Creatures

All about the Creatures of the Big Blue:

  • How to possess them
  • How to control them
  • Artificial life & artificial intelegence
  • Creatures of today and tomorrow


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  • I read in a book that every dolphin/whale pod has its own unique "language" for communicating with other members of the group.

    Will the game feature something similar? Maybe you could make a part where you can't understand the songs of a different pod and have to read their body language or other signals?

    I also read that there are "resident" and "transient" types of whales. Some stay in one general area while others migrate. I think that would be interesting to incorporate into the game somehow. Like if you do a quest for a certain whale, but when you come back it's not there because it's migrated.

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  • I am fascinated by the works of Heinrich Harder: http://www.copyrightexpired.com/Heinrich_Harder/

    They instantly remind me of the prehistoric levels from Ecco! I've noticed what seem to be plesiosaurs in the mockups, so I think it would be great if you "revivied" other extinct creatures for the game! I am fascinated by wildlife from the time before humans.

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  • They wouldn't be very exciting to play as, but perhaps you could feature manatees in the game? Maybe they could have some advantages like certain creatures would feel less threatened by them and you could get closer when playing as a manatee?

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  • Ed,

    In one of the KS updates you wrote:

    "Creating life is NOT simple. First you need the information or blue print of the creature this will be in the form of a song. This song is used to start the process. The song's vibrations are tuned perfectly so that a swirling current starts on a molecular level. Free floating atoms are spin into the swirling currents and begin to coalesce. Encoded in the song itself are the building vibrations that bring the atoms together to form DNA. The process of creating a creature takes time and energy. Tiny creatures may take a few minutes to create, while larger more complex creatures may take DAYS."

    So is this like saying the songs will act as a sort of "3D printer" for creature creation?

    As for the process of creating the creatures through song, while I don't know if this is possible on all platforms, what I suggest is tying it to the internal clock (this may be problematic on computers). People will not enjoy having to take time out of their day to go tend to the creature creation or be paranoid about it dying on them (like Tamagotchis).

    In the game "Seaman" for Dreamcast, the player is free to resume or skip ahead at their leisure by adjusting the internal clock/calendar in the Dreamcast system menu. The fail-safe to prevent cheating is that the game will not load if you turn the clock back to before the date and time when you last saved the game (it will tell you to go back and change the DC's internal clock).

    For example, if I saved my Seaman file at the system's internal date of 3:20 PM on August 3, 1999, I can choose to change the clock and resume from any date/time after that, but not before the date/time on the save file.

    People will want to be able to take breaks from the game and not worry about it being always "on" like Tamagotchis,  Pokemon Pikachu and those other virtual pet toys.

    The other side of this is that it may cause problems with online aspects of the game such as live parameters.

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    • Patti Keiper
    • Security Officer/EMT, Volunteer C.E.R.T. with a Fire Dept.
    • Patti_Keiper
    • 8 yrs ago
    • Reported - view

    I think the dolphins should be designed to be able to do this...  to either interact, school,  or "capture" other creatures. Would be a neat tool/ability. :)


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  • @Patti: That looks interesting. I've read that dolphins can release short bursts of air underwater, sometimes to frighten or shift other creatures. It would be an interesting gameplay mechanic, using it at the expense of some of your oxygen supply.

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  • I think I watched that video of the dolphins playing with the air rings like 30 times by now.


    It's such a neat video.

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    • Silversea (James)
    • Wildlife Photographer and part-time Game designer. Responsible for production of Songtide series of Ecco fangames.
    • Silversea_James
    • 8 yrs ago
    • Reported - view

    Dolphins have a lot of hidden capabilities I'd like to see out there.


    -Sonar: There are many sonar types we can use, though science doesn't entirely illustrate it all. Hunting sonar is damaging or dazing to fish, sharks and other creatures. Sonar clicks illustrates the path ahead, but it carries a long distance so predators will be able to pick you up quicker. A quieter form of sonar clicks will show a shorter path but is quieter. Whistles attract the attention of other cetaceans and predators (in multiplayer this could be useful), can maybe be used as a distraction like with the great whites shark in Defender of the Future.

