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TimeGentleman

Amnesia Adventure Concept Brainstorming

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On 4/4/2017 at 0:23 AM, Cheeseness said:

A development schedule might be: we all spend a day or two brainstorming location, story and character ideas; once they're relatively locked down, a list is created of art submissions, public domain sound sourcing, dialogue required for the community to contribute to. In the meantime, placeholder art is used to construct the game, taking community suggestions on puzzle ideas etc as we go. And hey, if no one likes the “adventurer travelling into their memories” jazz, that could be discussed too!

^^ That was my original thought for the dev process when I pitched the idea. We are currently trying to lock the general structure down by Tuesday. Please help us brainstorm!

EDIT: I have moved suggested ideas and the design as it currently stands to the GitHub wiki. Please take a look and suggest more ideas/alternatives or feedback on what we have so far!

Questions we should ask ourselves:

Are we happy with the design - story, structure, mechanics etc - as it currently stands?

Are there any suggestions so far that we think should definitely be included?

Which of these memories, clues etc stand out as favourites? What other cool ideas do we have?

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I'd also be happy to assist with a few bits and pieces, but Pongball needs to be my primary focus across AF.

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On 4/13/2017 at 1:27 AM, flesk said:

I'm very interested too. How would we go about contributing to this? Eg. creating rough scenes for our ideas individually with placeholder art and dialogue that is refined collaboratory?  

My thought is that people could contribute whatever they feel comfortable doing - be it concepts, art, music, etc., or just bits and pieces, or even full scenes if they feel comfortable doing so, and then it can be stitched together narrative-wise collaboratively (probably with me taking up the reigns to do so in the engine once that's sorted out).

With The Lost Dev Team, I took your idea and fleshed it out into a concept art drawing - so probably something akin to that - but people could possibly contribute more if they are able or can find time to do more.

The development process of both of these sideprojects will definitely be slower than the main project - as they are just that - side projects (for comparison, The Lost Dev Team in its first two days has had a skeleton engine by me on Day 1, and a puzzle idea by @flesk that I took and ran with to make into a prototype concept.  The development is slow moving, but it should hopefully be interesting to follow along with regardless (this actually appears to have more people interested in it than The Lost Dev Team, but it's likely that development will still be pretty slow).

Though, like The Lost Dev Team, I'll keep track of the development and contribute to keep it updated semi-regularly.

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I'd be happy to handle the programming on this one, once I've had a bit more time to familiarize myself with Escoria. I don't have much experience with Godot either, but I've got a fairly good handle on how things work after reading docs and experimenting with it for a few weeks. 

I think we should nail down some basics though, like a size for backgrounds, which kinds of interactions we want (eg. single-click interactions or multiple verbs) and just some guidelines for working together on this thing. I'd be happy to just place assets, dialogue and puzzles posted on the forums into the engine if that's what most people are comfortable with, but we can set up a proper pipeline for contributing via GitHub too. 

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Sweet!

My votes would be for a relatively small background size and "use" and "look at" being the available interactions (I'd normally push for more on these but we need to scope sensibly, especially while we don't have a solid idea of how much community contribution we're going to get), and discussing puzzle/story design here but having GitHub for people to contribute art, dialogue, sound effects etc.

Perhaps @flesk, @Jenni and @CorruptBiggins could decide who's doing what coding-wise, then we could get started in here on initial story/puzzle brainstorming?

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Oh, right. I didn't catch that @CorruptBiggins also offered to help with coding, but that's awesome. :) I figure it's great to have three people on that, since @Jenni is also programmer+project lead (I think) on TLDT and I only have evenings to work on this. 

I'd be happy to make a skeleton with a few game scenes using the concept art to have something to go on. If Jenni or CorruptBiggins also happen to work on that, I don't think it's a problem at this stage, since it's a great way for us to learn. We'll just scrap/merge as needed. 

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You guys give me the word and I'll get repos and subforums set up!

