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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsThe Resurrection - A game about (re)building the past
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amasinton
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« on: February 07, 2019, 12:57:14 PM »


A game about (re)building the past.



The Resurrection is a time travel game where you hold conversations with ruins. The ruins are divided into areas which you discover through exploration and time travel.  Each ruined area presents you with a variety of options for rebuilding – like choices in a dialogue system.  As you rebuild, you uncover important fragments and artifacts.  The fragments unlock more conversation options while the artifacts unlock moments in time you can travel to.  The more you explore and rebuild, the more details you notice, the more carefully you ‘listen’, the more the conversations open up. You’ll gradually piece together the story of what happened on the island. Because the story unfolds as a conversation the details and depth of that story will be different for every player as will the final appearance of the island itself.


This game  comes from my experience as an archaeologist.  As such, it might not be for everyone, and that’s totally fine.  I work with standing and ruined buildings, especially medieval churches and cathedrals, which is what you will see a lot of here.  So, there you have it: a little about me.


I’ve been working on the game for a while, with most of the time going into prototyping, building systems, finding the core game loop, etc.  I figured now was a good time to quietly begin sharing and documenting my process as I move forward.  I plan to do updates here, as a way to log my progress and invite feedback from the community.  If you’ve got any insights to share, or questions (or encouragement) do please share.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I hope you like it.  Say hello.  Sometimes it’s lonely out here in the wilderness.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2019, 08:50:17 PM by amasinton » Logged
NovaSilisko
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« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2019, 02:48:53 PM »

This looks delightful and relaxing. I will always approve of genuine attempts to incorporate scientific methodology into games in a compelling way, too.
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« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2019, 11:45:15 PM »

The art style is nice. And I really like the idea. Maybe except for the "everyone gets a different story" - lots of different branches are either procedurally generated stories, which are shitty by design, or overwhelm the designer with work and branch management, which requires me as a player to guess the sweet spot which the designer loved, or I get a rushed and shoddy part.

A game about discovering a story in the past via ruins would be great.
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amasinton
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« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2019, 05:38:38 AM »

This looks delightful and relaxing. I will always approve of genuine attempts to incorporate scientific methodology into games in a compelling way, too.

Thank you!

The balance between real world methodology and the story/gameplay/feeling of the game is a job and one I think I'll be struggling with throughout development.
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amasinton
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« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2019, 05:49:36 AM »

The art style is nice. And I really like the idea. Maybe except for the "everyone gets a different story" - lots of different branches are either procedurally generated stories, which are shitty by design, or overwhelm the designer with work and branch management, which requires me as a player to guess the sweet spot which the designer loved, or I get a rushed and shoddy part.

A game about discovering a story in the past via ruins would be great.

An excellent point.  That is also a balance I'm trying to strike because branches == extra work or shortcuts, one of which is unmanageable for a single developer and the other too often short-changes the player.  Also, I'm not that clever.  So, this is something that is going to evolve as development moves along.  Some days I think 'yeah, I can do tons of branches, no problem' and other days I'm like 'That's insane. Let's see if we can do just one branch and do that well.'  Scope.

It's the details of the story, like the details of the rebuilt buildings, where the variation is most do-able and where the moment-to-moment feel of the game will be best expressed.  I think I can do that.  But it's subtle and subtle is easy to miss.

I really appreciate your encouragement and your critiques.  Thanks for sharing!
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« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2019, 05:58:42 AM »

This morning's work: blocking-out, at the macro-level.  Quick sketching, playing with forms and massing.  This will never appear in the game in this form - this is just to help me.


