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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsThe Silent Swan – A first-person open world narrative experience
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TowersInTheMist
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« on: May 16, 2021, 08:48:34 AM »

Hello there, I would like to introduce the game we are working on:



The Silent Swan is a first-person open world narrative experience across a monolithic, derelict world.



Summarized, this is The Silent Swan at different levels:

At a gameplay level, you will be entering a massive, abandoned, walled-off land, with many locations, all of which manually handcrafted, of unique design and architecture, all of them with interior spaces. Bringing the meaning of “open world” into urban locations for a very first time on this scale. Featuring the City in the Mist, a giant, non-procedural, interiored, and interconnected, brutalist-gothic city. You will carry alongside you a notebook, where you will keep track of the items, codes, and keys you obtain, as well as archiving the mysterious letters of she you seek. Some of these items include a flashlight, a telescope, and movie reels.

At a story level, you are entering this zone in the following of the footsteps of your wife, who one day disappeared, leaving behind a letter that only you know of. Throughout the adventure, the player will learn about the nature of this zone, the dangers it entails, the stories that happened within it, as well as about the player character themselves.

At a conceptual level, its greatest aim is to become an exponent of freedom for those who feel caged when they are presented with massive structures and landscapes in videogames, only to find out that most of it is gated away by invisible walls, or is simply a facade with nothing behind. The Silent Swan presents a very simple proposal: the Wall surrounds and defines the playable area, wherein everything will be navigable. If you can see it, you can go there, and it will always reward you with traversable interiors, and unique landscapes. If the story, or any lead gathered from the lore, leads you there, then you will also find some item or collectible.



Despite the size of the world, and the time it takes to move around (which is ultimately not as much as I personally would've braved to try), we wanted to make sure that you don't feel as though you are losing your time, and never think of “if only I could activate the cheats and increase the movement speed”. For that purpose, we have taken the following measures:

You will never walk the same path twice:

On the outside, every major location of the world will contain a zeppelin station, with a plaqued number (which you may need to find by looking around), containing the code you need to insert to make a fairly silent zeppelin flap its way there (thus making it so that you can only fly to places whose code you already know). If it weren't enough, the zeppelin will contain a button with which you can fast-travel a route you have already flown through at least once.

In the City and towns, we are making sure to add as many pathways and roads to move inbetween any two locations as possible. This way, if you need to return to any certain place, you can always pick a different road, and sight something different along the way.



In the buildings, the same principle is applied. We try to add as many rooms, walkways, terraces, and such, with which to make each visit a tad more interesting. Samewise, after reaching the heights of any building, you won't need to go through the ordeal of walking back down, instead being able to simply drop down and survive thanks to the anti-fall military stilts.

The story moves you on:

The very progression of the story will ensure that there is always a new, next location to move on to, with minimal backtracking. Though the door for further exploration, lore, collectibles, and storylines of characters, will remain optional and open at all times for those who would enjoy more of what is being presented.


You will not have to guess where to go:

A great, ridiculously large percentage surpassing the 99% of the entire world will be devoid of anything game related. The reasons it is there is for freedom and “sense of world” purposes. Thus, how to make it so that the player knows where will be something they should check out, and where it will not be, so as to not make them check every nook and cranny to find their next step? Fairly simple: the story and environment will lead you. If there is no visual or story clue that you should visit the 48th floor of a certain building, then there will be nothing there.



We understand that with these design principles we are placing ourselves upon a very thin, and dangerous line, but we trust that through proper balancing and testing we will hit the perfect equilibrium we seek.

You can follow the game on Twitter for the fastest updates and overviews of the game, while what is mentioned there is discussed more in depth here.

https://twitter.com/The_Silent_Swan

During the upcoming weeks I would love to add more posts regarding the specifics of the game, and the design principles with which different decisions have been made. As well as more detailed information about how one moves across this world, the challenges they will face, and perhaps most important of all, the characters and their storylines you will encounter.

Looking forward to your feedback.

« Last Edit: May 17, 2021, 12:31:00 AM by TowersInTheMist » Logged
mentor93
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« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2021, 09:11:48 AM »

I love FPP adventure games, so I'll keep an eye on this one, but I must say I've got a hard time understanding how is The Silent Swan going to be played. Is there one big story campaign within which the player explores the world and its inhabitants? Is gameplay all about travelling the world and meeting people and discovering stories or will it contain something more challenging like puzzles?

All in all, at the first glance this seems like an ambitious undertaking and good luck with it, because the screenshots already look rather intriguing.

you are entering this zone in the following of the footsteps of your wife, who one day disappeared, leaving behind a letter that only you know of
I'm getting SH2 vibes here Tongue

By the way, while reading your post I envisioned a game where you would play as a journalist who travels to a country like China where regime suppresses freedom of speech. You would carry a camera with you and your goal would be to photograph various instances of violation of human rights, talk with the citizens and write a story about everything that you witness. Alongside with that you would need to sneak behind the secret police etc. I guess your game is going to be about something totally different, but I would definitely play a journalist living a dangerous life only to expose the mistreating of evil government Smiley
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TowersInTheMist
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« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2021, 10:09:01 AM »

Hello! Thank you very much for the first comment.

Perhaps I made it a little too obtuse, but I trust that as we get new footage recorded, and I upload them here alongside a commentary during the upcoming days and weeks, everything will end up coming together. For now I can say though that you will have a minimalistic UI, where you will be able to interact with different objects (marked by a golden hue), to obtain items, open doors, press buttons, solve puzzles, and hear the character's thoughts. However, what begins as a seeking of someone who disappeared will soon become a seek for greater truths regarding the nature of the zone.

