Saturday, August 9, 2014

Tetris 3D Platformer Pitch - Sketch Phase

I now have the opportunity to share some ideas I generated for a proposal to make Tetris into a story based platform game for EA. Before the hardcore gamers get upset, we certainly meant to keep the core Tetris gameplay that has survived the ages, however, my team and I were tasked with developing a Tetris world where a character would go on some kind of adventure and along the way, play a lot of Tetris. Obviously, this sounds very vague, but I love these projects the most. This is when they're at the height of possibility.

We started with a couple of key words - adventure, character, fun, environment, castle, epic. From there I began my ideation. We wanted to remain pretty obvious in our inclusion of tetrimino shapes in the landscape and like the nature of the original game, there was a lot of destruction and building. I originally started with a very Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider take of exploring these fantasy landscapes filled with castles and some cataclysmic disaster was causing the world to break apart (into tetriminos of course).

Usually in pitches, you want to deliver 3 different ideas, so if the first one was a standard treasure hunting/castle climbing adventure, then the next one had to be a little different. Since tetriminos are building blocks essentially, we were inspired to develop landscapes that were inspired by DNA strands,  molecules, and as you can see, crystalline structures.

It came up that the top crystal sketch didn't really have any visible tetriminos, so I incorporated them as veins inside the crystals that pulsed with energy.

For a while, I was just developing my concepts as environments that had tetrimino shapes in them that the player would travel through, so to start something new, I considered using them as a mode of transportation through the environments.

In our second phase, we developed our ideas with more of a fairytale  in mind and the EA team made a great suggestion to add a Russian influence to it. I've never been a huge fan, but I'm familiar with the game, but I'd totally forgotten that Tetris is a Russian game. Anyone remember these?

Our research into Russian art, architecture and folk lore led to a fresh new direction.

Russian minarets became a recurring shape in everything. In all of the following stages, we ended up incorporating some of the patterns and shapes we'd found in our research. Usually, I want the story elements to be absolutely perfect, but for once, we intentionally kept the story very vague. This helped us stay away from genre expectations and would allow the EA team to project whatever story they developed onto the designs we provided.

Once I'd drawn trees with minaret buds on the top, the remaining concepts all displayed plant like elements.

I should mention that after our initial brainstorming session, we decided to deliver work in a template consisting of a landscape that was a wide shot, a medium shot, and a close shot of one style of environment. You'll notice that the first two concepts don't have much in the way of the classic tetrimino shapes. We discussed at length with EA all the possibilities that might exist for incorporating tetrimino shapes. What if they were like DNA strands and molecules, making up the entire game world, but not visible to the eye. What if playing triggered an event that sent you into a Tetris game. For example, what if you came to a door or wall that stood in your way, and you had the power to control the tetriminos, you could stack the wall/door tetriminos and collapse them, clearing your way. What if they acted as magical glyphs that acted as magical barriers that had to be destroyed to progress. As things were becoming more and more abstract, we tried to simplify our ideas even more so that exploration would just trigger some fantastical event that would take you into a Tetris game. In the concept below, the idea was that the minaret from the concept above would open up like a flower and emit a 3D column of tetriminos. Enter Tetris Game Challenge.

As we developed more and more ideas, it allowed us to propose new ways of playing Tetris in 3 dimensions. The column of tetriminos could be rotating, or you could rotate the column so that the tetriminos that fell could be placed anywhere along the circumference of the cylinder.

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