So, in my professional work I work almost exclusively on individual buildings, and often just their interiors- the fine-level detail and decoration.  Blocking-out is something I rarely have the opportunity to do.  This is a little clumsy, but it has made for a nice change from the micro-level work I have been doing.  It has also been unexpectedly creative in that I can move more quickly and follow my intuition.  Right now that's still straightjacketed by those nagging voices inside that question my grasp of geology, architectural history, and building statics.  But, at least this is something.  I'm roughing-out the work.  After that, it's editing, but it's editing something.
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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2019, 03:17:59 PM »

I'm curious what sort of stories you intend to tell. More the story of how the structure was destroyed, or the people who once occupied it? Or, I suppose most likely, a mix of both?
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« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2019, 03:49:10 AM »

Really dig your concept and soft palette. Definitely don't want to see you overburdened with too many branches.

Here's hoping we get some nice interiors, with colorful tapestries, characters, explosions... I mean that building's gotta come down somehow right?!
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amasinton
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« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2019, 02:59:57 PM »

I'm curious what sort of stories you intend to tell. More the story of how the structure was destroyed, or the people who once occupied it? Or, I suppose most likely, a mix of both?

Such a good question and the answer is 'yes', as you suspected.  It kind of has to be both as buildings don't exist without people, but the emphasis will be on how the structures on the island were destroyed, but also how they were built and changed - and why.  Some of the structures on the island are occupied for centuries, and go through their own lifecycles with their own stories to tell.  There's a kind of continuity which is the story of the island itself.  Of course, this is all down to the people, and so the two are intertwined. 

If this all sounds a bit nebulous right now, that's because it is.  The thing that keeps driving me back to the stories that ruins tell is that every time I investigate a ruin in real life it whispers to me scraps of its story, and by that, of course, I mean the stories of the people who inhabited it and why the eventually abandoned it.

I know, in a broad sense, what happened to this place, but discovering the details of how it happened is what moves me.
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amasinton
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« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2019, 03:06:02 PM »

Really dig your concept and soft palette. Definitely don't want to see you overburdened with too many branches.

Here's hoping we get some nice interiors, with colorful tapestries, characters, explosions... I mean that building's gotta come down somehow right?!

Thanks!  It's not my usual art style or palette - my clients always want photorealism, even when I try to convince them of the benefits of something more impressionistic.  So, this is my opportunity to work on the kind of 'low-poly, watercolor diorama' look that I like so much in other games.

Already this forum has been great because it has already helped clarify my thinking about 'branches' and what I mean when I say 'branches'.  Best to major on narrative clarity, I agree.

Nice interiors, colorful tapestries, explosions, absolutely (I can't wait to get to the explosions part.).  Characters, I would absolutely love that, but they're a little outside my current skillset.  I have plans on this front, but I'm keeping my character ambitions well reigned-in for now.  But this is certainly an opportunity for growth, personally!
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« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2019, 11:53:02 PM »

I'm curious what sort of stories you intend to tell. More the story of how the structure was destroyed, or the people who once occupied it? Or, I suppose most likely, a mix of both?

Such a good question and the answer is 'yes', as you suspected.  It kind of has to be both as buildings don't exist without people, but the emphasis will be on how the structures on the island were destroyed, but also how they were built and changed - and why.  Some of the structures on the island are occupied for centuries, and go through their own lifecycles with their own stories to tell.  There's a kind of continuity which is the story of the island itself.  Of course, this is all down to the people, and so the two are intertwined. 

If this all sounds a bit nebulous right now, that's because it is.  The thing that keeps driving me back to the stories that ruins tell is that every time I investigate a ruin in real life it whispers to me scraps of its story, and by that, of course, I mean the stories of the people who inhabited it and why the eventually abandoned it.

I know, in a broad sense, what happened to this place, but discovering the details of how it happened is what moves me.

I definitely feel that. That's the sort of thing I like to think about almost recreationally  Tongue so I think you're onto a game for me, here.
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« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2019, 01:20:54 AM »

Wow, sounds like it has a similar premise to but very different execution from my game, so it's going to be interesting to compare! Your art is gorgeous!
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« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2019, 11:04:22 AM »

Sounds and looks great! I'm definitely looking forward to seeing this come to life. I really appreciate the dedication to keeping it true to yourself/your vision. Interested to see how your experience as an archaeologist influences it too.
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amasinton
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« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2019, 09:58:46 AM »

More blocking-out from this morning.