So no journalism from the part of the main character, but you may want to look forward to the first character you will encounter on this adventure, who is in fact doing some "journalistic" business attempting to bring back to memory secrets that have been forgotten.
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smokesomefrogs
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« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2021, 02:36:35 PM »

omg that looks fantastic! Awesome :D
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TowersInTheMist
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« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2021, 01:29:30 AM »

omg that looks fantastic! Awesome :D

Thank you very much! We hope that it will look even better as we further update the post.
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WiredSound
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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2021, 12:16:43 PM »

Beautiful screenshots and I like the highly exploration-focused concept. What language/library/engine are you making the game with?
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TowersInTheMist
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« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2021, 10:11:30 AM »

Beautiful screenshots and I like the highly exploration-focused concept. What language/library/engine are you making the game with?

Thanks a lot, we are trying something new and we hope it will pay off. Regarding the engine, we are using Unity with the HD Render Pipeline
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TowersInTheMist
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« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2021, 03:33:24 AM »

Hello everyone, thanks a lot for your interest and comments. Today I hope of somewhat addressing the main question of “But what do you actually do?”, by narrating how the first ~40 minutes of the game are like. For that, I must briefly explain the distribution of the world. Here is a censored version of the map, showing where the first quarter of the game takes place.



The Red Dots represent urban areas. These could be anything from a neatly arranged set of houses, to large single buildings, or more abstract locations further into the game, all sharing the common fact of being the livingplaces of those who lived here once.

The Blue Dots represent some sort of industrial facilities. These could range from a Metereological Station with underground bunkers, as is the case of the Blue Dot in the uncensored part of the map, or a military shipyard.

The Yellow Dots are located at the Farmlands, a different kind of “biome” of the world, full of expansive fields of wheat, windmills, and grain storages. The Yellow Dot itself represents the location of the main building of each Farmland. There is nothing planned to happen at these Farmlands during this stage of development. For now they simply add environmental variety.

The Orange Dot is the City in the Mist, the first main checkpoint of the game.


We will be starting at the green dot. You will be moving atop a rail cart, surrounded by tall trees. The road ahead of you will turn, and the Wall will emerge from within the trees. Soon after, the cart will come to a stop before the broken bridge, and you will hop down before this view:



After jumping down through industrial debris, you will cross gravestones and other remnants of people that had passed by here. Interacting with these environmental props will make the currently nameless character share their thoughts with the player, as will for the rest of the game. Entering the Wall will bring you before this view:



Here, a strangely placed set of wooden planks and iron beams seem to create a path above the grass into the landbridge (this world's equivalent to roads) to the left. Going there, up a few stairs, will make you come across a quicycle, or quike. As the character will point out, the quicycle will be your best companion across this adventure, it being the safest and fastest means of land transportation. And indeed, the quike is what you will be using to cross the vast distances between the landmarks of the Zone. Knowing no where else to go, you will mount the quike, and continue the road ahead.

You can ride the quicycle in two different ways. At normal speed, you will be able to travel onward as you calmly look around and experience the new world you are venturing to. However, in case you wish to further cut the time, you can accelerate by pressing Shift, and during the upcoming  half minute your quike will begin to considerably speed up. However, at this speed one must be highly careful of not ramming into any of the many abandoned vehicles upon the road, and always be on alert. If you maintain the inertia, you could cut the time of travel by more than half. However, if you crash into anything, a loud noise and visual cue will portray a received damage. The player will still be relatively safe at this point of the game, but knowing you can be hurt will come a long way to help.

Before getting to the first Red Point, you will come across a few broken down tanks in the middle of the road. If you stop by to inspect them, you will find some Iron Stilts, which since the moment you pick up, will make you survive any fall damage for the rest of the game.  Afterwards, you will soon, you will arrive at the first urban location of the game, only known as the Town (the first Red Point of the map). You will find yourself before this view:



You will be able to continue the road left (towards nowhere), to the right (towards the City), and of course, stop by here. If you do so, you may notice some sort of hanging bridge at the roof of the middle building. If you near it, you will find yourself in front of an elevator that seems to not function. Beside it, there will be a golden key box, with a key the character will guess to be used on the electric tower behind the Town (in plain view) to restore the current. If you follow the road behind the Town, a short ride on quike will soon make you come before the electric tower. If you go up, you will find an iron cabin. Within it, a strange fuselage box with a few missing pieces. If you look around, you will soon find them, insert them on the box, and get a visual confirmation that the electricity of the Town has been restored.

You can then drop down from the cabin, or take the elevator down, back to the road, and to the Town. Now you can use the elevators. If you go back to the center building, and ride it to the rooftop, you will find what is some sort of Station with a golden plaque of a 4-digit number. Interacting with it will make the character write it down (more details on all of this in upcoming posts).

Here will come the next important beat of the story and the game, second only to the arrival at the Zone. Beyond the hanging station, you will notice that a strong light is flashing at you from atop a tower at the City.



This will mark the first sign of life you have thus far encountered, and will indicate your next step of your travel. You'll now have to go back to the roundabout, and take the road left toward the City. On your way to the City the light will flash briefly at you again. If you never stopped by at the Town, the light will still flash at you at this point, making the tour of the Town optional.

On the next post I'll describe what's up next, and what is that which seems to be calling us. Looking forward to reading your thoughts! Beer!
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TowersInTheMist
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« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2021, 06:49:19 AM »

We just uploaded the very first video teaser for the game.





We will be bringing our social media back to life, and posting more frequently from now on. The game is planned for an early Summer 2022 release.  Beer!
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