In Part 1 I said I would talk about our game Undefined Behavior more specifically. Maybe that wording was a little too liberal. By the end of the game jam, we didn’t really have a game per se. With that said, what we did end up with had a distinct feel to it.
The game was supposed to be a sort of first-person puzzle game where you’re a programmer in a highly augmented reality world who accidentally introduced a viral bug which starts to glitch that world more and more. You have to explore the environment and using your “debugging tools” to study specific glitches and figure out what’s wrong. Over time you realize what the symptoms are, which leads to an “ah-ha” moment where you realize what you did followed by a climax last-minute bug fixing. I’d love to come back to the idea at some point, especially since we didn’t get very far with the glitches. Evan did have an idea to use the raw memory data from the program itself to glitch things out, which I thought was great.
As I mentioned earlier, Plaidgadget is a 2D vector-based engine. Despite that, we decided we were going to try out a pseudo-3D, old school FPS style like Doom or Wolfenstein. He was able to take his figure animation system to load in an object drawn from multiple angles, so we could have the object rotate as you walked around it, along with an edit mode for placing objects in a level. For the 3D look, he places figures on the screen and scales them manually, which in some ways is more interesting to me than a fully 3D space.
2D vs. 3D
Quick side note: I’m not sure what it is about polygonal 3D (although I certainly have theories!), but many times polygonal 3D graphics just doesn’t seem to have as much character as 2D graphics (it appears I’m not alone in my opinion). An irritation has been rattling around inside my head for the last couple years…concept art looks better than the final end product of a videogame. Concept art is usually just so much more inspiring and full of wonder, and that bothers me. One of my goals in life is to be successful enough that I can lead a “videogame art direction think tank” that has the sole job of learning how to translate the awesomeness of concept art into videogames. I already have a big long list of things for this hypothetical team to do. Maybe someday…
Pushing Against Self-Imposed Boundaries
So anyway, I think a big part of the distinct feel we had comes from trying to hack pseudo-3D into a 2D engine. Despite the fact that I’ve read about this before, actually doing it made me realize first-hand that you can come up with some interesting things when you intentionally give yourself stricter boundaries and then push against them. By taking Plaidgadget, an engine intentionally limited in scope, and trying to see what creative things we can do within those limitations, we ended up with something interesting.
It was a rewarding enough experience that I’ll be thinking about how I can do it again in the future.