    -Attacks: Other than sonar you have the charge attack and tail-slaps. Teeth are stronger than they seem but they would not scratch a shark, can maybe be used to pin down or drown enemies primarily. Perhaps you would be able to pick up objects and use them to block things. I imagined using a sponge over the snout to block sea urchin spines (which I hear sort of occurs in real life too) or enable ability to charge into spined creatures without being hurt.

    -Other techniques: Bubble rings, as mentioned above, can herd fish, make a distraction for predators who will chase the ring first. 

    -Eating/Biting: Dolphins eat fish yes but maybe gyreforms taste nice too? (This isn't meant to be serious, but maybe it could be a way to quickly dispatch lesser, smaller gyreforms. Though it would probably be poisonous. Stone-coloured fish from DOTF, anyone?). Crustaceans are pinchy but they are edible (if only the red crabs in the first Ecco were edible). You could perhaps bite sharks on their fins to hurt them. Maybe some gyreforms' weakness is having a  part of them that can be pulled off to weaken or kill them.


    This can all be considered for future playable characters, and how other creatures have their equivalents etc.

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  • I read that orcas have learned that if they flip a shark on its belly it becomes temporarily defenseless and vulnerable. This could be an interesting mechanic to balance out the power of sharks as enemies. In Tides of Time, I liked "The Hungry Ones" level because it tips the balance of power away from an otherwise confident player. I always thought "Sharks aren't such a big deal, I can handle this". But there are so many sharks in that level it's overpowering and there are way too many of them to deal with to make it out of that level alive without transforming into a shark using the metaspheres.

    Some sharks are unable to open their jaw again for a period of time after biting on something, so that could be another mechanic to help you escape.


    Related to James' post, I read that porpoises alter the rate and intervals of their clicking when stalking prey to make the fish think that they are further away than they really are. This makes it easier for them to hunt because the fish is not as ready to flee.


    Something I'd also like to see in the game is some sort of natural camouflague. This wouldn't work for being detected by singers, but for non-singer creatures maybe if the creature you are playing as has a similar colour to something in the environment, it will make it harder to detect them?

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  • Kind of like how there are octopus out there that blend in perfectly with the environment, and can even collapse down to small sizes in order to surprise things?

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  • Yes. Or fish that blend in with the rocks or bottom feeders with the sand (like Stargazers). Camouflague, or lack of, could be used as an advantage or disadvantage in certain areas, like how Belugas would stand out almost anywhere, but maybe a black Harbour Porpoise could have an easier time hiding in caves in the dark?

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  • I would really love to see some of the prehistoric creatures back again I have always found them so fascinating and their sizes are so intimidating, megalodon vs dolphin would be very scary but exciting too and perhaps meeting early evolutions of dolphins?
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  • What would be interesting to see is new land mammals moving into the water. Like if polar bears evolved to be more adapt when hunting underwater.

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    • Silversea (James)
    • Wildlife Photographer and part-time Game designer. Responsible for production of Songtide series of Ecco fangames.
    • Silversea_James
    • 8 yrs ago
    • Reported - view

    I doubt megalodon vs dolphin would end in any sort of positive scenario unless you are in a maze of caverns.

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  • I don't know how long cetaceans have to stay above the water to get a full breath (in Ecco your oxygen bar was fully restored if you breached), but an interesting mechanic (but tedious from a gameplay perspective) would be if you are in an area with a violent tide, storm or strong waves, and you have to fight against the environment to get to the surface and catch your breath. Or if you break the surface but are quickly forced back down and don't catch a full breath. I don't know how possible this is to do in a sidescroller though.

