The Adventure Game and Interactive Novel

The Adventure Game and Interactive Novel

  • Category Archives Adventure Game
  • Eymerich’s graphics (part 2)


    Since the beginning, the artistic direction of Nicolas Eymerich, Inquisitor: The Plague, supervised by Manuel Labbate, has been projected towards a graphic outcome that wasn’t limited to a simple representation of realistic environments, but that also created an harmonic image.


    Manuel Labbate - Art director, visualizer & 2D graphic designer


    Like it has already been stated in a previous post, the main graphic innovation in Nicolas Eymerich, Inquisitor: The Plague it’s the 2.75D graphics, a technique that made possible for the developers to give the game a pictorial and illustrative look, applied to 3D environments.


    Traditional real time 3D graphics would have allowed a better environment exploration, though sacrificing the pictoriality of the final image, while the classical 2.5D would have led us to obtain ad interesting look, though flattened.


    Our 2.75D graphics allows instead to treat the environments like they were real artistic illustrations, dynamic paintings that become animated thanks to perspective movements.


    While creating and visualizing the environments, the organization of the game elements in the game space or the choice for a specific perspective thus become a process that definitely is more artistic that functional; even the image finalization starts from the rendering of 3D models of environments and backgrounds, that are subsequently enhanced by a pictorial coating.


    However, in order to give the game some variety, some very large environments required real time 3D graphics. They are complex and vast areas that yield better with wide camera movements, thanks to which it is possible to follow the protagonist during the exploration. Stylistically speaking these areas were created with the same artistic philosophy at the base of the 2.75D environments, given that our main challenge was to avoid a visual mismatch between 2.75D and real time 3D environments.


    The problem was solved by generating directly through textures the lighting effect. The textures have been in turn coated in order to enhance and detail them, but also to make their visual style look like the one chosen for the 2.75D environments.


    Other than thanks to the textures, the artistic feel surfaces during the game events that take place in the real time 3D environments, which retain a high spectacularity thanks to their pictorial elements. This way no stylistic shift is noticed by switching from 2.75D to real time 3D environments, giving the player to freedom to explore that some parts of the game require without giving away the artistic style that is peculiar to the final look of Nicolas Eymerich, Inquisitor: The Plague.


  • Unity, editors and text parser


    Technology evolves quickly. It develops like it was an everlasting teenager, getting higher, bigger, and stronger day by day. And, sometimes, it evolves so quickly it forces software developers to start again from scratch the developing process.


    The programming of Nicolas Eymerich, Inquisitor: The Plague, lead by Fabrizio Zagaglia, was a long process.


    Fabrizio "Zago" Zagaglia - Lead Programmer


    The developers had, out of necessity, to deal with the proliferation of smartphones and tablets. In the beginning, a prototype of the game was developed using Wintermute, but it was put aside exactly because it was not compatible with the growing request for mobile devices support.


    Scumbag iPhone


    Then we switched to Unity3D that, aside from being crossplatform (PC, Mac, iOS, Android, now Linux too, and someone says it works even on displays of washing machines), granted the introduction of real time 3D, which we used for some of the game environments.


    Unity is an outstanding tool that is gaining a lot of users, and so the community and the information are growing, new features are being implemented… which translates in solutions for every possible bug.


    Aside from the aforementioned possibility to develop the game for different platforms, Unity has the merit of having good visual tools (for example the scene editor, the animation editor etc.), that make the level editing process easier, and the possibility of using a stable and versatile language such as C# with little to no limitations. But probably one of the most appreciated features resides in the possibility of creating ad hoc editors for taking care of specific matters concerning the developing of a specific video game typology, editors that are already integrated in the Unity3D environment. For Nicolas Eymerich, Inquisitor: The Plague we developed several editors: one for characters and face expressions animations, one for the dialogues, one for the localization database, one for the game logic…


    Character Editor

    Logic Debugger

    Game Logic Editor


    Unity made it possible to create a text parser, that adds a vintage touch to the game. Mainly it’s a homage to MUDs and Sierra On-line-style adventures of the old times; but it is also an additional tool to support the accessible version of the game, given that a text parser is necessary to a potential voice recognition.


    Every single element of the game, from environments to items to characters, is operated in the same way, and it’s identified among the other things by an univocal element (a name) and by a series of action linked to it depending on its current status. For every featured language synonyms of the names are stored in the localization database. This way, the parser can associate the various synonyms to the elements composing the shown scene, recognizing in the typed sentence the verb and the direct object and executing the requested command.


    The following video shows how the text parser works.



  • Eymerich’s graphics


    Eymerich had a long development during which it evolved from a classical 2D adventure game to something able to grant to players a better experience.


    In order to use what our artists already produced and keep in budget we decided to go for 2.75D graphics. Starting from 2D images and simple 3D volumes we were able to obtain a visually prospectively correct third dimension.


    Being non full 3D this approach has some limitations, such as projecting shadows or perspective deformations in some extreme situations, all avoided during development. On the other hand it gave us a way to achieve visually 3D scenes in which close shots, a correct illumination system with realtime lights and shadows, particles systems and all we needed to make scenes alive and suggestive can take place.


    The 2.75D solution also has the great advantage of being computationally fast and good for running on many different devices. It is possible to add advanced features as glows, light shafts and other post processing effects with small effort, making the game visually more rewarding on high profile machines as PC and Mac.


    The level design, by Ulisse Cammino, required different steps and the development of appropriate tool to switch from 2D images and simple 3D models to the actual in-game environment.


    Ulisse Cammino - Level editor & Programmer


    First the scenes, made of an illustration (Img01) and 3D models used as reference points for the framing (Img02), are imported into Unity3d, exactly reflecting the camera shot of the illustration.





    Using an in house developed software a retropology process is then made on these informations to create a single highly optimized model of the scene from many pieces and to which detailed 3D objects are added where needed (Img03) (for example chairs or a desk). This is a fundamental step during which the illustrated environment is transformed in a true 3D volume on which we can further work on to make it playable.




    All those elements able to make the scene alive, just as lights, environment sounds, particle systems for fire and smoke (Img05) and other effects, are then added to the current processing (Img04), eventually writing additional codes for particular effects as light flickering, trying to keep them reusable in other situations. The environment is then almost ready to be played in the game.





    The last step, the most important for the game experience, requires to add to the scene the actors, being them characters or active objects, animating and making them interactive using scripts that define possible interactions, depending on the situation (Img06).



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