Hollow Earth

Development: Maw

Greetings. It’s been a while. I’ve had a bunch of posts in storage from my Development series discussing how I made my various Ages. They’re out of date, but I’m still posting them. Here’s the one for Maw:


Recently I released a new version of my Age, Maw. Unlike many of my Ages, Maw has no real story behind it. Essentially, it was an Age written quickly. This deviation reflects how Maw serves a different purpose than my other Ages and reflects my own belief that stories about modern explorers are generally uninteresting. While I hope to include some form of story later, the Age should (ideally) work on its own.

Maw is set in a deep pit with large (hopefully) solid rock tubes jutting from the wall. The space is meant to convey a sense of claustrophobia mixed with daredevil fascination. In its early design stages, Maw was a crack-shaped chasm similar to the Cleft with rectangular rocks jutting out of the walls towards the chasm center. Players would traverse the Age along a “layer” of rocks and then climb to the next layer by way of ladders. The idea was to allow for a multi-level chasm riddled with small caverns. This concept was abandoned when it became obvious that the square rocks would seem un-natural in an otherwise natural space and when I felt the more complex environment would confuse players and cause them to lose their direction.

The final design incorporated four rooms, each meant to look different to the player: a somewhat-dark link-in room, a well-lit-but-empty room, a well-lit-full room, and a hidden room that was somewhat dilapidated. The goal of the Age had also changed. Rather than multiple layers, the Age is designed more naturally. Clusters of rock “fingers” form natural jumping-off points for the player to use to explore the Age while a bottomless pit provides a handy incentive to get your jumps right. Something important about Maw is that there’s no huge reward for doing lots of exploration, but you do get interesting views.

This was the first Age of mine to use camera regions. One of the challenges in making camera regions is to keep the player from being able to get in a spot where their avatar is too close to the camera for third person to be a usable guide for jumps or exploration in general. To do this, I set up a couple camera regions that essentially looked at each other. When the player is close to the link-in room, for example, the camera is shooting from the long finger bridge. When the player is on the bridge, the camera is shooting from the link-in room area. The transition between these two areas and back to a standard third person view was made possible through alcscript code which attempted to make transitions logical and clean. Another challenge is to keep cameras from flying through walls or doing other things that break immersion. Of course, nothing is perfect. Ideally, the cameras in Maw should instantly clip to their positions to keep cameras in line. In practice, though, the cameras sometimes forgot what they were told and zoomed around.

While it’s a small area, I tried to pack a lot into Maw and plan on further expanding/developing the Age into a larger space. In particular, I think that lightmaps would greatly increase the visual appeal of the Age and would be simple to implement given that the crevasse is a single texture. Furthermore, the textures in the Age show their age and should probably be updated while still attempting to preserve the general feel of the Age. This recent update is the Age’s first and certainly welcome to get rid of the “bouncy rocks” bug that frequently bounced people into the pit. Future updates I’dl ike to implement are lightmaps, an improved sky texture, and additional pits. Until then, please explore the Age and tell me what you think. I hope you enjoy it.


Filed under: Ages, Development, ,

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All posts are my opinion only and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of others.
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