Climb your way through a sky scraping tower in a polluted city to finally see the stars. Solve puzzles and learn along the way that there might be more about this tower than meets the eye.
Who is this for?
This game will primarily be for people who enjoy narrative driven games. We will be focusing a lot of our time on the narrative-building aspects of the game, and less on creating novel and amazing mechanics. One of the biggest points of focus for us will be level design. We believe that levels will help build our world, and also allow the user to have a fresh experience with a 2d platformer. Of course, we hope and believe that our game will be fun for everyone.
The game starts in overcrowded apartment buildings (cage homes) in a metropolis. As the player progresses in the game, they will climb higher and higher to reach for the glimmering stars in the sky. As they climb higher, they will see the city night view – fancy buildings, glamorous neon lights, busy highways, etc.
We want to emphasize the contrast between the small and poor homes and the stunning city night view to help convey the protagonist’s desire to escape the cage homes and reach freedom.
Our core gameplay is a 2D platformer. The player may have to solve puzzles or avoid hostile creatures/inanimate objects. Mechanics we’re considering include:
- Interaction with objects of his past that can help him navigate the level
- Light puzzles where the protagonist must move from one light source to another
- Drawing mechanic where the things drawn can help him progress
- Ghost abilities added as the game progresses
- Slip between cracks
- Possess inanimate objects
- Possess living beings
We may include a hide and seek mechanic for certain levels where players have to stay out of sight from npcs. An ability like possession may lead to interesting play filled with improvisation on the player’s part.
We may include a persistent secondary character who acts as a guide to the protagonist. Perhaps they will give the protagonist side quests, or hints on where to find some of the protagonist’s past objects, as they try to slowly help the protagonist, and player, see that they are actually a ghost.
We may include a resource for the ghost abilities in order to encourage careful play from the player.
Combat isn’t likely to be added, at least not in the typical sense, but there will more than likely be encounters with hostile creatures. We may add mechanics that allow players to get rid of (dispel) these creatures instead of avoiding them at all times, but it most likely won’t be all out combat sequences.
Key Challenges for Design
Narrative. One significant challenge we will face in designing our game is balancing how narrative-focused the game is with how mechanically challenging the platformer aspect of the game is. We intend for our game to have a strong narrative component, so we should be mindful that the mechanical aspects of a platformer do not take the focus off of the narrative.
Repetitiveness. Another design challenge with our plan to create a vertical platformer is avoiding repetitiveness. We need to find a way to change the player’s environment as the player progresses through the game to keep it exciting.
Context. Finally, since we intend to create a slice of the game, we need to find an effective way to provide context for the slice that we make, without creating the entire game. This is especially important considering that our game is narrative-focused and we want the player to engage with the story.
Key Challenges for Tech
Unity. For a lot of our team members, this is our first experience with using Unity so there is bound to be a lot of learning as we go.
Lighting. If we include light puzzles, nailing the contrast between light and dark will be key.
Dialog System. Interaction between the boy’s past objects, as well as possibly with the guide character with maybe some light player decision. Will require working with another program (Ink, Yarn, or Twine) and integrating that into Unity.
Drawing Mechanic. While the player is on a level, anything they draw should stay regardless if it’s currently on the screen or not. Will need to ensure this mechanic can’t be abused. If it is, it may cause the player’s machine to slow down (lag in the game).
Key Challenges for Art
Unity. Since our members have also never experimented with Unity, especially in regards to art, we expect there to be a huge learning curve due to the various art/drawing software we’ll be experimenting with (ie: Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.)
Mood. Since artwork will drastically influence the mood of the game, the color palette and general tone of the artwork must be coherent with the overall message and aesthetic of the game.
Contrast. The character must also be well-contrasted with the background to ensure that while they look like they belong in the setting, they are not “lost” in the background. Furthermore, items that players can interact with should also be well-contrasted in a way that clearly implies the possibility of interaction, but doesn’t break the immersion of the game.
Character Design. As character design greatly influences our perception of the character, our design must not only hint at the boy’s age, background story, etc., but also must inspire empathy and curiosity in players. Inspiring empathy will also allow players to better sympathize with the character’s past, thus contributing to the players’ overall enjoyment of the game (especially in the narrative sense).