Remembering Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs (part 5)

This is the final day of "Pigs week", and we hope you've enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the sequel to Amnesia. In today's post, we continue the level-by-level breakdown we started yesterday, with more maps, more interactions and more details!

Catch up with the other posts from this week here:

Concept primer part 1, part 2 and part 3, and design walkthrough part 1.

Enjoy!

 

Design Walkthrough with maps (continued)

5. Boiler

The boiler is based around one large chamber, in which a huge metal tank, creaking and drooling green pus and bile stands. A staircase runs around the tank, leading to four separate levels. These stairs and walkways are metal and wooden and don’t look that safe. Pieces can fall off them as we move about. At the top, they join a stone bridge that looks like part of the sewer complex, it leads to a grille like the Factory’s, closed off. The chamber the boiler is in is also stone, sewer like, though the boiler is metal, out of place. We enter on the second-highest floor, into a storeroom.

The next floor down is ignition control, a control panel tells us this, but also has a board of 16 lights, two of the red, fourteen of them green, and the ignition key. Near to this is a fuel rod cap (this is a highly infective item and we need to keep tabs on our medical supplies- they are littered around the boiler). We need to collect another of these from the storeroom on the level below, then continue to the base of the boiler, past the closed door to Rod Control, and under the boiler itself, past the huge burners and into a small corridor that leads to the weird fuel rod tank. Here, the tech is suddenly nuclear, totally out of place. Clean blue water, massive infections. There are sixteen rods in the water, two are missing caps. The ‘solution’ is obvious. Once we’ve placed these, we are so infectious we blackout automatically and have a vision: it’s the pyramid at the end of the game, and we get The Machine speaking of how it can save the world, rid it of the filth. Childrens’ voices, “Look Daddy, we’ve found an egg! It’s a giant stone egg!” The Machine: “Restore me Mandus, start the engine and burn away the filth, we will achieve our purity, I will deliver you the children”.

We wake up in Rod Control and throw the switch, Unholy hum, screen starts shaking. Climb the now falling apart staircase as the boiler throbs and heaves, reach Ignition Control and throw the switch. “I live! I live again!” bellows The Machine in best traditions of Victorian evil villains, and if we now explore, we will find the grille has opened and we can exit this space.

EVENTS:

  • VO’s on pipe crawl approach.
  • In storeroom – door locked. Children laughing on other side. Crash of furniture, then it opens.
  • Control board in top room – currently red lights on two of the grid (others are green) – map of the rod room below.
  • If the player goes left, ladder is currently up. Shudders.
  • Looking down from top run, see a manpig scuttle along the bottom.
  • Rod 1 in first storeroom we come too.
  • Visual distortions in fuel control – sounds of fires and screaming.
  • Fuel cannot be routed – but there’s a second rod in the cupboard
  • INFECTION EVENT: whilst carrying the rods, the player is always at Level One infection. With two, it’s level TWO.
  • At foot of the stairs, door to storeroom slams shut. As player approaches it, it bangs.
  • Manpig in the storeroom, player must lure it out
  • Ignition control airlock – window in wall, manpig chases in, but only one door can be open at once, and the player can shut it in, then use the wheel at the side to flush the airlock with toxins.
  • Ignition control – cannot be started.
  • Spawn point – Ignition control, and under the final stairs.
  • Highly toxic rod control – player must put the two missing rods in the correct places, then they glow. When second is places, screen starts shaking – INFECTION EVENT -  level three! Player can stumble back to ignition control, but once there, or if they ignore it, on the stairs AUTOMATIC blackout.
  • VO in darkness.
  • Wake up in ignition control – lights are green, screen shake down a bit. Fire boiler and screen shakes are big, noisy – lights change throughout level. Ladder at top drops, all control panels now on in other rooms.


6. Engines

There’s a lot of noise here – grinding and pumping. We follow the access corridor, and find ourselves in a chimney-like brick structure, shifting hue from the green of the sewer back towards the reddish-brown of the Factory. We are in the engine, directly under the piston room. Below us, three huge cogwheels turn, we need to fall in a gap in the cogs, or the centre of the wheel to the next, and so on, until we reach the bottom. Between the middle and top wheel however, there is a broken vent that leads to a storeroom, where we can grab a box (or crowbar probably)  - we’ll need this later on. At the far side of this is an access ladder, which is bolted from underneath, so we can only get into the room from the bottom (if we didn’t get the crowbar, we’ll need to do that later on).

