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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsMy Beautiful Journey With Cancer - 2D side-scrolling platformer
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SophophiliaStudios
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« on: May 20, 2015, 03:13:57 PM »

Introduction
My Beautiful Journey With Cancer is my dream project! I have been wanting to work on this ever since I taught myself how to code and make games. It is a game about my personal experience with cancer. I love games that do more than just entertain, ones that connect with the player and effect them on an emotional level. I remember reading about a person that had struggled with moving on after a loved ones death. Upon playing the game, Journey, it gave them closure and they were able to move one. Stories like that are what get me excited about the video game medium.

(Click any image for a High Res version)

My first concept art piece, Just trying to work out an overall feeling of the game.

The Game
My Beautiful Journey With Cancer (MBJWC) is a 2D side-scrolling platformer where you play as me. The games levels will represent milestones throughout my whole cancer experience. I had an overall positive experience with cancer. The goal with this game is to connect with the player and help them through a hard time. This is not exclusive to cancer, but that is what my experience is centered around. I want to express the idea of not taking "failure" or "loss" as a bad thing but as an opportunity to look at things from a different perspective. The other thing I want to show is that uncertainty can not be controlled and that one should try to not stress over it. If something unexpectedly happens, just go with it and enjoy the new road taken in your life's journey. I will push these ideas via gameplay mechanics. I think that is the strongest way to get an idea across. There will be plenty of story and dialog. But those are there to complement the game, not command it.



The Gameplay mechanics
As you can see in my prototype level layout above, each level will essentially be 3 levels. There will be your "Regular" level with bad guys and obstacles, spikes and the like. Then there is the "Flipped" level where the player will "fall" onto, in the event of "death." This will literally change the player's perspective in game, and allow them to play in the world upside down. And below the "Regular" level you find the "Uncertainty" level. You will enter that level randomly, without warning. This is used to take away a sense of control that the player believes that they have, but allowing them to experience a different place, equally as beautiful.

The Art Style
I am an artist above all else. I think that the visuals of a game are one of the most powerful tools and with this game I want to use it differently then I have seen in other games. I want the Art style to change throughout the game to reflect the mood of that specific area. This is going to be a crap ton of work. But I think it will pay off in the end result. But Most of the game will be in one style and I wanted to figure that out after I got the rough prototype done. Because The way it looks could affect how I program it. I started with sketching the main character.


Warning if you are uncomfortable with the nude form stop looking now. The player will be nude for most of the game. I wanted to evoke a sense of vulnerability. I wanted to illustrate a person striped of all comforts. And every outfit I threw on him just didn't make sense. So nude it is.


I started with a rough sketch and played with proportions. I wanted the head to take up more space because most expressions will be happening there, so I wanted to give it more screen real estate. But nothing was speaking to me. So I tried a different program.


I started to get somewhere here I really like the impasto acrylic look with the pen outline. But I was really digging the watercolor look too! But I didn't think the watercolor would work with the character, I decided to try doing a background in it
So now that I was getting somewhere with the art style I wanted to put it all in a scene that look like what the game would look like.

voilà!

I am also playing with a censored version, For those that do not do well with nudity Smiley

Same as the Christians did to the Romans art :D I am also trying out a dynamic lighting system which you can see sketched out in this too

I also had an idea in my mind of an area I wanted to have in the game. I wanted to do it more in a cinematic style but still kept it close to the above style. Minus any black lines and such.

I really quite like this. I dont know if it would play as well as a video game, but I am definitely going to play around with it!

So yeah, Thats where I am at right now. I am very early on and wanted to make this dev log to get feedback early on, and let people know what I am working on!

I have a GoFundMe going on right now to try to help fund this project. If you want to see this happen spread the word!
http://www.gofundme.com/Cancer-Game

Thanks everyone! Look forward from hearing from you all!
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SophophiliaStudios
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« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2015, 11:42:07 AM »

Playing around with changing the black outlines, to tonal ones.

