Level Idea: Rainy Day
Truth be told, ‘Rainy Day’ is not so much a level of a game as a standalone world designed to tell a self-contained story through the environment and characters in said environment. Through simple choices in the short game world, a small set of outcomes can be reached. The gameplay is largely simple exploration and interaction with the set of npcs along the path of the level.
The general idea is portray the player on their way back from work, walking in the rain. The character being played is a genderless figure in a raincoat, designed to be a self-insert for the player. The ‘story’- that the character was fired from work and is left to return home in the rain- is revealed through dialogue with characters scattered along the way home. Players have to explore and find these people to learn the full story, and in doing so ca change the outcome of the level.
Additionally, players will be able to interact with specific NPCs along the walk home, who require specific actions to be performed. These actions are simple- usually just interacting with the character in a certain way or interacting with a nearby object for them. Doing these mini-quests will change the outcome of the level as well.
To further specify how the level will play out, here is an “Order of Events” in the level:
- The player’s character arrives via train at an elevated city station. The din of the rain above can be heard, dully.
- As the player descends to road level, the rain sounds become much clearer and pronounced. The city around them is dimly lit, using few light sources and largely desaturated colors to evoke the sense of a crumby day.
- The player proceeds on the walk home. By interacting with most characters, the player can learn the story behind their character and why this walk home is particularly important.
3a. These NPCs will do nothing more than stand around idly. IE: The conductor of the train, or a man waiting for the bus.
- Certain other NPCs will have small tasks to ask of the player, which will be mechanically simple. Completing these can cause changes in the player’s demeanor, causing small changes in the character’s walk and idle animations.
4a. These NPCs will be things like a small restaurant owner trying to close down for the day, or a smoker asking for a light.
- Upon reaching the final stop, the character’s home, they will be welcomed inside. Depending on how many people they talked to and how many people they helped, the character’s demeanor will be at a specific value. Depending on their demeanor, an unseen person inside the home will greet them differently, ranging from a reluctant hello to saying that they missed you while you were out.
Visually, I want to adopt a simplistic style that amplifies atmosphere rather than realism. Characters and NPCs are cartoonish and stylized, with bolder colors to make them stand out from the drab environment. Textures are simple and defined, using clear edges to block out important details in a mock ‘cel-shaded’ look.
The environment visuals will be similarly textured, but will be limited in a number of ways. Too many ‘rainy cityscape’ environments feature grand fluorescent lights illuminating the barren streets, reflecting off the puddles in the road. That is NOT the mood I want to evoke- I want to instead go for the muted grays of a drizzly day, with only a few dim lights coming from the streetlights and windows along the road. The brightest light sources arefrom the odd passing car, which is uncommon, but loud and jarring. A steamy haze will be rising out of manholes and drains, as well as smokestacks and vents along the buildings. The ‘Rainy Day’ that is portrayed is lethargic and oppressive, not refreshing or cleansing.
The time of day that ‘Rainy Day’ takes place is just before sunset, with the clouds blocking out what little sun remains. The lighting will be ambient but very weak, and any shadows present in alleyways and crannies will be very dark. It is not yet dark enough for things like streetlights and windowlights to stand out very much against the grey backdrop.
It is VERY important that the player gets the notion of a ‘bad day’ right at the beginning of the level. Any sound is muted by the din of the rain, or interrupted by the passing of cars. The character’s pace is slow and weak, only picking up a little when NPCs are interacted with.
There isn’t really a true “Objective” to ‘Rainy Day’. While the level is completed by getting home, ‘Rainy Day’ is meant to be a showcase for the story inside it. One COULD say that you ‘win’ by talking to every NPC and achieving the most positive end, but all that does is tell a different story, not a better one.