This is a follow up research post to my Games Development Week 2 update.
Here I dive into some environmental research where I try to decide what the alien planet in the game should be like, in order to style the interactive objects around it as well as begin creating prototypes.
Here are several wildly different environments that the game’s alien planet could potentially be based around. I decided the best way to decide how the planet should look was to look at several different biomes and areas on Earth and then take one as a base model (e.g. sand, snow etc) and then expand on that for the actual environment idea.
A thick forest was the idea I then decided on. Since the game takes place on a dark planet where the player must use a torch in order to see, it makes more sense to have a more darker coloured environment such as a forest rather than snow or sand as they would be quite bright even in darkness. The game is also meant to be quite mysterious so a dark forest would add to this significantly. Forests are very often attributed to being creepy and scary particularly at night, so it makes a lot of sense to have this as the main setting for the game. Additionally the player will need to rely on listening and hearing certain sounds in the game so having ambient noise including the wind and trees moving will provide a certain atmosphere to the game that I think will fit nicely and will add to the mysterious element.
The main mechanic of the game will also benefit a lot from a forest-based environment, as interacting with certain objects will do certain things so it will be better to have an environment with lots of objects that the player can interact with (such as plants and trees, as well as certain amounts of wildlife) rather than just sand or snow.
Upon further research into forests, I came across this image. It depicts a tall, dark forest and I think it is a really good fit for a placeholder environment in the game. It’s quite mysterious, and the tall trees mean the environment could be transversed vertically as well as horizontally. This would make for some interesting gameplay as the player could not only transverse the forest floor, but also potentially head up into the trees and utilise to scout around or even hide from enemies.
As an environment I think the tall forest is the best option, as its the best fit for the main mechanics and the atmosphere of the game, as well as being interesting and by far having the most potential when it comes to creating mechanics based around it. The main mechanic is the interactive environment (touching certain objects changes the environment around the player) so having a lot of objects in a “busy” forest-based environment will be good for inspiration for the interactive environment as well as coming up with many different ways of doing them and how they will work.
Jungles are the tallest of the forests on Earth, so having the environment in the game as jungle-based would be not only interesting in terms of ambient sounds but also in terms of navigation – perhaps having giant jungle trees to accompany the interactive environment mechanic would make for an exciting and interesting open world. Jungle trees are often very tall, so the player could also go upwards by climbing the trees as well as exploring on the ground. As stated previously, the player could scout around up there, or maybe even reach new game areas by jumping from tree to tree. Having a jungle-based environment would seem to add a great deal in terms of content and exploration.
Overall then, it seems that a forest of some kind is by far the best choice for the game. It offers the most potential in terms of interactive objects, as well as being very atmospheric and in line with the dark and mysterious style that the game will have. A jungle-style forest is the current favourite, due to the large trees and the ability for the player to navigate vertically in the game as well as horizontally.