Moai Devblog 1: Focus on Growth

Today I am here writing on my laptop because I seem to have lost most motivation on working. Not just on my game but perhaps on everything. As a last dish resort that I swear will work, I will be essentially looking into my psyche, in hopes of finding the reason to why I do this and why I want to do it. The first thing I want to think about is Moai: An Interactive Experience. In a way this is very much for me to figure out my ideas a bit better, not necessarily to gain likes, views, or comments. More for me than for you, but I hope you get something out of this as an development blog.

   What is Moai: An interactive Experience?

Moai is a puzzle platforming game I have been developing for the better part of last year. About 7 months since I started the first devlog on youtube.

About 10 videos in so far, which feels good but at the same time a little bad. I started doing the devlogs in order to promote the game but understandably that hasn’t been working too well, or rather maybe not as well as I had hoped, but that’s ok. I do enjoy the process of editing my progress into bite sized pieces of milestone markers. So in a way that’s nice.

Level Art

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Level 0 Sketch

On the other side of the marketing sphere is of course the actual creation of the game. The art is awesome! I love working on this kind of stuff, the ideas are always pouring out of me. For example this is the first sketch of the first level. Technically Level 0 because this is the intro of the game. Here we can see how Moai receives life by a buttefly laying on his head and causing a flower to come to life.

 

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Moai Level 0- Concept Art
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Level Sketches

After I have completed the initial level I decided to continue working on the next levels. I know I want a couple of puzzles but all in all what I really want for this game is to make you feel like you are there. That sorts of stuff will really help you relax as you play, which in truth is the whole idea of the game. It’s a tool for you to disconnect from the world, and just relax in a beautiful serene world inhabited by beautiful animals and a stone giant.

The music should help you with that. I think that it would be a great wonderful idea to play the bell sound I have for the frequency of love segments. It gives space to the whole game so that’s wonderful. So it can play whenever Moai does his magic life touch. I also just though that perhaps it could be a good idea if Moai got slower the more he gets close to the end. That sounds pretty cool. That way he can start fast at the beginning, full of life but as he activates the points in the island he becomes weaker. Not sure if it’s visible in the art, but perhaps it should.

Character Sketches and Base Sprites

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Moai Turn-Around Sketch

I like how Moai looks right now. He can have a bit more definition here and there but overall his animations are starting to look good. Once I do the revise on the art, I’m thinking I will animate it even further in Photoshop, make the necklace move, and add some motion on the the flower and the clothes. That secondary motion really brings live into the art.

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Moai SpriteSheet Twee
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Moai Pose Sketches

The character continues to evolve as I continue to create art and grow my artistic skills. Which is very good because my unique art style and techniques will play heavily on the feeling this game will give to the player. The stoic expression feels very good for a stone statue that can walk. I also like that it’s gender ambiguous, because I would love for everyone to be able to feel like they are the character, not just men and women, but pretty much everyone in the whole planet, same goes for his age. Moai could be 10 years old, or anywhere from 10,000 years old. Relaxation and positivity should know no exclusion.

Meaning behind the Stone Garden and the Growth Symbol

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Stone Garden and Flower sketches Tiny Loading Screen guy

When I did my research on Eastern Island, I learned several things.

1- There are a lot of birds, fishes, and butterflies.

2- There are also several plants, tress and of course the stone statues.

3- People that live there make these very pretty stone structures used to basically encompass gardens.

I love that, and I decided to make it into an important mechanic in the game. The general game is a journey, however the journey is blocked off and segmented into several sections where the player must learn something new about themselves, their environements, or their personal story, in order to progress further into the island. Every time they find a point in which they have to progress, Moai must give a little bit of life force into in a sort of exchange of energy that activates certains parts of the island that will teach him or allow him to pass.

In some cases, Moai and in turn the player must give time to the game in order to accomplish something. Like waiting 5 minutes at the docks for a wooden boat to arrive and take you to a secret part of the island. Or sitting down and waiting at the top of a particularly beautiful hill that rewards you with a cinematic pan of the whole island as seen from the highest point, which is where you are sitting.

In the case of the Stone Garden however, Moai will literally give from his own life force to connect himself into the earth and help a small plant blossom. This blossoming results in a domino effect throughout the level that changes the scenery for better. Very reminiscent of the amazing and beautiful game, Okami. Whenever this happens a beautiful bell should sound in the background, as the plants grow around Moai and his path is revealed. In some cases, like in the magical forest. Moai will not be encumbered by simple gates, but rather by secret foliage that parts it’s way for Moai to continue his journey.

In the island as I mentioned earlier there is also a lot of wild life.

Real things like:

  • seagulls
  • fishes
  • crabs
  • iguanas
  • snakes
  • grasshoppers
  • fireflies
  • insects
  • bugs
  • frogs
  • deer

As well as fantastical animals like:

  • El bugalopo which is a sort of magical deer that appears randomly and has a bone mask covering his face.While in some cases the animal will act as art assets and not necesarilly interact with the player, for the case of the bugalopo, whenever he appears he will run away from the player, and will always be behind the woods. In the forest, you can see his yellow eyes appearing through the mist. In a way he simbolizes desires, and the attainability of wordly pleasantries. Because you want to catch him, but in truth you never can. He will always be away from you, ever running, he is not to divert you from your highest truth which is to bring postivity, love and growth into the island for as long as you live.
  • There is perhaps another fantastical animal, something like an oax or a boar. A big leathery animal that likes to eat the grass pastures. I’m not sure what they do yet, but I can see them in my mind’s eye for this game.

 

 

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Early Moai Sketch

This is a very important sketch for me, as it started the journey towards the ending of the game. I don’t want to spoil the big ending, but here we can see Moai sitting and pondering his life as he traversed through the island. This gave way to this sketch of the moutainside.

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Last Level MountainSide Sketch

Which gave birth to this scene.

 

 

 

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Download the Moai Wallpaper when you Join the Email List

This scene helped me create all the base character assets and animations for the game, plus it serves as a wonderful promotional piece of content. With this in mind, I am thinking that the game, even though it’s starting to look like an actual game. With levels, movements, and controls. I feel like it still lacks life.

This is why I think that besides just working on polishing out the engine and it’s bugs, I wilt working on some of the more aesthetically elements, like background and foreground animations, and the creatures I mentioned earlier that will interact and live in this world with Moai.

The next devblog will have to be about how I created:

  • animal art assets
  • new stone garden assets
  • and a burst of energy asset for when growth has been activated

Technical things like:

  • sound manager system
  • debugging
  • water reflections
  • the sitting and waiting mechanic
  • the boat mechanics
  • loading screen mechanics
  • polishing up the UI
  • dialog system (narrator/info boxes)
  • Environmental Effects like rain,mist, and the interactivity of the npc creatures

In a way this devblog will help me not only to stay focused and know what to keep top of mind, with myself and this game. I feel better overall now that I’ve written this. In the next work session for Moai I think I will be able to be productive and efficient, and continue aiding the process for Moais growth and materialization.

It will also help me divide what I want this game to be versus what I want PixelPeeps to be, which is a whole ‘nother blogpost on it’s own.

Here’s a question if you made it this far. What sort of cool mechanics would help you relax? What would you see implemented in the game that will perhaps better the world of Moai: Interactive as whole? Maybe snow, and not just rain and mist? What are your thoughts, and while we are at it, what’s your favorite animal?

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