I’m not making the post this week that I thought I was going to make. Instead of designing my Tetris clone and looking into DirectX, I spent that time playing, finishing, and experimenting with the development tools for Amnesia: The Dark Decent. Never fear, the game I have lovingly coined as “Mathtris” shall be coming in the future. However if you’ll permit, I’d like to talk about this fantastic journey into the survival horror genre and my experience with the development tools.
Any of you fans of the horror genre or those who keep up with gaming news have likely heard about this indie gem by now. Frictional Games have done the industry proud by producing a truly oppressive style of horror game, which is something the industry has been lacking in as of late. Most recent games that have the “horror” tag line attached tend to be less about a looming threat and more about keeping ugly spawns of hell away with very large guns ( Dead Space being a prime example).
Now don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy exploding various types of demons into their respective giblets. That being said, there is something truly exciting and truly terrifying about being both under the constant threat from unspeakable evil, and being helpless to do anything but flee from it. The ambiance is such that you feel there’s danger around every corner, even though that is not always the case. The atmosphere sets up the scares, and your imagination tends to do the rest, and every room you enter becomes the next possible death trap.
If you haven’t played Amnesia: The Dark Decent yet, I highly recommend that you do.
OK, now that I’ve got that rant out of my system, lets talk development tools. To allow for the creation of custom stories in Amnesia, Frictional Games has produced a level editing tool along with a custom scripting language. I personally found the documentation felt a bit scattered, but just about everything you need, both tools and tutorials, can be found here.
My advice before starting any development would be to give a very quick read to all the basic tutorials they have. Making a level and scripting for a level are two separate chunks which are separated out in the tutorials. Get the big picture first, then jump right in. Only way to learn is by doing after all.
I’ll list the Amnesia level editor controls that I’ve read about and discovered though just playing with the editor to make your journey a bit easier (such as how to copy and paste). Please keep in mind that these are the windows controls (Linux controls may be different).
Rotate the camera in perspective view = Alt + left mouse button
Zoom in and out = Alt + right mouse button OR mouse wheel scroll
Move the center point of your camera = Alt + middle mouse button
Copy/Paste (a.k.a. Clone) = Ctrl + D with object selected
Translate mode hot key = Q with object selected
Rotation mode hot key = W with object selected
Scale mode hot key = E with object selected
Select multiple objects = Ctrl + left mouse click
Undo previous change(s) = Ctrl + Z
Redo previous undo(s) = Ctrl + Y
Change a view to full screen = space bar while hovering over the desired view
Remove the selected object = Delete key OR Backspace key
Find and Select objects = Ctrl + F
I hope that the above list of commands will lessen the difficulty curve of learning to make your own Amnesia custom story maps. There’s actually a fair bit more I’d like to talk about such as a more in-depth look at the level editor and the scripting language, but I think this post has enough “heft” to it. I’ll continue this topic in posts to follow.