Hey everyone, since our last post we have been getting tons of development work done over the first episode and the second episode as well as getting a slice of the game fully arted up to test our aesthetics and general art direction. With Pete working on Episode One which is getting closer and closer to being finished in terms of game play I have been working on Episode Two of our debut game, Ether. Now the first episode is the first time the player gets to experience the strange memories of Jean, which we are building to be exciting and bewildering and tight. The second episode is the second memory that you work through and is going to be a little more open (but not too open) in terms of design, giving the player opportunities to explore larger environments. The second memory is based upon thick foggy moorland pushing into woodland which has given us an awful lot to play with in terms of game flow, design and puzzles and is something I am very excited about. Before I give you a brief and spoiler free walkthrough of the level in its current state let me explain how the level is broken down and where we are up to in terms of playability.
The episode is broken down into 3 key sections with adjoining areas that will ease the player into each. The first section is set upon open moorland that is dense with fog, the second section is set within a woodland enclave and is a lot more open for exploration with more visibility and the third area is based around an observatory that is nestled at the top of a hill in the woods. Each area offers players new and exciting game play that is linked together by the level and the games core game mechanics and loop, but enough of that or I will ruin the surprises we have in store!
So far the entire map is playable from start to finish with the third section having all the puzzles and gameplay placed into it. By the end of this week we are hoping to have the second section underway and by the end of next week the blocked up Alpha will hopefully be ready to play through for very early testing.
Enough about the nitty gritty parts of development and lets have a look at a few images and what they could possibly hold for players when Ether is released.
This overview shows you the three distinct areas quite well, at the moment the block is just brushed in but will feature quite a large amount of landscape on top of what is already there.
This shot is from the very start of the level and as you can see the line of site for the player is very important so they can move through the level comfortably. Here we can see (what will be foreboding silhouettes through morning fog) of two beam engine houses.
Underneath each engine house is a network of mine tunnels with lots of puzzles and gameplay in them, here is shot of one of those mines. We are keen to mix this level up from having more open areas, to tight rooms will lots of gameplay. This is to pace the level and the player progression, allowing them to face many different challenges along the way.
This next shot is another line of sight view of a key focal point when you emerge from one of the mine shafts.
Here is a shot of the outside of one of the mine networks, I’m not going to show you the inside as there is an atmospheric puzzle in there that would be ruined if I did
As players navigate through the foggy moorland they will need find a way of not straying and getting lost in the fog, one such puzzle using our levels core game play loop can be seen here as a block but don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you exactly what it is.
Here is shot of the second section of the level, I’m not going to go into too much detail here as there is still a lot to be worked into which I will go over in an episode two update post later in the month, but what I can show you is how open this are of the map is. Using specific focal and direction methods, the players will have a great opportunity to explore this area for hidden items whilst also being able to navigate to areas that have plenty of puzzles to solve for narrative purposes and level progression. We also have a cottage in there on the left hand side which holds some exciting secrets and features.
This is a shot of the final area of the level and is based around a large and magnificent observatory and its grounds. There are lots of puzzles here that again mix up exploration and tight puzzle solving to create an exciting and climatic end to the level, but again I must stop there or I’ll let things slip
So as you can see compared to the first environment you will traverse this is a little more open, to give players that sense of delving into these memories and unearthing clues to what is happening.
I hope you enjoyed a little more development from Ether and we should be showing you some more detailed images with art of the game soon. For now though we must say goodbye but please follow us on Twitter and Facebook by clicking the contact tab at the top for up to date news and chat about White Paper Games and Ether, all support is greatly appreciated.