This will be a collection of content relating to the production of the Construct 2 Game, Mazehead. The finished version obviously differs significantly from some of the proposed ideas. This will include pre production, pitches, design document, feedback and a link to the CAPx of the final version of the game. An evaluatin will be written at the bottom of the page eventually.
IDEA 1: You are not alone. You play as a character stuck in a warehouse/mall. All the doors are locked and soulless people seem to wander the warehouse without any objective. You find a note on the floor that just says “Help me. You are not alone!” and the objective of the game is to follow some clues, explore the warehouse and find who wrote the note.
Gameplay: From a top-down perspective, explore the warehouse, interacting with objects in the environment and sometimes the wandering NPCs. The other NPCs can give you clues, and you can find multiple clues in the environment but not all clues will be correct or relevant and some may lead to dead ends or possibly a game over.
Visual Style: A simple visual style so that things can be communicated quickly and easily to the player, while things like notes are represented by an icon in-game but MAY be displayed as an overlaying image when examined.
Genre: Adventure Game. There would (at the moment) be no enemies in the game and therefore no combat and it would be more about exploring the environment and finding clues and discovering who wrote the note.
IDEA 2: Mazehead. Your character has been trapped in a maze at a circus by a clown. On your way out of the maze you also have to try and find the clown to hear why they did it, and see if anyone else has been trapped in the maze.
Gameplay: From a top-down perspective, you explore the maze and try and find your way out, possibly finding someone else who has been trapped by the Mad Clown, although you could leave anyone else behind and just escape the maze yourself. You could find “clues” that might help you discover what is going on and why.
Visual Style: A colourful style to reflect that what’s going on is supposedly happening at a Circus but one that is clear and easy to understand. For simplicity’s sake the walls would almost certainly be black lines (vertical and horizontal, maybe diagonal), or at least lines of colour.
Genre: Puzzle/Adventure. There would be no enemies or combat in the game (although that could change) but the focus would be on trying to get out of the maze and explore the environment. You would be able to reach the end of the maze and escape without having met anyone else, although if you talk to people who have been put in the maze by the Mad Clown or if you discover Mad Clown itself then there may be a second exit/ending if technical limitations allow.
Target Platform: Desktop and mobile devices. It would be a short game and not necessarily one that encourages replayability (no randomly generated levels etc) but while I would consider the desktop/pc a platform by default I also think it would be suited to the short pick up and play nature of mobile devices such as iOS, Android, Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita.
Market Research: The age range would be for years 3 and over as the game would be simple enough for anyone to understand the game but the story and the clown and some references are a bit darker and more adult. I think the game would be open to any gender as you’d play a non-gendered main character so a man or woman could play it and not feel as if you were being pushed aside. It would be manly a casual game because it would be widely accessible but also lacking a particular depth in Gameplay such as that found in RPGs and would be simple, just being about navigating a maze (or possibly series of mazes) in order to try and escape from a mad clown. It would not be a pursuit-style game like Resident Evil 3: Nemesis or some sections of Mirror’s Edge etc. I think the suitable audience would be anyone from 3 and over, as well as anyone who wants a short and quick casual game that would be suitable for a commute. While it would lack the replay ability of something like Angry Birds (at the moment, I may implement a timer/score system later on) I think it could be akin to that in terms of filling that casual gap. I can’t think of an immediately similar game that is already on the market but it would be similar, in Gameplay or target audience, to games like Angry Birds and Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine.
- ..Pg 3
- High Concept…Pg3
- Characters inc Sprites…Pg4 + 5
- Target Audience…Pg8
- Gameplay…Pg9 + 10
- Mockups/Concept Art…Pg11 + 12
- Comparable Games…Pg14
- Timescale for development…Pg15
The player-character wakes up at the centre of a nightmarish maze, confronted only by a clown and a way to escape. The player must escape a series of mazes in order to get away from the mad clown with a timer on each level counting down until the clown catches up to the player.
A maze-based game with a timer element to keep you moving as the player is stalked by a crazed clown/sad theatre mask who has placed the player-character in a haunting circus maze.
There are only two characters although there is a possibility of more being added at a later date. There are no NPCs to interact with and one character only appears at the end of each level as the objective isn’t “Meet 4 NPCs and escape” but purely to solve the maze.
