From Day-One Draft to Finished Rooms

We made a (very basic) Graphic Adventure Game, in a week! We're super proud of our achievement, and we wanted to show you gals and guys a bit of our process. Let's start with the rooms:

When we had the idea to design an adventure game we realized very fast that we needed to make something super small. Our original design only had 3 rooms: 2 to find clues, and 1 secret room with the "big lie" after you found them all.

After I sat down and started designing the rooms, I said "OK, let's make it 6, and if they don't look perfect, let's not worry about it too much." So since Diego needed to have something to start working with, I made 6 very crude rooms, in the correct resolution (we aimed for 320x180) so then I could chip away at them one by one and make them nicer (I'm only going to show 5 rooms so I don't spoil the ending).

Main Hall:
This is the first room I actually designed. We needed this room in order to test a few things. On the programming side, Diego needed to make the doors functional: they needed to open and close, and the character had to move between rooms. This was our testbed.
On the art side, I had to work with perspective. While I've done a lot of pixel art over the years, this was my first time doing this, so I studied some Maniac Mansion and Zak McKracken rooms and made the images above.

Here's the Main Hall finished image:

The first things I drew in perspective were the doors and the bookcase. I had to draw a ton of perspective lines to make that work, but this was pretty good practice and it helped me work way faster on the other rooms. I used pictures of IKEA furniture as inspiration (that's kind of the Billy Bookcase). The carpet was included just to add some color to the room.

Nothing fancy, just a place where our character could talk about why he was there, and what he was doing. Also the player can learn how to move the character and interact with stuff. You can call it an intro/tutorial level.
If for some reason I didn't have time to draw all the rooms, this was the first one to go, we could start the player inside the house and be done with it.
I actually managed to finish this room at the last minute!

And we added a ton of complexity to it, the character walks up and down the hills and gets smaller and smaller. It was  a big headache, but worth it!

I wanted the house to feel modern, at this point we didn't have the story ready, but I knew I wanted it to be in the present, and I also wanted to maybe hide things inside the fridge, and cabinets. So we needed fixtures that would give us options.

Also Diego wanted to test having an object in front of the main character, I made a table so he could work on that.

Here's the finished kitchen:

You might notice that the objects are not in the same order, one of the reasons was because my girlfriend told me "You can't put the oven next to the refrigerator, that's a waste of energy!," so I realized that was dumb, and that also gave me the chance to add another window there, I love windows!

I always loved bathrooms in games. Can you flush the toilet? Can you open the faucet? Will the mirror work? Well, you can't do any of those things in ver1.0 of our game, but we wanted to (and we plan to add those in an update as soon as the GameJam ends)!

Here's the finished bathroom:

Here's one important detail: we decided to have all doors at the left of the rooms, that way if the player pressed "up" when they got there, they wouldn't leave the room... that was a bit frustrating in playtest.
I also added the creepy figure gag there, and the mirror facing the player, but sadly we didn't have time to add the player's reflection there...

"That's where the magic happens" Catch Huntermann would say! In our case, this is a room that only serves the purpose of hiding a few things, and maybe having a few funny lines of dialogue. We also decided to hide the hardest to find clue here (there's a piece of a polaroid behind the door, no one closes the doors behind them).

Finished bedroom:

Not a lot of difference really. I wanted to add a ton more details to it, but we ran out of time and that ended up being the room I would work on the least  : /

We spent the first day figuring out what we wanted to do, how to incorporate the theme and designing the house itself, so I only had 6 days to fully draw the 6 rooms, to design and animate the main character, AND to write the script! OMG!

Stay tuned for more posts about character design and animation, script writing, and game design.

Let us know what you think in the comments! Thank you for playing and reading!

-Matias Kindermann

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