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Sound Design with Nicolas Gueguen

Nicolas is never out of ideas when recording sound effects for video games. His know-how and his endless imagination allow him to use his environment to produce all the sounds he wants on Fmod.

What part of your job do you like the most?

Playing the game! And tweaking audio at the same time. Sometimes it’s hard to not get hooked and to stay focused on the audio.

Which sound effect was the craziest to record?

I recorded a sound that didn’t make it in the game. There’s a room called Kitchen and at the beginning, we were testing some audio ambiances to fit in each room. I had to record myself cooking stuff, water boiling, pan-frying, cutting vegetables… Not very crazy but fun anyways.

Was it the first time you worked with voice actors? What did you learn from them and this experience?

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Art direction with Victoria Guareschi

Victoria is a freelance artist whose role was to give shape to Neurodeck’s phobias, cards and UI. She worked hard to provide this colorful touch in this dark atmosphere when fighting phobias!

How would you describe your job in your own words?

I like to think that my job is basically to give life to all those amazing ideas, concepts, stories that come my way.

What was the most challenging part of your work on Neurodeck?

Before Neurodeck, I had never worked on a deckbuilder card game before. It was really challenging for me to understand its features. I spent a lot of time thinking about the interface and all of the elements I had to show on-screen while keeping the whole thing elegant and refined. Representing phobias was a bit challenging for me too since I had never drawn monstrous things like this before. My usual style is more like the one you can see on card illustrations.

Some of Victoria’s favorite card illustrations.
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Music composition with Tilia Weevers

Tilia has an amazing musical sensibility and has a very good adaptation capacity. She composed and played the music for Neurodeck.

How would you describe your job in your own words?

I do lots of things actually! I give individual singing lessons, I use my voice for voice-over, logo jingles or other stuff, I compose music and write songs, I make photomontages of fantasy creatures that I stick on canvas, I sculpt masks… But the main thing that I do for a living is my singing lessons.

How was composing for Neurodeck different from what you used to work on?

It was so interesting to work with the staff and exchange ideas and impressions with them for the atmosphere that the music had to give. I work alone most of the time, composing my own songs or instrumentals. For Neurodeck, I worked with people and composed music for a game for the first time, an old dream came true.

How would you sum up your collaboration with Nicolas Gueguen, sound designer for Neurodeck?

The collaboration with Nicolas was very intuitive, he asked me to split some of the tracks so he could adapt the music in the game. For example, he needed a “stressful” track with sounds on top of the other instruments for the parts where it was needed. The communication was clear and easy, I liked that very much.

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Game Design with Félix Moll

Félix is a passionate Game Designer specialized in balancing and ergonomics. He has freshly taken up his position at Globlinz Studio. He used his technical knowledge in roguelikes and deckbuilders for the development of Neurodeck as a freelance Game Designer.

What are the most important qualities for a Game Designer according to you?

In my opinion, the ability to communicate efficiently with other team members is one of the most important qualities for a Game Designer.

Video game creation is all about teamwork , and communication is an aspect of the job that is extremely important in my opinion. Being curious and eager to learn are also important qualities because you will always learn new things while working on a game!

What did Neurodeck teach you about mental health?

Even if I was already a bit aware of these themes, I think working on Neurodeck helped me to understand how important mental health is these days, especially through feedback from players, playtesters and content creators.

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Phobia animation with Jeanne Prigent

Jeanne is a talented and dynamic freelance 2D animator who worked on Neurodeck’s phobia animation.

What is the part of your job that you like the most?

The part of my job I like the most might be making the rough animations. That’s the step of the workflow where you bring life to the character – for Neurodeck, they were phobias. That’s the moment when you have to think about the movements you’ll make, the personality of the subject and even what the player might feel while watching it. It’s the most interesting part of the process and I am thrilled everytime I start a new animation!

What have you learned from your experience on Neurodeck?

I graduated less than a year ago when I started animating for Neurodeck. I had already worked on games, but they were student games, game jam projects or serious games that weren’t supposed to reach as many players as Neurodeck. Thanks to this experience, I improved my animation skills since phobias’ actions were movements I had never animated before – it was very different from the usual walk cycle, for example. Thanks to the team who trusted me and my work, I gained a lot of self-confidence and I’m very grateful for this.

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Narrative Design with Léonard Bertos

Léonard Bertos is a skilled and innovative Narrative Designer at Globlinz Studio. He also took part in Neurodeck’s development.

What is the experience that definitely made you fall in love with your job?

I fell in love with the job before it was a job. This non-job was modding games. It started with Warcraft III, which was more like playing Playmobils at that age, then I discovered how powerful it could get with Starcraft and triggers and I made an infiltration game out of it. Years later, I released Castel Uvirith, a big – and strange – mod for Morrowind and les Chroniques Gargantuines, an Age-of-Empire campaign about Gargantua.

I wasn’t even sure that writing for video games was an actual job back then. In fact, the position is still very new. The title itself is sometimes used to say either “game designer working with the writer” or “actually a writer with game design skills.” I’m more like the second one.

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Enemies as targeted challenges in roguelite/deckbuilders

Hi! We’re TavroxGames, a French indie video game studio. We are currently making Neurodeck, a roguelite/deckbuilding game about mental health. The game is currently in open alpha with updates planned in the coming months.

This article is part of a series where we reflect on the design of the game. Here, we will talk about how we designed enemies as targeted challenges for the player. First, let’s talk a bit about the common axes of design in the roguelite/deckbuilder genre.

As the genre structured, dynamics appeared in the way resources (cards, passive abilities..) were designed to maximize the impact of player’s choices through the game. The presence of these dynamics help skilled players making clear choices about what they want to get. They also offer another layer of complexity while choosing between different items. The following list presents recurring axes of design in deckbuilding games :

  • Damage vs Defense. This axis checks if the card has an offensive function or a defensive function. Defense (such as “block” effects) is especially important in games where life is a persistent value. Part of the challenge is then to find the right balance of attack/defense to preserve your life total.
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Archetypes in deckbuilding games

This article is part of a series that will cover the game design of Neurodeck, our roguelite/deckbuilder game. You can learn more about the game on its Steam page, or join its open alpha on our Discord server!

Hi! I’m working with TavroxGames, a French indie video game studio. I am currently helping to make Neurodeck, a roguelite/deckbuilding game where players explore their subconscious mind while fighting phobias. For context purposes, the game is currently in open alpha with a first playable run and regular updates planned in the coming months.

This series will focus on giving readers an insight on the way we conceptualized and developed the design of the game, while trying a new twist on the genre of roguelite/deckbuilders. As the game is still in development, it will also be a way for us to reflect on which paradigms and concepts seem the most interesting, and what worked for us (or didn’t). Let’s start with a brief presentation of the game and its core mechanics.

As said earlier, Neurodeck is a roguelite/deckbuilder: your goal is to go as far as possible in the rooms that represent your subconscious mind, where you will encounter friendly characters, random events and vicious phobias to defeat. You begin each “run” with a standard deck of cards that depends on the base emotion you chose (more on this later), and that will be upgraded through your journey. Of course, there’s a big phobia boss at the end of the maze to challenge you and the strategy you built. Battles take place in a simple way: you draw 4 cards at the beginning of the game, and 2 new cards each turn. Cards are either classic “action” cards, that have a direct effect on the state of the game when used (deal damage to the phobia, various effects…), or “equipment” cards: objects that stay available until fully used or discarded. Playing a card costs “Sanity” and “action points” (AP), two different game resources.

Main combat interface