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[DevLog] Myha - Making a Myst-like

A topic by The Icehouse created Jan 09, 2016 Views: 1,475 Replies: 35
Viewing posts 1 to 26
(Edited 6 times) (+2)

Hi! I'm Simon, I am working on a small Myst-like game for this Jam. I am developing the game on my own, but I am strongly supported by other people who are part of the team. I will try to share our progress from time to time here, and hopefully we should be able to submit a game before the deadline.

Project Myha

The CSE (NASA equivalent) of planet Terra received a distress signal from their moon. A Tongolian cosmonaut is sent to space to investigate. When he arrives at destination, there is no distress beacon, there is noone around, except for a mysterious Black Cube. He takes it and... he is suddenly teleported to a small island on Myha, a faraway world from Terra.

Myha is part of the Black Cube series. It includes my other games ASA and Catyph, which are Sci-Fi adventure games reminiscent of Myst and Rhem. You can learn more on www.theblackcube.fr


Our team

Simon: graphic designer, developer
Bob: english localization, puzzle ideas, AM engine support
Deki: voice record, music, AM engine support
Rashko: voice actor

Tools

I create the pre-rendered graphics with 3dsmax and After Effects. I build the game with the AM engine (Adventure Maker). It's quite an old-school engine (Visual Basic scripts), which will result in a very strong Myst-like feeling: slideshow game, low resolution... I totally assume this choice to create a retro design and I hope you will like the result if you're a Myst fan.

I also think that Adventure Maker is perfect when you need to work quickly on a pre-rendered adventure game, and we'll see if it helps me during this jam.

Opening movie

I started the development with the creation of a very short film, that will be used as the opening movie of the game. The short film helped me to create the world of Myha, prepare the character, the story, etc. A few screenshots:


I will try to share our progress on a daily basis. I hope you liked this presentation and that you are curious about the game. Good luck everyone!

(Edited 1 time) (+2)

Plans

We learned about this Jam in the beginning of December. According to the rules, it was possible to begin the development immediately, so I started talking of the game to the rest of my team. With Bob and Deki, we tried to find ideas for the scenario, puzzles, game design... It took us a few days. Then I created the opening movie in a weekend.

The development of Myha was then paused during our Christmas break (21st December 2015 to 04th January 2016) and didn't make any progress.

I started working on the graphics of the main island on the 6th of January, and I created all the puzzles that we decided earlier. Today on the 9th of January, the main island is more or less finished and I am ready to start the renderings (pc calculation). Hopefully it should be finished tomorrow, which would allow me to improve the raw 3D pictures and videos in After Effects.

I plan to work on the development with the AM engine on the 11th, which might allow me to release a private demo for the rest of the team to discuss of possible improvements and ideas. The rest of the time will be dedicated to the development of the puzzles and the consistency of the game. Then we will include the diary (texts and voices) and add music, make some tests, and we could be ready to release for the 17th before the end of submissions...

Progress

- Opening movie: complete
- Ending movie: 0% (not sure there will be an ending movie...)
- Graphics: 90%
- Story, Diary: complete
- Puzzles ideas: complete
- Programming: 5%
- Music & FX: 20%
- Voice: complete

Very interesting game, thanks for share the progress!

This JAM is very exciting, I can't wait to see the others entries...

Good luck to all!

(+1)

Thank you Luminy! Do you plan to create a short devlog too for your game Iborea? It has so beautiful graphics, I'm amazed.

It's a great idea, but I'm very busy with this side-project and our main project Bloodwood Reload (we're developing a patch to fix some bugs), anyway I'll try to share my progress.

On the other hand, you're doing a great work, the images look amazing.

(+1)

Nice images. Let me know if there is anything else i can help with.

(Edited 1 time) (+2)

Many thanks, Luminy and reneuend! (reneuend = Bob from the Myha team! :)

I would like to explain how we designed the island of our project. It had to be a very fast work (because of the limited time we have for the Jam), so we had an idea: we could just get inspired by the original island of Myst. It would be a very fun tribute for all Myst fans. Of course our island would be totally different in the end, with a completely different way to visit it, different paths and a different look. But the basic idea was to use the same topography.

People who know Myst are familiar with the island, that we can see on the cover. It has always been the main artwork of the game:

The design of the island is very important in Myst, and it's part of the success of the game. It's mysterious because of the fog everywhere, because of the strange buildings and machineries, because of that lonely mountain peak, the rocket and the forest. Everything is isolated, surrounded by water, and there seems to be no possible escape. That's what I liked in Myst, and what we wanted to do in Myha. Here's the first model of our island:


As you can see, it's slightly different, but we kept a few things from Myst: the mountain, the rocket, the water all around (of course, it's an island). I thought it was fun if the rocket had crashed on the island, and if it was possible to visit it in the game, just like in Myst!

