A few months ago Juha talked about our “no paint” levels and why we decided most of them had to be scrapped – today I will briefly go over some of the ideas we toyed around with in the original “Backworld” prototype and why they had to go.
The game was made in a very limited time – we were not really sure what kind of game we wanted to make and we opted to make many levels rather than a small amount of polished ones, so cutting these ideas were not as tough of a decision. Nonetheless, it explains some things about the nature of the game as it is now.
This image shows an example of a paint trigger – the shells of the acorns are glowing and when painted over, the seeds fall to the ground. When we originally got the painting working, we had all kinds of ideas of how to use it which is why we included ideas like this. Functionally this is not very different from an actual button that you click though, and with so many different usages of painting it becomes fuzzy what it actually means so we decided to only use the painting to decide what world exists at what point and let the object themselves be oblivious to it.
This image can be difficult to understand when not in motion, but what we called the “anomaly” was simply a line that would move from left to right or (as in the picture) up to down and invert the paintmask. It had some of the same problems as nopaint in that it takes some of the agency of painting from the player, but more importantly it introduces a harsh timing element that may have worked if we were making a more action-oriented game but did not introduce any interesting puzzle opportunities.
Finally, we had a few levels where the paint would gradually fade away as you painted. This looked pretty cool, but it had the same functional problem that it was mostly just stressing the player out. In addition, it had a tendency to create a lot of grayscale in the playable area which was difficult to read as the physics of a world were binary – either completely there or not there at all.
We cut these very early and for obvious reasons, so it was not nearly as tough of a decision as cutting nopaint. That said, we still have the functionality – and a lot of other features that did not really work – in the engine, so should we decide to include a few challenge levels (I was particularly fond of these in Escape Goat 2 and Knytt Underground) we may return to them.
In closing, I’d like to remind everyone that the beautiful Song of the Sea has received an academy award nomination for best animated feature! It’s a great film that you should see.