In BurntOut, we are paying specific attention to how the player moves within and interacts with their environment during game-play. While we have not yet committed ourselves to one particular method, we are finding the exploration to be beneficial to not only this product, but other games that are in development by Health Impact Studio.
The Old Movement
Currently, the player is able to free roam throughout the entire game, allowing them to interact and engage with all objects and models using a first person controller. The player can also maneuver through the level selection area to chose various scenarios freely. While this system does create a more immersive experience for the player, it poses some difficulty when we chose to let the player interact with various patients and characters in the scenarios as expressions on the models will be dynamic and ultimately they would have to be made and rigged in 3D. For simplicity purposes, we plan to take a visual novel approach to the various scenarios that the player would experience and create a 2D intractable UI with sprites and dialogue when the player engages with the characters. This is where coming up with a solution for a new system or way of movement may come in handy.
The Two New Systems
We aren’t set in stone yet about how movement and interaction are going to be in the gameplay. Currently, we envision the central scene to have free movement using first person controller, then transition to a different style in the interactive scenarios such as a “selection-like” movement or possibly a point and click kind of style. By restricting the free roam feel in the scenarios, we can reduce the difficulty creating and rigging 3D models and their facial features. Any interaction in the scenario would then follow up with a 2D visual incorporated in the UI that contained the dialog and various sprites as seen in various visual novels. Integrating the simplicity of 2D sprites based artwork makes it possible to progress this project easier and with more visual appeal. So, for now, we have created two more systems that can be used in the gameplay in order to test and determine which one we prefer better.
The selection system incorporates movement and player iterations into one easy to expand and navigate structure. There are four main components that make up the system. The Movement-Manager controls the movement of the player by referencing the locations of the Stationary Nodes (the big red sphere) which then rotates the player to the referenced Look Node (purple cube). The Interactive Nodes (yellow and pink cubes) then contain functionality that influence gameplay. For now, the yellow ones function as a transition to a different Stationary Node by referencing a stored Stationary Node gameobject and the pink ones enable the player to “move to object” or examine it. Because the player can sift through each node using the left and right key, it is easy to navigate this system on a controller. This interactive node script can be put on any object such as a door or a piece of furniture to give it functionality, but for now, they are just placed into the scene to clearly show its functionality.
Point & Click System
This system uses a stationary camera that is able to pan using the vertical and horizontal axis from the input. The functionality of the nodes is identical to the ones seen in the selection system. However, in this case, the cursor is used to select and communicate with intractable objects. This system closely resembles various visual novels and gives that option of player exploration while still keeping strict control of what a player can do by not being able to completely free roam.
When selecting a system to adopt into the actual gameplay we need to consider the following:
- Player Engagement: Is the player going to feel more engaged or willing to play the game when this system is implemented?
- Usability: Is this system or combination of systems easy to follow and use?
- Visuals: Does the addition of this system increase or decrease the game’s visual appeal?
By taking these variables into account we can gauge the effectiveness of which system works well in a specific scenario in the gameplay or ultimately even adopt one style throughout the entire game.
You can read more about the BurntOut game at its website and follow along with our development on the blogs.