For the moment, all you can see in our island is a rocky ground everywhere, but there will be more details in the end: buildings, vegetation, different paths, etc. This is only the basis of work. And even with such a poor island, we could prepare the game design: we started to place several important things in the game. I created a top view of the island that I shared with Bob and Deki, and we thought of the best way to place the starting point and the end of the game, some doors and buildings, the paths that are available at the beginning, and those that are blocked, and also where we could put the diary (scenario parts).

We used the top view as follows:

This map has been very helpful for me to model everything in 3dsmax. I created the doors, the cave in the mountain, the inside of the rocket, the marina, etc. And moreover, it helped me place the different paths and stairs depending on the topography. In the end, some of our initial choices (above) will be changed, but I couldn't have created the final island without this plan.

We hope you like how we proceeded! Tomorrow I will show you some of our 3d models, or maybe just screenshots of the final island. I don't know yet, so let's see tomorrow :)



Wow! It's amazing, you are doing a great work.

(+1)

Luminy, thank you so much. It would be so great to read a devlog from you too. You don't have to write a lot, just share some WIP in Unity for example. The graphics of your game Iborea are so amazing!

(+2)

Today I will just share a few 3d models that I worked on for Myha. They were either used for puzzles or to fill the island. It might not be obvious, but modeling objects is time consuming and I had to make these models simple in order to go as fast as possible. Anyway it should help to fit the retro feeling that I want to give to the game, so I think it's good?

First I worked on the cosmonaut. That was one of the first things I did in early December. I needed the model to work on the short opening film and begin the project. I didn't really have the time to create an all new character, so I used the model that I had created for my game ASA, and I just updated a few things. I changed the helped, colors, etc. I tried to choose colors that remind soviet cosmonauts, but I wanted to do something different because this cosmonaut comes from a fantasy world (planet Terra), region Tongolia. In the mythology of the Black Cube series, Tongolia is an equivalent of Asia, and the hero of Myha comes from a part of this world that could more or less remember Russia (which explains some of the designs of the game). Also, Myha takes place in 2012, which is far in the past compared to ASA (2057), so this spacesuit couldn't look too advanced on a technological point of view.

Then I had to create some models for the island and puzzles, as explained above. In order to create them, I had to have in mind the final ideas for the game. So now you see why ot was so important to prepare a map of the island before, in order to know what I need to do, where to place the puzzles, and what they are supposed to do. For example I needed several large gates that are originally closed, and they need passwords to be opened. So the gates have a keyboard device in order to input the password.

I think it is better if I don't tell too much about these 3D models, because it could spoil the game, so please have a look at them:

Tomorrow I wil try to show the final design of the island. I think that now it is ready to be rendered to pictures, with textures and lighting. We'll see how the renderings work today!

Awesome! I am following and let me know for help.

Can't wait to see more of it.

Hi, Simon! Every image looks great! :)

In recent years you have shown yourself to be very creative and talented both at drawing and at videogames! And what counts more is your generosity and spirit of collaboration!

You're doing a great job as usual....I can't wait to see MYHA! :)

Silvia

(+1)

Many thanks to you Rainbow and Similia! I'm glad to find you here. I'm going to follow your works, Anamedia is beautiful and deserves some attention!!

As suggested yesterday, I could finish a big part of the renders and I have a few pictures to work with. So here's the "final" design of the island of Myha. I have to admit that it's not very detailed, but as explained previously, I wanted to:
1 - make it in time for the Jam
2 - keep an old-school touch just like in Myst

There are already several places tovisit on this island and some curious buildings. You'll see more when playing the game :)

I have also started working in Adventure Maker (the game engine), and I imported the first frames, created the main menu and prepared the diary. Working with AM is fast and efficient when you are familiar with this soft, and it is the exact reason why I chose it. I also know that I can rely on Bon and Deki from my team if I have troubles with the engine, or if I need help with the scripts (Visual Basic).

This is what the Adventure Maker interface looks like:

Tomorrow I should have all the resources I need to work in AM. It will keep me busy for the next days and I still hope I can make it in time.

Wonderful job! I'm waiting to play it! :D

Simona

Awesome! I don't have comments.

Btw, Deki here... :D

(Edited 1 time) (+2)

It has been quite a busy day but I managed to create a playable demo of Myha. It will help to discuss the project with Bob and Deki from my team.

