TRAUMA – Photographic Sense

So this weekend I added a couple of new features to TRAUMA (not online yet). First of all, a lot of beta testers asked for some way to view the Polaroid collectibles once they collected them. I was actually thinking of the same thing already but wasn’t so sure about it. The beta convinced me. So now when you click on already collected Polaroids on the top of the screen, you will actually travel to the Polaroid in question.

TRAUMA Navigation via Polaroids

Click on the icons for already collected Polaroids to jump to them. A simple way to make the collectibles more useful.

This solves a lot of problems at once. First of all, you can view your collectibles. Also, you can review the audio commentary associated with the Polaroids in case you missed them. It also makes the collectibles more useful – you can use them to actually navigate through the world.

Technically, this was a little more difficult than it might seem. Some of the Polaroids are in places that are only accessible after performing some action. So when you jump to one of those, the game needs to realize that and quietly perform the actions in the background. I actually had a lot of the systems required for this stuff in place and implementing this functionality was a really helpful opportunity to tie up some loose ends together.

But since I was working on the Polaroids anyway, I decided to add another functionality – the Photographic Sense.

TRAUMA Photographic Sense

A message box informing about the new Photographic Sense. It helps players in search of the collectibles.

The thing is that more often than not, finding the Polaroids is really just up to pure luck. Some of them are impossibly well hidden. I disliked how the game didn’t offer any kind of clues. That’s something I criticized with on games. So I decided to add a feature that let’s you know how far away you are from a Polaroid you haven’t found yet. You can activate it simply by hovering above the icon for that polaroid. A text fades in telling you how far away it is. Even with this help, some of the Polaroids are still very tough to find.

Also, I decided to make this an unlockable feature. I already realized that a lot of the beta testers over-focused on the Polaroids. This is a weird, uncertain game and the Polaroids seem like a simple thing to focus on. Introducing such a helper early on would put the Polaroids even more in the foreground than they already are. So I decided to make this feature unlock once a player finds all endings in that level. Additionally, this would add a missing acknowledgment that the player found all the endings.

But then that meant that I needed a message box to communicate to players that a feature has unlocked. And message boxes are really a problem in general. I went for a message that disappears after a given time or after the user clicks.

I was surprised about how many difficult features I implemented this time around. The to-do list gets slimmer and slimmer. It’s pretty much all about bugfixing from now on! I will look into ways to get a week off to crunch trough. I can smell the release already.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

One response to “TRAUMA – Photographic Sense”

  1. Kami

    I really can’t wait for this – I found out about it recently, and I’ve been listening to the trailer over and over – not only is it fascinating to watch, but the music, combined with the soft camera-like clicks and the gentle voice-over, are very relaxing to listen to in the background, similar to the effect of listening to an audiobook while half-dozing. Watching the video – I.E. paying attention instead of using it as a background track – makes me incredibly curious. Sometimes I even catch on parts of the dialog, while using it as a background track, and I get pulled into watching it one more time, which is followed by an urge to explore the areas in the video, and hear more of the monologue than is included in the video. Congrats to you for posting something so intriguing. A very effective hook! I’m really looking forward to it!


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