Today I’d like to show some of the character designs I’ve been working on lately. I’ve shown a lot of background art here already. Now it’s character’s turn. The designs are still very much work-in-progress but I feel they’re starting to come together finally.
On the right we have Emma – she’s a bit of a wallflower. The cool dude on the left is the oldest brother, Pete. He’s a huge metal fan.
Last but not least in the middle we have the youngest sibling, Mikey; he’s the playable character in this game.
And here is one of the more villainous characters. Because obviously no haunted theme park would be complete without a creepy evil clown lurking around the corner, right?
Finally there’s also a WIP background I’ve been working on for a while: We’re looking up at the boys’ treehouse in the woods. This is where the story unfolds when they discover an unexpected visitor.
Just a quick update today: I’ve been messing around with various ideas for the game’s menu screen and finally settled on something that I feel suits the style pretty well.
In keeping with the late ‘80s/early ‘90s vibe, I’ve mocked up this handheld game console as the menu system. This is where the player will be able to load and save their progress as well as adjust the game’s settings.
As the kids try to make their way into the haunted theme park they realize they can’t just bust in through the main entrance. Looking for alternate ways to get inside, they come across a culvert that seems to lead straight where they’re heading.
And just like any self-respecting teenage horror movie victims participants, they (of course!) decide to enter the darkness…
Psst… wanna hear a secret? In an earlier incarnation of Fatal Attractions the game had a different name: It was known as Libera Me.
Libera Me never really got past the tech demo stage. But a key element of the game’s tech was its 2.5D compositing. The idea here is to have pre-rendered background images which contain information about each pixel’s depth. Through some clever shader tricks this allows us to perform several graphical feats that usually require full 3D scenes:
This concept was used heavily in the earlier Resident Evil games.
I’ve decided to revive this technology for Fatal Attractions. The cool thing is that the entire background scene as well as the character are just billboard sprites; that makes for a whopping 4 (!) polygons being rendered in the clips below!
The 2.5D depth compositing is implemented via custom shaders and provides correct depth occlusion, as seen in this short clip when the character walks towards the background and ends up behind the tomb stones:
Traditionally this kind of depth compositing would require a fairly elaborate setup of masks and/or occluder geometry. Not so with 2.5D compositing where we get the occlusion for free without any extra effort.
But wait, there’s more! Here we can see a real-time directional light casting shadows from a 2D sprite onto a 2D background… and thanks to 2.5D depth compositing we get correct 3D shadows just like in a proper 3D scene:
Of course we’re not limited to static light sources – we can even move a light around. Here we have a dynamic point light moving around and lighting up just the appropriate region of the scene. Also note how the character sprite casts proper shadows onto the background geometry.
I plan to use the dynamic 2.5D lighting to allow the player to investigate using a flash light as well as other sources of light. Of course dynamic shadows will also have their place.
Unfortunately the video compression made a bit of a mess with the image quality, so here’s how the background render is meant to look:
Working on the engine at the moment. That and the VHS Look post-processing shaders have been keeping me busy lately. It’s hard to find a good compromise there: On the one hand I want the game to have the authentic look of an old VHS tape that’s been watched too many times. But then again I’ve put so much work into the background art and this gets all but ruined by the VHS artifacts.
Today though inspiration struck and so I revisited an older scene that’d been sitting idly on my hard drive for a while. No creepy theme park is complete without a Haunted Mansion, so here’s a first look at what to expect:
Here I’m trying to recreate that somewhat over the top spookiness of Disney’s Haunted Mansion. Of course our heroes will have ample opportunity to explore the mansion and mingle with its inhabitants – whether they want to or not…