2011 January - Dev Diary: Landscape traveling
While the game focuses on puzzle solving gameplay that wants to tickle your brain, already moving through the world is ment to be different to other games. Silent Totems achieves this by having a "wrap around world". Something in the past only strategic games like Civilization used (by having a donut shaped world map which they display flattened in 2d). In Totems it comes down to the fact, that once you run enough to the left (while the screen follows you and the world scrolls by) what has been on the beginning on the left of the world now can be entered "comming" from the left (see video at 0:11, when the "ting" is hearable).
So imagine you have big wall in a level that you can not pass, then you can simply run far enough away from the wall to get to the other side. Actually Totems has a wall-creature: A wall that you can convince to move away so you can access stuff that was hidden below the wall - not behind it, thats easy to reach as i told you already :)
But wrapping (which is quite easy to understand as a player, but makes a lot of trouble to program) is not all that we wanted to be special about the players movement. So how do you get on the background layers? Can you talk to characters there? Well, we have those nifty Teleporters standing around, and when you find a cyan one on your current layer, you can travel to the layer that is one step backwards. While you can search the layer that is one step forward for a teleporter with yellow light, which will allow you to instantly travel there. But later, when you are solving more compliacted puzzles, there will also be shortcut teleporters that allow you to jump to a layer far away.
Ah, and while we're at it: We are also doing something special as audio background of the game. The music is divided into different tracks (lets say one for each instrument one can hear) and those tracks volumes are controlled by the current layer the player is on. So if you continue to play and have to travel to a different layer via teleporter, the music will softly change. From a bright nice mood in the easier layers, to a darker more tense sound in the difficultier layers.
Hint: play all the videos on this page with audio turned on, so you can hear some excerpts from Yanns great work.
2011 February II - Dev Diary: Don't grill the thirsty fish
WARNING: Spoiler(s) ahead. Basically all this texts here contain some spoilers (and will in the future). So if you want to get the full "i don't even know one bit of the game" puzzling experience, don't read this developer diary :) Or forget about it ASAP.
I want to introduce another gameplay mechanic: Water. Which can be somewhere as a lake, flow somewhere down the hill, be split into multiple puddles and remerge into a sea. Basically it will help you solve some puzzles you can't otherwise solve (i don't want to spoilt this here), but it will also deny you some pickups. Because you float on water, but some heavy pickups won't; which makes them un-pickup-able for you.
Enter: the Drinker. A quite large and quite thirsty fish. Of course you get thirsty, jumping on your nose through a land without enough water for you to swim. Nevertheless the Drinker is a helpfull animal. Just ask for its help and it will not only suck in water puddles and lakes until its tummy gets full, but also spit the water out whereever you want it to be.
Mainly this helps picking up things from the bottom of lakes, because no lake left means you can easily walk there in order to pick them up. But beware: The game will also feature lava puddles. And of course Drinkers can't drink anything, or can they?
2011 March II - Dev Diary: some totems don't like totem-poles
Have you ever considered a life on a totem-pole? Imagine a whole day, sitting ontop of someones head, while at the same time have someone else sit on your head. But its not about less space and much pressure, its also about the fact not being able to move at all. And now imagine this every day of a year, many years.
Dislike that? Well, i guess you can understand now how the fleeing parts in Silent Totems feel. In order to catch them you will have to come up with some really good ideas, or else you will never get recognised as a true talented totem catcher. You know: Gotta catch'em all! ;)