The main character is the player, an unamed character who wakes up trapped in a maze. His backstory and history is not revealed in game and while the appearance is defined it helps to allow the player to imagine a backstory for the character and come up with ideas for how they got there. Even upon escaping from the Maze, the player character’s fate is left unclear.
BOZO THE CLOWN
While the machiavellian clown behind the Maze is never personally met (or is he?) and is never named, his working name is Bozo the Clown. The how’s and whys of how he kidnapped the Player and left them in a deep maze is not revealed as you don’t explore a whole Circus and just some maze environments. A working idea for the game was that Bozo the Clown is akin to Pennywise from Stephen King’s IT and that Cthulu also helped run the Circus of Madness.
Mazehead would initially only be available for the PC platform although there would be immediate plans to bring it to mobile devices such as iOS, Android and a range of tablets. Although the simple controls suit mobile touch screen devices in order to try and fully realize the game I want to focus on just one platform for now, although with a deliberate eye on the future. The game may come to consoles after mobile devices although it would be too short and pickup and play natured to really be a console worthy title. However it could come to PlayStation VITA and Nintendo 3DS as they would be suitable platforms for further release.
The sound effects and audio for Mazehead would all be sourced from royalty-free websites and would not incur and legal problems or financial costs. In contrast to previous projects, the game would be active in its use of sound effects and background music with a constant background theme and sound effects to represent the countdown on the timer (if implemented) and completion of a level etc.
The controls will be talked about in reference to the initial PC platform.
On PC you would use WSAD to move the character about and you would use the mouse to navigate the menus. The controls on PC need to be kept simple to that in possible further releases you would not have to remove features or have poor controls so the idea would be to make controls that are simple and intuitive, easy to pick up and play in short bursts.
The budget for the game would be minimal, if anything at all. Using royalty-free sounds and graphics made by the developers, we would minimise the production costs. The only costs involved would be a Construct 2 license which, at the time of writing, costs £79.99 for a personal license.
The target audience would be for young children (approximately 3-5 years and up) although it would be suitable for anyone. With no violence and killing in the game, as well as no sex or swearing, it avoids some age-rating related pitfalls that some games go through. Bozo the Clown is the only other NPC in the game and while he may or may not say anything (undecided at this time) the visuals of the game will be free of anything “horrific” such as corpses, blood-splattered walls etc and will mainly features mazes with black line walls and various colourful backgrounds (although since the game is played from a top down perspective these are also the floors).
The aim is to have possible inferred themes of the games be recognizeable for adults but to overall have a product that is suitable for all ages.
The gameplay is relatively simple. In basic terms you have to escape a maze and reach the end to complete one of the levels. There will be a certain number of levels (aiming for 2-3 although a maximum of four if time allows) and when you click “START” on the main menu the game will randomly select one of the levels for you. After beating each level you will continue to the next randomly selected level and after completing all available levels you will be able to escape from Bozo’s Circus Maze.
There are no enemies in the game as while there are elements that could result in you suffering a “game over” state, I didn’t want you to be hugely pressured into playing the game and wanted it to be something easy to pick up and play with very few mechanics to worry about.
Despite this, there will be a timer element. Each level will have a timer and if the timer runs out before the player escapes then Bozo will catch up to the player and the game will be over. The time available will decrease with each level, although it may be changed to a longer timer split over the levels depending on how development and testing goes. While I am keen to keep it as hazard free as possible, there are more possibilities for the game going forward.
As the time counts down then certain pathways may be blocked to the player (although this would obviously have to ensure they could always reach the end of the level and not be locked into a dead end). At one point I had planned to have Bozo chase you down in each level, relevant to the timer, but with Bozo having a physical presence in each level. I scrapped this in the end because I didn’t want the player to go down a wrong path and turn around to find out they were trapped.
Some people may want it but the game is not meant to be particularly hard outside of possibly solving the mazes. In relation to the mazes, the game is player in a windowed view with the player being able to see a certain area around them, with no “fog of war” obscuring their view. You won’t be able to see the entire maze however you will be able to “map” out the maze you are in because the patterns are set and custom made even if the order you play the mazes in is randomly picked.
