The Book of Eri

Hello internet. Want to hear a story? Yes? Great! Here is the story of the game idea: Book of Eri. Book of Eri was a mixed 3D/2D fantasy/sci-fi game emphasizing exploration, combat and puzzle solving. The main goal here was to create a rich single player experience. The gods have arrived and split the world in two.

Here the Dream World is a physical place. You play as Eri, our protagonist chosen by the gods (known as the Acherai) to walk between the worlds. She is a gun for hire, stealing information from people dreams or inserting false memories. Ever wanted to give your arch nemesis an everlasting nightmare?

 We wanted to do away with classic damage types such as fire and lightning and wanted something more spiritual. We worked with his Virtue/Vice idea and ways to incorporate it into NPC interactions and combat.

We wanted to do away with classic damage types such as fire and lightning and wanted something more spiritual. We worked with his Virtue/Vice idea and ways to incorporate it into NPC interactions and combat.

The Dream World was to be represented as a low-poly 3D dungeon crawl in the spirit of Lands of Lore, Eye of the Beholder and Legend of Grimrock. We planned to use assets from Synty Studios as the base and add to that as needed.

Puzzles, while never implemented in game, were paper prototyped. We might re-use some of those for a future project.

 If Zelda taught us anything it’s that people love pushing around blocks. Pushing the block into specific action squares rotates it so the power node connects up with the lines.

If Zelda taught us anything it’s that people love pushing around blocks. Pushing the block into specific action squares rotates it so the power node connects up with the lines.

In the initial concept of Book of Eri, we were planning on combining a 3D world with 2D elements such as enemies. The Dream world would be 3D platforms forming a maze in front of the player, snaking into the distance with large surreal backdrops all around. The Real world be claustrophobic hallways with shadows and light creating a spooky mood.

 The dungeon view from the prototype

The dungeon view from the prototype

Since the players view would always be in fixed perspective, there would be fun opportunities to create a visually interesting game world. Long dark hallways. Light creating interesting shapes. Carpet forming a visual path forward. Spooky horror ambient music. Something appears from the darkness and leaps at you. Death.

 Dark dark dark hallways, filled with dangers and darkness.

Dark dark dark hallways, filled with dangers and darkness.

The World of Eri would draw inspiration from various artists such as fantasy illustrator Sean Murray and Mike Mignola. The formula would be something like this: 50% Medieval influence + 20% Steampunk style + 30% Surreal Dream Reality = Book of Eri.

Eri, herself, would draw visual inspiration from strong female characters such as, Jean Grey from X-men, Red from Transistor and Elizabeth Sherman from Hellboy. No fantasy bikini armor or large balloon boobs. She would be a worn out character, burdened by her past and her profession. She would wear a Dream Mask while on the job. To mask her identity and mind.

 Design work for Eri, the main protagonist

Design work for Eri, the main protagonist

 NPC theme concepts

NPC theme concepts

Ultimately Eri was shelved after about 3 months of work. Main reason was basically a change of direction for the company away from 3D to full 2D. This happened after we created Gundawn, a furious arena battle game, as a GameJam project.

So that’s the story of Book of Eri. An interesting (We like to think so!) little game idea we had a few years ago. Never know if we will revisit it in the future.

Porcelain Fortress: The VR years

In the autumn of 2016 we quit our jobs and started our very own video game studio. We quickly realized that making games is, in fact, really hard.

The idea started when we realized that the Unity Asset Store contained all the assets we needed to make a game. We had programmers so that part was easy (we thought) and we had been working with the Unity engine for about 2 years. The parts we were missing (music, sfx, models, etc.) we would purchase from the Asset Store.

What kind of games would we make? Well we had been working with VR for the last 2 years and at that time the VR market was expected to grow quite rapidly. So the company would ride the VR hype train and make small and fun VR games.

Here then is the story of Panazidox (Paradox + Nazi, get it!?).

Panazidox (first iteration)

 Built on the fact that people enjoy shooting stuff in VR and everybody hates Nazis. To save the world you must fight this time-traveling Nazi horde. The game was intended to feature several upgradeable weapons, multiple levels and an 80’s action movie vibe.

Built on the fact that people enjoy shooting stuff in VR and everybody hates Nazis. To save the world you must fight this time-traveling Nazi horde. The game was intended to feature several upgradeable weapons, multiple levels and an 80’s action movie vibe.

Panazidox (second iteration)

 At this point the game had turned into a tower defense of game where you would place heroes (based on 80’s & 90’s action movie heroes) and then possess them. The baddies are still Nazis but now they run through paths in a tower defense style.

At this point the game had turned into a tower defense of game where you would place heroes (based on 80’s & 90’s action movie heroes) and then possess them. The baddies are still Nazis but now they run through paths in a tower defense style.

Panazidox (third iteration)

 At this point the game had again changed direction. Now each level is inspired by other video games. The first one was supposed to feature Wolfenstein and Doom. The assets are of course placeholders, (we had no intention of stealing art from Wolf3D for the final product). Here the player could block using a shield, switch between several weapons, use a tractor beam to collect energy orbs to travel to new levels and we even had a crafting system that would allow players to create new maps by combining different maps.

At this point the game had again changed direction. Now each level is inspired by other video games. The first one was supposed to feature Wolfenstein and Doom. The assets are of course placeholders, (we had no intention of stealing art from Wolf3D for the final product). Here the player could block using a shield, switch between several weapons, use a tractor beam to collect energy orbs to travel to new levels and we even had a crafting system that would allow players to create new maps by combining different maps.

We abandoned Panazidox after about 3 months of development with one key take away point:

Get honest feedback from different people early on, nobody is going to steal your idea. By the end we had created a mess of a game that was way too complicated. Opening these projects in Unity now I realize that the first iteration was by far the best one.