Yesterday I showed the final island and I could prepare the first renders. How does it work? Myha is mainly a game in omni 3d. It means that the pre-rendered backgrounds are played in a cylindrical panorama in the Adventure Maker engine. It allows to look around at 360° in the static pictures, just like in Myst IV. In order to create the panoramic views, I had to render the pictures with a special distortion and a wide resolution (the picture is wrapped on a cylinder in AM, so it has to be wide enough). In the case of Myha, it is 4000x800. Here's the raw 3D render of the very first view of the game:

In this single view, we can see everything around the hero at 360°. The very left and right of the picture is behind. The middle is the front. Between is the sides. It is often disturbing to look at a flatten cylindrical image and try to find the good orientation, but I find it funny, as if we had eyes behind the head or could just look everywhere with the eyes of an insect!

Then I wanted to work the colors and ambiance of this world, in order to fit with the foggy that we could see in Myst. In order to add fog, I used a Z-depth pass:

The Z-depth is a very simple pass which can be very useful. It is made of black and white only. Everything that is near the camera is white, and everything that is far is black. In between it creates a gradient of greys depending on the distance.

With this pass, I could add the fog (I inverted the colors and changed the contrast of the Z), and then I updated the colors a little and obtained this final picture:

It is exactly the picture that I will be using in the game in the first 360° view. What result does it give in the game? This picture is in 4000x800 but the game runs in 1024x432 (which is close to the maximum resolution of Adventure Maker). We can only see a small part of this picture in the game when we rotate the head to look around. The following picture is a screenshot when we look on our right, and shows the result of the graphics in Myha:

In this picture we can continue to turn the head 360°, or move to the next picture to discover the island.

The final images looks great and fog adds a mysterious touch...

Lot of work here! :D Great images!

Thanks Luminy and Similia :) I'm glad you like.

I've been working hard on this game for the Myst Jam, and it's already a week since I started. There are only 3 days left and still a lot of work! That's tough, but I like it.

In my previous post I have shown how the graphics were prepared for the 360° views. Earlier, I have shown the interface of Adventure Maker. Now let's go a little further: how do I script the game? Don't worry I'll choose a very simple example. It's just to write a few lines of VBscript (Visual Basic), and show how easy it is in Adventure Maker.

First, let's imagine that we are in the first view of the game (from above). We turn the head around, and find a kind of notebook (a small computer device). The first time that we see it, it is closed, like this:

Let's call it (above) Frame1_closed.

Of course we can click on it, and it opens. We will call this other one (below) Frame2_opened:

Then we go back to the first view of the game (the panoramic 360), and when we come back and click again on the notebook, we want it to be already opened (Frame2), because we leaved it opened in our last visit. This is only possible if we define a variable. So in Adventure Maker I create a variable named Notebook_opened.

This variable can have 2 states, 0 or 1. If the variable Notebook_opened is set to 0, then the notebook will show closed (the game displays Frame1_closed). On the contrary, if the variable is set to 1, then the notebook will show opened (the game displays Frame2_opened). It is very easy, there are only 2 possible states. 0/1 for closed/opened.

How does it translate in Visual Basic? First let's write this script again with our own words:

1 - Go to the frame where the notebook is closed (Frame1_closed)
2 - If the notebook is closed, then open the notebook (change the variable Notebook_opened from 0 to 1), or the contrary
3 - Go back to the 360 panorama.

When we have these steps defined and know exactly what we want to do, it's easy: we only need to translate our words in Visual Basic language. Even if you don't know Visual Basic, Adventure Maker comes with a good documentation that allows to find easily the good code. This is the result:

1 _ Action.GoToFrame "Frame1_closed"
2 _ If Notebook_opened = 0 Then
_ Notebook_opened = 1
_ Else
_ Notebook_opened = 0
_ End If
3 _ Action.GoToFrame "360_Panorama"

And that's all. You can notice that at step 2 I have switched the value: if it was at 0 then it becomes 1, and if it was at 1 it becomes 0. As a result, we can open/close the notebook as much as we want in the game, and it is saved in memory.

There are a very lot of possibilities. You can look at the full list of language options in Adventure Maker here. For example :

Action.CreateTimedEvent 5, "Action.Message ""Amazing!""" 

will wait 5 seconds before it displays the text "Amazing". It's just a matter of syntax!

(+1)

Phew! Finally I have finished the development of MYHA in time for the Jam! There are still a few things to check and prepare, but the game works from A to Z. Thanks a lot to Bob and Deki from my team for their encouragements until the end. I will publish Myha tomorrow and will add it to the entries of the Jam.

MYHA

- My work on the game began in December 2015: I created the opening movie during a weekend. The development really started the 6th of January and took around 10 days in totality.

- Myha development team: 1 person + external contributors (Bob and Deki: puzzles, scripting and ideas)

- The budget was nil of course. The game was created for the game jam with a lot of fun!

