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An Open Window is an experimental MOD for Half-Life 2, Episode 2. In this project I will attempt to bring the concept of different realities to life in a realistic scenario. Instead of being another Shooter, AnOpWi centers around the role of the player and his/her experience, emotion and memories. By interacting with the world the player will define his own reality within the story. For this project I chose an open development cycle, which means I will update very frequently and share every step I take in the process of creating this game. Next to the regular media updates, I will also share my thoughts on the different areas of game design in the form of articles. In every article I will also ask for your opinion with the Question of the Day. This MOD also functions as a knowledge base for new and experienced designers.
Today I'd like to show you some actual in-game work and talk about the concept of memory and how it can be displayed in a video game.
Posted by Hezus on Feb 5th, 2011
An Open Window: Project Launch Day +6
Today I'd like to show you some actual in-game work and talk about the concept of memory and how it can be displayed in a video game. While this might be the smallest map I've ever made, it certainly is the most challenging one.
Some things in life are easy. To go grocery shopping has never been a problem for most people. The reason for this is social convention. You know what to expect from a visit to the supermarket and the people inside know what to expect from you. While these conventions make the world a bit easier to deal with, it also makes it somewhat dull.
I actually designed the memory concept within 5 minutes. It wasn't untill later that I realised I fell into the convention trap. To display memory in the game, I simply used a black and white overlay. Memories deal with the past and the past is generally displayed as old black and white. Easy, but also very dull.
Memories are something unique for each individual. To make sure people recognise the memory once it appears in-game, I had to find common features which apply to nearly everyone. Memories are mostly fast, they come and go in a flash. Memories also very subjective, because you only remember the important parts. If it was not significant you might not remember the colour of the building in the background or what was happening in the other corner of the room. The important parts remain and the rest is filled up with nothingness or things that were not actually there. With that in mind, I started over.
As you can see from the images above I experimented with the features of a memory. The most noticable is the return of colour, but also the extra effects. In this case, the character does not recall what the far corner looked like so the world disintegrates into nothingness. The white lighting and the slight blur effect were put in place to set this scene apart from the actual reality.
In the following video you can see the full effect. Also note the example of object-oriented gameplay. The memory is triggered by the photograph. As the video demonstrates, just walking by it is not enough to trigger the memory. The player will actually have to show interest in the object and stare at it for a few seconds. This is also an important feature of the game, but I will surely dedicate an article to that later on.
So much for todays update. I hope you enjoyed a peek into the development of AnOpWi. I'd like to thank all posters for their comments and close this update with the Question of the Day.
Question of the Day:
What do your memories look like? Do you remember every detail or just the event itself? Does anyone actually have memories in black and white?