Again, this is just for me, just to help me better understand the space, and now, how it has been built up over the centuries.  I'm happy to say that there are several thousand years of occupation and building going on already.  It's all so tiny and lacking in detail that it's hard to see, of course, but if you squint and you're into castles and monasteries you can see that the site seems to have grown from a small core (probably seventh century) and eventually expanded beyond the strict confines of the rock itself.  Also, there must have been some rebuilding of the fortifications between the 13th and 15th centuries. 

And I bet there are tunnels.

Anyway, the main building blocks of the heights are in-place now.  Some of them don't quite 'ring true' to my eye in terms of the plausibility of their development, but I'm leaving them in-place for now.  The next step is to follow the fortifications down the steep slopes of the rock to the west to join up with the stub of the village, which will grow up around the church, which is already sitting atop the low hill.  Again, probably a 14th/15th century church, but probably sitting on top of and built out of much, much older previous buildings.  And the harbor has appeared (and it looks suspiciously 18th/19th century.)

So, this is lots of fun, even if it's not great to look at for now.
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« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2019, 10:15:44 AM »

I definitely feel that. That's the sort of thing I like to think about almost recreationally  Tongue so I think you're onto a game for me, here.

Hurrah!  So, there's at least two of us!

Wow, sounds like it has a similar premise to but very different execution from my game, so it's going to be interesting to compare! Your art is gorgeous!

I think the two premises ARE similar and the approaches are very different and that's a good thing!  I do love the premise of your game - investigating your own demise.  The way that is bound up with the fates of so many others makes the story more meaningful - and probably opens up the narrative space for a lot of interesting exploration and mechanics.  And thank you so much for your kind comment on the art.  You have no idea how much that made me smile, especially at the end of what was a rather long day for me.  Thank you!

Sounds and looks great! I'm definitely looking forward to seeing this come to life. I really appreciate the dedication to keeping it true to yourself/your vision. Interested to see how your experience as an archaeologist influences it too.

Cheers!  I think the influence of my professional experience will be something I will have to keep a firm handle on throughout development.  I tend to get bogged-down in the details and in 'accuracy' at the expense of making something interesting.  It's rare that I get to work on a project that is just mine, and so giving myself permission to go beyond the bounds of 'realism' is something I have to consciously do.  It's terrifying but exhilarating.
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« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2019, 05:57:56 AM »

And some more blocking-out to finish off the regular week.


There's some dark stuff in here this time.

I'm not entirely happy with this version.  It's like a map of my thinking here and you can see the places I understand better than others.  The village part could use a lot of work.  Needs denser packing and more variety.  For now I'm going to let it sit while I get back to development in other areas.  (There's this BoTW-like sparkle I want to add to uncovered items and an interface for choosing item descriptions, for example.  Oh, and time travel is still difficult.)

I've been working on a vertical slice of a very, very small part of the island so long it was nice to stand back and look at the largest scale.  Time to zoom back in for now while this stews for a little while.
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« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2019, 07:10:35 AM »

I am really liking the sound of this game! I love the idea you explore the ruins and discover the history, sounds unique and interesting.

You mentioned the idea of the story being from different branches but you were unsure if the random generation would work or not, I also remember reading someone suggesting having one solid story. I was just thinking you could combine the two, in which there is a overall story but depending on the amount the player discovered results in different endings/knowledge of the world.

The design you have going on at the moment is really interesting and I like it a lot. Are you using any real world references or is this from your experience at work? If you are looking for more ways to combine the different time periods you should look into and research York in England. The city is fascinating and the has a lot of history regarding buildings and how they were recycled over hundreds of years.

Also there are many small places in England that have that mixed old medieval look with modern society, Lincoln & Richmond are two to name off the top of my head.

