GMW Stories · Annabelle’s Story

Designer Note

This project has been changed a lot since it started in January 2019 😅.

It began as a graphic adventure inspired by Mateusz Skutnik’s Daymare Town Saga. I wanted an adventure with puzzles that played with players’ curiosity with different endings and decisions. To develop it, I started to learn how Unity works, and in the middle of that process, I decided to participate in a GameJam. For it, I used everything that I learned from Unity, and I developed My Story, a graphic novel with decisions and different endings. After that, I decided that I should do something better, something extra for Annabelle’s Story, something that allowed me to learn more and impress Ubisoft. So, I redesign the game as a platform game (this happened in summer, August to be precise) inspired by Rayman. However, after some research, I discovered how complicated it was developing an excellent platform game, that was difficult enough to be a challenge and easy enough to don’t be frustrating  😓.

At this point, I started to feel frustrated to don’t be able to design something simple and exciting at the same time. Also, it happened a lot of things in my personal life that changed the way that I had to live and feel. In the middle of this vortex of feelings and learning, I designed another game, utterly different from Annabelle’s Story. I called it Fill My Life With Colors, and it was like fresh air in a closed room. This stop helped me to see Annabelle’s Story with different eyes. So, the last week from October, I came with this new design inspired by Dark Sous, Don’t Starve, and Far Cry. I wanted to develop a simple 2D open-world (Don’t Starve) with random events (Far Cry), where players could explore and defeat great enemies discovering an intense and interesting story (Dark Souls). And I fell in love with it even knowing the amount of work that an idea like that needed. I decided then to split the project into sections (The Desert, Corvo, Pregaria, and The Dead Trees Forest). These sections represented levels, and each level had other parts or levels inside. (For example, Corvo had the different Ánimas’ members and their leader that corresponded with places inside the village: The Clinic with the Marker, The Square with the Hunter, The Church Entrance with the Watcher and the Backup, The Cemetery with the Estadea, and The Church Atrio with Navia). To be able to have something to show in December, I decided to develop one of those levels. I chose The Corvo’s Square with the Hunter. I started with the GDD (that you can read below), designing the AI, the attacks, the HP, the level itself… It was already middle of November when I started with the sprites and the assets. And as days went by, I realized that it was impossible to have something decent to show in December. (To me, deadlines are essential to be focused and ended my projects).

Then, when December came, as I imagined, the alpha that we had was not enough. I didn’t have enough assets, so the level looked empty, and I didn’t have the sprites, so Judas and the Hunter were represented by place holders. I was disappointed with myself and very sad. This job means everything to me, and I felt that I failed myself and everyone who followed me. It was tough. However, it helped me to assess more the amount of work that is needed to make a good videogame, even it is just a level. After a couple of days, I took a deep breath, bandaged my wounds, and got up, ready to try again.

Because Fill My Life With Colors was already in the development process, I decided to concentrate on it. I learned from my mistakes, and instead of wanting to have a complete finished game at once, I divided the game into alphas and simplified the gameplay, making sure to give enough developing time to each alpha and let some extra time for setbacks. And it paid off. Before Christmas, we already had a playable alpha with the HUD and the Menus (you can see the video here).

And what happened with Annabelle’s Story?

Well, I am not the type of person that surrenders. If I know that an idea it’s good, I will work it until it’s perfect or at least until I feel comfortable and proud of it. And that it’s what I did with Annabelle’s Story. While we were developing Fill My Life With Colors, I kept working on this game, refining the idea, sketching different solutions for the various problems that we had. And here we now, January 2020, with a new design that keeps everything that I like from the other ones and at the same time that I think is something doable, so stay tuned if you want to see how it evolves 😉.