David here, your friendly neighborhood designer, ready to share with you some of the inspiration and reference materials used to contribute to the UI/UX and Level Design thus far in development.
While the whole team is heavily inspired by various relevant movies, anime, comics, and other games, I thought I'd take some time to share some of the books that have helped influence designs in the game and potentially introduce material that some might find interesting.
(This isn't a new development update, per se. But, if you stick with me here, you may find a sneak peek somewhere...)
Spelunky by Derek Yu
First up is Boss Fight Books's Spelunky. Other than being one of the best games OF ALL TIME, what drew me to the book initially was the promise of any insight into the design of its procedural levels and systems. The secret sauce of Spelunky is its random level generation design and the possibility space afforded by its many deliberate system interactions. Much like in Due Process, the game wants the player to master their understanding of the game's underlying systems and interactions, rather than having them rely on rote memorization of level layouts.
Our game tends to have small levels due to the need to mitigate information overload while planning and to keep rounds short. To provide varied levels which demand complex plans, we need versatile terrain which can interact with other pieces of terrain to provide interesting scenarios. The golden idol traps in Spelunky's mine level are an example of how the positioning of interesting terrain can provide a lot of depth to otherwise simple levels. Have a thick wall blocking off a desirable room and not enough bombs to gain entry? Have an angry shopkeeper lurking near the exit? Great. Steal the idol and trigger the giant boulder trap to rampage down through the level and destroy everything in its path. Just be careful it doesn't destroy a sacrificial altar, crush a damsel in distress, or even kill you in the process.The list of interactions goes on and on, but the idol trap serves as a great example of how the game's systems are made up of all these somewhat generic "puzzle pieces" that fit together in ways that create interesting scenarios and strategies.
One of the closest analogs DP has at the moment is it's electrical objects system and how shutting off the power in the level leads to potentially interesting trade-offs. A plan where the attackers turn off the lights to blind the defenders, but consequently power down the automatic sliding door (which blocks off access to a room), is the result of our "puzzle pieces" fitting together in ways that create interesting situations.
While the bits about level randomization and systems design are probably the most relevant information here, this book is also a great overview of game development and how iterating on a game over many years ultimately tends to lead to something worthwhile.
A Burglar's Guide to the City by Geoff Manaugh
This book was written by Geoff Manaugh, an author also known for his popular blog on architecture, BLDGBLOG.com. It's essentially a book about the covert breaching of buildings, so there's a great deal of stories here that serve to influence potential new level geometry and entry methods. It's also an excellent source for stories about silly criminal antics and scenarios. Stories of burglars hiding naked in air vents, sneaking through the ceiling rafters in department stores, or burglarizing apartment buildings by tunneling underground and chipping holes through drywall. Then there's even mention of the FBI's internal program "Stagehand" and its "Tac-Ops" team - a distributed crew of government-sanctioned burglars that are essentially the Ocean's 11 crew IRL. Lots of good stuff here that will inevitably be pulled into DP in some shape or form.
101 Things I Learned in Architecture School by Matthew Frederick
A solid overview of some architectural basics. It serves as an easy-grab reference for some quick inspiration to jog some ideas and possibly inspire a new approach. It's more about the psychology of architecture than an overview of styles. It helps with ideas about how to make more plausible, human-made rooms/spaces created by the random level generator. Check it out if you're interested in level design at all, as it's a great little desk book to have on hand.
Shadowrun 2nd Edition by Jordan Weisman
CYBERPUNK. What else is there to say? This game book is a good study for potential technologies used by the criminals in a somewhat similarly-themed universe, as well as just the general look/feel/attitude that helps add to the asymmetry between the cop and the criminal roles (low-tech / re-purposed items vs. state-of-the-art). See the smart goggles image below for some inspiration on how to potentially justify the diegetic nature of the criminals' current HUD. The re-purposing of real-life locations into fictional lairs and hangouts for the downtrodden also makes for some interesting thematic ideas / locations which could serve as the basis for future level concepts and designs.
Büro Destruct Vol. I + II + III by Büro Destruct
For those not familiar with Büro Destruct, they are a Swiss graphic design studio with a knack for making really beautiful things. Honestly, there isn't much to say here because the pictures really speak for themselves. Similar in style to a lot of The Designers Republic's works (the English design studio responsible for the style of the Wipeout games), the books feature many vibrant late 90's retro-futuristic ads, posters, logos, and much, much more. A great source of ingenuity and designs that have a somewhat similar vibe to the things we're shooting for with Due Process.
Narita Inspected by Büro Destruct
Narita Inspected is a remarkable curation of Japanese logos and graphics influenced by Japanese pop culture entertainment such as games, anime, toys, and more. It features a rad collection of futuristic logo designs, advertisements, and typography which I feel are perfectly in tune with theme/style of Due Process and have helped lend to the styleboarding of the game's various interfaces. While this isn't a book review by any means, I still highly recommend this to anyone interested in graphic design. This is easily one of my top 5 favorite graphic design books that I own.
Hopefully in the near future I can go a bit more in-depth on what's actually in the game with regards to how our levels and interface are designed. But for now, these are just a few of the books which have helped inspire some of my contributions to the game thus far. Have any suggestions that you think are potentially relevant // interesting? There's an abundance of great source material out there and I'd be curious to hear if any of you know of some hidden gems. If so, hit me up!
Oh, and before I go, I leave you all with this: