be fair, it wasn’t completely lucky, it was actually what we call beforeshadowing. What we mean by this is, when you come up with an idea that you think might be cool or interesting, put it in the story. Then, later on in the story there is a very strong chance you’ll be able to use that for something and thus create the illusion of actual foreshadowing.

As a word of warning though, just adding in bizarre things for every story might not work. This has worked very well for us in Forever Lost due to the nature of the story being quite a weird one however in your story you’ll have to decide what would work best for your beforeshadowing points.

back@4xAs way of an example, in the hallways of episode 1 we had a notice board just outside the first room and on it we put some “hilarious” signs. One of these simply read ‘No Swimming’, for basically no reason whatsoever. Later on as the story progressed an important part of it is that some water gets contaminated and so we were able to use the ‘No Swimming’ sign again, this time near a source of water.

This point may seem small, and in comparison to some other beforeshadowing that’s in the game that I won’t mention for fear of spoiling things, but actually it’s pretty important. in the Forever Lost story, memory is central. Jason is seeing things that are jogging his memory and bringing back the past, so having a seemingly unimportant sign right at the beginning of the first game point to an important part of the story that only gets revealed towards the end of the 3rd game, developed over 3 years later, makes the story look well thought out and complete.

back@4xAs for the name of this post, that points to one of the other beforeshadoing elements in the series. Back in development of episode 1 we added a door to the end of the corridor by the reception desk and had fully intended to add a room behind it. However due to our self-imposed deadline and requirement to release the game so that we would be able to eat that month, we had to cut the room.

Rather than remove the door itself we decided to simply lock it as where it was would look weird if there was no door there. The problem with a locked door in an adventure game is that it’s begging to be unlocked by the player, so we needed to find a way to lock it that would tell the player they would never be able to unlock it. In the end we decided on something very simple, changing the doors description from “It’s locked” to “It’s locked from the other side”. We then left it at that and didn’t think much of it.

Now in episode 3, that door couldn’t be more vital and we only have it because we decided to go with the flow and allow things to just happen.

Any good blog post, much like any good story, needs a really good satisfying ending. However, as this probably isn’t actually a good blog post, I’ll just end it with this final thought.

If you could read my mind you would know how awesome that thought was.

What is an adventure game?

What is an adventure game?

In between working on games and raising puppies I’m also “planning” a wedding, and by planning I of course mean “deciding on how much meat to serve at the BBQ” *, so naturally the thought of speeches has come up, and so on that note I will start off this series of posts with the Merriam-Webster definition of an adventure game – actually it’s from Wikipedia but we’ll overlook that for the sake of this post – apparently an adventure game is “a video game in which the player assumes the role of protagonist in an interactive story driven by exploration and puzzle-solving.”

I’d say that although this is pretty accurate, overall it’s pretty useless, simply because it also defines the vast majority of video games in existence, even if the puzzle-solving element simply boils down to “shoot this guy before he shoots you”.

For us, an adventure game starts with the story, without that you’ve just got a list of barely connected puzzles. Once we have the story, we decide where that story might take place and only then do we start thinking about puzzles. Even though the puzzles are absolutely vital to an adventure game, for us they’re only interesting if they are a part of the story as a whole, rather than abstract distractions added in for no other reason than “an adventure game must include puzzles”.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “who are these guys to talk about making adventure games like they’re some kind of experts, they’ve only released a few of them.”, and you’d be right. We’re not in anyway experts at making adventure games, we’re experts at making Glitch adventure games, we’ve released 5 of them now ( or will have when FL3 finally comes out ) and figure some of our thoughts might be interesting to others.

Over the following posts I will detail random elements of making Glitch adventure games, I’m not in any way organised enough to be able to list the future topics here however I may come back later and edit this paragraph to make me look well planned and awesome, which coincidentally is very similar to the one future topic that I actually know I will be writing about, our theory of “reverse foreshadowing”.

*so far I’ve come up with “lots”.

Red Rossum is out on the 26th February

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Red Rossum is out on the 26th February!

After a small issue during approval* Red Rossum is now approved and will be available to download on the 26th of February for both iOS and Android.

It’ll be free with very infrequent video ads so please give it a download and let me know what you think!

If anyone is interested in having a play early and is able to put some words down on the page ( web or paper ) about it please get in touch.

*The first submission failed as the reviewer couldn’t find any adverts in the game. This was annoying however at least it means that my ads are very infrequent, the reviewer just didn’t play long enough to see any.

Red Rossum is ready for testing

Red

Red Rossum is ready for testing

I’m very happy to say that Red Rossum is no ready for Beta testing on both Android and iOS!

  • Do you like breaking games?
  • Do you like robots?
  • Do you like flying in a vertical direction straight into weirdly-floating crates?
  • Do you like playing pre-release games for free, even when they’re going to be free when eventually released?
  • Do you like the colour red?

If you can answer any of the above questions with a ‘yes’ then please get in touch to test it!

Say hello to Red!

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Say hello to Red!

Please say hello to Red, he’s a friendly little robot that for some reason or another, his designer can’t really remember why, has an integrated rocket. This allows Red to do the one thing that he is able to enjoy doing, rocketing! He just loves to fly really fast, sadly he can only do so in a straight line as his designer also neglected to include any form of steering, what an idiot!

The only problem is, well there are many problems with this set up, but the main problem is that there are loads of crates floating above his launch pad. This was another “successful” invention by Red’s creator, he made “self-aware autonomous hovering crates” to be used for deliveries, however he forgot to add in a navigation system so now they just float around aimlessly, getting in the way of Red.

Red, loveable little fellow that he is, doesn’t let these crates get him down though, he just keeps on trying to go higher and higher.

Red Rossum will be released very soon on Google Play and the App Store, please watch this space! Well actually, watch this space.

Happy new year!

Happy new year!

In 2015 I will be blogging more and releasing more games.

OK, so I say this every year however this time, I really mean it. OK, I also say that every year but this time it’s different. Somehow.

This year I am, without a doubt, going to release at least 3 games of my own into the wild. Will those games be fun? I surely hope so. Will they be in any way commercially successful? I very much doubt it. Do I care? Not even a little.*

The first of these games will be called Red Rossum and I will be putting some stuff up about it very soon, the second and third games are currently known as Untitled Game #1 and Untitled Game #2 respectively and as I’m sure you can tell from those names, they’re going to be pretty spectacular.

*Well, maybe a little. But not too much.