I very recently attended a public lecture by Ben Droste where he gave a little insight about himself, but spoke mainly about his recently released game The Eyes Of Ara (Steam Link). Ben had worked for game developing companies such as Krome, Sega Studios and 5 Lives, among others. Ben said “I was sick of working for studios that closed down”. He decided to create his own indie development company 100 Stones Interactive and create a game based on his strengths – being a 3D Environment Arist and a Level Designer.
The Eyes of Ara (TEOA) is a ‘Point and Click’ puzzle game. Now even though that this might not be specifically my taste of genre of game, but ben mentioned many things that I could take away and learn from. TEOA is a puzzle game, and the point of a puzzle is to find a solution right? Theres a fine line between making something blatantly obvious or giving players the solution and subtly hinting at something.
Ben said that he’d often use the lines of objects to subtly hint towards the desired object or guide the player’s view. Like the edges of boxes or placing pens and screwdrivers around the desired object and have them pointing towards it. Objects can speak, without saying words.
He used the Rule Of Thirds. Aligning the subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest in the composition than simply centering it. Why? I couldn’t tell you, because I’m not a familiar with the psychology of the human brain. All I know is, it seems to work.
And because TEOA is a point and click, when it comes to part of honing in on a puzzle and making the camera still, Ben could use this to his advantage. He could compose objects in ways that utilize the rule of thirds which compensate TEOA to be the beauty that it is.
Rooms were also constructed so that lighting would be an important part on highlighting specific objects or guiding the players view. Similar to using the lines of objects, but lighting is a powerful, powerful friend to have. I apologize for super blunt example image.
There are objects throughout TEOA that are specifically related to a character in the story. For each character a colour had been assigned to all of the objects relating to that character to make them have easily decipherable relationships.
Every time a player changes room – the camera is position in a way to guide players towards what they need to see.
Another important thing that Ben said was “Players never look up”. I’m sure that this can’t be applied to every single player in the history of games or video games, but more of a general consensus. And knowing that, Ben could construct non critical puzzles to the game or story – but more of a non critical rewarding puzzle, a side currency or collectibles.
I’m sure many of these aspects will be applicable in my future of game development. Thank you for passing on your game development wisdom Ben, and may The Eyes Of Ara forever watch over you.
Until next time –