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SophophiliaStudios
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« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2015, 05:03:30 PM »

Messing around with some more styles

(Click the image for HD version
I like the energy that is created with the swooping brush strokes in the guy to the right and sky directly above him. I freaking love his rock too.
The pointillism has some cool stuff too. The cancer stuff above the cave is especially striking. But I like the motion I can get with the brush strokes in the other style more. 

What do you guys think?

Also the style high up in the sky, the one that is sort of inbetween pointillism and the other one is nice too. I think it could be used in conjunction with either of the other two.
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b∀ kkusa
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« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2015, 10:35:35 PM »

I love games that do more than just entertain, ones that connect with the player and effect them on an emotional level. I remember reading about a person that had struggled with moving on after a loved ones death. Upon playing the game, Journey, it gave them closure and they were able to move one. Stories like that are what get me excited about the video game medium.

i understand the power of the game Journey, a game that affect people emotionaly.
But i don't understand what you're trying to make with this game.

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The goal with this game is to connect with the player and help them through a hard time. This is not exclusive to cancer, but that is what my experience is centered around.

I didn't want to post my opinion here, but the title "My beautiful Journey with Cancer"
Quote
The cancer stuff above the cave
? Isn't it a bit too direct?  you're showing tumors in the screenshots? 

It's just personal and it might be really selfish, but this devlog disturbed me a lot. Because they way you're handling the cancer theme is maybe too direct. I understand it's your personal story, your implication in your game, i respect everything.
(i usually avoid any news , newspapers when it's dealing about health).
It's the title, the first screenshot with the road with the tumors. I think there is a lot of more subtle way to tell a story about cancer.

Honestly i don't think that someone fighting cancer would want to play this.



maybe you should check the game Coma (a flash game)
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« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2015, 03:49:34 AM »

It's just personal and it might be really selfish, but this devlog disturbed me a lot.

I had exactly the same first impression. I also think the combination of the subject matter, title and the images in this thread looks very creepy. Cancer is of course no light topic, but this looks very nightmarish and freaks me out.

I think that's not what you are trying to accomplish. Your intention behind the game is positive and i think it's really interesting to create a game about complex subject mattes like this. I am on bakkusa's side with this one. Maybe you could try to tell the story differently or adjust the arstyle a bit to give the game a slightly different feeling.
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« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2015, 04:17:41 AM »

The title alone is putting people well out of their comfort zone. That's not a bad thing if you do this conciously. But if some parts of the game make me uncomfortable while others suggest that you never wanted to achieve that impression (like offering to censoring nudity in case someone were uncomfortable with taht) that would confuse me about your goals.

The thing is... making a game about cancer means breaking a taboo (one that might be deserved to be broken) but isn't the taboo of nudity one that is a lot lighter?
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« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2015, 05:04:22 AM »

The thing I love the most about independent video games is... it's like painting a picture. The artwork may not suit everyone's taste's but the artist just painted what they wanted to paint, what they felt... games are kind of like painting, they dont have to be a "product" or "commercially viable", sometimes they can just be the release of an emotion. Or a story. People don't have to like what you're doing and that's okay if they don't.

If this is the project you feel you need to make, then you certainly should. You sound like you really believe in this project and I hope you're able to achieve all your goals with it. That being said, like the others- I know your main objective is to help people through difficult times but I'm still struggling to see how (what is basically a platforming game) will convey what you want without very blatant messaging and art. Maybe that's not a bad thing? I think it's okay if your art makes people uncomfortable, more should. But I do feel like this game feels confused and this is why people feel confused when they read about it... There is a fine line between being direct and being heavy-handed. That's something I've struggled with myself in my own game...

You should check out a project I backed on Kickstarter a year or two ago called "That Dragon, Cancer" which is I believe coming out (relatively) soon. It's also a very experimental game but you very quickly could see what they were trying to accomplish with that game... You have the opportunity to make something thats more driven by your own experience with cancer verses watching one you love suffer through it. There is something very unique in that, but I think you need to determine just how you're going to express your own story...
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« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2015, 05:40:00 AM »

Interesting project and important subject. The word cancer has kind of become a joke to so many people on the Internet and I can't stand that. Letting more people in on the matter in a serious way is a great thing to do.