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If this adventurer were from a technically advanced civilisation beyond our own, perhaps they could have some kind of personal cloaking device for blending in with the planets and peoples they visited, which would provide a nice narrative for a bunch of different depictions of the protagonist if that was a road people wanted to go down.

I still dig the idea of the game being partially about identifying which memories are real and which are dreams/imagined/TV shows/whatever. Piecing together reality from a broiling mess of nonsense feels like a potentially fun way of hiding a mystery.

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I think it would be really interesting if the gender and species of the adventurer changes between memories but they have some signature trait like a hat or a scar which is consistent. 

Maybe the mystery is them trying to figure out why they retired. They have woken up one day in their room and they try to take a job but get told they have retired. Then they go to various objects (photos, artifacts, devices) in their room and relive the memories each time piecing together a little bit about their timeline and why they ended up retiring, each memory could begin with a kind of subtitle introducing the memory but some are extremely vague like "A rare blue daffodil from Enok VII... I remember they were in abundance that year. An unfortunate sign that the beasts were coming out of hibernation". Maybe finding the trigger object inside each memory triggers something from the recent present to reveal itself and returns the player to the adventurer's room.

Could maybe be outside the atmospheric direction of the game but after each object is discovered and recent events are revealed it could be that the adventurer retired after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's or something similar.

I really love the slightly surreal and vague memories like Enok VII, the castle planet and the cop show. A memory idea I have is:

The end of the world on new year's eve.

Anyway I'm not sure how much this is inline with everyone else's ideas and I don't know how much I can contribute to this project but I really really love it and would definitely be up for doing some small art assets at some point.

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@Cheeseness I really love the idea of the cloaking device! Maybe the signature garment/scar could still exist as a part of that. Something they choose not to have cloaked.

Also the idea that you are trying to differentiate the experienced memories from the observed memories somehow is so interesting.

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The idea that they change appearance is cool, and fits with our dev structure, and I like the idea of a linking signature scar too. Rather than a cloaking device, it might be more interesting for them to have a regenerating life cycle, like a time lord or a butterfly, so each time they go into a memory they're like "oh yeah, this is when I had two heads that one summer"...

I don't know how trying to work out real from fake memories would work mechanically. Any ideas on that?

I was thinking along the lines of trigger objects too, but I was thinking more like getting to one in a memory would open up another memory. That doesn't really work, though. I guess a big question we need to answer is what the structure of the game will be - how does the player get access to the different memories and what is their goal in each one? I feel like those should be two separate things to avoid linearity.

"They have woken up one day in their room and they try to take a job but get told they have retired." feels a little loose to me. I feel like an external influence and a more traditional mystery would help. I'm thinking along the lines of a young space-detective comes to visit you one day because they're trying to piece together the identity of a mastermind criminal, and for whatever reason clues to their identity are scattered in your memories. You couldn't access them at the time, but now because you're able to hack around in your memories, taking items from one to the other, you're able to. Perhaps you've always wondered why this person kept showing up in your life but were never able to examine the clues. Now a new piece of tech has been developed that allows you to do so.

So in that case, your goal would be to find the clue in each memory, and while you're doing that, interacting with stuff will remind you of other memories (perhaps this would need to be limited to stuff the player will definitely do, rather than optional interactions, otherwise they won't know that there are more memories to open up).

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Totally dig protagonist metamorphosis and some kind of persistent identifying feature!

If there's some kind of main hub that showed the memories that the adventurer currently had access to, perhaps UI/controls for indicating which memories are real and which aren't could be situated there. I'd envision that it'd be possible to wrongly identify a memory - I feel like that would be important, but I'm totally torn between whether would work best if it were critical to the game to identify real memories (perhaps to narrow down/solidify the collection of clues you've collected along the way and discard red herrings? Or maybe if you pick a certain set as being real, you turn out to be the mastermind criminal, hiding in your own past, while a different set reveals you to be an unwilling carrier of secret information that's been injected into your memory by an underground organisation to avoid falling into the authorities' hands) or of no consequence (only impacts on how the player sees/believes in the protagonist's past - KR0's early acts do some wonderful stuff like this where instead of impacting on the future, your choices expose characters' pasts and shift the context for the present).

