Gameplay design, product owner, VFX
Project length: 4 weeks
Team size: 9
Bad Hare Day is a puzzle game created at Futuregames 2020, the game is created with the requirements of taking inspiration from the art piece “Garden of earthly delights” and a playtime of 10 minutes.
Take the role of a misplaced demon trying to break out of hell. The game is played in a circular world with a series of puzzles where the player gains the power to shift the gravity of objects.
Concept iterations and scope
The first concept the game was a 3D game in a spherical world which was quickly scoped down to be a 2.5D experience through a static camera.
The change of perspective and environment came through the realization of all the problems a spherical world would present. Finding a good perspective and creating puzzles/levels with clear visible goals, pacing, flow and affordances seemed as good as impossible with a spherical shape. The choice to narrow it down solved most of these issues.
Even though the scope was narrowed down we encountered several issues. Getting gravity to function intuitively and to seem ‘natural’ was one of the first issues encountered.
Designing a circular world
During the process of narrowing down the scope the game went through several iterations before ending up in a world where each layer of it has a inwards and outwards gravity.
The inward and outwards property acts as the floors and roof where one can shift gravity. Shifting of gravity is restricted to object – object and object – player each of them have to be on contrasting gravity planes.
The system of inwards and outwards gravity became our main design rule for puzzles and mechanics, and led us to scrap several puzzle ideas and mechanics.
Concept of inward and outward gravity (not visible in game!)
During the design process we established a design rule to keep the focus on the gravitational aspects of the game and we used this as a design pillar for development.
This lead us into scrapping certain puzzle ideas that did not fit this rule.
The circular shape of the world was interesting to work with and presented a lot of vital design issues for us. Gravity did not work as intended, the player had to get feedback on two separate planes and so on. In retrospect the shape of the world created an interesting learning opportunity and the game ended up being an interesting take on a linear puzzle game.
My goal as a product owner in the project was to keeping the team updated, communicating designs and goals to the different fields of the development team. At times the vision of the game varied vastly throughout the team members and to easier communicate a vision for the game we agreed upon me doing concept art for designs.
The concepts acted as a common direction and rulebook for measurements, functionality and inspiration. Through the concepts the team got a communal vision and for the team it was a working solution which kept us all on the same track.
To ease the workload of the team I stepped out of my comfort zone to make the VFX’s for the game.
The focus of the VFX is to match the colour palette, clear affordance and to create breadcrumbs through the levels. The design of the effects of the player character is more discrete and has more focus on feedback.
- Learn through iterations: The project went through a lot of different iterations before landing in what became its core loop. One of the biggest take from this is that intelligible designs, swift iterations, and testing, A LOT of testing is key to find a common and fitting vision for a project.
- Finding ways of communication: Every team works differently and in during the development it quickly became apparent that the designers vision was not as clear as we ourselves initially thought. Identifying what type of communication is the most efficient for each group proved to be most precious in this project.
- Crunch: In the late hours of the project we all experienced a lot of crunch. This lead us into having properties in the game that did not fit and had to be redone. Crunch makes unhealthy decisions, tiredness and stress is ‘apparently’ not the best way to go!