Nudity is fine, but you should probably keep it in that side view and not expose more than that (as you've done in your concept), for the simple fact that people are rather immature and a subject like this is way too important to turn into a laughing matter for a lot of your players, who as I said are a bit too easy-going on the concept of cancer already, and even to those who won't laugh it might still be distracting from the important content of the game.

The side of a hamstring isn't really something to censor, so I think that side view is enough "censoring" in itself. So I think you can stick to that.

That last picture with the open cave looks great, by the way.

I too saw That Dragon, Cancer as mentioned by oldblood when it was on KS, and that seems interesting too so I agree that you might want to look at that.

Looking forward to seeing more.
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« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2015, 01:45:51 PM »

Wow, this feedback is amazing! Thank you so much for everyones feedback! I am honored. I will attempt to respond to a lot of the points in order of how they came in.

Quote
It's the title, the first screenshot with the road with the tumors. I think there is a lot of more subtle way to tell a story about cancer.
This is very true, everything is super early on and I am just feeling things out. When initially brainstorming I wanted to make the cancer presence not literal at all. But then when I started drawing I just wanted to get something down, and it turned out quite literal. And all the preceding sketches followed in that vain. But I need to stop and take my time to figure out what I really want it to look like. Thanks for drawing attention to it!

Quote
It's just personal and it might be really selfish, but this devlog disturbed me a lot.
and
Quote
I had exactly the same first impression. I also think the combination of the subject matter, title and the images in this thread looks very creepy. Cancer is of course no light topic, but this looks very nightmarish and freaks me out.
Although the game will not jump right into the heavy stuff, it will slowly get into it, I think this is fine to make people feel uneasy, it can open people up to experience a lot of powerful moments. My message is a positive one. But the game will definitely get dark. I had dark times but they made the light so much brighter. And also I saw beauty in the dark. A sense of peacefulness, in a way. There will be much more in the game to try to convey this, but it will not work for everyone. And I think that is fine, I can not connect with everyone. And if I water down to try to reach a wider audience I don't think that is doing the story justice. I think if you give the game a chance it will be worth it. But a thread like this is hard cause I will be showing the whole story out of order, Most everything I have shown is in the middle to late middle, when shit is getting pretty heavy. It will not make much sense as its presented. I will try to figure that out as I get farther in so people reading the thread are not so confused.

Quote
But if some parts of the game make me uncomfortable while others suggest that you never wanted to achieve that impression that would confuse me about your goals.
This is such an brillant comment. You hit the nail on the head so eloquently. I have been running it through my head over and over and over, Nudity or not, offer an option to turn it off or not, ect. You make really good points. But I could argue that, you are right in that they are both taboo, Cancer and nudity, but should I try to tackle 2 taboos at once. Its that fighting too many battles at once? Will the Cancer taboo lessen its impact because the Nudity taboo? I still don't know. But I really like your point of it being confusing by offering the censor option. I was sort of mocking the absurdity of the nudity taboo, but I think that is even worse. I ether just go with it and dont give it attention because there is a bigger message being told, or just get rid of it all together. Getting rid of it does not sit well with me right now. But I will still think on it.

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The artwork may not suit everyone's taste's
Precisely!
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But I do feel like this game feels confused
That's because I am Smiley It is a very good point. I am still making lots of decisions. I have the overarching idea but all the details are very malleable right now. I wanted to get this thread going very early so that I could talk to people like all of you. Although I have confused many, just this first round of comments and feedback has been so fantastic; I am not regretful of showing this scattered project.

Quote
That Dragon, Cancer
Yes! I backed this project too. I think it is a beautiful project and we need a lot more games like this to help evolve the Video Game medium. I hope MBJWC will also help Smiley

Quote
Interesting project and important subject.
Thank you! I am happy to see others interested like I am :D
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subject like this is way too important to turn into a laughing matter
Yes! so true! This is something I have been wrestling with as I wrote above in this post.

