This post was originally written on Robertmitchell01.wordpress.com, and was copy pasted over here for Senior Capstone
Too Tired Studios
As a team, Too Tired Studios has decided to continue moving forward together into our senior year. Our roles will be identical to last semester and the summer, with me relaxing a bit on the programming end of things to focus more primarily on my major (game design). I think this will be really beneficial to us based on how the year is laid out, since there’s a huge focus on organization, planning, and iterating in the first semester, with a more “let’s see results” focus on the second semester. If I properly focus on showcasing my talents as a designer in these first few months, everyone’s lives should be a little easier once the second semester hits.
Deciding on Our Senior Game
We’ve brainstormed a ton of ideas on our own, and we brought these ideas together, pushing forward the ones we thought were the best. After parsing through all ~80 ideas, and really focusing on the ones that received the best feedback, we tried to figure out what parts of the best ideas would bring out our strengths. We decided we wanted to focus on character development and creating an interesting narrative for the player to dive into. Without a strong narrative designer on the team, we know we can’t base the gameplay off of the narrative alone, but we still want character interactions to be a highlight for the player. Additionally, with a systems designer and a level designer, we do have the capability to create some awesome, fast-paced gameplay to go alongside our fun characters. Also, frogs. That was a big bullet point.
I kind of jokingly suggested a game where you “raise and cherish really cute frogs”, and it ended up being the most positively received idea. We collectively decided that we wanted the player to understand and value their progress through the game through the collectible frogs, while also allowing them to interact with the frogs in a safe, relaxing environment away from the action. Inspiration for this idea stems from Sonic Adventure with its Chao Garden, along with any game where you can set up a home away from the main gameplay.
The Action Elements
We want to build an action game where the player controls a single protagonist and can defeat enemies to progress. Overall, progressing through the dungeons/levels shouldn’t be too complicated. There would be an emphasis on exploration and experimentation, but with very few key mechanics. We aren’t trying to redefine 2D movement/combat here, but we want to create a satisfying experience nonetheless. This section is relatively vague right now because we’re actually conducting a lot of our research on if we’d prefer a 2D sidescroller, or a more 3/4 top down perspective (Link to the Past, Pokemon Emerald). Both have their ups and downs for what we’re trying to accomplish, and both will require us to really push our game in new directions.
Systems we’ll really need to make this work:
- Really solid movement
- Rewarding, consistent, intuitive combat abilities
- Currency, XP, or other indicators of player’s progress
The Casual Life Elements
Regardless of the camera’s perspective, there will be a casual aspect to the game for players to return to. There will be characters for players to interact with in a safe way, and plenty of things to obtain from them. Generally this will be in the form of game-knowledge, items, and funny anecdotes to help with world-building. Of course, the frogs factor in as another way to break up the gameplay and allow the player to become more invested in the world.
Systems we’ll really need to make this work:
- Text System with fun effects
- Very convincing sound design to give characters extra life
- At least some animation to give characters life
- Camera effects and other VFX to give characters individuality
As a technical designer, I’ll be looking into the pros and cons of the two different camera perspectives, as they relate to both our action packed gameplay, and our more casual gameplay. I intend to look at games like Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for its real time combat in a 3/4 top down perspective. I also want to look at games like Hollow Knight, Shovel Knight, Spelunky, Rogue Legacy, and Terraria for how they handle these systems in a sidescrolling setting. I want to really break down how all of these games handle these systems, and probably make a few charts based on time spent in-action vs. out of action.
Other important sources of inspiration are:
- Undertale for its impressive use of narrative + characters
- Animal Crossing for how it handles casual life in such a compelling way
- Castlevania (Series) + Metroid (Series) for defining a genre
- Chibi Robo for its ability to create an interesting story and protagonist without stepping into fantasy