Perhaps the clues the player collects from within memories are metaphorical jigsaw puzzle pieces that need to be assembled correctly as an end-game puzzle to reveal/confirm the mystery.

I dig the idea of triggers opening up new memories. I did something similar in a game I made a while back where you play as an old woman with memory problems. Items in the present that reminded her of the past became doorways to memories, and out-of-place elements in those scenes opened up new memories from the hub area. I think it worked really well.

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A potential issue with different combos of clues leading to different endings is scope - a) it might require more memories than we get to time to create in order to work and b) we'd have to create different endings (though these could probably be changed via dialogue only and so not be too much trouble). I did initially type a suggestion that the clues in the fake memories had to be ignored - the 70s cop one for instance would have a clue to the criminal's identity in that tv episode, not the real criminal mastermind. I deleted it though, because it felt unfair to expect the player to decide which of the memories are fake when all of them are likely to be outlandish in some way, and also it feels like it works against the goal being to access those clues to then reveal some of them are useless.

I dig the idea of fake/muddled memories, but when you first suggested it, I thought of it as a good joke and a clever way to get different settings and styles in. I think making it deeper than that may be one mechanic too many. An alternative is to remove another mechanic, so the goal is purely to work out which ones are real or fake. But my gut instinct would be to stick with the 'access a particular object in each memory' goal as it would be simpler for us to develop and convey to the player in the time we have...

An aside on brainstorming: I'm just throwing out my initial reactions and thoughts here; if the group disagree with me on anything/everything that's absolutely fine :)  I don't think we're at this stage of the process yet, but perhaps Jenni should have final decision on design stuff if there are things on which the group can't reach consensus, as she's running the project?

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Hey all! I'll be happy to do a small bit of art (like a puzzle branch or the hub or whatever) if someone would like to write or give me something to draw. I would love to do some designing but I'm thinking of doing this in my spare time as relaxation from my comics so... less brain more brawl is better at the moment :D I'd also prefer to do an entire branch / room if possible.

My art portfolio: https://hienpham.artstation.com/

Edited by Taekon

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10 hours ago, flesk said:

I'd be happy to handle the programming on this one, once I've had a bit more time to familiarize myself with Escoria. I don't have much experience with Godot either, but I've got a fairly good handle on how things work after reading docs and experimenting with it for a few weeks. 

I think we should nail down some basics though, like a size for backgrounds, which kinds of interactions we want (eg. single-click interactions or multiple verbs) and just some guidelines for working together on this thing. I'd be happy to just place assets, dialogue and puzzles posted on the forums into the engine if that's what most people are comfortable with, but we can set up a proper pipeline for contributing via GitHub too. 

It would definitely be great to get all the help I can on coding for this, so @flesk and @CorruptBiggins are both very welcome to help on coding.  Right now I'm the sole programmer for The Lost Dev Team, so it would be great to not have my coding efforts split between projects as much.  I'll definitely be open to questions relating to the Godot engine though. The Forum Downtime Funtime Adventure was created in Godot, although it was before the Escoria framework was released. so I had to cobble together something out of multiple frameworks to get what we needed.  Now that a full point-and-click framework is available for Godot, development should hopefully go smoother.

I have a skeleton engine using Escoria, but right now it uses the assets from the Forum Downtime Funtime Adventure.  I'll work on stripping those out and then I'll upload it to github once that's set up.

10 hours ago, TimeGentleman said:

Are you planning to get these projects finished by the end of AF?

At least into a playable state.  The forum downtime fun time adventure project (that we did when these forums were being upgraded) ended up with a completely playable prototype, with one room and endings represented by text and music.  That would be the absolute minimum I'm hoping to shoot for, but more would obviously be great. :D

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Holy cow, @Taekon, your art is great! Would you be wanting to do mainly backgrounds or are you up for characters etc as well?

