The Making of
..........,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,....... (Part 1)
This issue marks the first part of a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the latest game in the Wonderland saga, Wonderland Adventures. We hope you'll enjoy this little peak at the design process and the ups-and-downs (and lefts-and-rights) of the game's development, all the way from ideas in a notebook to the final release.
The Design Process
Wonderland Adventures was, in some sense, a project four years in the making. The idea of taking the world of the classic Wonderland games and using this setting for an epic puzzle adventure began forming during the development of Return To Wonderland in 2003. Like all of our games, its original inspiration can be traced back to many different sources.
All of our ideas for game prototypes are continuously added to a collection of notebooks and binders. The notebooks contain a wide range of material: some game design ideas are fairly detailed (and are on the perpetual "Potential Next Project"-List), others are just tiny idea snippets (often just a couple of sentences or sketches). A notebook entry might be an idea for a particular puzzle, or an idea for a funny character or interesting twist in a story. Often these notes are direct results from seeing a particular movie, or playing a particular game, or just seeing something interesting in nature. Wonderland Adventures has snippets of inspiration from all manner of sources. Putting just a few of these tidbits into a picture might result in something like this:
The vast majority of the ideas contained in the notebooks remain completely unused. On the other hand, the books and sketches are revisited on a regular basis, and ideas are re-examined to see how they might fit a current project. As a result, game ideas often "simmer on the stove" for several years, which gives us plenty of time to refine the good and throw out the bad.
Early Design Decisions
It's a big world, after all.
Early Wonderland games used map screens or level selection screens to show the player's progress. This worked well for individual puzzles, but it didn't convey a sense of an adventure story very well. For this reason, we decided to map out the entire game world using the same visual style as the individual puzzles/adventures. Originally, we thought that the player would spend much of his/her time in a central hub (such as Wondertown) and only venture into the surrounding areas for particular adventures. This idea changed somewhat over time, as the time spent in Wondertown was scaled down for the final game.
Do you believe in magic?
The decision of having magic a central puzzle element was made very early on. The exact nature of how magic was to be implemented, however, remained in flux for some time. Early design sketches gave the game a more traditional RPG feel (think "Diablo" but less hack'n'slash and more magic-puzzles), while a different design envisioned each magic spell popping up a mini-game (for example, an "open door" spell would require you to solve a slider puzzle representing the door lock mechanics).
The main question that haunted the early design process was whether or not the theme of magic matched the nature of the Wonderland world. Could we envision Stinky carrying a magic wand and saying 'Abracadabra' a lot? Not really. Eventually, we settled on a system of seven magical powers, linked to the seven colours of the rainbow crystal, and controlled by a pair of magic gloves. So far, four of these powers ("Blink", "Pop", "Floing", and "Brrr") have made an appearance in the game.
The decision to abandon the tried-and-true keyboard controls of the classic Wonderland trilogy was made for two reasons. First, it was felt that mouse control (if well implemented) would make the game more accessible to a larger audience. And second, it forced us to radically re-think how the game would be played. We didn't want to end up with "more of the same"... mouse control pretty much eliminated box-pushing puzzles, and hence the basic gameplay structure would have to be re-thought.
We also decided to stick with Blitz 3D as our primary development tool. While this meant the game would run in Windows only (so far), Blitz's powerful and easy-to-use development structure more than made up for this.
>>>>>> Next Page: Coding Work Begins!