- The 3D software used was 3dsmax, the raw 3D renders were improved with After Effects

- The programmation/engine was Adventure Maker

- The whole game was created with the technique of Box Modeling and all models were created on purpose for the game - except the spacesuit of the hero (it is an update from the hero of ASA).

- Most textures came from CGtextures.com, the rest came from my personal library

- The game resolution is 1024x432

- In total Myha has around 5 minutes of video (3d animation FMV)

- And around 150 3d-rendered images, including 360° cylindrical views

- Working on the graphics alone, and in a limited time, has been the main limitation in production

- Music: 8 free royalty free tracks + 1 track from team member Deki and his metal group (total 28 minutes)


- Myha will be published tomorrow (probably?), so January 16th 2016



CONGRATS!

Truly is a great effort make it all alone, but the result it's impressive, I love it!

Good luck!

Good luck, Simon!

Also the falling astronaut pays perfect tribute at Myst .... nice cover! :)

Thank you for your kind words ^^

Now I have good news: the game is published! You can download it from the Myst Jam page or the Black Cube site. Hope you still like it after playing :)

Will you submit a game Similia?

Downloaded just now! :D

No Simon! We would have liked to do it but we are too busy with Anamedia! Next time, maybe... ;)

Have a nice weekend!

Yeah, have a nice weekend too!

Did you by chance have the time to try Myha? What do you think?

Yes, I tryed Myha and I find it very nice! You surely must have worked hard to achieve these results!

Yesterday I've played it, I've opened two gates and I was having fun.

I've only had some problems exiting the diaries ( the well-known "automation error"), so I decided to download the patch and see the improvement and ...well.... now it doesn't work at all. :(

After the prologue, at the very beginning, I have NO CURSOR so I'm completely stuck and I can only exit the game using CTRL+ALT+ CANC.

Sorry, Simon! Can you tell me what's the problem?

Bye

I'm afraid I can't help you: 2 other people have this issue and nothing looks wrong in the game files. It is working very well on my 2 computers and I have checked everything in Adventure Maker. I hate this automation error, there already were issues with ASA. Maybe the latest version of Myha has a bug or something, and that I am the only one who can run it. If someone else has the issue, please tell me.

I think it could be due to the existence of older savegames (from version 1.0). If you have the time and motivation to restart everything in version 1.2, you can delete the old savegames in your Documents\savegames.

Make sure that you make a clean uninstall of 1.0, then install Myha 1.2 with right click, run as administrator. I'm very sorry that it doesn't work anymore and I hope that you can fix it because I have no more ideas.

Surely I'll retry, Simon .... I'm just downloading the update 1.2! ;)

I'll be in touch!

(Edited 1 time)

Nope! Nada! Rien!

I have deleted the old savegames, cleaned everything everywhere, run the game as admin but nothing has changed. It gives me the same hateful "automation error" ... I' m so sorry! :(

Tell me how can I help you ...

I don't know... Have you ever had such an issue with your AM projects?

I'm currently having big troubles with my work PC (after installing Windows 10) and I can't check the game files for a while. If really the game returns this error to everyone, then I will try to send the work files to someone who owns AM and who could try to build the game, just in case it would change anything.

First let's see what I can do after my PC works again!

(Edited 2 times)

So, finally. I'm back with a clean PC after formating and installing a new Windows. I have not yet installed any program at all (except drivers) and first thing I did was installing Myha 1.2 + Xvid. Then I played the game and everything was working perfectly :) Looks like the issue doesn't come from the game: I don't even have Adventure Maker installed on the current config.

I'll take some time soon to think of what could cause the problem on your computer (and others) but the answer is not to seek in the game. That's a good starting point!

Yes, undoubtedly it is ... I'll wait for other news!

Finger crossed, Simon! ;)

(Edited 1 time)

I have made a version 1.3 after the following changes:

- New installation of Windows on my PC
- New installation of Adventure Maker
- Recompression of the pictures and sounds
- Manually included Adventure Maker system files
- Reinstalled Panorama plugin
- New build as admin

As usual, make a clean uninstall of the previous version, delete savegames (or backup them to try if they work later), and install 1.3 with administrator rights.

I hope it works... It is working perfectly on my PC.

YESSSS!!! Now it's perfectly working on my pc too !!

- I have uninstalled the previous version and deleted the savegames

- I have installed the game without XVid ( I have K-Lite codec)!

- run the game as usual ( NO admin rights)

Now I can finally dive into the game again! It is worth the waiting!:D :D

Great job, Simon!

I guess it would have been even better with italian translation :) But I'm glad it finally works!

Too bad that Adventure Maker hasn't a multi-language option, but I can help you to translate it when you want ;)

Have a nice day!