Lantern Spaces (Oculus Launchpad Week 2)

(crossposted from the Oculus Launchpad Blog!) 

Visual Style

Starting this week I will be developing the visual style of the Lanterns world.  There are three locations and they need to be distinct yet stylistically cohesive.  They are: The Village, The River, and The Sky.

The Village will be after sunset, golden, lit up by the flames of the lanterns.  It starts of rather dim, but as soon as the first lantern few lanterns are lit by the player, the entire riverside is crackling and glowing.  Some float along gracefully, while others struggle.  Every nearby lantern can be interacted with.  Sometimes the player will reveal the spirit being guided by it, or help nudge the lantern forward, or give it a little bobbing in the water.  As you ride away from the village some lanterns begin to rise out of the water.

The River will be dark and dangerous, winding, and sullen.  The wind tries to prevent your passage.  Lights get snuffed out, and the air becomes difficult to breathe.  The maze of trees begins to capture lanterns.  The lanterns in the air get stuck between the branches, and in the ones floating in the water get trapped by roots and stones.  The spirits reveal themselves in distress and call to the player for help.

The Sky will be bright, lofty, almost dreamlike.  The water in the sky is replaced by rolling clouds.  The boat still floats above but the sky is intensely bright and blue.  The sun glares upon the top of the clouds.  You can only tell the boat is moving because a restaurant with a dock gradually drifts closer.  I’m not exactly sure yet what will happen here, but the feeling I’m going for will be that of a sendoff and the last goodbye’s to these lanterns that have accompanied the player so closely during the game.

The Boat itself is also currently up in the air.  My initial sketches have it as a dingy one-person rowboat (without the need for rowing), such as the one used in by the monks in the film Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, And Spring.  It’s unadorned, cramped, fragile, and solitary.  It’s old and well-worn--many trips have been made in it.

Transitional Spaces

I’ve also given some thought about the transitions between each section.  While one continuous boat ride sounds great on paper, I don’t think it would be engaging without good content to tie together the sections of play.   

The first method--the most building-intensive, would be to construct the entire river but make it interesting all the way through.  

The second method--animation-intensive, would be to create an abstract animation to safely skip the player between each segment.  They would still be be in the boat, but be pleasantly surprised to find themselves suddenly in a new space.  It could involve directing the players attention away from the world and enveloping their view, akin to a magic trick.

I’m leaning towards the second.  The focused attention during the transition could be a great tool to layer in additional narrative.  A poem or a letter to be read to clue in the player about the journey that they’re making.
Andrew Dang

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