- 1. Technology
1.1 Development Tool
The adventure game is based on Flash platform. Because of the widespread and maturity of Adobe Flash and related technology, flash games can run directly on independent Flash players and most Internet browsers with default Flash plug-in. Compared to traditional computer game with huge file size and long installing time, The Internal Voyage, as a light single-player flash game, can be published as a standard .swf file, compatible applications for Windows and Mac OS, or even an HTML version, which can run on computers directly or just be released through the Internet for online use or download. The target audiences of the game are preteens who show no attention span for long downloads and initializations, and usually like games fast, easy-use, multi-platform, and certainly exciting. So a well-designed flash adventure game can meet their needs perfectly without doubt.
Publish Setting Menu of Adobe Flash (flash game can be published in a great number of file formats to suit users’ needs)
1.2 Programming Language
Just like those currently popular flash games, The Internal Voyage must be programmed in ActionScript3 in standardized ways such as using packages and customized classes. Compared to previous versions, ActionScript3 is more professional and logical. Its relation to AVM2 improves the performance of program a lot and its computing speed is at least ten times faster than the older ones. On the one hand, taking use of ActionScript3 can make the structure of the game more stable and organized. On the other hand, ActionScript3 is the most practical programming language that can be used to create a well-looked computer game containing both animations and interactive operations within the relatively short timescale. In brief, ActionScript3 is suitable enough for creating a light 2D game with good interaction for children.
1.3 Game Loop Overview
From a programming standpoint, game loop is the central core of a game, because it makes the game run smoothly regardless of user’s operation. The game loops used in The Internal Voyage are all based on the most classic and highly simplified mode: while (user doesn’t exit) à check for user input; run AI; move enemies; resolve collisions; draw graphics; play sounds à end while. Detailed loops will be developed during the game structuring work according to the different needs of each level.
1.4 Game Engines and Methods
In this game, several ready-made open-source engines will be applied to the programming work of each level. The use of game engines depends on the game genre and other detailed features of each level. Here is the list of game engines that have already been decided to use in the game.
Citrus: This flash game engine package has Starling and Box2D included. The engine is GPU accelerated and supports 2D using the Starling Framework. It comes built-in with a “platformer” starter-kit, which can be used to easily make awesome 2D side-scrolling games. It will be used as the most important engine in platform construction, character control, AI behaviors of enemy and device, and side-scrolling effects.
Flixel: This flash game engine provides a powerful camera class that can display several related side-scrolling scenes at the same time, a pathfinding function that can make the AI creating work much easier, a replays function for recording and replaying all the things happened on the stage, and other useful things such as auto-tiling and game saves. It will be used as a standby choice.
Matrix: The last level is a maze collect game for which the matrix will be needed to create the map and the distribution of different game elements in a tile-based way. It can be realized by several lines of number arrays.
- 2. Game Structure
2.1 Basic Structure
The whole game is formed by 3 major parts with simplest linear structure: opening, body, and ending. The opening and the ending is presented in the form of animation to give users an introduction of the story setting and a conclusion of the game narrative respectively. The detailed content of these two parts are based on the script and the storyboard.
The most important part of the game is the body. It is made up of an entire interactive game containing 4 standard levels accessible one by one, in which user is asked to use game operations to control the character to make the plot moving forward. Between each game level, there are short animations used as durations to display the whole digestive process well and to create a better user experience.
According to the game narrative, the main part of the story happens in a human digestive system, and the plot moves forward with a scientific process of food digestion in the body. As a result, the design of the interactive game structure follows the strict biological process without any changes, which can make the whole game more scientific and educational.
2.2 Game Loader
Considering the fact that the game contains a large number of animation footages, which will be set at the beginning, the ending, and the gaps between every game level, the uncomplicated combination of all the pieces together cannot be useful any more. Instead, a well-designed customized game loader can be made full use of to manage those game and animation clips.
The game loader works as a media player, through which the game program makes responses to different kinds of phenomenon (level passed, animation skipped, game over, restart the current level, etc.) and arranges layouts on the stage in a variable way based on preset data and behaviors.
2.3 Interaction Structure
As a result of all the game elements arranged in regular and systematic order, active user experiences interchange with passive ones during the whole gameplay process. This method makes user has no need to focus on game operations uninterruptedly for a long time, which may cause physical fatigue for him/her. Besides, the connection of animation scenes and gameplay levels make the present of narrative much smoother.
Diagram of Basic Structure
Diagram of Game Loader Working Mode
- 3. Game Play
Just as mentioned before, the game contains 4 different levels for play, and every one of them can be developed as an independent component that is connected with each other one by one through the logical commends in the game loader (narrative).
The objective of the whole game is helping the character to pass 4 action game levels one by one in a human digestive system, collect all the broken pieces of a key during the process of this amazing adventure, and get out of the body in the end. From this game, user can get not only interesting and interactive experience but also the biological knowledge about the structure and the working way of human digestive system.
