April 14, 2018 · Game Development

Upstream (Game Dev Log #1) - Concepts

As I explained in a previous post, I have decided to develop a "small" video-game this year. I've briefly explained the main idea of the game, the big picture, without explaining the concept. This is what this post will be about :)

It Starts With an Idea

Two heroes in different worlds (Ice & Fire) have to escort a caravan towards an unknown location, somewhere, in their own kingdom. They have to face some enemies that will try to stop them. But the biggest enemy is a dark magic that blows upstream...

Heroes can help each other by "teleporting" themselves in the world of the other hero.

OK, and now what?

Well, I had to dig this. I had to find real and concrete game mechanisms before jumping into any programming/graphical stuff.


It's a long but necessary process. It was very difficult, because I needed to imagine what exactly will be the game, in some fine details.

Upstream Logo

The game now has a name, Upstream! And now I do have my 2 heroes that players will be able to control, Nuru & Halvard.

Nuru is the Shaman of the Fire world. A wild woman very dangerous, quick & agile.
Halvard is the Knight of the Ice world. A heavy man, slow but unbreakable.

As it's a co-op game, I want the players to help each other as often as possible. So both characters have to be very complementary.

Nuru, the Shaman of Fire

Nuru originates in Swahili language and means "filled with light". I've been very inspired by those illustrations:

Shaman illustrations by Mirko Failoni Some shamans, by Mirko Failoni

Nuru will fight with a spear that deals huge damages. She will be able to dodge and run very fast. I really want her to be a nervous and dangerous but fragile character, able to help Halvard with her speed and her quick strike skills.

Halvard, the Knight of Ice

Halvard, old Norse origin, which means "guardian of the rock". For him, I've been inspired by those illustrations:

Some illustrations from different artists Illustrations by Kevin Jones, Jama Jurabaev and a "Royal Sentinel of Dark Souls".

Halvard will fight with a war hammer that would deal average damages. He will be able to block a lot of damage and Wind effects with his huge shield despite his slowness. I want him to be able to help Nuru with his blocking skills.

Ice & Fire

Ambient illustration of ice & fire Ice and fire by merl1ncz

As both character will live in their own world, I want them to have very different enemies to fight against. For now I have 3 kind of enemies for each world, each one with its abilities and weaknesses.

The goal of this is to have coherent enemies towards their environment, while having some fun gameplay mechanics. Halvard should be very helpful against the Fire enemies, the same goes for Nuru in the Ice world.

For example, one of the enemy of the Ice world is a huge giant with a shield. It's extremely hard to kill alone for Halvard, hard, but possible. If Nuru comes to the Ice world, she can easily help him by getting around the giant quickly and deals huge damages on unprotected part of the giant.

The Wind

In the Upstream world, an endless wind continuously blows on this land. Heavily inspired by “The horde of the Counterwind” written by Alain Damasio.

I wrote some ideas on how this wind would take effect into the game.
It's definitely a huge part in the narration of the game (Nuru & Halvard escort a caravan to the origin of the wind upstream, the player will discover why) AND in the mechanics it can bring to the game.

I still need to dig mechanics of the Wind. I'll explain them in a dedicated post :)

Game engine

I initially wanted to develop the game with Unity. As I'm still a beginner on this game engine, I would have to learn too much things to achieve my game (I want to ship it at the end of 2018... Yeah, I know, "deadlines", haha). As I really want to do everything on my own (Programming, Art, Music & SFX), I think it would have been too hard in addition to that, to learn advanced stuff for Unity.

So I looked for others game engines. I've started with Construct 3 and for now it feels really great. I can prototype very quickly and easily, which is a great thing. I can focus on gameplay, arts & musics.

On next posts, I'll have something to show (I'm currently creating pixel art for my characters and trying to prototype something playable with Construct 3).

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