Post news RSS In Toonstruction Chapter 5 - The Crazy evolution of a Crazy Hotel

This is going to be the last chapter of the “In Toonstruction” series, in which we wanted to show you, with a series of short articles and videos, how our creative process is going nowadays with “Fleish & Cherry in Crazy Hotel”.

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Introduction

We’ve said a lot of times in these articles how we’ve faced our rookie mistakes while developing our game. So, to put an end to this small journey, we are going to show you the different shifts the game have endured to reach the latest stage, in which we are currently immersed, and how we have survived, grown up as developers and become stronger. The development of our first game hasn’t been easy, but isn’t that the point? Learning while always moving forward. The game we are making deserves the commitment we have, that’s the game developer’s way.

From 2012 to the beginning of 2014

When we started developing Fleish & Cherry in Crazy Hotel, we were almost unaware of the size of our project. We started developing the first prototypes in XNA, in which Cherry was able to walk and interact with objects, and the walls weren’t hidden until Cherry entered the room. Over time, we decided to migrate the project to Unity because of all the advantages that the engine offers.

The first demo we made transmitted the feeling of a poor design without coherence: The game didn’t surprise, didn’t bring anything new; the only remarkable things were the art and the humor of the script. Also, given the ratio between the tiles, objects and characters sizes were not well designed, the demo was full of invisible objects that made frustrating just walking around in the game, because when an object that occupied half of a tile, the other half was also flagged as occupied and you couldn’t walk through a seemingly empty space. Another problem was the isometric view itself. The players really had a hard time moving around and interacting with objects and characters in the demo, something that needed to be improved urgently. Despite lacking a great planning, being forced to develop the demo in a record time of a week, was the perfect exercise for us to start understanding the game needs and the difficulties of designing a game… and really sweat in the process.

During that time we learned a lot; we could say that “Crazy Hotel” has been our somewhat treacherous video game college. So, there was a moment when we saw that fixing the bad design of the game was a harder task than starting from scratch, as for each problem we solved, three new problems arise.

From March 2014 until present, October 2016

We decided to restart the development of the game, starting almost from scratch in many all the fields, like script, art, game and level design, etc. For almost 3 years we have been working very hard on this new design. We have gone to some events to show the “new” Crazy Hotel, also we have made a lot of playtesting to continue learning and polishing the game.

The changes made in this “new” Crazy Hotel, have been:

  • We reconsidered the core mechanics of the game so the most basic graphic adventure actions flow better. We’ve also improved the inventory and how Cherry interacts with the items she picks.
  • The story/script of the game was rewritten; this time we decide to narrate only the essential things to tell Cherry’s story leaving aside all that didn’t contribute somewhat to the story, no matter how funny or epic the scene was. In this process we discovered that by eliminating, we increased the value of what we wanted to tell. Thanks to this, the rhythm of the story is much better.
  • The number of characters and scenarios has been limited to the requirements of the game. Before that, the hotel was riddled with characters and situations that contributed nothing to the evolution and needs of Cherry’s adventure.
  • There were redesigns of characters due to the requirements of the new script. The most important case was our villain Mr. Mintz, who has been renamed Mr. Mallow. This is an example of how a character was born before knowing his goal in the game and not the other way around. It didn’t matter how much we had already established the old look of Mr. Mintz, the script demanded for this subtle change.

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  • The artistic style that drew so much attention in our crowdfunding, also suffered a change. We realized that the art of the demo was not so faithful to the era; it had too many straight lines and the objects did not seem to look like the organic silhouettes of the cartoons. So we adapted the “basic laws” of the classic black and white animation from the 1930s to our game. In these old shorts, they all had in common that the scenes, characters and objects that stay static in the background, were painted with watercolors and had barely a line, with shading and gradient, etc. However, something very different happens when we see any character or object has to move, in this case every element on the scene that has animation is drawn above the stage in a cel and with a different style, using line and filled with plane colors (when we talk about colors, we mean black, white and the gray scale inbetween). These two principles are the core of our game, not only our game’s art but also the main mechanics, making any element of the stage that stay static drawn with shadows and gradients, and every animated or interactive object and character will have its line and flat colors, creating this way a visual language very comfortable that the player knows which things are interactuable and which are not.

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  • About the environmental puzzles that we find in the game, we made a deeper study to contextualize the puzzle elements with the script. Now the environmental puzzles are in harmony with the graphic adventure puzzles so it doesn’t feel like you are playing two different games.
  • The relationship between the size of the tiles, the size of the objects and Cherry was reviewed, due to the clumsy navigation in the game.

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  • The objects that Cherry uses in the environmental puzzles has been redesigned to make them more useful. Before, we had six objects with six mechanics, now the mechanics have been summarized in two, so two objects do the same as five. We lost one mechanic along the way that it was removed because it did not contribute anything to the game.

What now? From October 2016 until the future

Nowadays, we are in a process of only production, no longer creating anything from scratch, just working to finish everything what we planned. The script of the story and the characters are written, the puzzles are designed, we have drawn more than ¾ of Crazy Hotel scenarios and in programming, the only work is to implement all new features passed to clean or changed by testing.

From Red Little House Studios we confirm that in 2017 Fleish & Cherry in Crazy Hotel will be finished. However, we will have to find a way to translate the script of the game into English and find a way to finance it.

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