Mistake of the Heart

Status: Incomplete/Archived

Project summary:

Mistake of the heart is a click and point adventure game, set in a small town in rural Russia. You play as Mia, a child growing up in the town. You go on to find out many of the people in the town are disappearing, and those remaining seem to ignore you and any pleas you may make. Furthering the oddities, you find yourself with interesting, supernatural powers. It’s up to you to explore the town, find what is going on, and any way you can save your town.

Development summary:

In early 2015 I started the game design club at my high school. I believed the best way to get going, and get everyone involved with the concepts of game design was to actually start planning out a project, and hopefully build the concept up to a full fledged game! As a group, we developed the core concept for Mistake of the Heart. Over the next few weeks the game was flushed out on paper, and all that was left was making it… Unfortunately, at the time I was the only one with experience working with Unity, and other creation tools, so little progress was made over the next few months of school. When summer hit, progress was halted altogether. Out of it, I was able to create some really cool assets, and learned a ton about programming, 3D rendering, and game design in general. Not to mention how to develop ideas with a team. The hope is still that one day the concept can be brought all the way to fruition, as I still love the core concept and art style.

From the beginning...

Many crude sketches went into the early planning of this project. This was my first attempt at a thoroughly planned out game. Up to this point my style was more to just go into unity with an idea and start hashing it out. I also prefered to work in 3D, with first person controllers, so this was a great step out of my comfort zone. A lot of the time in the early phases were spent figuring out how we wanted the game to look. It was known that it would be a 2D free roam, but art style was still to be determined.

Art style

The early plan was to go with hand drawn art, as that would be “easy” and more doable. Though it was quickly discovered we weren't the best artists… I had some experience 3D modeling, so I thought we might be able to shift to doing the game in 3D with a top down perspective. This looked, and worked okay, but it lacked some of the charm of being properly 2D, and stylistically wasn’t looking just how I wanted. Previously I had worked on 3D rendering for film projects, so I wanted to try pre rendering the images, and build a 2d game on top of that! In hindsight just building or installing a nice shader might have done the trick too, and saved a lot of headaches, but I still hold this was more fun!

Technical Aspects

Working with the prerendered style introduced some interesting technical challenges. We needed our character to move within these images, and occasionally go behind an object. This required rendering the images into separate layers, and implementing a system which layered them according to the character's position. Also this was in part a puzzle game, so dynamic, and moving maps were desired. Two methods were used to achieve this. The easy one was for an object like a box, which could simply be separated, and moved on top of the map, and layered accordingly. Though more dynamic objects, like the gears and platforms to the right, couldn’t just be moved, as they have lighting effects on the map, and gears can’t just be rotated. The solution was to render out a frame animation, and play the appropriate position based on where it should be.

Assets separated

Game Mechanics

I always enjoy setting up abstract game mechanics which can be applied through the game with ease. This game gave a great opportunity to build such systems. For instance, interacting with npcs with dialogue is a crucial mechanic in this game. As well it’s something I hadn’t formerly worked with at all. Ultimately implemented was a simple system which queues up any surrounding dialogue, and scrolls a couple at a time for a designated time period.

The discerning among you may wonder why there is a ninja. Well, it was never actually figured out how the main character would look and be displayed. It was know she would be a female child, but not much further. Such as if she would be drawn, or also 3D rendered. In the meantime I wanted to learn about character animation and working with sprites, so I made this simple ninja character, and this sprite sheet.

Moving forward...

Mistake of the heart was one of the first game projects I got very excited about. Most of my projects up to this had been experiments of tech and learning unity. This idea however was generated from collaboration, and was a sincere attempt at making something beautiful we could all be proud of. Largely I think we achieved this goal if only in concept. Years later I still feel this is a solid core idea and could make a really interesting game if given the attention and work it deserves.
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