In the beginning…

In the beginning…

In the not-beginning, there was…

In the same idea than my previous and first article in the Dreams of Ylina indieDB page, I will write a little bit about my gamer experience, back in the days when The Offspring was about to be famous but still independant: the early 90s.

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The Legend of Zelda

If I ever write other articles on this blog, I may write about the 80s too. So why not write chronologically if I’m talking about my gamer experience? Because the game I had chosen to write about is what I consider now, for good or bad, the turning point of this gamer experience.

And the winner is:

The game I’m thinking of, the chosen one, is: Zelda: A Link To The Past. A.K.A. Zelda3.

Before that I had played Sonic, probably Flashback on Genesis (Sega Megadrive here in France), and Street Fighter II on Super NES. With Zelda, I found what I’m still looking for now when I play games (at least the games I love the most): Story/Exploration/Dialogs. Which I may call: SED. Or DES. Or EDS. Whatever.

Comparing

Let’s see: Recently I have tried: Skyrim/Oblivion, The Witcher, Mass Effect, Bioshock Infinite, Life is Strange, to say only a few. Yes I said recently, because, well, I had stopped gaming between the Playstation 1 and Skyrim, basically.

  • In Bioshock Infinite: the story looks great, the context looks awesome (I’m just loving the Steampunk universe, although this steampunk is more a US steampunk than a UK, Victorian steampunk, but still), and the action reminds me of famous FPS which I was really bad at when playing online (I’m looking at you, Counter-Strike). But: what I personally miss is the dialogs aspect of the trinome I talked about earlier. But that’s just me. I actually have a hard time feeling immersed in the world, since you can barely talk to people. I so wish the hero could talk to people, and have choices to make in dialogs, just to interact a little bit more with the environment. I have not yet finished the game, maybe it’s all a dream and the people around are only limited creations of the hero’s own mind… Who knows. [Later edit: I actually have a great feeling about this game after finishing it, so great I got the Burial At Sea extensions]
  • The Witcher, now: apart from the fact I’m really not fond of/used to the third person+freelook camera, well, I actually haven’t played enough for me to talk about it.
  • Mass Effect: I love the universe, so far (I’m still at the beginning, yeah, I haven’t finished a lot of games yet). In the « city », there are tons and tons of dialogs and side quests. Almost too much. You can visit some places, which reminds me of the second stage in old Flashback. Very pleasant. The combat parts are nice. And there is the story. What I miss a little bit, is a greater exploration aspect. Like the next game I’m going to talk about.
  • Skyrim and Oblivion: I started with Skyrim, which has probably been the first Action/RPG I’ve played since Crono Cross on PS emulation. And for me, it has all the three aspects I had mentioned. Like a friend (let’s call him: Binome) told me: the first hours are magical. And he was right, after a few hours, some « magic » disappear, I am not sure why, but pondering about it may be beneficial to my own game designs. The few things that come to my mind are for example: the ability to fast-travel a little too much, and the ability to rely too much on the map to find quests goals. Of course, you can choose not to use them, but when you’re playing, you just try. And some quests items are way too lost in the middle of nowhere not to look at the pin on the map. But yeah, they are great.
  • Life is Strange: Life is Strange is to me a little different. I didn’t think about it back in the 80s/90s, but the music and the atmosphere… They are useful, making a game go from great to sublime. The music and the atmosphere in Life is Strange are awesome, to say the least. The story is good. You’re more or less free to go wherever you want in the current map. We’ll see how Life is Strange: Before the Storm will go. But the music makes it absolutely awesome. And this brings me back to what I may consider the greatest gaming memory I currently have (not Zelda, though):

Now what?

What can be taken from that in making an indie game?

Well, first of all: Pleasure: if possible: playing my own game after a while, to see how I love playing it. Just exploring things for example.

Then, balancing between exploration, and side quests, items, special places, etc.

Then: dialogs, many dialogs, or not too much? Or many dialogs but only a few for the main quests, and a few for each side quests, and a few casual others, which in the end makes a lot?

Then: the story: complex, complex, I’m loving complex stories. I love multiple endings too. The story for Dreams of Ylina was originally linear. Now, I’m thinking of making a few moments/choices, where you can change the ending, therefore I have to make different endings. Cinemachine and Timeline in Unity3D 2017 are just in time…

Finally: music. I write rock/metal songs for almost 20 years now. I’ve studied classical (baroque) writing (you should definitely listen to Bach and Corelli, among other, just saying). I use EastWest Composer Cloud. I have some materials I need, now I just have to work on original musics for Dreams of Ylina, and convey as much emotions as the story allows me to.

After finishing playing the game, I want players to feel empty and as confused as after a good Twilight Zone episode.

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