I shall be following this closely and I wish you all the best. Keep up the great work!   
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« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2019, 08:12:01 AM »

Very cool. It's starting to remind me of how I love exploring towns in RPGs, but always end up wishing there was more to actually see/find/interact with - especially in natural ways. It seems like this game will have that as one of its core elements!

So in a previous post, you said this macro view won't ever appear in the game itself. What kind of view will the actual gameplay have? How close up will we be getting? How will we be navigating?
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« Reply #18 on: February 16, 2019, 04:23:19 AM »

This looks gorgeous and the premise is very appealing. I'm also curious as to how the player experience will work - do you explore the world in a first-person view? Are there puzzle elements to the rebuilding and time travel?
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« Reply #19 on: February 16, 2019, 01:40:48 PM »

I am really liking the sound of this game! I love the idea you explore the ruins and discover the history, sounds unique and interesting.

You mentioned the idea of the story being from different branches but you were unsure if the random generation would work or not, I also remember reading someone suggesting having one solid story. I was just thinking you could combine the two, in which there is a overall story but depending on the amount the player discovered results in different endings/knowledge of the world.

Thank you!  To branch or not to branch, that seems to be the question.  Like you, I'm leaning towards 'yes, there is and is not branching'.  That seems like a cop-out and maybe it is, we'll see.  The idea is that there is a main story arc, but that the details of that arc and how much of that arc the player experiences is really up to what they discover and their responses in this 'conversations with buildings' idea.  So, perhaps in your playthrough you will see the bombardment of the castle by U-Boats in WWI.  But in my playthrough I will only see the ruins of the castle after the bombardment.  In both playthroughs the castle suffers damage in WWI, but you understand exactly how that happened and I don't.  Just what unlocks that event for you and not for me is the result of what you unlock as you explore the island and as you rebuild.  This has a cumulative effect, meaning that some way you might have responded, some artifact you might have picked up, adds to a chain of locks and unlocks in a sequence that is unique to your playthrough.

Hmm.  Having written all of that out, it sounds very complicated.  And the final 'story' can be.  But the systems behind it aren't that sophisticated.  They're blocks that interact with each other.

Overall, the idea is not to withhold content from players.  I want this to be a true conversation and these conversations can go differently for each player, depending on the choices they make.  They're not missing content, they're just discovering their own path through it.  There isn't a 'right' way through, I guess is what I'm saying.  I'm not trying to lead players to the 'good' or the 'bad' ending. 

The design you have going on at the moment is really interesting and I like it a lot. Are you using any real world references or is this from your experience at work? If you are looking for more ways to combine the different time periods you should look into and research York in England. The city is fascinating and the has a lot of history regarding buildings and how they were recycled over hundreds of years.

Also there are many small places in England that have that mixed old medieval look with modern society, Lincoln & Richmond are two to name off the top of my head.

I shall be following this closely and I wish you all the best. Keep up the great work!   

Ah York!  My adopted hometown!  I lived there for 11 years while I researched and taught at the University.  Yes, pieces of York will show up all over the island.  I can't help it.  I just know the place so well.  You could show me any random stone fragment or detail from the Minster and I could probably tell you what it's from and how old it is.  And then Lincoln!  Did you know for a while Lincoln cathedral was the tallest building in the world?  Had a wood and lead spire on its central tower that brought the building to over 500ft high.  Wind blew it down in the sixteenth century.  I nearly put the Lincoln tower and steeple on my abbey church at the top of the island, but thought that might be a bit much.  And then Richmond!  I was just there in September.  That castle is spectacular.  It's a lovely old town and you're right, a good mix of old and new, dramatically situated.  I keep thinking of this island as Scarborough but cut off entirely from the mainland.  Well, that's where the idea started.  Looks a bit different now.

Thank you so much for your interest and your interesting questions.  They've stimulated a lot of thought.  Keep an eye out for details of existing buildings you might recognize.  They'll pop up everywhere!
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