Though much of the game has been loosely designed the team needs something concrete and productive to work on. We need a goal to strive for that represents real progress on the game, so a good start is the first playable level.

A first playable level doesn’t have to be pretty, but it has to be functional. The main character Tommynaut should be able to walk on a floor, push a button and collect an item. The Unity engine will be up and working as we apply temp sound effects and make sure music plays, character animation can load, and the camera presents the best point of view for the player to experience the game.

While my designs are still images, it’s the magicians Mike and Ed at Pencil Test Studios who do the animation. The first playable level might have some puppet animate visible, but most of it is “pencil test” animation, which consists of roughly drawn, loose animation sequences that aren’t even cleaned up. The drawings still represent correct proportions and snappy timing, so they act as a playable proof of concept before we pull the trigger and devote expensive resources to final puppet animation.

We’ve got about a month to make the first playable level, but if it succeeds we’ll have a huge, reliable and definitive tool kit to make about 75% of the game! While Mike and Ed are working on this first playable level, I’m working on a super-tight design for the first 1/2 of the game. So if the first playable works out, we’ll be ready to go into production on the first half of the game, and the work being done will be very close to finish when it gets dropped into the working engine.

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