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My thoughts on Locked

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Ghost Cat

Joined: 26 May 2003
Posts: 1234
Location: Your brain

PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 8:48 pm    Post subject: My thoughts on Locked Reply with quote

This was already posted on my livejournal, but I decided to copy it here too. Hope it is an interesting read.

I've been thinking about why I was able to consistently work on Locked and come out with a finished product, unlike most of my other attempts at OHRing. The only other times I've been able to do that were for contests, and neither of those games is really notable at all.

One thing that definitely helped me was not having to make any battles. I like drawing maptiles and walkabouts, but I don't really like making backdrops or attacks or hero graphics or weapons. Also I'm not as good at those. So yeah whenever I have to start drawing hero graphics I kinda go UGH and close the program, pretending I'll work on them later. Also battles are fairly difficult to make and require more testing and such. Lots of tweaking numbers. I love designing battle systems but actually making them is pretty tedious, and I'm not that good at it yet.

Another thing that helped was the song. Before I found that song on vgmusic the game was totally different from the finished product. The game was going to be more complicated, each room had a different song and some kind of bizarre puzzle in it. I didn't really get anywhere in designing it but the mood I had in mind was more darkly humorous. But then I saw "Tom Sawyer" on the list of games and I remembered just playing that game recently (It's some lame little platformer, not really worth playing) so I checked the song. WOW. Instantly I decided to use this as the only song in the game. The fact that it repeats after 45 seconds didn't concern me. I could literally see what the game looked like while I listened to it. The game changed to something simpler and lost all silliness I had previously envisioned (I love silliness, but it didn't fit into what I wanted to do here anymore). Upon hearing the song I was inspired to work harder.

I really had to restrain myself from making this game into something so complicated that I wouldn't finish it. My ideas for the game were much bigger while I was first working on it. At first I had envisioned there being a subtle story about why the girl (she does have a name, but it's a secret) was leaving the house, and possibly why it was all locked up. I never came up with a story though, nothing ever came to mind that I liked. I did have one idea that, while I like it a lot, I'm glad I ended up not using it. It wasn't a story exactly, but what I thought about doing was putting a bunch of pictures around the house that you could look at. Some pictures would have the girl in them, some would have others, and I would try to make people see some connection between the pictures in the hopes that they'd make up a story for the game, thinking they were seeing a story that was already there. I decided not to use this idea cause it would complicate the game and drawing a bunch of photos in NES style would've been very hard and take a long time. I wanted this to be a short and simple project.

The NES graphics were another big help, to my surprise. I had chosen to do NES graphics because 1) Bandit Revolver had been released somewhat recently and I wanted to try my hand at it, 2) I thought it would be a challenge, and 3) They're fun to draw. The thing is, they ended up not being a challenge but rather being easier and faster to draw, as well as giving the game a more unique look. Also the minimalism in everything really tied the game together. Simple graphics, a simple song, simple text, and simple gameplay. The constant minimalism was actually so strong that I felt uncomfortable writing a description of the game for CP's gamelist. The brief text I put there was actually more than I would've liked to. But I realized I kinda needed to tell people "get out of the house" cause I hadn't really mentioned that anywhere in the game. Oops.

One of the most frequent critiques I hear is that there's no replay value. I think this is kind of cool, myself. It makes the first time through into a unique experience that you can never have again. Games don't necessarily have to be something you come back to again and again. I kind of like the idea of one-time-only games. It's different.


Heh, I guess everyone is probably kinda confused on what the ending was about. I don't remember why I first thought of the idea, but I remember it came to me as I was trying to sleep and it struck me as very creepy. I liked it. I suppose the ending is kind of a joke on the player. I put it in because I liked the idea, even though I knew players wouldn't. The whole point of the ending scene is that it prevents the player from actually beating the game. The objective in Locked is to leave the house, but you never do. The game takes away your control before you're able to finish the job. I don't know if anyone actually felt this way though. I didn't realize until after I released the game that I could've made this point much clearer if I had just made the final box empty. That might've been too much of a downer though, I'm not sure if I would've liked it as much.
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