Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Hypochondria becomes Patho(il)logical

So as the title suggests I've changed the name of my game from Hypochondria to Patho(il)logical. My ideas have been seesawing a bit for the last few months. First they go one way..and then another, but I think I've finally hit on what I want now, and so have something concrete to work towards. I've been playing with some ideas around making the game more educational. So I thought I'd have the player play as a different type of white cell in each organ and have some fairly detailed cut scenes explaining what they do and how they kill harmful cells etc. But then I thought it might get a bit too complicated, so I've decided to forgo that idea and replace the collectible lemons I have already with collectible tidbits of information about the organ the player is currently in and the human immune system. That way I don't have to worry about making the gameplay ridiculously realistic ;-) and can still have a bit of educational content in there. Stuff like "Did you know that the human body produces five different types of white blood cells?" etc.
Another reason I decided against the education cut-scene idea was that I thought the game would be too impersonal then. There would be no feeling of purpose. The game would basically just be saying; "Here, this is how the human immune system works. Now go play these levels!". My idea now is that you are actually healing someone who is sick. I think this will make the player feel like that are actually accomplishing something instead of just playing the levels for the sake of it.

So enough jibberjabber about my game-design shortcomings and on to what I've actually gotten done in the last few months. I'm onto the third of four organs now. I'm playing around with some swimming mechanics, so I'd say I'll set it in the kidneys or liver maybe. Not 100% sure yet as I still need to do some more research into the two before I decide. I've gotten all the mechanics and stuff done for the lungs, and I've re-designed all the stomach levels to incorporate the many changes and un-changes I've made. Here's a video I made showing some of the stomcah and lung gameplay (yes it's a smoker lung):

You might have noticed the little guys multiplying at the end of each level. These are the bacteria/viruses etc that you will have to kill. The idea is to reach them before they outnumber you. I'm thinking of having two difficulty modes. Normal, where they will never multiply past 15, so that you have a bit of leeway to lose some of your guys. And hard of course, where they will just keep multiplying until they outnumber you or you reach them first.
I've also recently discovered (to my dismay) that the game was terribly optimised as far as the graphics code goes, so I've spent that last while working on bringing down it's graphical demands. It was mainly a case of un-optimised shaders and lots of unnecessary actions involving rendertargets, but I've gotten it down to a reasonable level for now. I've added in some graphics options too such as, optional bloom, terrain highlighting detail, blood spatter detail etc so that if people have weaker graphics capabilities they can at least turn off the shaders and play on that way. For example, the three options for the terrain highlights are:


Non-shader option:

Shader option:

That's it for now anyways. As always, take it easy and thanks for reading ;)