Arcana Manor Team and Puzzle Ideas from Kris

The Arcana Manor team is beginning to shape up, thanks to friends and colleagues who have generously agreed to contribute concept sketches, models, and possibly music.

Kris Maxwell: audio and some 3d models

Trent Troop: some 3d models and concept sketches

Ron Smith: concept sketches

Thomas Falk: some music

I am moving ahead with Torque X 3d (which includes C#, Microsoft Visual Studio, and XNA), and I’ve just started working through tutorials in the Softimage XSI Mod Tool, a 3d modeling program that is bundled with Torque X 3d. I will be recruiting from the Torque and XNA communities to find other programmers familiar with this engine.

Here is a first screenshot from a very rough, small prototype I made in Unreal2 a while back.

Prototype Screenshot # 1

Prototype Screenshot # 1

Kris Maxwell came up with the following puzzle ideas for Arcana Manor. These ideas are good examples of innovative puzzle design, as advocated in the “challenges” chapter of Quests.

“theres’s a room with an empty picture frame suspended in the middle of the room. It is door-sized. Also in the room are several painted panels with sections of a stairwell painted on them. The player has to arrange the panels in 3D space, so that when they are looked at through the picture frame they complete the stairwell, which becomes real and the player can walk through the frame and into the stairs up to the exit.

alternatively it would be cool if you could put different things behind the frame to make different doors open. like panels that show a small room with a sword in a stone.. put them all in the right place so they look right through the frame, and then you can walk through the frame, into another dimension which contains the actual room with the sword, but that is not “physically” in the room with the frame (like a hypercube).”

“i also had an idea for a section of the funhouse that is not finished yet. This could progress from being unfinished in the gameworld (i.e. panels missing, surfaces half-painted, etc), through conceptual level (the section begins to be made of sketch lines, notes by the creator, and the look of scratch paper), and then onto a more meta-narrative level, where bits of the “engine” start to show through, featuring snippets of C# code and such, just to mess with people’s minds about the multiple layers of reality that are going on, and the peeling back of the layers of fiction that must be accomplished in order to solve the creator’s problem.”

“I think it would be spooky to have a scene in the game where the lights go out, you hear a sound, and then when you get the lights back on, things in the room have changed and there’s some ominous message left for you in the environment. (I just remembered the scene in Via Domus in the hatch cell with the lighter and the dead woman)

On that note, that’s something that Realms of the Haunting did well- using the environment to send messages, not just inventory items like notes (which it also uses). Hand-painted scrawls on walls and such just make things creepier. Maybe some of these could be linked to the blacklight stuff too.

Playing off the cancer theme, I think it would be good to work in references to that fear in some of the level designs or enemies… the idea of self-replicating growths, tumors, and the body turning on itself would make for a nice resonance with the underlying themes. It might also be thematically interesting to make the protagonist into the mythical Theseus, sent to slay the Minotaur, but the minotaur in this case is the creator transformed, and death by the hand of the protagonist is his salvation- he is set free having had someone complete his puzzle and play his game, and he can rest free from the pain of his rotting flesh and the demons of his infernal bargain. Just an idea.”

“some imagery/elements that might be fun/spooky/interesting:

a rickety elevator that descends extremely deep into the bowels of the manor
disembodies footprints that lead the character through a puzzle
statues that turn their heads to follow the hero as he moves through the room
a hallway where the camera does a “vertigo” effect (by moving forward and zooming out)
a hall of mirrors
a carousel with creepy/decaying animals as the seats (maybe one crepy one among all the pretty porcelain horses)
a fortune-teller
creepy cartoony eyes in the darkness
you have to have a room with black and white zig-zag tile floors and red curtains. period.”

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