Quote
Looking forward to seeing more.
Me too!! Both feedback from you all, and in the work I will get to do coming up! It is all so damn exciting! Cant wait!
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« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2015, 08:52:00 AM »

Been working on the prototype for most of the week. I will start creating GIFs of how it works in the near future, its not quite there yet. But I got some art done this morning, so I will share that Smiley I worked on a character I am calling, "Your light" It is a representation of whatever you have that helps through tough times. Be it a friend, family member, your partner, a book, a deity, or whatever. Mine is my partner, Alicia. She actually helped design it Grin

On a dark background


On a light background.


And in a concept art to see how it would look in game.
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« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2015, 07:02:29 AM »

Messing around with some more styles

(Click the image for HD version
I like the energy that is created with the swooping brush strokes in the guy to the right and sky directly above him. I freaking love his rock too.
The pointillism has some cool stuff too. The cancer stuff above the cave is especially striking. But I like the motion I can get with the brush strokes in the other style more.  

What do you guys think?

Also the style high up in the sky, the one that is sort of inbetween pointillism and the other one is nice too. I think it could be used in conjunction with either of the other two.

So I ran with the above style (not the pointillism one) And I am beyond happy with how it turned out!


I am still trying to figure out how to draw the "cancer" It is proving rather difficult!

I am a little worried about the time it took though. I would say that drawing took twice if not 3 times as long as the orginal style I did this scene in (see below)



I think its worth the extra time though. That do you all think?
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« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2015, 07:13:42 AM »

It is worth the extra time and them some.
That looks beautiful.
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« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2015, 07:31:45 AM »

It is worth the extra time and them some.
That looks beautiful.

Thank you so much!  Hand Thumbs Up Left
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« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2015, 03:04:04 PM »

You are so brave for sharing this. You will touch the heart of lots of people man. Marvelous display of character.
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« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2015, 03:48:46 PM »

You are so brave for sharing this. You will touch the heart of lots of people man. Marvelous display of character.

Wow. And you are a beautiful person for being so kind. Thanks a lot. You are adding fuel to my fire to get this project fully realized! Thank you!
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« Reply #15 on: June 15, 2015, 02:03:34 PM »

So I did a bunch of different versions of what the "cancer" will look like. I am liking what it looks like now. But I need to make it in game and see how it acts. I might switch it up if it does not jive with the gameplay. I also put the "your light" in there and you can see how it would brighten shadowed areas.

So next step is to get all this in the game engine and see how it looks with parallaxing!
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« Reply #16 on: June 17, 2015, 12:44:32 PM »

Hey!

I just read some of the 'comfort zone' talk and wanted to add my word as counterweight...

Don't worry about other peoples 'comfort zones' -  this looks like a work of soul, so don't let no one tell you to take the edge off!

I prefer the harsh realities over polished appeal. That upsetting contrast hit the point of the topic and you should roll with your instincts! Make the game the way YOU want it to be, not for the sake of 'doing good'!
Best wishes!
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« Reply #17 on: June 17, 2015, 01:13:42 PM »


... Make the game the way YOU want it to be, not for the sake of 'doing good'!

Hey man, I appreciate it! I am leaning more and more towards doing just that. Making the game I want to make. Thanks for the input!
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« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2015, 01:28:02 PM »

So I cut apart the drawing and put the pieces into my game engine. I put in some rough parallaxing code so I could get a quick look at how it would communicate in game. I am pretty happy with it so far. Lots to do! Next I want to draw and animate my character so that I can retire the little Marshmallow man :D
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« Reply #19 on: July 08, 2015, 09:48:06 AM »

Sorry for the delay in updates! Something came up that took over my immediate attention. But fear not, I have a good visual update! I have been working on my lighting system. Check out the exaggerated version!

Oh and check out that bad guy placeholder in the top right! He looks like a purple poop!  Cheesy
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