This is the third game project I worked on at FutureGames. It was a seven week project (plus two weeks of pre-production). The team was 3 game designers, 2 2D artists and 4 3D artists. The requirements we had from the school was sandbox, customization and audience awareness. On this project, I did game design, level design, QA lead and UI. I was also the scrum master. The game was made in Unity.
The game is a 2.5D platformer where you play as an armadillo, Dilán, who can use its magnetic shell to either attract/repel itself to/from coloured metal pipes. Thanks to this ability, Dilán can reach otherwise hard to reach places and find gramophones, which are needed to wake its friend, the mountain cat.
Scoping the project
The initial scope for the game was much larger, like usual. A lot more assets and mechanics were planned. But due to a lot of absence in the team, we had to cut down a lot. However, as we used the “minimum viable product” work method, we managed to complete the game in time and make it a quite polished product. I think we made a wise decision to not continue with the larger scope, as then we may have ended up with a completely broken game. While the game is rather simple, it’s still better than a bigger game with lots of bugs.
How we handled the project requirements
Our sandbox and customization elements were criticized for being too loose. Our level design was open and let the player do the objective in any order and the customization let the player change the colour of Dilán and metal objects. The latter was there to make the game more accessible to people with colour blindness, some colours were picked especially for them. An easy difficulty and multiple controller options also supported this aim we had. In the end, while the team was satisfied with how we tackled those requirements, it was a big lesson learned interpretation of terms is extremely subjective and communication about this can never be over-done.
When I worked with one of the 2D artists to create the UI, we decided focus on easy to understand icons, to further improve the accessibility for people who don’t know English. This, along with other things, missed the jury and really showed some effort might be all in vain if you don’t have the right audience for it.
As we had flow as one of our design pillars, I worked a lot with the level design to make sure feels natural and fluid to move around, without unnecessary bumps that block you. The hub is an important spot in the game, and so are the mechanics, so I designed it to make sure the player has to use both mechanics before they can leave it. As you can see on the screenshot, the player needs to use the attract mechanic on the pipe underneath the gramophone to get to the wooden platform Dilán is standing on. And the player needs to repel him/herself from the pipe between the two wooden platforms to get on top of the higher one.
You can also see it in this video:
This mechanic was actually conceptualized and storyboarded by myself during pre-production. Then, it didn’t look quite as fancy. And more like this:
Below, you can see a let’s play by a fan who downloaded our game on itch.io.