At the bottom of the wheels, we can see they are attached to a set of vertical wheels in a long corridor, but the first is set slightly away and they are not turning so we can’t get through to the left. However, we can take a corridor to the right and follow this around to a control room. The architecture here is dark, greys and blacks, oil and blood around. Cramped and dank, very noisy when we are near moving wheels. In the control room (as before, all the control rooms have that Jules Verne mix of plush Victoriana and bathysphere-chic), there is a gearbox missing the gearstick. Another door leads us to a space under the pistons. Strange boxy engines and machines are dotted about here, creating a simple maze-like structure – it’s very dark, but we might want to not put the lantern on, as there is a beast in here with us. There are two exits to this space. One leads to a storeroom where we can find the gearstick, the other is a ladder that takes us back to the (operational) knife-section of the pigline above – currently grilled off (we go here later). Grabbing the gearstick, we can activate the gearbox in the control room and the vertical wheels in the passage will now start turning. There is a potential here for a puzzle where we have a number of gear controls for each wheel and they spin at different speeds, so you have to set the right combination, but that’s optional. Either way, at the end of the cog corridor is a ladder up. As we approach, the grille slides back and we can go up to Piston Control.

This control room looks out onto the Piston Room. We can activate each piston in turn. 2 & 3 do nothing, but 1 can be used to crush the beast in the piston cage. Once we’ve dispatched the beast, we can head back along the cog corridor, only they have sped up to varying degrees and one is moving too fast to get through. We need to use the crowbar from earlier- if we don’t have it, there is a second route, through a vent shaft, back to the chimney store room via the access ladder, so we can fetch it this way. We make out way back via engine control, and the engine room up the ladder to the pigline. During this, The Machine is crowing about being free and realising its destiny and saying things like “More pig! More pig!” in an upsetting and frankly pretty fucking disturbing way.

The pigline is now operational and the conveyor is moving. This also means the knife arms are slicing away so we can’t go back. We can ride the line out into the piston room again, only the grille at the far end hasn’t opened as we thought, so the only way to go is back down onto the piston room floor. We can’t get past the piston yet, we have to engage the emergency brake in the far corner, before we can exit.

EVENTS:

  • Drop into slowly rotating wheels.
  • Wheel in corridor stopped, no access.
  • Flickering strobe lights in main engine room – manpig in there (trap in storeroom).
  • Use gearstick in gearbox – wheels now spinning in corridor.
  • Get to control room – overload circuits (tile puzzle?) – shakes on pig corridor, noise and smoke?
  • Thundering engine now, ground shaking and low level noise and pistons smashing.
  • On return to engine room lift-  as hit elevator, crashing noise and manpig bursts out of storeroom.
  • In lift, lift stops, creaks, lights off, down and up again (engine is failing)
  • On pig line, knives and sawblades are now working fine – avoid them obviously.
  • No INFECTION events apart from the manpig

 

7. Fattening

We climb a ladder and find ourselves at the back of a broom cupboard, exiting this we are once again in a hallway in a house: paintings, carpets, all normality. There are four doors, two are locked. Both open doors lead to studies. In one there are sketches of the machine – Mandus’ office, clearly – and an elevator in the corner that has a hole for a round key-like object. The other study has obsessive collections of items about Mayan and Aztec gods, and drawings of the Orb feature in many of these. There is a library key in the desk drawer. We travel through the library and find ourselves in another hallway, which leads onto the Banqueting Hall. This is a two level room, with the banqueting table below and landings with many doors above, accessed by a staircase near a set of locked double doors at the far end. Although the décor here is lush, everything is caked in gore and grime. The table is a scene of massacre, filth-strewn and with rotting food everywhere, chairs knocked down, blood sprayed across the walls. There is a carcass at the centre of the table, it looks suspiciously human. The Machine says “It is one of those great ironies that in order to rid oneself of filth, one must occasionally pander to its needs. But I will be rid of them all soon enough”. Mandus realises this is inhuman, and confronts the Machine, who laughs and says it is only doing what Mandus instructed it to do, that the answers lies buried beneath a temple in Mexico. Exploring the rooms above, several are open – these are the Fattening Chambers. We’ve seen one before, caged four-posted beds swimming in putrid flesh and shit, feeding hoses dangling from the ceiling, a headless body spewing lightning back into the walls. Argument between Mandus and The Machine reaches a head in one room, triggered by being on the bed – an alcove behind a portrait is the bait – The Machine sneers that Mandus is a pig like all the others and will be dealt with the same way – and the bed drops away like a trap door, landing Mandus on the operational pigline.

