Those of you who only check this blog once a month — a perfectly reasonable strategy, given our previous rate of posting — will be shocked to know that this is in fact our third consecutive daily post! We can’t believe it either! (Here are links to part 0 and part 1 of the daily blogathon, in case you’re just tuning in.)
Those of you who have read the previous post may recall that the most salient news item was the recent Hand Eye Society Social #4 (the “Quadrocial”), and the many exciting voyages and adventures which arose as a result of said event.
Those of you who managed to read all the way to the end may even remember a passing mention of our presentation at the Social; this was the “cliffhanger” of yesterday’s post… OR WAS IT ?!
Yes, it was. We just wanted to throw in another little cliffhanger there, just to make sure that we really milked this sweet mystery thing for all its worth. And so, without further prolonging what must seem like an agonizing eternity of prelude, we’re happy to announce:
A brief aside on the subject of the title of this post: those of you not familiar with Star Trek and/or our forums may not be aware that, prior to our formal announcement of its existence, Robotology was simply referred to as “TNG” (short for “The Next Generation”)*.
Thus the code-name that was selected as most appropriate for the game which — assuming we have our druthers (we’re rifling through drawers and looking under furniture for them right now, but not to worry, we’re sure they’re around here somewhere) — will succeed Robotology was naturally Deep Space 9 (neatly abbreviated to “DS9″).
Of course as this was a purely private code-word, intended for internal use only, and we had already decided upon the proper title (for reasons which will become obvious once we reach the conclusion of this aside), the formal code-name DS9 was never actually used. In hindsight, the entire exercise in code-naming could therefore be considered somewhat frivolous, but that’s how we roll around here — such is our wont.
Okay, back to the topic at hand.
So, what is Office Yeti?
Office Yeti, which we’ve been prototyping lately, is a single-player action/puzzle/simulation game in which players assume control of a yeti who works in an office.
But, you may be asking, how did HR come to inadvertently hire a yeti? Why a Yeti, and not a Sasquatch? Is this all some sort of hilarious inside joke?
For now these questions will all remain unanswered; the important point is that you’re a tiny little character in a tiny little simulated office building full of even tinier characters and objects, all of which are going about their business more or less oblivious to the fact that you are, to put it bluntly, non-human. Just like in an office in real life!
A quasi-mathematical graphic description of the game might look something like:
Great premise, right? We’ve only been working on this part-time for the past few months, so there isn’t much to show yet; we have the basics of the physical simulation working (objects moving around and colliding), some basic objects mocked up, a prototyped graphics system, and a good shared vision of the general direction we want to take things. Hopefully the next time we post about it, we’ll have some screenshots or something to show — for now it’s all under wraps. Delicious, delicious wraps.
We’ve already hit our first big snag: depth-sorting a 3D scene is apparently not as trivial as we had assumed it would be! Luckily we managed to find a solution which is working so far, and which we should be able to extend as the need arises. We’ve always wanted to try non-perspective-projection 3D, and the oblique angle we’ve settled upon is totally exciting for us…a third dimension!! That’s one more than our typical amount!
The actual game mechanics at this point are quite vague; we have a long list of things to prototype, but its impossible to say what will end up working and what won’t. Our first goal is to get a simple little artificial-life office simulation working; from there we’ll drop in a big ol’ yeti and see what happens. We’re expecting hilarious mayhem.
The general idea is that the yeti is free to interact with the environment just like a normal worker, but also has a unique set of abilities: eating people, climbing walls, smashing things — you know, typical yeti behaviours.
The graphic design will be quite iconic, similar to instructional data-graphics such as airplane safety cards or warning signs; the movement and physical interaction of objects will — hopefully — combine to create sort of a “living shopping-mall-map” effect.
As many of you may know, we’re also hoping to work with our friend Edmund McMillen, whose art has always stood out in our minds as awesome. We’re not sure yet on specifics — the ball has just started to roll — but we’re pretty confident we can figure something out despite being roughly in opposite corners of North America.
Office Yeti was actually conceived of long before Robotology, or even N; at the time we were both working in offices and thought that it was a really rich and under-explored setting for a game; also it was fun to fantasize about various ways that havoc could be wreaked upon an office environment.
We then came across Skool Daze (thanks to the truly wonderful Home of the Underdogs), which is an amazing example of taking a game and setting it in the middle of a simulation, with the simulation simply being the setting/backdrop of the game rather than the direct focus.
Of course, we realized that we had no hope of being able to make the game that we wanted, so we kept the idea on the back-burner until such a time as both our own skills and the chosen development environment (Flash, so that people can play while they’re at work, naturally) were capable of handling that much awesome all in one go.
Finally, that day came — we were at a point with Robotology where getting the game done was more a matter of “when” rather than “if”; the hardest problems had been solved, and we just needed time to iterate on the game design until things clicked. Thus we decided that it was the perfect time to start Office Yeti.
And that, dear readers, is your official introduction to our next project. We’ll keep you posted!
Next time on the Metablog: is that all? What else have we been doing this year?!
[*]: TNG is actually an abbreviation of “The Next Game”, but to acknowledge this would completely ruin all of our hilarious Star Trek jokes, and so instead we choose to ignore it.