Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Jan 2015 Game Jam: Need a Night Light

Name: Need a Night Light
Date: January 2015
Team: Solo jam.
Duration: One weekend that spilled into the following week. Since doing this jam I’ve set a self-imposed rule that I am allowed to work on it for 30 more minutes whenever I show the game to somebody new. It’s important to set a hard deadline when it comes to jam games as they otherwise turn into black holes of time. There’s a laundry list of things I’d still love to do with the game if I decided to work on it more.

Unfortunately the game doesn't work under the new Unity WebGL player yet, so I can't provide a web build, but here's a YouTube:

At the core the game jam was inspired by the question “How would you work fear into a twin stick shooter?” This lead to the addition of the flashlight mechanics

Things I learned:

  • This was my first time making a game in Unity, so there was straight up huge lessons there. From hooking up both input sticks, doing basic collisions and UI menus.
  • A big design takeaway is the upgrades were actually harder to design that I thought. The main design challenge is that many attractive upgrades actually take away from the core game play. For example I initially had a proximity light that showed everything around you in a 360 degree radius. This very quickly detracted from the fear of having a zombie sneak up behind you. To compensate I turned the radius of the light down to mitigate this, and it resulted in playtesters commenting that the upgrade was barely noticeable and felt like a waste of money. This eventually got redesigned into the strobe light, which retains some of the fear and uncertainly of what’s behind you but ultimately still feels underwhelming for the cost.

What I’d change if I revisit this idea in the future:

  • The core concept is rich for future exploration. I’d like to explore different enemy types – particularly enemies that move perpendicular on their approach, or adjust their movement based on the light.
  • Level geometry would be awesome. Buildings, or hallways. It’s hard to know right now what the right balance would be between reasonable obstacles vs. the player being able to put their back to a wall but I’m pretty sure the gains would outweigh the challenges.
  • There’s lots of explore in terms of just amping up the tension. Audio would be huge here – with zombies making a distinctive sound when they are within a half second of reaching you – or a particularly threatening enemy with a distinctive sound so you know it is coming.