A bulk of today’s adventure games have embraced a 3D look with fully-rendered models and expansive locales. However, there is still an affinity for the top-down dungeon crawlers of yesteryear.
Sean “Seagaia” Hogan, alongside artist Jon Kittaka, has created Anodyne for fans of the latter, emphasizing dungeon exploration along the lines of the handheld Legend of Zelda titles.
“Anodyne was inspired by some ideas and thoughts I wanted to express,” said Hogan, “and, additionally, the dreamy aesthetic of Yume Nikki — wandering around areas in your mind. Maybe those areas are memories or representations of mindsets. The game was all very abstract for a bit, and Jon has really helped in nailing down a story to help convey those themes so that players aren’t totally confused throughout the game. The Zelda parts were from a sort of prototype I was working on, and the two (Yume Nikki and Zelda) sort of just fit.”
Hogan originally started thinking about Anodyne’s aesthetics back in mid-March. He’d look into creating dynamic dungeon chambers, as well as the types of enemies and other creatures they would contain. Because of his self-confessed lack of artistic talent, Hogan decided to use sprites over rendered character models.
As noted, Anodyne’s dungeons are influenced by previous generations of handheld Legend of Zelda titles, in the sense that players search for keys and clear out enemies to open new chambers. Hogan notes that half the dungeons will be small to mid-sized dungeons, while the other half will be much larger in scope. He compares the larger dungeons to the massive Turtle Rock from Link’s Awakening, but notes that Anodyne’s dungeons are far from a linear romp.
“The dungeons are heavily themed, visually,” Hogan added. “I try to design the enemies to the visuals and story associated with the dungeon. So in some places you get more alien-like enemies; in others, you get animals. We introduce a few new enemies in each dungeon, though there are mix-ins of dungeon enemies at times. Thanks to Jon, the bosses are very nice looking and also play into the themes of the story. They tend to be somewhat abstract entities, invented to fit into that one dungeon’s themes.”
Hogan describes Anodyne’s overall theme as moody, noting that the feelings and ideas conveyed by different areas vary strongly. The game’s atmosphere is inspired heavily by Yume Nikki, the 2005 indie title (from Japanese developer Kikiyama) that put players inside a dream world. “Yume Nikki inspired Anodyne from its general dreaminess, but mostly for an example of one way to have very strong aesthetics,” Hogan said. “We try to design the areas around a few ideas, represented visually, musically, and to some extent, through the specific mechanics of the dungeons or areas.”
Hogan has released a demo for Anodyne, comprised of the game’s first few areas. It’s meant to give players a taste of the gameplay aesthetics, but there’s definitely more story content that’s coming in the full game. “It’s intentionally cliché at times in the demo, but that’s for various reasons,” explained Hogan. “One reason being that you can’t just hammer the player with the themes you want to convey. It needs to be a careful build-up, we feel.” Hogan also adds that the world will branch out more, in terms of player choice, in the final version.
Anodyne is targeted for a late fall 2012 release for PC, Mac, and Linux. Hogan has also not ruled out a future release on iOS and Android.
- « PD Design Studio’s KJ Poh on Dusty’s Revenge
- » Polypusher Studios’ Matthew Clifton on Montague’s Mount and the Oculus Rift
blog comments powered by Disqus