Monday, June 20, 2011

About Project IITS - Part 1: Gordo's Island

Hello IITS Readers,

A reader named FifthFanZac commented on my last post and speculated a bit about the design of the game and while responding, I decided I should just write a whole post about some aspects of the Project IITS game here it is:

As a game element, Gordo's Island acts as a hub area for adventures. It's a place for the player to engage in some secondary forms of gameplay (as opposed to the primary gameplay of combat and exploration). In the original design, the hub was supposed to be chosen by the player from any of the procedurally generated islands that they might come across. I decided that was a bit ambitious so, instead...the hub areas are prefabricated. However, that doesn't mean that they're completely static...Gordo's Island can be upgraded in several different ways and what you see in the concepts and the 3D island crafted so far probably represents and island that is halfway upgraded. Each of the different upgrades provide a different gameplay bonus, whether it be storage, or crafting, cooking, etc.

All that's pretty standard for an action RPG type game, what I wanted to do to set Project IITS apart from similar game paradigms is that unlike your usual hub world, where there are linear paths that lead to other game areas, in Project IITS...the adventure comes to you. That probably makes no let me take a moment to explain that the world of IITS is in a constant state of change...the islands swirl around in an invisible ocean of wind...making everyone in the world a nomad. Imagine this: Kayli comes back from a long hard day of hunting popees and after cooking a few up for dinner, takes a nice long bath in the hot springs (what's an IITS product without a little naked Kayli?), she heads up to the treehouse and goes to other words, the player exits out of the game. The next time the player logs into the game, Kayli wakes up and the game has simulated the passage of time and distance traveled and when Kayli steps out onto the front porch of the island abode, she might find herself in a completed different environment. Calm, blue skies are replaced with reddish tinged clouds and lightning storms. Popees are replaced by ravenous birds of prey looking for a juicy bit of Kayli to snack on the docks, a beat up old airship is tethered...its lazily swinging lantern beckoning the player to approach...

All of that should be gameplay of course...the hunting of popees is part of the primary combat and exploration gameplay, cooking up the popees uses the cooking crafting system, taking a bath ABSOLUTELY should be interactive (I'm shameless, I know)...even the airship that suddenly appears is interactive. Using a dynamic questing system, the game generated the appearance of the airship and its owner. It may be a traveling salesman offering rare precursor artifacts for sale, it may be a craftsman offering upgrades to weapons or armor or glider may be a dude in distress (Kayli rescues the MEN) with a dynamically generated quest for Kayli to undertake.

In the original game, the project known as IITS Ultimate, the idea was to allow players to create their own character in an instanced, procedurally generated MMO style experience. Being a bit more realistic, I pared the project down to a be single-player adventure featuring Kayli as the main character but all the tech and experience we get from the first game will be built upon till everyone can participate in the world of IITS as a character/persona of their own creation. Game development is about iteration and while the idea of IITS Ultimate excites me, a smaller, tighter experience and testing out gameplay and ideas with Project IITS will, well...ultimately benefit IITS Ultimate.

I hope this gives those interested an idea of what to expect for Project IITS. I wish I had some gameplay to show but the game is always in a state of flux and I've got to make some big decisions about the direction of the project before I can state or show anything more solid.

- Joseph


  1. I'm really excited for the game,but how about the comics?Any plans to continue with those?

  2. I wish I could give you a good answer for that but right now Genevieve is focusing on her career and until she has some free time, we won't be able to continue with the series. If there is a way we can move forward with the graphic novel...I would absolutely do it in a heartbeat but progress on the next IITS book is currently out of my control. Thanks for being such a faithful fan of the book!

  3. Heh, didn't think my commenting could bring out another blog post from you, I'll have to comment more often!

    Aw Ya, interactive bathing! Choosing soaps towels and rubber duckies. heh Upgrading hot springs? Could be so awesome that my face would have no choice but to melt off.

    I like the idea of an ever changing environment, but will there be a way to make certain things happen when I want it to? Say I got all the materials I need to upgrade something, and the person that does it keeps not showing up it can be frustrating waiting on the whims of the programming. But if I can upgrade the island to have some communication system, be it a phone, radio, or small paper airplane sized hang gliders that carry Kali notes letting summoning this upgrading wizard or a bigger port for them to stay at, that would be cool.

    This could just be me though, I know that when I'm playing a game I can sometimes go the ADD route and feel like going to places I've been before to kill some random thing for whatever item it drops, do a side quest, upgrade my weapon, go to a different place to explore, work on crafting, etcetera.

  4. Hey Zac,

    I understand your concern about not having direct control over certain events or features but I contend that, if done right, the mystery of what happens next is more interesting. I feel like everyone's experience should be different and that's the intent. Even if you don't get the craftsman right away, a different event will occur for that your friends haven't even seen. Furthermore, the outcome of each event for each person should be different as well.

    The whole design of the world (which predates the comic), was to create a fluid, ever changing experience. It's a challenge to be sure and in the first iteration of IITS as a game world, we will probably only scratch the surface of it, but if I ever get to create the world I want, the adventure and gameplay should be as dynamic as the constant flow of islands.

    I'll try to address dynamic events more in a future post but please keep in mind, we're steering a bit towards an area of design that may not be a feature that makes it into the final game as I fully envisioned it.

    Short answer: While you're waiting for something to occur or some event to resolve, there'll be plenty to do...=)