Galleries

Prototyping and Test Areas

Note: The featured content was made in early December of 2020. I don’t have a lot of saved videos or images from before then.

The first image was my starting test area that I worked with for a good long time before moving on. It went through a couple of iterations, none of which I have saved, sadly. What you see here is a further along version. I had originally played around a lot with an isometric camera, which gave the game a much more 2D feel, but finally decided on the standard perspective camera to help give the game a somewhat unusual feel of being 2.5D.
Quick summary since I don’t have much content for this original area: I used this area to test a few scrapped mechanics: mostly UI things like walking up to an area and having text pop up (that always faced the camera) to prompt you to press a button, for example, “Press E to Examine” on the car. I decided on less UI later in the project so this went mostly unused, save for some later in-game icons which use the same method. I also worked a lot with the camera rotations (8-way around the player) and setting up the SpriteMan3D asset to work with Game Creator for player movement.

You may notice Shane is the main player character in the first image. This is a carry-over from the original plan for this “demo”, which was to be a non-canonical testing only demo with slightly different story, as a reference to the original version of this game where Shane was actually the main player character, not Allison. The video in full will be featured in the next post, in which I also showcase boundary testing, character shouts (aka “barks”), a loading screen, and scene switching to this new prototype area. This demo is no longer being used and has been switched over to the canonical story and characters instead.

Eventually, I would need a larger area to start testing the more advanced mechanics like doors, locked area interactions, and basically everything else. So I began prototyping out the second area of the game, which are featured in the last 3 pictures.

Featured in this gallery are some prototype models such as cars and doors featured in free prototyping assets as well as some Synty models; the environments themselves were built by me using ProBuilder. I also started experimenting with some textures in the garage area and outdoors. The flashlight and headlights were created using the Volumetric Light Beams asset.

The screenshots provided were taken throughout December/very early January (Jan 3 was the police car screenshot). I conglomerated a little bit so I don’t have a million posts to look through of similar content.

Game Redesign (2020)

September 27-28, 2020

3AM. As if California hadn’t been hit with enough fires in the past years (the last one being especially close to us was the Tubbs fire back in 2017), a new fire, since named the Glass Fire, breaks out in the hills just over a mile away from our house. It took about a day for this fire to reach us, and yes, it did reach us. I provided images below, taken from driveway, of the evening before (the 27th) and the subsequent night and into the next day.

September-October, 2020

We thankfully did not end up losing our house during all of this. I was evacuated by my parents (taking all of our pets with me and fleeing to a friends house at 4 in the morning) while they stayed behind to do their best to make sure our house didn’t burn down. For some quick context on that matter, my father is a retired firefighter/paramedic, and we own our own firetrucks. My mother is also trained in the use of a good deal of fire equipment, and we had friends come up to help us fight this fire as it was heading our way.
All in all, this actually worked. While the surrounding areas burned, our house was actually saved thanks to my parents staying to fight. I could talk a lot more about this subject, but as this is a game development journal I will refrain from doing so. The comments on this post are open if you’d like any more information on this matter!

After I got back home, needless to say, everything was a mess. Our power was out for 3 weeks, there was ash and bits of charred leaves everywhere, some areas were even still smoldering. With the power out as well as dealing with the cleanup, life was very weird for a good amount of time. We have generators but of course they cannot run all the time, and so electronic usage was at a minimum; we had some lights hooked up and phone chargers, though really that didn’t do much good as the cell towers were also burned up, so in reality we didn’t even get much phone service unless we managed to make it into the next town over where things were slightly better.
Things were very depressing around the house, if that wasn’t obvious. I spent probably a week simple wandering, cleaning, and sleeping. I had no drive to do anything. Not that I could spend that much time on the computer anyway. I could barely even text anyone. It felt like we were stuck in some weird limbo with nothing to do and no way to do it.
Then one day, as I partially starting to restore and clean my room (I had removed a lot during the evacuation), I found my notebook for the game in all my stuff. I had barely touched it for about a year or so; the last time I had worked on it was after I decided on the redesign, and that was just working in Unity for a short while. Also, if I remember correctly, because I had failed to work on this in a while, my notebook was actually more up to date than my Scrivener file was, so I didn’t need my computer to help do anything.

For some reason, this was really inspiring to me, and to this day I have no idea why. I had literally no drive to work on anything until I saw this journal again, and suddenly a ton of new ideas flooded into my head and I just went for it. For the third time now, I redesigned SO much of the game, even started debating on a turn-based combat system which got me thinking a lot more about how I wanted to construct the game and how to ensure it stayed frightening on some level. While I’ve scrapped the idea of being turn-based, the ideas I was getting from one of my favorite turn-based games (Wasteland 2) inspired a lot more of the exploration mechanics now decided upon in the current version of the game. I also rebranded it “Lost Hours” after revisiting a bunch of the story and coming to the conclusion that this title would fit better with an altered story I now had in mind.

I guess on some level you could say the fire was symbolic for the rebirth of this game into what it is now. Since I’m so into symbolism for my game, it’s certainly fitting!
At any rate, you can see now how and why the game was drastically different when I started out so long ago, and I’m very excited (as annoying as this all was to type) to be able to share this projects journey and have it actually feel like it could be going somewhere, despite only being a hobby for me now.

The following few entries will still be playing a little catch up and are somewhat incomplete; again, I didn’t think much about making a record for all this and so I didn’t save too much (yes of course I regret it now that I’m making this log). From October onward, I worked a lot with GC and Unity to start re-designing and re-developing this game pretty much from the ground up again to fit into these new and more tangible ideas I now had, and even within just a few months I got very far in the process (mostly thanks to Game Creator and the GC community!) At a certain point they be “live” again, if you will, as I finally manage to catch up to where I am now.

I promise subsequent entries I will NOT talk this much, only relay what I have done for what I am showcasing and how I achieved it. Much more interesting than listening to me ramble about my life, I know. I hope you will enjoy following this project as much as I enjoy working on it!

The image below was finalized on November 2, 2020!

The redesigned logo (stock photograph used for the background)