This section contains the big plot hinge, as Mandus realises The Machine is the enemy and must be destroyed. We travel along moving conveyors – you can’t move against the flow. There is potential for some extensions here as the mapping is pretty simple and repeatable, so if we need to buy time for story, it’s a straightforward matter. We are moving through stone walls, metal conveyors, swinging lights now burning, meat hooks moving on their chains. We pass other conveyors, on one we see a beast skewered on a hook squealing off into the darkness. The Machine rants on “Whores, beggars, orphans, filthy degenerates. Pigs all. But we had our plan, Mandus, you and I, we would purify the streets, cleanse this city, set the great industry free. We would have cleaned the world, made it pure” and later “You have already seen the answer. The Maya believed by shedding blood they would avert the apocalypse. Their tragedy was nothing more than a lack of industrialisation. They simply could not shed enough blood. But you and I, Mandus, we understand and we have built a great machine capable of spilling more blood than the Mayan’s could ever have dreamed of!”

Meanwhile, the gameplay set-piece requires the player to shift from conveyor to conveyor on the pigline, avoiding being sent into spinning blades (if this happens, the machine jams, the player blacks out and is dragged to the central area by A by a beast – we don’t want a ton of reloads going on). They need to set a series of switches, ride the belt out to C to power up B, then ride it to B, set that, ride back towards C and jump to the lower belt on the way. They ride this over a huge room, passing away into the darkness. “I was born here, Mandus, under these streets, a thousand miles from my jungle temples. When I have amassed enough power, when there has been enough sacrifice, I will split the atom, my egg, and ascend with the ashes to become a god” (remember the nuclear fuel rods – uh oh…)

We climb upwards on the belt – riding one, we find a belt-control room, and in it, the Olmec head key to power the elevator in the study. Riding further upwards and suddenly into a dark area, where we are dumped off the belt into a blue-lit, tiled room. It’s a freezer, the belt has dropped us onto a pile carcasses, part pig, part human. More hang on chains around us. There are three interconnected freezer chambers, the corpses on hooks create swinging walls. A cry tells us we are not alone here. It’s really infectious, we need to take care. We can maybe extinguish some of the gaslights on the walls to help us, maybe use some meat or offal from the floor to throw and distract the monster in here with us. If we make it through, we climb up out of a chute into a kitchen, like the banqueting hall it is a scene of carnage. A head in a pan on the stove, arms and legs hang like sausages, someone has been boiling what we hope is a doll. “This is all you are. I have seen what you boil down to, and it is nothing more than grease to ease the machine” we are told by The Machine. “You are all the same. The man eats the pig and the pig is eaten by the machine and the man is eaten by the machine. This is as it ever will be”. It tells us that Mandus killed his own children on the steps of a Mayan temple, believing he could avert the coming apocalypse if he shed enough blood. “You built me Mandus. And I, in turn, have built you.”

Out of the kitchen, via the locked doors into the banqueting room, through the library to the elevator in the study. Mandus determined to stop the machine. We ride it down and down, into the heart of the monster.

EVENTS:
(see manpig patrol route)

  1. Loud crash and lights flicker overhead on and off (weird electrical lights here)
  2. Scratching noise from inside the cupboard. When it’s opened, headless corpse falls out (INFECTION event)
  3. FX
  4. Locked, requires key from 6.
  5. Locked – only opens from banqueting side.
  6. Only accessible from 3 – both doors are barricaded, but these can be cleared. Contains library key, lots of blood and gore strewn around it. Head in a bucket – player hears whispering on entrance (Dr Olafson’s!). Bucket is rattling from a distance?
  7. Locked from corridor side, can only access via banqueting.
  8. Lights in library are strobing. When player is inside properly, children’s voices “Sssshhh!” and all the lights go off.
  9. Bookshelf topples over behind the player.
  10. Visual distortions, INFECTION area near table.
  11. In one room, painting behind bed askew to show partly opened safe. When player on bed, cage bars descend from ceiling to trap them, then bed opens up / falls away to dump them on conveyor.
  12. Room is open but door to elevator is locked (Olmec head key must be obvious)
  13. Conveyor belts (needs work in 3D) – switches to change their direction, to allow player to progress.
  14. Get Olmec head key – vision of Aztec temple
  15. Freezer – INFECTION event – manpig in the freezer. Use offal to distract it? Build this into the AI.

