Today's guest post is by Leah, who's decided that being a busy high school student won't stop her from writing, designing and coding her own Amnesia Custom Story. Here are some screenshots from the original Amnesia series to give you an idea of the fantastically creepy vibe:
For any of you who are interested in writing your own version of an Amnesia horror adventure game, Leah's a great one to ask. Her are her thoughts on the process along with some original scans of her plans and sketches. I'll make sure to get a followup post later on, so we can check up on her progress!
(PS. Leah, I think you're super cool. I couldn't have done this at 15.)
Everyone’s had moments of unexplainable inspiration, right? Pretty much that’s how this all started. I’m Leah, I’m 15 and I am currently writing, designing and coding my own Amnesia Custom Story.
On a usual day, I’m going to school, maybe doing leftover homework, working with the band and stuff like that. But a huge part of my life is my gaming. I personally work more with PC games, but I’ve played a couple console and handheld system games too. Let’s just say games have gotten me through a lot in life (well, as much of a “life” a 15-year-old has had), especially horror games. I’ll never be able to explain why or how, but I have an UNDYING love for the Amnesia and Outlast series (which is surprising, since I’m naturally a timid person). Games like the Slender series, SCP etc. have never really caught my eye. To me, they’re just jump-scares and overly extensive mazes all mixed in one. The Amnesia and Outlast series hold storylines. Intense storylines. They were the first jumping point to my game’s idea.
First you have to learn the difference between modding a game and creating your own, which varies from game to game. When you’re making an Amnesia Custom Story like I am, even though you’re using the main games as a base, you have to code, write and create a lot of things which mimic creating a game all on your own.
The title was fun to write for me. I decided to go with something traditional. My story takes place in France, roughly around the 1750's. I picked France because I’m currently in my third year of French, so I felt I could put some of the language into the game without the worries of going through Google Translate!. Also, like any good story from the Amnesia series, I used two plot devices: memory loss and mental illness. The first one is easy. The main, playable character wakes up in a seemingly unknown place, not knowing who they are or why they're there. See? easy.
The second one is very difficult and can/should only be done after months of research. After months of research, you should have a basic grasp of that illness. My example was one that I learned about in English class, so I was able to research less. Plus, you always make the story first. The story and the tropes have to easily be played up by the scares. For my story, I'm using the more psychological scares, where I use the story and memories from before the story to make the player go "Whaaaaaa?" I think jump-scare games can usually skimp out on storyline.
If you’re ever thinking about making a game of your own, you have one major choice that will pretty much determine EVERYTHING. Is it going to be a jump-scare-based game or a story-driven game? In my case, it was an easy choice. I personally knew I could write better scares than I could code. That also helped me pick what I was going to make the game with. The Amnesia Custom Stories always had a certain beauty to them and they never seem to be copies of the original game or other custom stories. Other games have limited textures, so you end up with a lot of the same ideas over and over again. That’s the easy part.
The next part--and probably one of the hardest--is creating and developing an idea. I was lucky that it took me under six months to get the basics of my story worked out (as I go along, I edit little things here and there). But you have to constantly be checking if you have to ability to make you story a reality. One of the most upsetting things that can happen is when you have the perfect idea for a game, but the platform you use can't support it.
The next part is my personal favorite. After months of planning, you can finally start designing. That includes voice acting, the coding and the graphic design of the game. Next to developing the story, this will likely take the longest. I've just started this stage (the tryout scripts for my voice actors went out on Tuesday and Wednesday). This part has the most human interaction, unless your game doesn't have voice actors, then you don't have to worry. It's one of most final parts, too.
As of this point, I only have two regrets. That would be the fact that the sister-game/sequel to this one never got much thought and that I didn't incorporate stronger female characters into the one I am currently working on. The sister game to this one might be worked on once this one is done.
That was just a super basic timeline of coding a game. I have had so much fun just getting to put my ideas into reality! With the voice acting tryout scripts being sent out in the last couple of days, I can easily say this is one of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve ever had, and I would recommend it to anyone!