Virucube

Summary

You are in a computer and your mission is to defeat the virus that has infected it. Make you way to the middle of the level to deactivate it.

A first-person puzzle game using cubes and spheres to take you forward in the game. The gun that you carry have two different modes:


One to pick up objects with and one for splitting the cubes and merging the spheres. 


The initial idea


I wanted to know how it felt making a full game experience from start to finish and learn all parts of game making to get a better insight and understanding of the process and time making a game. 

I also wanted to look at all details from the perspective of a level designer. Using techniques I have learned in my level design education. 


Making a short linear game and not over-scope

  • Make a full game experience
  • Develop a game mechanic 
  • Get insight into all processes of game making
  • Designing a game so it fits the mechanic.
  • Getting the gameplay implemented first 

Inspiration


My idea was to make a puzzle game using physics and playing with players' intuitive abilities. 


My main inspiration came from half-life 2 and portal. I wanted to do it in a more minimalistic approach so I could explore and develop a game mechanic in many different ways. 


Development process


I wanted to make a twist on the gravity gun, to know how it felt developing an own mechanic in a game. I had some ideas so I started doing some quick sketches.  I started with scripting the Gravity gun and playing around with procedural meshes in unreal, the idea came to do a split gun. A gun that would split a cube to make two spheres.


For some time I had trouble with coming up with ideas with the puzzles and how I would develop them to make them have steady progress in difficulty. I remembered a technique I had used before, kishotenketsu.



Iterate gameplay first


I started with doing a simple block out, I wanted to get the gameplay in first and all the puzzles. 


only when all the scripting was done, puzzles were solvable and I had gotten the general flow of the game I started implementing art and light.


Some of the gameplay changed later but because I had gotten a good base for all the puzzles and an ensemble throughout the experience It was easy for me to iterate on it. 

In Maya I  made the 3D model of the gun and pickup so I could have my creative freedom of making the mechanic.


Blueprint Scripting and procedural meshes 

I wanted to experience prototyping a simple game myself.

See full player code:

 Scripting the gun


To be able to test the game and mechanics the gun had to be implemented early on. I looked at how someone else had scripted the gravity gun from half-life 2. After the base was done I started looking into how to split meshes and then I merge the two mechanics into one gun, switching on E between two different states. 

I struggled with the procedural meshes and collision with physics for a while, It was pretty complicated but I got through it by strong will.


Then I made the triggers and making them work with the two different shapes and recognizing them. Also made everything easy using a pipette and choosing an object to be affected by it in the scene. 


I made a very sturdy and strong base and now I could have fun playing with the mechanic, making everything around it.

Physics


This was the hardest part of making the game but I really wanted it in the puzzle game. I like the feeling that gives to the player, the feeling that there are endless possibilities when you work with mechanics you can relate to from the real world. Physics is also used widely in the game industry and I wanted to have the experience of knowing the basic difficulties.


Problems and how I tackled them


Problem:

I had some problems with the mechanic of making spheres from a cube to make sense. 


Solution: 

Making effects to the cube before turning into spheres (the pulsating effect) I asked friends to look at it and tell me if they found anything strange and I got positive feedback.


Problem:

Physics came with a lot of problems in general there are a lot of different ways the player handles physics in a game.


Solution: 

I tested the game on some friends and wrote down some of the unexpected things they did with physics. I didn't have the time to fix every problem but I recognized them anyways.


Connecting everything


A wanted everything to make sense and be placed in the game for a reason. I developed a mechanic first and developed a story around the mechanic.


The goal of the game became clear, I wanted a virus in the middle of the level so you could see the goal from all angles. 


I think it is important to have all parts connected when developing a game.


I have got a better understanding of all angles in game development in this assignment and also a better understanding of myself and my place in the development.

It is in the details 


I really wanted the mechanic to split a cube into two spheres. I had a problem with making sense of it all, I started asking myself questions:

Will it just be weird to have it transform suddenly?

Will the player accept the fact that it's an abstract game?


I started making all the small details around the mechanics that have a lot of impact on the experience.

like adding effect to the cube so it pulsates before transforming into spheres and adding material to the cube making it more like it was made out of a mysterious material


Level Designing using Kishotenketsu

For this project I applied this kind of structure to my level design for this project. It suited very well with my kind of mechanic. 

Introduction

I wanted to Introduce the placer in a prison cell environment to the basic mechanic:

Twist

Here the players have to re-think the way the platforms are used.  The player has to push the block using them to the trigger in the bottom

Development

Adding a tougher challenge to the same concept. Here the player needs to set the platforms in the right order to move forward:

Conclusion

An easy challenge where the player has to push a cube and utilize the mechanic and fully master it. 

Improvements that could be made


  • To color code, the platforms would be better and more clear to know where to put the cubes. At first, I thought it would be too easy but a common mistake is to make it too hard and complicated. The player wants to solve a puzzle not have a chore.
  • The experience became very linear and if I had the time I would expand the level and adding some exploration and freedom to the player.
  • Physics brings a lot of problems and I really learned a lot from the experience of working with it in a puzzle game. An improvement here would be to spawn new cubes if the current ones got lost by throwing them into pits. 

Specification


Individual project

5 weeks half time

Unreal Engine 4

Assets from Minimalistic Modular Sci-Fi Interior (UE4 Marketplace) and First Person Puzzle Template