 

8. Tesla

We pass through the sewers, it’s important that the player understands we are beneath them, and into small series of corridors- potentially surgical labs and cells, but this is disposable. It might be better to put the player back through some sewers and then underneath them, with a Mandus voice-over saying something about all the shit flowing above the machine, it’s fear of the filth but it’s need for it, to power it’s plans to slaughter the population of London and become a God.

EVENTS:

  1. All the lights go off, then on, then splutter, then go on again. But strobe occasionally throughout the level.
  2. Door slams behind the player, Machine VO about stopping Mandus. Lights go off, children whisper “This was papa” and door opens in darkness. Light comes back on again.
  3. Lever by the side of the door opens this. It also opens the door at the far end of 4, but closes the door leading to 8+9
  4. Manpig is here (INFECTION event) – cannot get at the player though.
  5. Lever here opens door 4, releasing the manpig. Lever on the far side shuts this door and door 4 – so player has to bring manpig out, then trap it in.
  6. Lever here opens 6 and 5 – lever on far side closes, draw the manpig further, then trap between 5 and 6.
  7. Lever here finally opens the doorway to get to 8+9
  8. Manpig body hooked up to machine. Begins to thrash as we go into the room.
  9. Lights go off again, sound of huge engine below us somewhere. Things crash, light splutters, then blue cables along the wall begin to glow, leading us up the stairs and towards the maze.

We end up in the CPU maze. The environment has started to become strange, we now have pylons and cables running around, interwoven with the stonework walls and ceilings of the sewers and embedded factory. We look down on a weird cage of electricity – the CPU. Horrible grinding noises, strobing blue lights, dust falls from the ceiling. This is the central route, ideally, it’s all in a giant 3d cage of metal that is really disorientating from the outside. Bold blue static. Lightning caged. Manpigs squealing and burning within.  

a. Trip switch to fuse the machine. Both trips need to be thrown to shortcircuit the CPU and open the gate to the tesla field (c.) – the wall is otherwise ‘live’ – doing big electrical damage to the player.
b. The second switch. First switch thrown results in massive screen shake, explosions, dust. Second (no matter which order) – machine screams in fury, explosion, all the lights go out (lantern only!) Fuel by the switch just in case.
c. Exit route to tesla field – crashing behind as whole CPU electrifies – heading for the player so they have to jump – if not, they are thrown backwards.
d. As player enters the room next to him (towards switch A), the door slams shut and the manpig is electrocuted.
e. Ignore the door, the manpig is trapped in here. INFECTION if close though.
f. Huge boom, lights go off. Engine re-fires, lights come on again, lots of dust and shit.
g. As above
h. As above

We exit over a huge construction, a grid of pillars with lightning arching around between them. Suspened in a vast space, seems to go on forever above, around us (lightning constricts our actual exploration). We descend several layers. Again, this sequence buys us time to deliver the build to the climax in terms of the narrative, as The Machine give us it’s mad rants about being a God, buried in the jungle until Mandus found it and hatched it out, the truth about him building the complex and machine, the blood on his hands, and through it all, The Machine’s condemnation: “This world is a machine! A machine fit only for pigs! For the slaughtering of pigs!”. At a bottom level, we find an elevator. Time for the final descent.

 

8.5 Elevator journey

Potential addition – fade in and out of shots of environments (from before) – huge structures –sense of time passing, of depth- only if there’s time to implement it.

 


9.    Temple

We fall for a long time. Mandus’ ‘final’ voice over, his coming to terms with killing his children, building the machine, his madness, his finding of the Orb. The need for the machine to be stopped, that he doesn’t yet understand what is meant by its plan to bathe the world in cleansing light.

