7. May 2013 § Leave a Comment
just to give you a little update what we’re working on at the moment: Right now, we create the second Chapter of CLARK. Eventhough there have been first sketches almost since the very beginning, we are now refining and testing everything that has been built during the previous weeks. Chapter 2 will be shorter than the first one but feature a lot of new visual elements on Mars’ surface. Here are a few sketches for objects that will be added soon:
Once we are done fixing the outdoor lighting, we’ll show you a few first in-game shots!
1. May 2013 § Leave a Comment
30. April 2013 § 1 Comment
THE BEGINNING: When we started to design this game, we had a fairly simple robots-in-a-maze-fight-each-other (PvP) idea, so the very first attempts at designing the characters were much less peacful than the little guy Clark eventually turned out to be.
INSPIRATION: Pretty quickly we figured out that our first dip into the waters of game design shouldn’t be yet another shooter, but rather a puzzle game. We came up with a clumsy robotic lead character, fond of boxes. Believe us or not, we didn’t think of WALL·E. Not yet. First, we searched for photos of old construction site machinery. A little bit of forklift from the 60s here, some steam-punky pistons there, and the first designs of Clark’s upper half already started to look promising.
GAMEPLAY CONSTRAINTS: The lower part, which is connected by a vertical pivot to allow turning of the upper body independently from the base, was much trickier. To simplify CLARK’s controls and keep the gameplay straightforward, it was extremely important for us to stick to our original grid-based framework. For our avatar this had one huge implication: To give the player the necessary degree of mobility, he had to be able to move straight or sideways without an intermediate turning-motion, aswell as turning in a crane-like fashion while holding an object. These constraints left little room for any wheel-based designs. Hovercraft solutions were also quickly tossed into the bin. Therefore we reinvestigated the old symmetrical four-legged base design still left over from the machine gun robot. Now with the legs he had all the maneuverability needed, but the insectoid look seemed slightly problematic, especially because there wasn’t really anything loveable to Clark, yet.
GETTING HIM CUTER: At that time, his head alone sent arachnophobics screaming and hiding behind pizza boxes in our office (I’m exaggerating, we rarely ate pizza. Also, back then “the office” was just my living room.) So we realized we not only had to make the legs more robotic, but also to do some serious redesign of the upper half of Clark.
He should be cute and catch the player’s heart, without needing a lot of moving features such as eyebrows, lids or lips. I turned the whole orientation of his neck around and slapped on some oversized, slightly sad-looking eyes. The head was given a triangular shape to fit into the scheme of childlike characteristics. Finally I added a bolt for an abstract mouth. The huge “eyes” not only gave the character an emotional believeability, but also served to explain the tractor beam Clark is emitting when lifting objects. As a general rule, we wanted to have all faces on our game characters to have mechanical, robotic features, abstractly resembling human characteristics, without merely rebuilding eyelashes mouths ect.
MODELING, TEXTURING AND RIGGING: The next step was to build a low-poly model which was quite a challenge for I had until then worked only on highres architectural visualizations which had serveral hours time to calculate. Getting my renderings to finish in 1/60 of a second for realtime on a mobile device was a whole new task for me.
After I managed building it (the final version has a little more than 400 vertices) I layed out the UVs on a 512×512 map and gave it it way too many details that all got lost in the later filtering of the texture (argh!). Rigging the character was again something I didn’t have the faintest clue about. Intimidating at first, it turned out to be less scary than expected and with the help of a few mechanical rigging tutorials, I found my way through the process rather quickly. Eventhough Cinema 4D is never used for any feature film character animation, it does have a lot of useful rigging and animation tools which came in pretty handy and made it easy jump right into it. After the first walkcycle attempts, I took the time to produce a first little clip featuring Clark and a red ball. Man, I felt like Pixar.
IMPORT: Since Unity obviously doesn’t support Cinema’s constraint system, let alone any custom script (hell, yeah: I wrote one!) it couldn’t just directly open the .c4d-file which would have been like the most convenient thing in the world. Instead, I had to bake every frame of the animated Clark character, which at first didn’t work at all. Fortunately I found a good and cheap plugin (Nitrobake) to take care of the issue, so in the end the huge baked file was being imported into Unity and we saw Clark walk in-game for the first time.
If you have any questions about the process, feel free to ask. C&C is always welcome.
23. April 2013 § Leave a Comment
We got an email from a nice guy working for E3 the other day who asked us if we wanted to participate in a voting for indie games to crash the E3. And well … we want. So if you like us, our game, indie games in general or you simply love to vote for things online: here’s the link, peppered with our warmest thank-yous:
23. April 2013 § Leave a Comment
Now, after having sent out the first playable build of CLARK to the world of journalists and game bloggers, we are still not relaxing nor enjoying sun. Firstly there’s just no sunshine to enjoy, secondly there are still two chapters waiting for us to be finished. We are discussing new puzzles and concepts for the leveldesign of the second chapter which will be the first that takes place outdoors, i.e on the surface of Mars!CLARK is divided into three chapters, the first one contains 10 levels and we have now released 9 of them in order to let journalists have a look at our game and to give them the opportunity to play CLARK and get to know our little robot and his chaotic world. We’ve already got some awesome reviews on our first press release of CLARK. Pixabyte did a review via youtube, you can watch HERE. And Indiestatik wrote a comprehensive article: ”(…) If we’re to base the strength of a puzzle game on its ability to present ideas to the player, and to then have them implement them in order to chase progression, CLARK scores high marks on my scale. There’s nothing that feels obtuse or out of place, and there’s a complexity that’s gradually built up upon when combining each component of its puzzle design together. I’m not sure whether it was the game’s accompanying narration or balanced gameplay (probably both) that kept me going, but at no point did I ever feel like I outstayed my welcome in any of the game’s areas, and I still felt like the game was testing me enough to ensure it felt like I was earning my way forward (…).” (Chris Priestman, indiestatik.com) Read MORE.
We now have to finish level 10, the last level of chapter one. It serves as an interface between the first and the second chapter. Clark will fail to rescue his girlfriend Clara, a nuclear missile, which is transported to a trash cannon and shot to the wasteland. Clark needs to escape the evil guardians and has to follow her. This is the beginning of chapter 2.Working on the second chapter is not like inventing a whole new game but still it somehow feels like starting over new. We will introduce some new characters and reveal more of the plot. New game elements (additional box types, moving laser beams, transportation systems) will add new twists to our puzzles and new enemies will appear on the scene. To sum it up.. we are not even close to the final version of CLARK but we’re really happy being able to share this process with you.
22. April 2013 § Leave a Comment
To create the sounds I’m looking for I’m recording all kinds of things that rattle, chink or clatter and modify them with several plugins, for example by only boosting specific frequencies in the sound and deleting all the rest, to make them sound digital and mechanic , while still maintaining the organic feel of the actual recordings.
To keep the sound of CLARK moving and changing I approach the soundtrack in layers. I build one ambient layer that is omnipresent in the level and then add several different stems that can fade in and out at different times and in different locations. By doing this I hope to reinforce the different scenes you get to see in CLARK and also make the soundtrack more intriguing and interesting, because you can interactively control what you hear and the sounds changes with where you move.