Speaking of characters, another thing that the coders should probably figure out/lay down guidelines for is how we're going to do animation (ask people to provide a few frames per character? Get someone to use a Spine type system on provided character art?). @KGuNN has offered to do some, and his website suggests that he can do 2D as well as 3D...

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9 minutes ago, TimeGentleman said:

Holy cow, @Taekon, your art is great! Would you be wanting to do mainly backgrounds or are you up for characters etc as well?

Speaking of characters, another thing that the coders should probably figure out/lay down guidelines for is how we're going to do animation.

I'm glad to see you here Taekon!  I really love your art as well - the stuff you did for Bad Golf: CE was awesome. :)

For sprite animations, Godot is set up for that and it's actually fairly straightforward.  If you mean cutscene animation, that should probably be a long term idea.  It's best to keep the scope small at first.

I'll definitely have an issue set up on the issue tracker for getting sprite animations though once the repository is live

As far as keeping the memories and clues for scenes in check, for Forum Downtime Funtime Adventure we had a puzzle dependency chart on github that kept track of everything to make sure that nothing got lost or out of hand: https://github.com/Double-Fine-Game-Club/forum-downtime-funtime-adventure/wiki/puzzle-dependency-charts

I'm using that for The Lost Dev Team too, so it would be great to get something like that for Amnesia Adventure going once the github repository is set up.

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I was referring to sprite animation (I edited my above post a bit while you were typing!). So would anyone providing character sprites need to provide the animation as well?

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Not necessarily.   I'm quite comfortable with sprite animation, so I'm willing to animate the sprites if need be.

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Ok sweet, so I guess the rule should be to do it if we can, otherwise Jenni (and perhaps others if available) can fill the gaps.

Would you like to suggest a deadline we need to get the main story and structure nailed by?

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Yh i might be interested in doing some animation work if it's needed. I'm mainly focusing on Pongball but if there is a character that's set up ready to animate then let me know and I'll give it a shot. :D

Edited by KGuNN
Typo from autocorrect

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11 minutes ago, KGuNN said:

Yh i might be interested in doing some animation work if it's needed. I'm mainly focusing on Poughill but if there is a character that's set up ready to animate then let me know and I'll give it a shot. :D

That would be awesome, thanks. I'm sure we'll take you up on that offer.

Ok sweet, so I guess the rule should be to do it if we can, otherwise Jenni (and perhaps others if available) can fill the gaps.

Would you like to suggest a deadline we need to get the main story and structure nailed by?

We could adjust the overall story throughout the process to accommodate any scene's story thread as need be, but what ties them together should be sorted early on. The overall story (and how we're going to work it to make it fit all the possible scenarios) should be the first thing we try to nail down.  So, if the github repository goes live today, preferably within the next few days. By Tuesday we should at least hopefully have it worked out how the scenarios will be tied in together, as each could have their own unique story.

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Thanks for the kind words Ben & Jenni! I'm up for doing characters and backgrounds and props etc for one puzzle branch. I could also do animation for that branch as well. I'll have a look at the engine on anims and such. Once the brainstorming is done we should decide on a uniform image size or some guidelines regarding the resolutions!

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14 hours ago, TimeGentleman said:

A potential issue with different combos of clues leading to different endings is scope - a) it might require more memories than we get to time to create in order to work and b) we'd have to create different endings (though these could probably be changed via dialogue only and so not be too much trouble). I did initially type a suggestion that the clues in the fake memories had to be ignored - the 70s cop one for instance would have a clue to the criminal's identity in that tv episode, not the real criminal mastermind. I deleted it though, because it felt unfair to expect the player to decide which of the memories are fake when all of them are likely to be outlandish in some way, and also it feels like it works against the goal being to access those clues to then reveal some of them are useless.

With regards to a) (and IMO this would be of benefit regardless of whether there are multiple endings or fake clues), it'd be best to have a collection of real clues that the player already has access to at the end.

