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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.

Report article RSS Feed An Open Window: PLD +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.

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.

 
Two ways to display memory. Left the orignal concept, right the improved concept.

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?

Post comment Comments
Metalspy
Metalspy Feb 5 2011, 9:08pm says:

Answer of the Day (more like night..): No, my memories are not black and white. My memories are generally just a set of images but when when I close my eyes it's as if I'm actually there, in that moment. I can feel the temperature of that place, I remember the scents and the way I felt back then (emotion-wise) and it's.. well, like I said: as if I'm actually there again. I even remember the unimportant details you mentioned most of the time. (I don't know if it's related in any way but I'm also a lucid dreamer :P)

Anyway, I think this mod is going to be very interesting and it's good to read your updates. Good luck and keep it up! :)

+4 votes     reply to comment
Nickel_Dare
Nickel_Dare Feb 5 2011, 9:22pm says:

Its totaly differant for me ... My memories are ofc not in black and white. But i dont feel like im actualy there .. dont know why but it is like that , its more like im just looking through the eyes of someone else .. i dont know what i was feeling then and i dont remember any scents ...

But i strangly can remember evry single Detail..

+3 votes     reply to comment
Tharapita
Tharapita Feb 6 2011, 6:07am says:

I will go with what Metalspy said. Lucid dreamer on occasion and I have a great memory. Black and white just wont cut it.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Sph!nx
Sph!nx Feb 6 2011, 6:29am says:

Nope, no B&W please. It's a quick and cheap way to go. The second image, where you really let things fade into nothingness is very awasome.

The white of that makes it serene and clean. This way, you can also focus the player better to a certain object or direction.

+2 votes     reply to comment
TheSniperFan
TheSniperFan Feb 6 2011, 1:23pm says:

Getting better, but the sound sucks. You should have it just in the beginning and ending of such a flashback.
Try that out please:
Besides what I menitoned before, have the pitch of everythink lower while the flashback. I think that should be a nice effect.
Just an idea, you don't have to spare your time for it, but you really should change the sound.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Metalspy
Metalspy Feb 6 2011, 1:45pm replied:

Isn't the lower pitch thingie a bit cliché? :P

+1 vote     reply to comment
Hezus
Hezus Feb 6 2011, 2:49pm replied:

The sound isn't quite the same in-game as in the video. Seems that happend while recording with Fraps. Still, I was already planning to change it at some point to something that resembles your idea. Thanks for the input, though :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
xXMaNiAcXx
xXMaNiAcXx Feb 6 2011, 7:21pm says:

It's really hard for me to remember memories. When I do, it's like I was back in time at that moment, I was there looking at everything as I had already seem those things, but the strange thing is that the voices, laughs, or even cries I heard in that moment are like fading sounds that goes higher and higher until the next come.

I feel that this mod will be quite touchy. I'm probably gonna cry when playing this ._.

PS: Don't make anything Black and White, only if you are gonna put some mafia memories lol

+1 vote     reply to comment
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Hezus
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