As game devs, we can all agree that mechanics are a fulcral part of every game. Such that in a brief manner, mechanic-wise, Oizys can be deconstructed as “Solve puzzles and collect memories by pushing, pulling, throwing and interacting with key objects”. But Oizys is more than that, right? Mechanics aren't even what we first pitch people about: we want them to focus on the story we want to tell.
While mechanincs might be enough in an dexterity focused game, by themselves, they aren't enough when you want to have a focus on narrative and on an story. And that left us with a challenge that - if you have been following us for long enought - you've heard us going on and on about how we weren't sure of the best way to tackle it.
How can we tie the challenge, the mechanics, the rational part of Oizys - to our story, our characters, the emotional part of this videogame?
Well, we've finally settled on something. While you need to use the different mechanics in order to solve the puzzles and progress through the map, the intermediate victory conditions are given by being able to collect the fundamental objects for the narrative. In turn, these allow you to further progress in the map (per example, being able to get a special memento key, that opens a closed door leading to another room).
But what about the puzzles?
Our mechanics are simple. Push & Pull Objects. Raise & Lower Platforms. Throw or Interact with Objects. So how could we turn them into something interesting and challenging? While keeping the focus on narrative? We found the key (pun somewhat intended) in layering and... Escape Rooms.
Escape Rooms can be challenging... But if they are so is because they require you to explore, to connect concepts and constantly flip between logical challenges, story based ones, and other that require experimentation and dexterity. That was exactly what we wanted for Oizys. So we thought about hiding a key in an stuffed animal of a rabbit in a tuxedo. Why? Because our main character's favorite book was Alice in the Wonderland. How would you know? Perhaps pay attention to the photographs where Alex and the rabbit seem to be inseparable. Or see how that book seems to be completely worn off in comparison to the others. Or... you know... brute force through the challenge and violently shake all the plushies. We all know that person...
But we had a deadline (same reason we weren't crazy enought to go and model rabbit plushies, sorry to all Alice fans who were getting their hopes up...) and couldn't get really expansive on the verbs although mechanics like "Interact" are really asking for it: Open, Turn on, Speak, Shake, Examine... The options would have been endless. But we couldn't do it and so we had to find another way. And that's when layering comes in!
As the player progresses through the map, challenges get progressively harder as they require more mechanics to be employed and more steps to solve a challenge. Perhaps in the first puzzle all you had to do was move a box. Soon enought you'll be having to move boxes, throw objects, raise platforms, come back down and interact just to progress a tad little bit more.
But here are some images and a video about what we mean!
In order to collect the collectible above the arc, the player needs to first move the box in order to see the hidden movable platform, and then position in such a way that it allows him to jump to the rock platform, and then to the top of the movable platform that he needs to raise to the optimum height.
In order to reach the house, the player needs to get out of the main path, as the house is unreachable through the front.
Elevator Puzzle - This is one of the puzzles inside the house, where after getting inside the elevator (by moving two objects, and throwing another one), the player needs to move a box and climb through the boxes, books, sofa and pillows, in order to get reach a pipe and then move towards an open vent. This is the last puzzle of our vertical slice.
Well, we're two days away from the release of the vertical slice, so our next post will probably be about the finishing details. We'll be lauching a 0.1 version before the launch day, just to make sure there's no significant bugs we might have missed. Would you be interested in helping us out and try it? Lets us know!