For the first sprint, Our team was tasked on coming up with 50 game ideas, and while most of these ideas branched off a story idea or mechanic, I really focused on the mechanic driven games. With a well polished mechanic, pretty much any game can have a great story and so it’s important to focus on the mechanic to make sure players will stay involved.
I chose to prototype in Unreal for the first week as the Blueprints allows for very fast programming compared to C# in Unity. While I am more experienced in Unity, the benefits of blueprinting in Unreal being speed and ability to constantly iterate on new ideas and designs was too good to pass up.
I also worked on setting up the Scrum pipeline that our development team will be using throughout the semester. We will be doing constant group meetings to discuss each member’s progress with their current tasks, as well as what tasks are a priority. A challenge for this semester will be to juggle designing on this game as the lead designer as well as being able to step back as the producer and see what changes need to be made and really be able to take solid advice from everyone on and off the team.
The first prototype I worked on this week was a mix between a game mechanic and a tech demo to test Destructible Meshes in Unreal. I started with the default third person template and added an aiming mechanic as well as a rocket projectile that makes the environment explode apart. The player will lose health when hit with a piece of the environment After the player does enough damage (as indicated with the chaos meter) then the ceiling will collapse and the exit will show up. The player must then get to the exit without getting hit by the falling debris.
The second prototype I created was a Pinball/Tower defense co-op mix where Player One is playing a variation of pinball and Player Two is controlling a character who is inside the pinball machine tasked with keeping Player One’s game alive. The most important part of this mechanic and innovation is having both players feel like they are able to work together and succeed together. While Player One is “just” playing a game of pinball, the changes that Player Two can make to the game board will drastically change the gameplay. In addition, the implementation of power-ups, more flippers than just two etc. could improve the enjoyment of that player. Player Two has the ability (in this prototype) to place a bumper anywhere on the game board after collecting coins (which are dropped by the ball) and the idea for iteration on this game idea will be to create as many interesting interactions as possible creating the rushed feeling for the player trapped in the pinball machine. Some examples would be fixing flippers, opening new areas for the pinball to go, and carrying an extra ball onto the board. The art aesthetic I am thinking about for our team would be as far away from a real pinball machine as possible. A forest, lava mountain or desert environment would allow for new mechanics as well as look kickass!
The Third Prototype I worked on was a puzzle game based on the famous ancient game Pachinko. The player must use their keyboard and press the according keys that appear on the screen in order to guide the ball down to the goal area. The innovation comes from the levels changing to use different parts of the keyboard meaning the player will sometimes have to hold their keyboard vertical (instead of the usual horizontal). In later levels the mechanic of being able to rotate the level will not only force the player to think ahead and on their feet, but to be able to rotate their keyboard in real life while the game is still running. While I think this is the weakest of my prototypes created, it provides the most innovation due to the control scheme.
While I was only (“only”) able to work on 3 prototypes through this sprint, many of the ideas that we came up with in the list of 50 could be added to any interesting story idea or mechanic and every single one of them would be able to be prototyped quickly in order to figure out how successful they could potentially be.
Some of these extra ideas that I personally came up with are:
- Memory loss story connected to the mechanics where the player loses their abilities as their memory loss grows
- Bullet Hell shooter game where the player can rotate their ship (and camera) in any 3D axis allowing for unique design innovations with enemies, environments and abilities
- Game taking place in a sketchbook of the main character and through the gameplay and level progression the player will learn about the character’s lifestyle.
- Game taking place in a museum where each room contains a puzzle that takes the player through the main characters backstory and forces the player to figure out what happened to the character by reliving in their footsteps
- 3D platformer with two dimensions that the player can switch between. The innovation comes from the drastic differences between the two dimensions including new SFX, changed appearence to the environment, polarizing NPC behavior and new dangers
- Survival/Horror game where the player must build escape routes and traps to prepare to survive. Depending on the weather a different monster will try to kill the player each night.
- Infinite Runner style game where the player uses QWOP style controls to contort the character into hilarious positions to stay alive (and avoid getting pushed into lava)
There are many more ideas on our list of 50 but those are the ones I was most fond of and felt like could be turned into the most valuable innovative gameplay experiences.
It’ll be interesting to see which of these prototypes gets scrapped based on feedback from the other teams and which ones see extreme future design iterations. I am looking forward to stretching my creative abilities to provide a wholesome innovative gameplay experience regardless of what prototype or game idea gets pushed forwards!