I’ve looked over the timeplan for this week and partly be mistake, my objectives are mostly the same as they were for the previous week, to achieve a “good representation of the final game.”

So, there’s still a lot of visual work to be done! There are still a whole range of tiles to be added to each tileset-nothing is finished. Over the weekend I came up with a silhouette background to fill out some of the background, which has made a huge difference to the way the game looks.

I got the idea for this style of background from some screenshots I took of the game Nevermore 3, which uses layers of distant silhouettes in its backgrounds.

In my repeated background image, I’ve created silhouette buildings, trees, statues, shrines and pagodas inspired by Japanese landscapes:

The idea is to use a darker coloured background on top of this to add a better sense of distance and break up the monochrome.

Setting The Tone

I think an important part of creating an identity for a game is ensuring that it makes the player feel a certain way whilst playing it. This can be achieved through the visual and audio tone of the game, and in the continuity of this tone throughout (unless you want the mood to change, of course!)


Coma is a 2D flash-based platformer played in browser-you can play it here at Newgrounds. The game begins in a dark house with lengthy shadows, and the character progresses outside to a dim, desaturated world where everything seems misty and suspicious. During this game, the player is constantly reminded that something is amiss, through subtle quirks in the level design, even in seemingly regular landscapes.

The music is quiet and generally calming, but it’s very noticeable when the music stops and is replaced by an ambient silence. As can be expected, after completing a series of weird but altogether normal tasks the story twists around and takes the player into a secret underground layer where the player’s suspicions are confirmed. The game is uncomfortable to play at times, but is juxtaposed with some really beautiful imagery. The tone here is brilliantly placed.

Nevermore 3

Another browser-based flash game, Nevermore 3 creates a similarly mysterious and eerier atmosphere. Throughout the series, the player is brought into an abandoned world that you would expect from a post-apocalyptic title. The scenery suggests that there once was life, but that it has somehow been removed. I haven’t played much of the previous 2 titles, but there doesn’t seem to be much of an explanation for all this. The gameplay mechanics are obvious, but the player is constantly left asking “why?”

In this third instalment, you find yourself in a much more rural area, confronted with these sorts of run-down buildings and ant-eater like creatures- again with no real explanation as to why. The mysterious tone of the game allows the player to accept that this is just the way things are, rather than getting caught up in trying to work out why, which in the end is completely irrelevant.

In Hanami, I hope to be able to create a similarly convincing atmosphere or mystery and suspicion, which leaves the player looking for answer but not questioning its reality. The tone will be similarly dreary and lonely, and will hopefully include a very mellow, ambient soundtrack.

Hanami Idea Explosion!

I guess this is a little like brainstorming, only it’s more of an explosion of words. I can’t think of a better name for it, especially one that sounds as exciting!
I got this idea from Gabriel Verdon at the beginning of his Devlog for The Archer. He begins development with a quick introduction to the concepts behind the game, and his objectives for the finished result. As a quick introduction to the characters and settings for the game, he takes a simple statement and pulls apart separate words to explain further details. With the ideas I’ve got at the moment, I guess my opening statement would be:

A lone girl travels empty streets collecting cherry blossoms.

To make the statement a little more specific, I thought I would expand it to:

A long girl travels through the empty streets of Japan collecting Cherry Blossom after Hanami.

It’s still quite a vague overview, but I’ve left room for improvement ^_^.


-Hanami- Gameplay is based around environmental obstacles. The player must find blossoms in hard-to-find or hard-to-reach locations, although I’m not sure yet whether this will be with the aid of special abilities or if the challenges will be fairly similar the whole way through. This will ultimately depend on what I manage to program.

-Feel of the game- There will be a conflicting sense of both loneliness and serenity throughout, achieved through lack of player communication and a peaceful setting.

-Symbols- Japanese written characters (Kanji) will appear throughout, as well as traditional Japanese symbolism such as the Sakura blossoms themselves, which are an ephemeral symbol of mortality.

-Music- I would like the music to sound like a typical “game soundtrack” (repetitive, electronic, catchy yet annoying.) But I also want to base it one traditional Japanese tunes, to help the game feel authentic. Throughout the project I will be listening to a lot of Gackt and Nobuo Uematsu for inspiration, but no changes there really!

-Movie Influences- Studio Ghibli’s so-called “Blue Sky, Green Grass” films- Laputa, Porco Rosso, Kiki’s Delivery Service… but also My Neighbours the Yamadas for a little insight into Japanese life, and anime like Angel’s Egg and Cat Soup for the sense of journeying through strange, lonely worlds (these second films also add a sense of darkness, which is something I’m currently toying with.)

-Game Influences- The Archer for its incredible use of Game Maker and beautiful concept and asset artwork, Ninja Senki for its Japanese themes and simple graphical style which create a great example of everything a platformer should be, and Nevermore 3 for its representations of isolation and loneliness in a beautiful world.

-One thing I really want to get across is problems with communication in a foreign place, and a lack of understanding of signs and symbols. I want there to be minimal dialogue throughout the game AT BEST, the player will have to rely on their own interpretation of symbols, imagery and gestures in order to get through the game. Some will be more complex than others!

-Verdon goes into a lot of details on his post about the inventory system, and how it acts as a means of providing higher-resolution details of items and characters which don’t appear very detailed in the actual game. This is definitely something I will consider! There will be items and pick-ups to help the character along, however I’m not sure what these will be yet.