As Skazka moves closer to having playable levels, I’ve been working on some of the non-gameplay systems, like cinematic triggers and playback. Triggers are invisible things in the game that activate events. In this case, that means swapping the camera to “cinematic mode” so it can play a video for the players.
Below is is an example of a cinematic trigger and camera. The red sphere is the trigger, and it activates when a character enters its volume. Each trigger contains information on which cinematic to play, which is passed to the cinematic camera and projection screen (seen above the trigger) for playback. This way multiple triggers in a level can all use the same cinematic camera and projection screen. When the cinematic ends, players either return to the level, or move to the next level.
Yet even in this relatively simple use-case of cinematics, a number of design questions arise from the multiplayer context. For example, if networked, can one of the players skip a cinematic, and if so, what should they do while waiting for the other player? The same issues come up in terms of pausing playback. So far we haven’t discovered an obvious solution to these issues, but it’s a really big consideration for the whole team. We firmly desire to provide a positive play experience while both mitigating the possibility of boredom and avoiding trolling, and those are really challenging things to design around.
But at least in the short term, our current focus is on local play, which alleviates a lot of these problems by virtue of both players being in the same room. Thus we can focus on the more story-driven challenges of game narrative, which is creating a cool play experience with engaging storytelling.
To that purpose, I’ve been storyboarding some potential cut scenes to see how effective the “fairy tale” style of narrative is in the context of the game. I’ve had a number of volunteers for this initial round of focus testing, and I’ll be extremely interested (and nervous!) to see how they react to what’s there.
As a teaser, here’s some of the storyboarded art:
For these early-stage purposes, I just tossed these and the other pencil-drawn images into iMovie and created a rough idea of the order, time displayed, and potential panning/zooming. For the final product we’d like to add small animations to the characters and backgrounds, but that level of polish is unnecessary this early in the process.
As always please send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org!