Game Designer & Programmer

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Senior Project - PPJ #4

This week consisted of a ton of meetings with the design team to iron out some of the core design issues that came from the week 4 pitch. Last week, we spent a large amount of time identifying what our major design flaws actually were and landed on three areas of our game that could be much stronger: team-play, the objective, and the game play between the opposing teams. In discussing these issues, I realized that all of the issues were connected and, as frustrating as it was, would need to be solved all at once. In other words, our design approach up until now has been very individual, with individual team members coming up with ideas and pitching them to the group. However, this method makes it very easy to come up with a solution to one problem that accidentally makes an other problem worse. In approaching this problem, we knew we needed to be mindful of all three issues at once when considering solutions, so we decided it would be best to tackle this problem as a design group.

Tyler, Jon, Kyle and I met at least 3 times this week to work out a solution that worked for all of these problems, and we had a pretty successful week! We’ve come up with some changes to our objective that we think boosts team-play and game play between teams without eliminating any of the individuality of our game play that we had with the old hill.

King-of-the-hill / Capture the Flag: Our new objective idea is essentially the same as our original king of the hill idea: the “hill” is invisible and moves around the map. When players touch it or shoot it, it becomes visible. Players will no longer passively gain points as they stand on the hill, however. Now, once a team has gained control of the hill, resources will “activate” around the map, and one of the team members must leave the hill to retrieve resources and bring them back to the hill to gain points. The other team member has to stay on the hill, because as soon as a team no longer has control of the hill (by standing on it) the resources deactivate and can no longer be picked up. If a team loses control of the hill while the retriever is holding resources, those resources will be dropped and then inactivated. This leads to a king-of-the-hill style of play for the team member on the hill and a capture the flag style of play for the retriever with both team members being able to play both positions. The opposing team has three options, siege the hill in a 2 v 1 against the opponent defending, 2 v 1 the retriever, or split up and attack both the defender and retriever. As I said earlier, if the defender steps of the hill (or falls off the map), the resources are deactivated and that team can no longer gain points. This makes attacking the hill a favorable option. However, if a player causes an opponent retriever who is carrying resources to fall off the map, the number of potential points that the retriever was carrying is depleted from that teams score. Thus, there is a benefit to all three options that the opposing team can take.

Team-play: Our main issue on this front was that we had no real reason for the game to be 2 v 2. In our current state as of week 4, our game would work better as a 4 player free for all. We really like the individuality that players have in their actions and how they decide to play, so we wanted to keep that aspect in this new design, but play-testers expressed their desire for there to be more depth to the team-play that was already emergent in our game (positioning, communication, etc). Our solution was to simply make it so that one player couldn’t do it all. Now, that doesn’t mean that we limit what the players can actually do, we want all players to be able to have the same abilities and actions, but rather we made the objective too large to handle on your own. Previously, an individual could gain points for his/her team alone (by standing on the hill) and, if the player was good enough, win completely without needing their teammate. In our current design, a good player can still excel, but they can now do everything except win the game alone. To gain points, two team members are needed. We don’t want to force teamwork any more than this, but we do want to reward it enough to give an incentive, so we are also adding a small team dynamic: when a player creates new ground, there will be a short period of time (~1 sec) in which their teammate can walk on that area of new ground and receive a small movement speed boost. The speed boost is limited to the area of ground created with that build-shot and also limited to the period of time in which this effect is active (~1 sec). This is a small effect, but it’s an incentive to communicate with your team member and travel together.

Objective: Obviously these changes affect the objective, but another aspect of our objective design was to accentuate a dynamic that Jichen wanted us to focus on: “moments” in our game. A “moment” in a game is a event where the gameplay style shifts or when the action gets congregated into one area. For example, in our design as of week 4, our game had one “moment”; when the hill went from invisible to visible. In that moment, the style of the game shifts from something a little more open and relaxed to much more close quarters and frantic — The players go from spread out on the map, searching for the hill or fighting each other, to playing together all in one smaller area of the map. It’s a moment in the game where the feeling and style shifts from one state of the game to another. “Moments” are important because they are a high-impact part of the game that players connect with and recognize the most. This could be seen even in our own playtests, where players had the most fun finding the hill and fighting over it rather than gaining points and winning. Gaining control of the hill was the fun part, gaining points afterword was just a requirement. With our new design, that moment is still there, but we’ve added another moment — when a player causes the other teams retriever to fall and lose points. Although we haven’t prototyped it yet, we all agreed that this is a moment where all the players can feel a change in pace and style — an action that is taken to gain your team points has now lost you points, and now the opponents have the advantage to control the hill. We’re excited to test this moment with players and see if it really is a dynamic that players agree with and go out of their way to achieve.

Gamplay between teams: Frankly, in our previous design there wasn’t anything wrong with the gameplay between the two teams; you fight for control of the map and you pull the ground out from beneath your opponents. Simple enough. This is part of “the circle”, however, because it is so incredibly easy to not consider how changes we make to the objective affects both teams. We’ve done it in the past, and we were exceptionally careful not to do it again. In our new design, we’ve added depth to the gameplay between teams by giving the team not currently in control of the hill a wide selection of actions to take, all with benefits and downfalls. Going 2 v 1 on the hill makes it easier to prevent the player from gaining points, but it may backfire and result in more deaths, leaving the opponent open to collect and gain more points. Going 2 v 1 on the retriever may lead to the opposing team losing points, especially if you cause the retriever to fall multiple times in succession when their holding points. It also means, however, that the opposing team will have full control of the hill and, thus, will be the only ones able to gain points. Splitting up may result in the opposing team losing points and control of the hill at the same time, but your own team will be spread thin. There are so many scenarios depending on how the two teams play both with and against each other.

All-in-all, this new design feels very promising and I  am excited to prototype it and get it tested.

Other than this, I did a very small amount of technical work that consisted of small repo work with Kevin and testing my grass asset in Buildshot which honestly looks awful.

What went right: The design team worked so hard this week and communicated really well. We got a lot done and I’m super happy with our current design. As much as it sucks to stop programming and putting stuff in the build for a week, having a strong base will make the game much better in the long run.

What could’ve gone better: Personal thing, I’m very ready to get back to work on the build. Even though we got a ton of design work done, I feel like I did very little this week, even with the insanely large amount of meetings I went to. Team-wide communication on new ideas could be better. Also personal, instead of looking like butt the minute I put it in, my grass could’ve totally looked amazing and I would’ve felt amazing. Alas, it did not, and we probably were never even going to use grass, so that’s nice.

Hours:

Meetings: ~9 hrs

Grass: 2 hrs

Total: ~11 hrs

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