Sunday, December 2, 2012

Patient 9 Entry 2

Welcome back. Today's entry will outline the progress I've made since my last problems I've encountered, and the current to do list.

Huzzah! I've almost completed everything from last week's list:
  • SEMI CHECK – a moving actor
  • CHECK – loose environment interaction like a sign to talk too
  • CHECK – multiple levels that I can switch through
  • CHECK – text of some sort

I made most of my progress by building off (read: copy/paste) the RPG Town and Dialog example that came with Stencyl. Sadly I'm not at the point where I can develop a behavior like that by myself in a reasonable time frame. Unfortunately there's just one problem in doing this…

Turns out the people who made this example FAKED collision between the player and actor. What they did was place a layer on top of everything and put an invisible box with collision on top of their NPC's. So the whole time I wasn't colliding with the NPC's I was colliding with that box. Then you press the action button and bam – dialogue. The frustrating thing about this is it took me literally forever to figure out, and it might turn into a limitation since I “need” the enemies to collide with the player.

Since the last post I've been on the Stencyl forum posting questions. I received replies from only one person but my problem with the town example wasn't solved until earlier today when I realized that the collision was faked. In my opinion the Stencyl community is relatively young, and small, unlike the RPG Maker community where threads get solved at a much higher rate. The lesson is at the end of the day it's you and your group that'll fix the problem; external groups are helpful but you can't rely on them entirely.

Production took a hit, as I went to 2 Magic: the Gathering tournaments that ate up most of my time/energy during the weekend, I'll be writing about that in a bit (the rough is already done). Eventually I'll be able to go to tournaments and still have the focus/energy/disciple to get something game related done, but my current routine isn't top notch..

I spent Monday through Wednesday looking up tropes, wikis, reading the Asylum World of Darkness source book (wrecking my sleep schedule for no profit), and watching Session 9 to make sure I wasn't going to miss anything cliché or obvious. I think it's really important that I did this, as it increases the odds of me hitting every note I need so that the game feels like it's in a creepy mental institution. During the “research” I got a good deal of the story down, so I'm comfortable moving forward in production.

I'm looking to get the current list done before December 7th, if I really hustle I could even get a demo up which would sync up nicely with my attendance of Grand Prix Toronto.
  • get the player collision working
    • if that doesn't work I’ll have to remake the movement system
  • add a rough enemy behavior
  • add a rough inventory
  • find out how to track events/variables (will be used to make the story)
  • make a rough list of levels/environments

The game is coming along slowly but surely. I can't wait to get a demo up for people to play! I've got the groundwork for the story done, for now I'm not going to fret over its details since I always come up with more as I make the game. If you have any suggestions or questions feel free to post ‘em in the comments or contact me at

Friday, November 23, 2012

Patient 9 Entry 1

Hi everyone, my name is Alex Neufeldt and I'm an amateur game designer and competitive Magic the Gathering player. This blog will chronicle my progress and tasks in dealing with video game design and Magic and quite possibly my inevitable decent into madness :P. Right now I'm currently working a part time job while I work on a horror game called Patient 9, and going to any big Magic the Gathering tournaments I can reasonably go to.

Patient 9 is a 2d top down, 32bit style horror game currently set in a mental asylum. Similar to Amnesia the Dark Descent, you can't fight enemies but instead have to evade them in some fashion. The idea is to make the enemies you encounter frightening as opposed to most action games where the monster is just another target to shoot at. Currently I'm planning on making a amnesiac blank canvas style protagonist, it'll be a masked patient that wakes up in a mental asylum which is in chaos, some type of monsters or threats will be on the loose. I'm exploring the mechanic of having the player mold the character during the game by defining his/her past, beliefs, opinions on past actions, and giving options during the story. It would look something like this:
  • Traumatic past event: 1) I did it 2) I was framed 3) I don't remember anything
  • Thoughts on what happened: 1) sad 2) they deserved it 3) it happened, don't feel anything
  • 1-3 in game decisions: Might have special options based “what happened”
  • Custom ending: it will be a collection of slides and reports that differ based on the players input and link together to make a whole ending, similar to Fallout New Vegas
That's the rough outline, it obviously needs polish but I think it's a sweet mechanic that engages the player and creates a sense of identity. Lots of things are still loose, honestly I could switch to a different setting and story in a heartbeat but for now I'm pretty pumped for this setting and story ideas I have.

I decided to make a short game like this to help me lay down a lot of the ground work for a RPG(role playing game) I want to make in the future. I remember recommending about a month ago that if you want to make a RPG from scratch I think the best method for a small group would be to break it down into a series of small mechanics like: walking, inventory, levels, battle, etc, and make a series of games, each one building on the last, so that in the end you arrive at a fully fleshed out RPG. So I went about breaking down the mechanics or things you need to have a RPG. My list looks like this:
  • 1) a moving character
  • 2) some type of environment interaction, e.g. picking up items, reading signs, talking to people
  • 3) a inventory system, which could include equipable items
  • 4) a progression system for the character, something with levels or upgrades
  • 5) some type of battle system
There's a lot of other features I could have put on here, but they're rather tiny compared to the top 5 which significantly affect game play. For Patient 9 I'm definitely developing a moving character and environmental interaction. Odds are I'll add a inventory and progression system but they'll be relatively simpler than a traditional RPG, think like a dozen items, 1-2 equipables, and only a few tiers of character growth. I'm currently aiming for 6 hours or less to go through a play through of the game, depending on how the “moldable character” mechanic pans out I might lower the total game time and include some new game plus mechanics to encourage players to play through the multiple times to get more endings.

The reason I'm going with this approach of making a smaller and shorter game is I want to see results early, both for financial and confidence reasons, the difference between 0 and 1 is like true and false or day and night for an “artist”. Also I really want to get a horror story out of my brain and onto some kind of medium, it's kind of frustrating having all these ideas and not following through on any. Odds are I'm going to be releasing it as a web game since Stencyl is set up for that and it's a nice “easy” way to generate some passive add money. When I build up a bigger audience and portfolio then I'll consider selling my games by myself.

Currently I'm scrumming through Patient 9, which means I've broken the game down into smaller phases. Last week, I started going through all the help on, just reading through all the documents and trying out most the crash course challenge's. As a slower learner I find it helps to consume as much as I can before I start working and inevitably running into problems. Now I'm on step 2 which is to make a loose prototype where I have:
  • a moving actor
  • loose environment interaction like a sign to talk too
  • multiple levels that I can switch through
  • text of some sort
The one giving me headaches is getting the player to move properly, right now it's not colliding properly and can move diagonally (unwanted). I'm going to spend a bit longer on it before I ask about it on the Stencyl forums. After I've got the loose prototype done, I'll move onto step 3, which will include the additions of primitive enemies and some type of inventory or item interaction. I expect adding enemies to be a long, alcoholism inducing process but I'm going to break it down into small steps so I'll have something to show and play sooner.

So that's the end of this post, I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any suggestions or questions feel free to post em in the comments or contact me at Next week I'll have some screenshots and perhaps a ultra rough prototype too show off.