Sunday, 22 February 2009

Portfolio is live!

Yesterday I bought my first domain name; how exciting! So far I'm actually hosting my portfolio on the free Yahoo! Geocities, but that's just temporary until I set up my homepage space with the university. So expect to see that ad bar disappear shortly.

Anyway, it's located here:

Game Concept: The Evacuee

Here's a concept for a game I've been mulling over for a while. It's yet another World War II game, but this time with a twist!

The player assumes the role of a 10-year-old boy who I'll name Michael for the sake of this article. Michael lives in a fairly built up town in the south of England, 1940, which happens to be the site of several important military factories. Because of this fact, his town is set to be the target of a German aerial bombing.

We begin the game during Michael's relatively undisturbed life with his mother (Dorothy) and father (James), who is unable to fight in the war due to physical injuries. One night the air raid siren begins to howl and the family rush to the local shelter. Michael and Dorothy make it safely inside, but James doesn't make it because of his injury. Hours pass (not real-time) before the bombing run actually occurs and the people emerge later to find their town severely damaged. Michael, assuming his father to be dead, begins to wander aimlessly through the ruins.

Eventually he comes across a group of German soldiers hiding in a protected building, who are talking to none other than Michael's father! Michael suddenly discovers the shocking truth that his father has been a spy for the Germans all along, and must come to terms with this betrayal whilst on the run from the enemy soldiers.

In contrast to every other WW2 game on the market, this game would involve a minimal amount of weapon usage and combat. Instead the player would have to rely on Michael's skills in hiding and finding small gaps to squeeze through, using the environment to sneak past, distract or knock out soldiers, and eventually find his way to the countryside. Certain sections could be played in cooperation with Dorothy who could provide logical solutions to problems that only mothers can fix!

I envisage the game to be fairly short and probably only set in the one town and its surrounding areas. It would probably be a good length for a mod, but unfortunately I don't have time to work on it at the moment so I'll leave it for a rainy day.

On a completely unrelated note, Gamasutra recently announced their personal Top 20 Game Writers. It's a good read for anyone interested in the field.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Portfolio preview

As I'm planning to try and get some work experience this summer, it's about time I did something about it! So I've been working on a new portfolio to showcase all my work. Here's a sneak preview:


Sunday, 15 February 2009

Left 4 Dead: "Survival Mode" hopes

Valve recently announced that they would be releasing downloadable content for Left 4 Dead this Spring. One of the new arrivals in the update will be the much-awaited L4D support in the Source SDK, whilst another is the interesting mention of a Survival game mode, "where up to 4 players set records for the longest time surviving hordes of Zombies on over 12 maps". This got me thinking of the possible gameplay changes that could take place for this mode, so here are some of the ones I hope Valve will make (and the ones I'd like to mod in if they don't).


Non-linear, dynamic maps
Rather than getting from A to B like in conventional L4D maps, we will only have the sole primary objective of defending ourselves. This means we are going to be spending a lot of time in a single well-fortified location as this is the best defensive strategy. To prevent this 'fort' from becoming too familiar and stale, it should gradually deteriorate as the hordes attack (blocked exits being broken through, lights diminishing, doors being smashed in, etc.), forcing the survivors to find somewhere safer. This should be based around an element of choice, with multiple escape routes from each area leading into various other 'forts' that the survivors can hold up in.
Maps should allow the players to move find their own way around a large playing field such as a city block or woodland area. Starting positions could be random to force players into decision-making and forming strategies from the very start. This ongoing changing of the maps would help keep them seem more varied and different each time they are played.

Helicopter item drops
I envisage a 'No Mercy' situation where a helicopter pilot is circling nearby but is unable to land to rescue the survivors. The crew could have a supply of items (ammo, first aid kits, pain pills) which they could drop in crates for the survivors to grab (in exposed, open areas of course). The items would become increasingly more valuable as the well-being of the survivors gradually dwindles.
For an extra layer of complexity, the crate might take a short time to open (something like diffusing the bomb in Counter-Strike) so the survivors may prefer to drag it to a safe location before doing so.

If the above helicopter system was implemented, what might determine when and where it performs a drop? A simple timer/random system might suffice which could be controlled entirely by the AI Director, and/or it could be determined by the actions of the survivors. Scavenging empty buildings might result in finding the odd flare which could be used to request supplies, perhaps by launching them from mounted flare guns at pre-determined locations (which could again be randomized by the Director to keep the survivors on their toes).

Wave count
The infected hordes could attack in large waves which could be counted and available for the players to see. This would give a sense of progress and would surely also determine the difficulty.

I may add to this list in the future. Let me know what you think!

...Especially if you work at Valve.