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    • Silversea (James)
    • Wildlife Photographer and part-time Game designer. Responsible for production of Songtide series of Ecco fangames.
    • Silversea_James
    • 8 yrs ago
    • Reported - view

    Most if not all cetaceans can exhale and inhale within a second (maximum two-threeish seconds). Stress could probably affect this no doubt in many ways such as restricting inhale speed (thus replenishing less air) or perhaps delaying the reaction to the water creating a sort of temporary dazed (I hate to say choking cause it sounds too serious but that's the idea) scenario to clear water from your lungs which might delay sonar or attack controls for example.



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  • Relating to Andrew's point and Silver's in the other thread: It would be great if the camera is fixed at the line below the surface, then when you are playing as a fish something could just swoop down and eat you out of nowhere. It would give the game a great element of surprise.

    @James: DOTF kind of had that unintentionally because of the massive drop in frame rate and the camera sluggishly adjusting itself after you dived into the water. It was beyond irritating.

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  • I just read an interesting article in Maclean's magazine about an Orca at Sea World that has killed three people. Although humans are extinct, maybe one of the themes you could explore somehow is cetacean captivity? You could also explore psychological stress they face from other factors and situations. One of the interesting points the article bought up is that female orcas are dominant and bully the males.

    I've also read somewhere that there are diseases that cetaceans can catch and suffer from in the wild. That could be an interesting perspective to show from their point of view.

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    • Silversea (James)
    • Wildlife Photographer and part-time Game designer. Responsible for production of Songtide series of Ecco fangames.
    • Silversea_James
    • 8 yrs ago
    • Reported - view

    Well I'm sure gyreforms and plastic are pretty toxic to mammals. That could be a good theme implemention as well.

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  • Ed hasn't said anything about this yet, but personally I can't picture myself taking voice-acted creatures seriously in this kind of game. I'd prefer if the dialogue was just text, like in Ecco. Voice acted critters work fine in lighthearted games, but this isn't Sonic or Spyro the Dragon. If there is going to be voice acting, there should be an option to turn it off. Bad voice overs can easily ruin the feel of a game. Skipping dialogue and the game having to load every single audio file, causing a slight delay, gets irksome after a while.

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    • Silversea (James)
    • Wildlife Photographer and part-time Game designer. Responsible for production of Songtide series of Ecco fangames.
    • Silversea_James
    • 8 yrs ago
    • Reported - view

    Voice acting on pokemon (anime + movies) ruined it for me considerably.

    These are not human creatures; I do not recommend trying to making them any bit human. There is such thing as a good voice over but when trying to create a serene ocean atmosphere the last thing you need is a weird human voice.

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  • This is an interesting article about dolphins being used as therapy animals in Eilat, Israel.

    http://www.jpost.com/Health-and-Science/Dolphin-therapy-helps-mute-Israeli-teen-speak

    One of the interesting points in the article is that it says dolphins can detect stress, and other emotions, from other creatures.


    This is a link to the trailer for a film that was made about it

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_s-yZ7Yucw


    Dolphins sensing emotions could be very interesting to include in LB.

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  • I've been badgering Ed about adding narwhals as they would be a great hybrid as there are lots of people who still never heard of them and/or don't believe they exist yet they are real, but just rarely seen.

    I was embarrassingly one of them until recently.

    It would be a great addition.  The unicorn of the sea!



     

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  • I like the narwhal idea. It would be interesting to see what function or possible disadvantages their tooth (horn) would provide in various environments. I've read that most narwhals have broken horns (from fighting) by the end of their life. It might be something to think about when making the character models.


    @Ed: Since it's so important to the game, have you decided how you are going to handle cetacean calls/songs? Will you use recordings or will you have to synthesize them?

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  • Any idea about what kind of graphical style you will use for the creatures? Realistic? Cel shaded? Stylized?

    Not Ecco related, but Umihara Kawase is an old Super Famicom platformer with an ocean theme and a unique visual aesthetic. (you can't really tell unless you view it on a CRT)


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