Here is some more on gameplay. I will go into detail since many keep asking about the details. This may be a bit too much for some who aren’t that interested in the reasons for my decisions. But if you are interested, read on. I’ll try to answer your questions and respond to your comments below.
2D or Not 2D, that is the Question
The Big Blue is a full on 3D game. The water surface, ocean floor, creatures, and everything will be modeled and animated in 3D.
However, the control of the creatures will be 2D. Similar to side scroll game and the original Ecco the Dolphin. In this game the point of view and controls are much more dynamic.
Zooming for a Sense of Scale
By zooming in and out, the game will be able to clearly show scale. The immensity of the giant sea creatures will be clearly experienced. For example imagine swimming along as a dolphin and then coming upon a Leviathan, which is hundreds of times your size. As you approach this enormous creature, the camera will smoothly zoom out to include both the leviathan and your dolphin on screen at the same time. If the Leviathan fills the screen, then dolphin will be only a few pixels across. The smooth transition between your dolphin filling the screen to the giant Leviathan filling the screen will make the scale between the two creatures crystal clear.
The most magical place in this this game is where 3 worlds meet: Below the surface, above the surface, and the glass of your screen.
This is visually striking because you can see both above the surface and below clearly. The thin line between is very dynamic because of the motion of the water. Also, this is where the physics change. Below the surface there is buoyancy and above there is gravity. Interacting between these two worlds is fun and feels realistic and satisfying.
There is a heavy emphasis on surface interactions especially with Dolphins and Sea-Dragons. These creatures are designed to breach the surface and temporarily fly through the air. How high and how far they go depends on the speed and angle they are when they hit the surface.
All Who Wander Won't Get Lost
The ocean is a big place and most of it is empty water. In a full 3D underwater game you will get lost, a lot. There are many reasons for this. First your cochlea in your inner ear does not feel you turn and change direction so your brain cannot feel the direction you came from. In truth, 3D games are FAKE and only can be represented on a 2 dimensional screen. If the 3D game is about exploring a city, for example, it would be easier to NOT get lost, since there are blocks and landmarks. But in the vast ocean you will find yourself saying, “where the heck am I,” a lot.
Restricting the controls to 2D allows us to construct the game so it is not so easy to get lost. Even in huge open section of pure blue water, you will always know which direction you came from and where you’re going.
The 2D mechanics also allow us to focus all the art where you’re going to be. This constraint allows us to focus all the cool looking elements along a path that you will will likely travel. I.e: 100% of our artistic efforts will be experienced by you. In full 3D we would have to rubber stamp objects and you may miss many of the more interesting bits just because you didn’t zig-zag your way through the environment.
A sense of Speed
Swimming fast into the Z axis in a 3D game will NEVER FEEL FAST. We would have to throw a lot of bubbles and plankton in your face to make your forward motion feel fast and not like you’re swimming in molasses. Swimming fast from a side view will feel VERY fast. In the side view fast is simply fast. No tricks are required to make you feel the motion. When building speed to make a high jump in the air, you will feel it and it will be very satisfying.
Questions and Comments?