Umbra

Two Digital Art and Game Design students, Wendy Schiller and Jennifer Tella, teamed up with James Grammatikos, a student in Physics. They did not really decide on a team name, but when asked it was Teen Boat! Why? They had no idea. The name was based on what they considered a “ridiculously silly graphic novel.”

The team had however a serious inspiration when they found out about the theme. This was Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Initially they wanted to build their game around this story, but on the next day abandoned this idea – but not completely! Jennifer tells me that what they are creating “is more of an interactive story than a game.” Their concept involves letting the player walk over purple isometric tiles from one end to another and in the mean time the player will experience all sorts of events over which the player has hardly any control. These design decisions make the experience fairly linear and not so interactive and, therefore, less game-like.

The connection with Poe’s short story is the idea of hearing a heart beat. In their game it is however your own heart, which will sound differently depending on the events you encounter in the game. When the hearts raises, this will also impair your vision. This game mechanic reminded me of the game Amnesia and when I mentioned this to the team, they said that this game may have influenced their design because they loved it. But this did not happen very consciously!

Other inspirations are the old Zelda games and Pokemon because the game’s style is pixelart. Jennifer is creating pixelart spritesheets and characters, while Wendy is doing the tileable isometric cubes over which the player has to walk. James is their coding robot and he is trying to remember how to work with GameMaker. The current version is quite different than the one he used to work with. He also finds that it is not flexible enough for his needs, but adds that he may not know how to get done what he wants within the program.

Another issue that the team is running into is that all of their monitors have different color calibrations. Because of this, the game art looks different on all of their individual computers. They have been able to fix this to a large extent.

Interviewed and written by Casper Harteveld. 

To play the game go to the game’s global game jam site¬†here.