There will probably be some form of signposting for each level in order to ensure that the player does not get completely and utterly lost although I wouldn’t want this to be too obvious as while the game is not designed to be difficult I would view a sign that says “EXIT IS HERE” to be a case of unecessary hand-holding.
MOCKUPS + CONCEPT ART
TIMESCALE FOR DEVELOPMENT
Collection of sprites + graphical assets: 2-4 weeks
Animation cycles on sprites: 1-2 weeks
Collection of sound assets: 2-3 weeks
Design + basic implementation of maps: 4-5 weeks
Continued development of maps: 4 weeks
Final development time: 2-3 months
A valid license for Construct 2 has been obtained and any royalty free assets would be recognized in-game, while all other assets would be of my own creation ensuring there are no copyright infringements or legal snafus involved.
CONSTRUCT 2 GAME – MAZEHEAD
For our 2D Engine assignment we were given the brief of;
“Using the Construct 2 engine you must create a 2D game using a rapid prototyping cycle showing planning documentation before carrying out alpha and beta testing on the finished product. The game should have the following elements”
I came up with a few ideas as evidenced in my pre-production documentation but they were centred around the idea of a top down maze type game. In Construct 2 projects on the course so far I had been involved in making a side scrolling Platformer and a side scrolling Point and Click inspired social action game so I wanted to do something different.
I settled on the Mazehead idea which is essentially a maze with a countdown timer to get to the end or its game over. The larger scope for the game would have had four or five mazes in total and the countdown timer would have carried on across all mazes as you could find certain items to interact with that would increase the time remaining. This would keep the player moving and make the mazes increasingly difficult as there would be little or no room for error.
The story behind the game was that a demonic clown who worshipped Cthulhu captured the main character and trapped him in a maze at a circus. This can be evidenced by the title screen images which display something known as “The Elder Sign” from Lovecraftian-mythos as Cthulhu was never planned to make an appearance in the game. The clown was originally going to appear and pre-production shows his pop-tart sprite design however he was scrapped because his gameplay would have been that as the timer counted down he would be hunting down the player and physically appear when it reached zero.
However this was removed because I felt it would be frustrating if the player went down a wrong path and turned around only to be trapped. The player dying should be the fault of the player and not the game. Instead the final look of the game was changed to give it a slightly sinister twist. The background of the maze includes bloody smears all over the floor to emphasize that something has gone horribly wrong although it serves a dual purpose by also roughly guiding the player towards the exit. There is also a filter of noise/static overlayed on the graphics which was meant to give the look of a CCTV camera with the clown watching the player the whole time.
I was happy with the animated sprites featured in the game by the end and everything worked as it was meant to in that regard. Some testing with peers revealed some errors in the animations that were fixed and a result of this some gaps in the walls were too narrow for the player to fit through so some were tweaked or removed entirely.
The controls are done entirely via the arrow keys and worked as intended. Even in the original iterations of the game there was never meant to be a particularly complicated control scheme so I’m quite happy with how it turned out. The two tracks used for sound were both created in GarageBand and worked as an antithesis of the mood created via the graphics which I think works quite well. The track during the maze especially sounds quite upbeat and happy yet you are moving through a dark maze with blood on the floor so it creates an interesting juxtaposition in the mood.
The screens for Game Over and Level Complete also work well and as intended and help the game fill out the Construct 2 Free Edition’s 4 layouts with a Main Menu, Maze, Game Over and Level Complete.
The layout is quite large and the maze can certainly take a few minutes to complete but the time is quite generous at 120 seconds as you can move quite fast and if you pick up on the fact that the blood trail is leading you towards the exit then following it can make it quite easy. However as I mentioned earlier the game was not designed to be challenging through issues with the game but more whether the player could navigate to the end or not.
In the end I am happy with how the Mazehead project turned out. If I had significantly more time to work on it I would have liked to add more mazes and increase the graphical variety of sprites etc available as well as maybe return to some of the features that I mentioned were scrapped such as the clown making a physical appearance or playing up the Lovecraftian elements of the game. I would have also made more music for each maze with the idea being that the music continues to contrast with the visual design of the maze.