A Detailed Design Document by:
Timothy Cornish, Mark Alamillo, Kelynn Hudgens
Introduction: Polar Shadows is a first person action packed shooter. It involves a lot of pre-
action planning as well as thinking on your toes when under fire. The game is meant to let the
player delve deep into the world of Polar Shadows and never want to leave your console. Also,
this game is based mostly on team based play and you will have to rely heavily on your partners
in many scenarios. If this were to be a book, the front panel would read something like this:
"It is the year 2493; the earth’s resources have been diminished due to overpopulation. Solution
teams have been dispatched to every corner of the universe to gather whatever forms of power
they can and return them to our galaxy. Captain Sid Frankert (you) and his task force (Alpha) of
highly trained space marines are assigned to explore the moon of Helos. The previous team
(Delta) stationed there has been said to be M.I.A. for about a year now. The job of the new team
is to investigate what happened to Delta and to see if they had discovered any form of a usable
resource. Not long after being in Delta’s base camp Alpha finds records of a valuable energy
source called Helite buried deep under the surface of the moon. While journeying down to find
the Helite they encounter a humanoid alien species called the Helans. The Helans they meet are a
tribe called “The Light Dwellers”, which is a relatively civilized and peaceful group. They teach
Alpha of “The Shadow Dwellers” which are former Light Dwellers that were changed by an
unknown force. Alpha soon finds they cannot find the Helite without the help of the Light
Dwellers, so they agree to help them in finding a solution to deal with the Shadow Dwellers.
This is where the story begins with three things in mind: Investigate the Shadow Dwellers, Find
the Helite, Stay Alive. "
Figure 1: Moon similar to what Helos would look
•Sid Frankert “Captain” –leader of Alpha: Sid is an excellent leader and the men respect him.
They also would give their life for him like he was family. He has a soldiers build. His face has a
scar on his right cheek resembling an arrow. He has dark brown hair and a goatee. Sid is seen as
a versatile character, able to perform many tasks of the other members of the group, maybe not
as well as them but still able.
•John Black - Special Weapons Expert: Able to handle any special weapons with extreme
precision, particularly effective with a sniper rifle. John spent time in Black Ops Sniper School
after winning marksmanship awards at his county fairs occurring around his agricultural town.
He is a taller skinnier man with only a long mustache and no hair on his head. He is often seen
wearing a cowboy hat, which he has been referred to his superiors several times for wearing it
with his uniform. Figure 2: Example of John Black, except
wearing a military uniform.
•Eleanor Swan “Doc”: Doc is the medic of the group; she spent a lot of time as an EMT back on
Earth, then decided to join the military. She has a big heart and compassion but can do some
pretty good work with a shotgun. She is a very attractive woman, having long blonde hair and a
swimsuit model's body.
Figure 3: soldier similar to Doc.
•Tom Bearington “Bear”: Tom is a huge guy, very tall, very muscular. He was a bouncer in a big
night club in a bad part of town before joining the service. He joined the military after having a
bad run in with some goons who worked for a big mob boss. Bear carries most of the team’s
ammo and a very large machine gun. He has a bad temper but controls it at the command of the
Figure 4: Cole from Gears of war resembles what Bear will look
•Arnold Whitell: Civilian Contracted Archaeologist/Geologist: A witty scientist that was ordered
to tag along by the government. He has a funny sense of humor and uses sarcasm very often. He
can defend himself with his military issued pistol but is easily overpowered if left alone or in the
front of the group. His main job is to see if there is any useable resource on the planet. He is a
small weak person with glasses.
Figure 5: example of Arnold except not so childish looking.
•Rasha- Light Dweller Representative: Rasha is a light dweller that the team befriends prior to
meeting the whole civilization. He is a tall figure with no body hair. He wears ceremonial robes
passed down through his family as they were all ambassadors like him.
Figure 6: Basic idea for all Helan appearance
Vektou: Leader of the Shadow Dwellers, not really seen a lot throughout the game except
during important plot points. He is very tall, and has a darker skin shade than all other
Dwellers. Usually wears a robe that resembles what Elders wear, but is dark and torn.
