The Making of a Spider Level, part 1

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Every level for Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon starts as a collection of source materials, including notes about the characters, their props, insects and new features to be introduced, exploration of the environment, secrets, achievements and so forth, culled from larger lists and spreadsheets that track the story, puzzles, and gameplay requirements for the entire game. 

- introduce dragonfly
- trail of muddy bootprints goes through here?  check the estate map
- headstones w/ initials and secret society engraving
- T Bryce has been playing with toys here, hid one of them
- one of the clues for the big puzzle
- swampy terrain on the periphery, lake/ship in background

A hefty portion of my job as a game designer is collating requirements like these and exploring to find what I hope is a great solution.  There’s lots of fuzziness and creativity involved, since there are few mandatory, inflexible requirements and certainly no objectively best answer.

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Source material also includes reference photos which are often the soul of a Spider level, from which we draw detail and texture.  It’s sort of the opposite art style of cartoons which create abstraction and omit detail for the sake of strong simplicity.  Spider levels have energy and substance that comes from real life nuance and richness.

In this case, we’re building a graveyard, the Family Plot level, and I’m getting most attached to these beautiful old headstones I photographed in Vermont, nicely complimented by some decaying fall nature.

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I especially like the faded epitaphs on these old tombstones, somber sentiments from a past culture about life’s last stop.  Fertile material for a clue or just extra character.

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To get a more clear vision for how these things will come together to meet all the requirements, I start to sketch them out, making subtle additions and changes and contemplating how it will be to explore this environment as a spider.  I try to imagine this level before it exists and play it in my mind, making the most obvious corrections before the real work starts.

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Lastly, I check a list of this game’s cool, new features to make sure this level showcases them well.  In some cases, this prompts me to brainstorm up new ways to leverage them, but this level is looking pretty good already. 

- animating environment – falling leaves, swaying plants
- moving surfaces – cattails and bell blowing in wind
- strong webs – large space between graves
- hidden insets – crickets in grass, rare moth?
- multiple planes – possible top-down view to be added later if needed
- parallax - plants and landscape, sides of some monuments

The most important new feature is what we call “conditions,” which refers to the fact that Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon uses custom locational magic to learn where you are in real life and match in the game what you see outside your window.  So if it’s a clear day in real life, you’ll see a clear day in the game.  If it’s a rainy night, you’ll find yourself exploring a dark graveyard in the rain, under the moonlight. 

- conditions – rain and wind fx, droplets from the tree, mosquitoes and dragonflies when it rains, fireflies and crickets (hidden) at night, put the one special thing that only shows up on a certain day here?

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Each possible condition comes with its own population of insects, making for a very different gameplay experience set in the same location.  It’s a lot like getting four Spider games in one!

.. To Be Continued .. 

See Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon at PAX East!

If you’re in the Boston area this April 11-13, come check out the PAX East Indie MEGABOOTH where Tiger Style will be showing off a super secret early version of Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon!

Press folks, we’d love to talk to you.  Get in touch at pr@tigerstylegames.com. 

The Mysteries & Magic of Spider

In February we debuted Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon at Austin’s local Juegos Rancheros meet up!  Included was a presentation that analyzes the story of Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor and how that, plus some additional research, will inform the more elaborate and carefully planned story of Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon.

This is where Tiger Style’s Randy Smith first revealed that the Rite of the Shrouded Moon is based on a lesser-known secret society, and that the only way you’ll be able to unlock the deepest secrets of the game is by conducting your own research into this real life group.  To hear that secret revealed, skip to 14:00 in the video above.

Unfortunately, Tiger Style won’t reveal any identifying information about this real life secret society until the game is released, so that no one can get too far ahead in solving Spider’s secrets.  But, as promised, the slides from this presentation have been uploaded here, so you can scrutinize them for useful clues.

Check out the full report, including our debut of Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon’s gameplay, on the esteemed Venus Patrol!

Minecraft the movie: Elevator Pitches

Edge, the UK’s finest games publication, collects a handful of games’ best writers (including Tiger Style’s own Randy Smith) to submit elevator pitches for the upcoming Minecraft movie.

Read the whole article at Edge online!

gogcom:

Waking Mars, an exploration-focused platformer for Windows and Mac OS X in which you discover and tend to a robust ecosystem in Martian underground caves, celebrates its second anniversary. It’s creators, a small indie team working under the label Tiger Style, were kind enough to answer a few questions coming from GOG.com’s Tumblr blogger-in-chief, GDoc. Let’s join Randy Smith (story/design guy for Waking Mars and Tiger Style’s creative director) and David Kalina (the game’s lead developer) and talk about inspirations, game design, and the transition from AAA development into core indie scene.
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gogcom:

Waking Mars, an exploration-focused platformer for Windows and Mac OS X in which you discover and tend to a robust ecosystem in Martian underground caves, celebrates its second anniversary. It’s creators, a small indie team working under the label Tiger Style, were kind enough to answer a few questions coming from GOG.com’s Tumblr blogger-in-chief, GDoc. Let’s join Randy Smith (story/design guy for Waking Mars and Tiger Style’s creative director) and David Kalina (the game’s lead developer) and talk about inspirations, game design, and the transition from AAA development into core indie scene.

Read More

Meet Tiger Style

Tiger Style is a distributed collective, which means we live in different places, collaborate over the internet, and we all share in project revenue on equal terms!  The line-up changes from year to year.  Give or take this is the 2014 team making Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon! 

Proceeding horizontally from top-left: Adrian Lopez-Mobilia (programmer), Scott Barber (musician), Bobby Arlauskas (audio), Jef Drawbaugh (musician), Randy Smith (creative director), Terri Brosius (writer), Jason Rosenstock (artist), David Kalina (tech lead / designer), Nathan Black (evil wizard / stuntman), Damien Di Fede (musician / programmer), Amanda Williams (artist), Randall O’Connor (artist / designer), Rick Tossavainen (programmer), Brennan Hornburg (artist), Ethan Greene (musician).

"Waking Mars" Concept Art

One of Bungie’s fabulous concept artists titled this piece “Waking Mars.”  We appreciate the homage!  See more work here.

Announcing Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon!!!!

It’s official!  Tiger Style is working on the follow-up to 2009’s Mobile Game of the Year, Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor!  The new game is called…

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…and we hereby promise it is going to fulfill your every fantasy about what a Spider game possibly could be!  It’s bigger, better, deeper, richer, and ready for more platforms!  We’ve got tons of exciting feature announcements, development updates, glimpses into the story, and so forth coming in the future weeks, so stay tuned here to our blog and our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

What are you waiting for?  Go check out the new website for Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon!  Coming to you in Spring, 2014!

Hidden Messages Are Everywhere

A few weeks ago when we launched the teaser at BlackbirdEstate.com, we also issued a press release that straight up revealed crucial secrets about our in-development new game.

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Fortunately everyone was trustworthy enough to keep it secret, keep it safe.  If after you scrutinize these documents, you feel a burning desire to share what you’ve learned, don’t worry.  You only have to sit on it a few more days.  We honor your trustworthiness!

Full size scan of the press release.

Map of Blackbird Estate, first draft

Forgive the sketchy look; this is what we affectionately refer to as “designer art” in the industry.  Beautifully animated and illustrated versions are in development!

But here’s the first draft of the world map for our new game (website here!), which is set in Blackbird Estate.  This is essentially a design document which helps us analyze how the player might explore the game and discover the story.

— READ MORE! MINOR SPOILERS AFTER THE BREAK —