A year ago, I released The House On Holland Hill, a short narrative game built during Wizard Jam 4. In keeping with tradition, I’m now releasing version 2 of this game, on the eve of Wizard Jam 6.
THOHH was never meant to become a highly-polished game, but I found myself still thinking about it after I released it. So a few weeks ago I decided to work on a few upgrades to make it feel less like a prototype.
Here’s what’s new:
A game that takes place in the same location for the duration of thirteen scenes needs some variety to keep it fresh. I already differentiated the scenes with weather and day/night lighting, but the colors didn’t really pop. In fact, they looked downright bad in some scenes. That’s because I was only using color grading, and there’s only so much you can do with that before your values turn to shit. What I completely overlooked is that you can tint the lights themselves. That created much more intense and diverse color possibilities.
Something that really helped sell the new colors and the different weather conditions was volumetric lighting. I used HX Volumetric Lighting to add sunrays, haze, and fog, and the results are amazing. Combined with Next-Gen Soft Shadows they transform the scenes from poorly-lit sets to actual locations.
With those upgrades to the atmosphere, I couldn’t leave behind the actual environment itself. I had used abstractions to build the set – grass was just a green swath of terrain, the road kind of dissolved into nothing. So I expanded the sets with distant geometry and skyboxes, and added grass sprites to give it all a little more detail.
A more believable world also needs sound effects. I added foley for doors opening and closing, ambient environment sounds and more. To top it all off, I assembled a soundtrack from Eric Matyas’ Soundimage.org to punch up the emotion of the story beats. It makes a big difference.
And of course I did plenty of bugfixes.
I hope you’ll give it a(nother) go in anticipation of this year’s Wizard Jam. I have no idea what I’ll be making yet, but as you can see, that worked out fine last year.