Gameplay-& general design, product owner, level design, concept design
Project length: 10 weeks
Team size: 6
Colossal Chaos is a first year project made for Gotland Game Conference 2019. The game is built with the requirements of being an arcade experience with no traditional input devices and ended up top three in the category of “Best Arcade Experience”.
The game is played in a fantasy rendition of Visby, where the player’s goal is to save the town from a rampaging giant who is set to destroy every inch of the town. You play it sitting on actual shoulders.
One of the conditions for the project was the use of an unorthodox input device. In order to make a device that fits the theme we built the giant’s head. The input mirrors the in game struggle to hold on to the head of a chaotic creature in an attempt to steer it away from town.
The design is focused on the terms of measurements, accessibility and functionality.
The input became a large piece whose purpose is to present both a challenge through its sheer size and to immerse the player further.
In the end the input became a middle ground of presenting itself as an obstacle vs. its functionality.
To immerse the player the input had to feel big and recalcitrant to manoeuvre. A lot of trial and error went into achieving a resourceful design since it had to be:
- Enough of an obstacle yet still feel intuitive for most players.
- Accessibility: one size does not fit all and we had to find a size that would work for most. A smaller, handheld, version of the head was included at the booth.
Designing the input to fit the game was an challenging and funny experience. Several iterations had to be scrapped in favour for accessibility.
Main functionality of the input:
- A mouse is scanning the rotation of a metal rod for horizontal direction which is represented as twisting/steering the head in game.
- The eyes are made of buttons. When pressed the player can ‘halt’ the giant which is represented as you covering its eyes.
- In the ears we’ve placed buttons as well. When pressed the giant sidesteps, together with a slap animations as if it would get annoyed from something in its ear.
To heighten the immersion further we placed a subwoofer in the seat/shoulders of the input. The subwoofer is triggered with each in-game step.
Bull in a china shop! – Core mechanic
One of the most vital designs decisions in the project is to save the town which was met with reluctance.
The creation of a destructible town might seem obvious as a sandbox of destruction, but in order to make the design more interesting, I held on to the idea of avoiding destruction. Through the project this matter were with both the team and test players and was met with scattered feelings.
In the final version of the game the player is to avoid destruction for the simple reason of an interest in trying to break traditional gaming conventions and finding ways of motivating a player to do something they do not initially expect. The reasoning behind the decision made the development process engrossing and it ended up with us getting a lot of kudos for sticking with it since it made the game a more refreshing experience.
Note. The player can still choose to destroy the town if they have the urge for it, but they will not win! 🙂
Areas of influence
Throughout the environment I placed attraction points for the giant who, when in vicinity, will start to aim towards these. The attraction points are represented by valuable monuments and buildings which are worth more ‘destruction points’. When reaching a certain amount of destruction points you lose the game.
Placing the attraction points was a balancing act of making the player having the feel of ‘flipper bouncing‘ yet still have control over it. The points are applying force which gets more intense the closer you are to an object and through these points a secondary challenge was added.
When playing the game the points of attraction functioned as a gravity pull and was used by players to gain momentum.
Gamification of a town
The project was made during my time in Visby and the town became my main inspiration for the environment.
The main goal of the level is to lead the player without forcefully providing a solution.
To make an experience as challenging and analogous as possible for each play through I designed the town with the starting point in a circular maze design.
I wanted the players to have a similar level of challenge from the start which the circular shape provides. Since the players starts from the bottom of it they will have to work their way through the same amount of obstacles before entering the plains area.
The design is meant to present a ‘fair’ challenge for each playthrough.
- Personal health: My biggest takeaway from Colossal Chaos is how hard it is to keep team members motivation on point throughout a project. During the project we had several issues with motivation being next to none, unaccounted personal issues and mental health. We have to remember that we are working with people and if the situation is not beneficial for the whole team you will struggle…
- Scope size: Early on in the project we realized that the scope needed adjustment for us to be able to produce a WIP. Down scoping has since became one of the first thing I try to keep in mind.
- Dynamic development: All projects will change during the course of time. After the project I feel more keen towards killing my darlings. At the beginning I was a bit to attached to my original concept and had a hard time scrapping parts of it. During the project I learnt to not attach myself too much on the ideas I have and rather try to see development as a continually interchangeable direction.