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Vida de Hamster

Vida de Hamster (Hamster's Life) was a game idea designed for one installment (2006.1) of PUC-Rio's first game class, ART1869 - Game Design, that later evolved to DSG1431 - Princípios de Jogos Eletrônicos. Each student had to propose an idea of game, produce it's game proposal document and present under 5 minutes to the others. Later, students had to form groups and work on a tech demo on A6 (3D Game Studio) for one of the games. As PUC-Rio is a catholic college, one of the requests was there should be no blood or violence.

Title screen by Diogo de Araujo

Vida de Hamster is about a hamster that is bought by a little girl from a pet shop and taken to her house, where it will face perils as it's owner's cat and life at the not-well-kept garden, interacting with other hamsters from the neighborhood and sewer rats. It was inspired by TV Tokyo's Tottoko Hamutaro (The Adventures of Hamtaro) and a curiosity I had since childhood about how would the world look like through the eyes of something tiny, like a pet or a toy. Considering this, I chose the camera style to be interchangeable between first person and third person, for the puzzle part. One game that inspired the terrain exploration part was Shigeru Miyamoto's The Legend of Zelda - Ocarina of Time, one could spend hours walking from one point to another just enjoying the scenery.

A game that inspired it's customizable options was Rockstar's GTA San Andreas. I was amazed how CJ could get fat or build some muscles and that you could change his clothes and acces sories, and that altered the game play. For instance, CJ would be slower as a fatty and if he trained at the gym, he would be able to run faster. I decided to add this to the game design in the first stage, where the hamster is at his cage and has the option to use the environment to have a slimmer build or be somewhat lazy and get fat. Later in the game, this would affect how you solved some puzzles or fought enemies. Another inspiration that came from San Andreas was the diversity of minigames. As an example, the dancing minigame that uses the mechanics of Konami's Dance Dance Revolution could be implemented as the hamster playing on it's owner's PC, dancing on the keyboard. The minigames could be extended to multiplayer games, unlocking it after playing once in the story mode and with each player using a hamster character from the game.

Trying to circumvent this "no violence and gore" apology, the use of antropomorphic animals as characters led to the comic violence inspired by Hanna-Barbera's Tom and Jerry, where there is no blood and all the damage caused to the character's is depicted in a "cute" way. Then we could still have some fighting and action, without resorting to guns or bladed weapons. For example, I drew a sketch of some ways the hamster could fight the cat in one stage, either if he was fat or slim, dropping a bowling ball on it's head or leading  the cat into traps, such as hitting his head on furniture using the slippery floor.

At the end of this page is provided the tech demo I developed with other students in a group of engineers and designers. It takes part in the sewer, in a later section of the game where you hamster had to venture into strange ruins dedicated to a goddess that looked to the sewer rats too much like your character's love interest. As a feat of valor and bravery, the rats demand that your hamster find the Lost Piece of Cheese, hidden deep into the ruins. Unfortunately in the tech demo we had problems with the hamster model from one of the artists, so we had to use the Wizard provided with A6 demo instead. The cheese is a lie ;-) (for this tech demo, at least). There is also the presentation I made.

My work in this project, other than game designing, was as programmer using A6 Script language and as level modeller. The professor was most impressed by the mechanics of the cage and the chests, some hacks I made with platform and door scripts. Please, consider that it was my very first foray into 3D modelling and game development. There are many flaws and polygon intersection, the ilumination is poor and the game pace is too slow. Remember that the focus of this class was game designing, and not completing a game demo, but a tech demo.
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Bruno Araujo,
27/03/2010 07:33
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Bruno Araujo,
27/03/2010 08:27
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