Watchful blog readers probably noticed that Vladimir’s and my profiles, as well as FDG’s are mostly connected with casual games. There are funny physical puzzles, cute characters and things like that in this type of games. But now in “Verge” there are gloomy colors, a rusty bed in a spooky room with a mirthless blindfolded person.
First of all, I’m going to tell you how Vladimir and I got the idea of creating a first-person 3D puzzle game. We are big fans of Portal (honestly, who isn’t?), and, to be more precise, we are big fans of puzzles in general. That’s why almost all games we made in the beginning of the yellow brick road, signposted “GameDev this way”, were puzzle games. Many cubes needed to be thrown, physical were involved, “from A to B” walkthrough variants, experiments with changing gravitation and so on. During the development process we noticed that physics just pretended to be physics. For example, it’s not so hard to set up one physical, turned down triangle on an apex of other one as it is in a real life. (Ok, ok my first game was “Nailnoid” and it wasn’t a physics or puzzle based game).
We started to be tired of the 2D puzzle world. Moreover, 3D world always seemed to be more serious and the real big thing. Also, we needed to fill ourselves by something new urgently, because our last games copied previous ones in most cases and we didn’t enjoy this kind of development. Sadness was growing up inside of us.
As I remember, back in December 2013, Vladimir and I were done with the development of the Android version of “Cover Orange”, so we started thinking about new 3D puzzle mechanics. An Idea about holes in walls, where one of them could be an entrance from one side and another one could be an exit from other one sounded cool, but there was already something similar. There were also games with gravity or changing physics. We decided that we didn’t want to copy the main mechanics from other games. We thought a lot, soon our game mechanics matured and we started to prototype levels. At that time, an average level looked like this (by the way, this particular level wasn’t included in the game):
Vladimir will tell you more about levels. I just want to note that I’m proud that turned out to be very clever. There are situations when the player is walking from one corner to another one, being perplex, with only one question in his mind – “HOW?”. I always miss this feeling a lot. That’s why I like Portal and Quantum Conundrum a lot. One of my main goals while creating Verge is to give players this exact same feeling, in 3D world.
At that time, there was no story about coma and character with blindfolds.
The it suddenly struck my mind: “What if it’ll be a game about a person in a coma who tries to escape from it?”. I said it and was horrified immediately because of my originality. How many games are there with someone lying in a coma? Hundreds. And each character of them was searching an exit. And every time it is sad and gloomy. Maybe not all the characters are blindfolded, but still. It seemed to me that Lady Originality was pursing her lips skeptically every time I thought about this idea. Yes, it seemed so… But in reality it turned out that there are not many games with that topic, and she wasn’t pursing her lips so strongly. As as a result, the coma theme wasn’t overused yet, we stayed on it in the end.
Before giving the character a blindfold, he was wearing a respiratory mask:
But the character looked too spooky and, from a distance, too similar to an extraterrestrial. But it was enough just remove the mask and replace it with a blindfold to make the character to be pathetic. (by the way, does anybody remember a movie with a pathetic blindfolded character?).
If there were tons of humor in the game (which needs to be at a high level, actually), there will be huge number of links to Portal from players, I guess. I’m sure that there’ll be in any case, because there are cubes in the game which you can put somewhere. Also, there are lasers which can burn the character. However, we’re absolutely not worried that these elements are in our as well.
Considering that it is our first experience in making a 3D game, we decided that there are much more chances to create a sad and atmospheric game rather than a game filled with humor and hilarious characters, voiced by comedians. So we put the humor aside. The game will have a dark and sad atmosphere.
But, despite the game ambience is gloomy and somber, there are no monsters jumping from a dark corner to clutch the player’s throat. There’ll be no frightening crying, which often comes before somebody or something will eat you. Also, there won’t be any squawks trying to sink the player into a faint. The player can spend quite a lot of time in a level and they shouldn’t be scary, they shouldn’t feel uncomfortable. That’s why we tried to create a sad atmosphere, not an uncomfortable one.