During the whole gameplay process, user’s character can have 3 life points at most, which must be given at the very beginning of the first level. In every level, the character can get injured by different kinds of enemies and devices, and its movement can be limited by various barriers. Each hurt must lead to the loss of one life point. A normal hurt can also make the character be sent to the nearest activated safe place, get a short invincibility effect, or have the bad thing destroyed, in order to avoid continuing damage. But a fatal one, which contributes to the loss of the last life point, will activate the function of jumping to the game over scene in the game loader and ask user to retry the whole game from the opening animation. To ensure the game will not be awfully challengeable, there must be a capsule appearing in every level, which can be picked up by the character to have one life point increased. However, all the capsules can only work when the quantity of life point is less than 3. Life points can be passed on from one level to the next.
3.2 Level 1
Scene: Oral cavity.
Game genre: Side-scrolling platform game.
Operation: Use ← and → keys to control the horizontal movement of the character; use Space key to jump up.
Feature: Every bottom tooth contains a specific music tone that can be played once for each step of the character on it. Each normal hurt can make the character be sent to the nearest safe place.
Task: Help the character to get through the oral cavity safely. Every top tooth may move down and every bottom one may move up. Just use the try to protect the character from being chewed up and never forget to keep moving forward.
Goal: Make the character get to the end point with as many life points as possible; Play a melody by stepping on the teeth for fun.
Rewards: Get the first piece of the key at the end point and go to the next level automatically.
Helper: There is a signpost set at the start point and some arrows used as visual elements to show the correct direction of the character’s movement. All the operation tips must be drawn on the background of the game scene as graffiti and decorations at the right places.
Flow: This level begins with the character standing at the start point in the oral cavity. All the teeth can move up or down automatically. User is asked to control the character (horizontal movement and jump up) to make him go long the correct direction and avoid being chewed up during the process. At the end point, the character can get the first piece of a key and activate the following story..
3.3 Level 2
Game genre: Side-scrolling avoid game.
Operation: Use ← and → keys to control the horizontal movement of the character.
Features: The character will keep falling down automatically after the level started. The falling speed is increasing during the process. Each normal hurt can make the current barrier destroyed.
Task: Help the character to get through the esophagus safely. Hitting fish bones and other sharp things sticking in this organ can cause damage to the character.
Goal: Control the character to get to the end point before life points used up.
Rewards: Get the second piece of the key at the end point (the bottom) and go to the next level automatically.
Helper: t is a one-direction level. Operation tips are showed at the beginning of the level before the character falling down.
Flow: This level begins with the character dropping down into the esophagus. During the whole process, the character can keep falling down with an increasing speed automatically. User is asked to move the character horizontally to help him avoid all the barriers on the on-direction way. At the end point, the character can get the second key piece and activate the following story.
3.4 Level 3
Game genre: Platform avoid game.
Operation: Use ← and → keys to control the horizontal movement of the character; use Space key to jump up; use ↓ key to squat down.
Features: The gastric acid erupts with a fixed frequency, while the food pieces drop down randomly. Each normal hurt can give the character a 2-second-long invincibility effect.
Task: Use any way to keep the character alive until he gets the third piece of the key. Don’t let him be killed by the falling food pieces and the erupting acid.
Goal: Use as less life points as possible to finish the task.
Rewards: Get the third piece of the key and go to the next level automatically.
Helper: Operation tips are showed at the beginning of the level when the character stands onto a piece of bread floating in the stomach.
Flow: This level begins with the character stepping onto bread piece in the stomach. Before the third key piece falls down, user is asked to make the character move left or right, jump up or squat down, to protect him from being injured by the falling food pieces and erupting acid. At the end point, the character can get the last second key piece and activate the following story.
3.5 Level 4
Scene: Small intestine.
Game genre: Maze collect game.
Operation: Use ←↓↑→ keys to control the horizontal and vertical movement of the character.
Features: Enemies may change their original moving ways and begin to chase the character if the character gets close to them. There are 4 power drugs set in the four corners of the maze separately. Each of them can be picked once and give the character a 3-second-long effect of invincibility. During this special period, all the enemies hit by the character will disappear immediately, and the ones running after the character before will start to escape along opposite directions. As a result of an enemy’s death, a new one will be given birth to in “enemies’ nest”. Each hurt can make the character be sent to the start place and bring all the enemies back to the “nest”.
Task: Move the character to collect all the small pieces of the key’s last part and then get to the exit safely.
Goal: Use the left life points to finish the task.
Rewards: Combine all the pieces together and get a complete key. The character will use the key to open the exit door and get out of the body in the following ending animation.
Helper: Operation tips are showed at the beginning of the level before everything starts to move.
Flow: This level begins with the character getting to the entrance of the small intestine with the last key piece broken down by the stomach and scattered everywhere in the current scene. There are four enemies wandering in the maze. User is asked to move the character up/down/left/right to avoid enemies’ attacks and collect all the small pieces of the key at the same time. After all the pieces collected, the character will get a complete key and the following story will be activated.