Temple of Silence: Phase Two

Making Of / 25 May 2022

Development of 'Temple of Silence' continues. I've been focusing on writing the story, which spiralled out into developing plot threads for other books and short stories in the series. Here's another video. This time, Ushen-Takaan's sprite has been updated with his newest model, the breaker box puzzle has been added, and there have been a few graphical improvements.

Not shown in this video (next time) is the hidden object scene template, which has been developed and is now ready to serve in scenes where the player needs to find particular items in order to advance. Typically in HOGs (Hidden Object Games), these items are quite random and are photo-bashed onto a finished artwork, but in this case, the objects will be of limited number, rendered with the rest of the artwork, and fit within the narrative world. For example, in one scene, Sa-Kolis, our protagonist, might be asked to find three circuits in order to repair a generator. The player will need to locate these items in a cluttered HOG scene.


Ushen-Takaan has been re-modelled, textured and rigged. His appearance is more aligned with what has been shown in the newest edition of 'A Sense for Memory' (with a few tweaks). Ushen-Takaan is Sa-Kolis' 'mission control'. He is on the radio and monitoring the situation as Sa-Kolis investigates the temple. During the game, he is shown with his mask on, but renders have been made of him maskless, as well.


Further renders of our villainess:

Sa-Kolis' gun:

Always necessary when investigating mysterious fortresses.

Circuit puzzle:

I re-did this area of the temple foyer, and now it includes a jigsaw puzzle of sorts on the wall. Sa-Kolis considers solving this puzzle but then elects to just rip down the fairly-obvious tile which covers the breaker box. Later in the story, Sa-Kolis will try a similar, bludgeoning approach, to dealing with the complex's many traps, and be punished for the impertinence. The painting has been artfully jumbled up, but the original is here:

Next steps:

After Sa-Kolis successfully restores power to the elevator, she is able to descend into the temple proper. The next room is the Grand Hall, an ornate space from which different rooms and corridors can be explored. The door at the far end leads deeper into the sanctum, but specific keys are needed to unlock it. This room is currently in progress and should be ready to go in-game after a few more tweaks.

More hard-surfacing modelling will be required for Sa-Kolis' ship, along with a few other vehicles shown at the beginning and end of the game. Concepting these alien vehicles begins with the silhouette method in order to capture an appealing shape:

Temple of Silence - Phase One

Work In Progress / 25 April 2022

Temple of Silence is an upcoming puzzle game in which Sa-Kolis, protagonist of my novel 'Triangulum', investigates a mysterious emergency signal on a desolate, wintery world. This game is being built inside of the Unity engine. Development of the game is far enough along now that there is now a working menu, dialogue system and setup for puzzles. Here's some footage below (excuse the placeholder cutscene and artwork for the secondary character!)

Gaming is fascinating to many people, myself included. In my case, I am very interested in the storytelling possibilities that the medium offers. I believe that there are certainly stories which lend themselves to a particular format. I find that the written word offers a great deal of flexibility when it comes to expanding upon character and setting, but on the other hand, literature can't provide the same dazzling spectacle as a feature film might when it comes to action scenes or the like. 

When it comes to the story of 'Temple of Silence', I recognised early on that the plot was such that while it could have made an exciting novella or short story for my website, it immediately lent itself to the casual gaming genre. Casual games, such as hidden object games or visual novels, focus heavily on artwork, often feature dialogue and choices, but are straightforward enough in mechanics and plot that the player can pick-up and put-down the game quickly. Puzzle games in particular are of short duration, which means that the translation between novella and puzzle game is immediately obvious. Rather than simply describing Sa-Kolis' investigation on the mysterious world, players will be able to step into her shoes and perform the investigation themselves, interacting with side characters like Ushen-Takaan.


There needed to be an major conflict in the story, and in Temple of Silence I will be introducing another big villain to the Z-Verse. Koivia-Mat is a shadowy figure from Sa-Kolis' past and has a grudge against our protagonist. Much like Sa-Kolis, Koivia-Mat had an illustrious career which ended in ignominious circumstances. I envisioned Koivia-Mat as a flamboyant but sinister figure. She has every luxury available to her in her dark corner of the universe, and this is shown in her elaborate costume. 

Above is the render, and below is the initial concept art:


When it comes to a game engine, obviously there are two big choices: Unreal or Unity. I went back and forth between them and settled on Unity because the interface and scene setup seemed more intuitive as far as 2D was concerned. Having recently begun upskilling more in Unreal, I see the potential with it and would consider using it for a 3D experience in the future. As it stands though, Unity alongside Playmaker and Adventure Creator allows me, a non-programmer, to easily set up variables and events which are triggered by player actions like clicking and dragging.The platform also makes it fairly straightforward to setup conversation trees between characters, and even create branching narrative paths which occur as a result of these dialogue choices.

Next Steps:

Over the next month, I will be busy creating more artwork for the game, polishing the UI and of course writing the story which is central to this game experience. At this point, I think I have a solid enough understanding of the engine that there are many possibilities to explore. I would also like to write the full novella of this story, the idea being that the novelisation of Temple of Silence is freely available from zirconaworks.com and visitors can choose to experience the tale in written or interactive format.