Narratively, these might be from surface level memories that were easy to pull clues from or something, but from the perspective of structuring/wrangling an open project, they represent a pool of stuff that contributors can pull a clue from and structure their own memory sequence around, allowing the project to scale up and down depending on contributor input without having any meaningful impact on its structure as a whole.

If there were an end-game puzzle that made use of all the clues, then this approach would mean that that would be possible (and desirable) to implement without being dependent on any memory sequences being implemented.

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Ah, so we should get together a definitive list of, say, ten clues, then they can be spread out as best fits the final structure? Yes, that sounds good.

So, is everyone happy to go with:

A retired and amnesiac old adventurer gains the ability to travel into their memories. To solve the identity of a shadowy, mysterious figure who has been present throughout their life, they must gain access to old memories and collect clues.

The adventurer periodically shape-shifts through their life, while retaining one notable identifying feature.

??

I've edited my OP so people can see what we need to think about. Remember, everyone can give feedback and ideas, whether they're also planning to contribute something else, or they're not planning to contribute anything else. 

My favourite memory ideas so far are:

fought the beast on Enok VII

got lost in the supermarket as a child

crash-landed on a medieval planet and settled down in a happy relationship for a few years, but clashes with the local lord would soon lead to tragic consequences

were a cop in the 1970s (or was that a tv show they watched once?)

end of the world on New Year's Eve

I still feel like it would be best to have an external character motivate the new-found ability to travel back into and interact with memories. I was thinking it would really help to have it be someone they know - perhaps a former sidekick or fellow adventurer. They know that our protagonist always felt the presence of this mysterious figure but could never gather any evidence - now they've gained access to this thing that will allow the protagonist to travel into and interact with their memories and gather these clues. They simultaneously provide exposition and impetus for the story. We an also see younger them in one or more of the memories. They can also shed light on why the prot. has amnesia - is it senility or Altzheimer's? Is it because they went mad trying to figure out the figure's identity? Did they get conked on the head during an adventure? Perhaps this could be a memory (maybe the final one).

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I'd say go big with the clue pool - make it 20. Make it 100. Frame the story as being about collecting the last hard-to-find bits and pieces, and that way if the number of contributed memories gets huge and eats up an otherwise small collection of clues, it doesn't change the framing of the story (and people can always go beyond that too by creating "fake" memories that don't use those).

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Ok, so we don't necessarily have to use all of them, they're just a pool for people to pick from. Good call. It's also something else for people to contribute to, especially those who don't feel confident/effort-rich enough to come up with big memory ideas etc.

I'm imagining a galactic database you put search parameters into - if you find a size five footprint, you can put their shoe size in. If you get close enough to a distinctive smell, you realise it's raw fish and can search for those who work in jobs that involve raw fish. Maybe you find a discarded inhaler. Or some spittle/phlegm near an animal or plant  that tells you they have allergies.

This is over-scoping, but I wonder if there would be a relatively easy way to have the database pull up a load of possible suspects each time you enter some info in. So you put in size five shoes, it shows the result is ten billion known galactic residents, but once you've got ten specific things in there, it generates twenty different suspects with various things that the clues point towards, so they're all in different fish-smelling jobs etc. Even as I type this out, it feels like an entire fortnight's worth of work!

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I've edited in some current questions to the top post so we can all see where we are at the moment with regards to brainstorming.

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I like the idea of sort of a hub that someone suggested somewhere. It could be a scene with our adventurer sitting in a rocking chair and there'd be exits leading to each of the memories, but only one or a few would be open at any given time. Solving the other rooms could lead to items appearing in the hub world, which are needed to solve the final puzzle of the game.

@TimeGentleman: When you say interactions should be limited to look and use, does that mean you don't think we should have an inventory at all? That would save us having to make art for the inventory and item thumbnails to go into it for items you pick up. That stuff is easy to hook up with Escoria, so it's mostly time saved on making assets. 

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