He lands in another rocky cavern, but the ceiling is interwoven with the underneath of the sewer tunnels. Cables run. The cavern opens up into a much larger one. At the centre of this is a Mayan pyramid, with cables running up the stairs haphazardly. There are four stone pillars running up to the roof, clearly the same architecture as the sewers. The one nearest the player is corrupted, split, large cracks run from it to the pyramid, up it, there is rubble at its base. Around this, a body of a beast and a shattered fuel rod, like the ones in the boiler. If the player explores, another smaller cavern off the main one contains a pile of fuel rods. There are also many more piled around the base of the pyramid and arranged on the steps. Mandus realises “If one of these cracked rods was enough to shatter stone, if these are the fuel powering this entire machine, then what hell would be unleashed if all of them were to be channelled into a single mighty explosion. It would be like the very sun on earth”. The lightning from the Tesla field runs vertically downwards to the top of the pyramid, at it’s summit is an altar and the orb, suspended in a beam of lightning.

The way to complete the game is simple, the player must smash rods against the remaining three pillars. Each time, cracks appear, the world shakes, rubble falls, the player becomes increasingly infected. “I will bring the sky down, crack the supports and collapse the sewer systems down onto this infernal engine. I will drown it in the very excrement it fears so much.” When the player cracks the last rod against the last pillar, the game ends: the world shakes violently, rocks and rubble falls, stuff strikes Mandus and he falls, the screen going black for the final voice over as we hear the Machine screaming, water rushing in, the chamber collapsing.

There is the potential for another ending, which is really easy to implement and might take advantage of the fact that some player somewhere is going to attempt to take a rod to the lightning. In this case, instead of going to black, we go to white – Mandus has set off the nuclear explosion and we have The Machine delivering the final voice over, not Mandus. It’s very easy to add this in as an alternative as it doesn’t require any animations…

 

Additions, Considerations & Alterations in Relation to Schematically Disruptive Design:

  • Playing with Peripheral Vision in Darkness

In Darkness, peripheral vision is far more effective than central-gaze vision due to the functionality of cone and rod cells in the eye.

Dependent on the darkness level (or possibly dependent on volumes in the world space), enemies may become much much more visible when on the edges of the screen, possibly becoming almost invisible as they move into the player character’s ‘centre-gaze’.

This could be implemented either in relation to character sanity (even though a sanity mechanic does not exist per se) with VFX being overlaid to suggest the presence of enemies, or by placing actual agents around the character, and making their meshes more or less opaque dependent on the amount of the mesh visible on the screen.

  • Linking Visual Impairment to Infection Level

Tunnel vision, or, more interestingly, central scomata (the opposite of tunnel vision) could be inflicted on a player dependent on infection level.

Couple central scomata with the peripheral vision idea above and this could really freak players out. Should only be inflicted at level 3 or 4 infection as would be frustrating over long periods.

If real-world relevance is needed, visual problems such as these can be caused by toxic chemicals in the body, such as methyl alcohol, ethambutol or quinine. They can also be caused through nutritional deficiency but over a longer period.

  • The Every-Direction Sound Effect

In a maze section, near mid/end of game, as mental state is deteriorating, a sound effect source event could be attached to the player character, that emits a series of disturbing sounds (footsteps, muttering, low growls and grunts etc) whilst spinning around the player character (making full use of 3D sound), disorients and bombards the senses.

  • Semi-Permanent Hearing Damage to Player Character

In environments that would nowadays require ear protection (Engines for example) the longer the player is in the space, the longer after leaving it should take for their hearing to return to normal.

We could play with simulated ear-ringing or temporary tinnitus, or perhaps make everything sound as if it was underwater for a period. The time these effects go on for could be linked directly to a timer tracking how long a player is within a particular volume.

  • Damaging the player in a Cutscene

I was trying to think of how to do this in a non-frustrating way and a non-trivial way. How about chopping off one of the player-character’s hands (or arms, if we’re feeling particularly gruesome)?

This would work nicely in the pigline somewhere. It would need to be close to the end of the game so that Mandus can really be on his last legs when he eventually drowns the machine.

But this would give the opportunity to play with the very ability of the player to do things like holding items or performing certain actions.

It’s obviously not a trivial thing but it would be really interesting to consider if done properly. The integrity of your avatar is something you would expect full control over after all, would really change a player’s perspective I think.

Might be even more effective if, once the limb is torn off, the player is then forced to use it to distract a monster so that they can escape?