Figure 7: Similar skin shade to Vektou, replace clothing with
Cave wildlife: various creatures live throughout the caves that Light Dwellers live off of
Light Dwellers: humanoid species, well reserved, groomed, but sill a tribal look to them,
definitely signs of intelligence and civility, peaceful but defensive, possess a powerful
inner energy that fuels their lives and city, sort of a light tan/green colored skin
Kinds of Light Dwellers:
Children: normal activities for a child of this age, not fully aware of their power.
Elders: wise older members of the cities, have knowledge of times before the Shadow
Dwellers came to be, very useful for information, certain Elders act almost as Mafia
leaders, usually seen wearing a robe distinct from other civilians.
Soldiers: elite guard of the city and its surroundings, not very friendly to outsiders for
reasons unknown, they do not help you if they see you being attacked by Shadow
Dwellers, very tall, very athletic, muscular, will most definitely punish you if you are
breaking the law in the city, armed with some sort of firearm and always an ice blade.
Civilians: consists of elders and children and normal adults, normal activities for civilians
of a town vary in appearance but overall resemble Rasha.
Thugs: follow orders of Elders, usually not kind to outsiders unless you have a business
arrangement, rather large in comparison to most civilians, usually armed with a pole or
some other blunt object.
Shadow Dwellers: humanoid species turned savage and beastly. No indications of
intelligence or civility. Wild, almost soulless creatures, darker skin shade than the Light
Dwellers and often have mutations making them almost unidentifiable as previous Light
Kinds of Shadow Dwellers:
Mutated drones: low intelligence, very big, usually slower than most, can be found doing
work for the higher ranking Shadow Dwellers and Vektou, if they're work is disturbed
they become enraged and attack whatever caused the disturbance, armed with digging
Creepers: highly intelligent, former hunters when they were Light Dwellers, very fast,
agile creatures, body has mutated into some sort of animal. Known to pounce on enemies
and stab them with their mutated claws.
Figure 8: Claws resembling Creeper
Soldiers: varying intelligence depending on rank, slightly less mutated figure than most
Shadow Dwellers, but non-the-less, mutated brain, same basic figure as the Light Dweller
soldier, just evil. They are usually armed with Spitters and Poppers.
Ghosts: stealthy mutations that have the ability to blend in with their surroundings while
still, wield a large ice blade, clothed in a robe that is very similar to Elders except it is
more of a cloak, figure relative to the Thugs.
Figure 9: cloak similar to ghosts’
Shadow Children: very few are ever seen due to Vektou keeping them in his personal
dwelling, former children of the Light Dwellers turned evil, Vektou has taught them to
unleash their power in the form of damaging energy, although they can unleash it, they
are not able to control it resulting in their own death when released.
Overview of Gameplay:
Polar Shadows is a first person shooter with a limited HUD. I felt a limited HUD gives
the game a more realistic feel to it. Something we've incorporated into the game is a high
tech visor that you can switch on and off. When turned on it will give you some basic
information you'd need to know such as:
-Squad Status as well as a way to command them
Figure 10: an advanced visor close to the one implemented in our
The game play is heavily revolved around team based fighting, but not so much that you can't
pull a "Rambo" and run in by yourself guns blazing. You will be able to assign your teammate to
do certain tasks such as hold a position, advance on the enemy
position, or even as simple as open a door. However, if a
command you give conflicts with an AI teammate's moral
beliefs, they will not follow through with it. For example, the
medic of the group is not likely to follow a command to shoot an
innocent being. The game is somewhat cover based but you won't need it if you can command
your team to execute maneuvers well. Players will rely mostly on using guns, but if they can
sneak up on an enemy or get close enough there will be several melee moves available. As to
stick to the realism of the game, players will not be able to regenerate health automatically, or
pick up a "magically placed med-pack" that is already lying around enemy territory. The only
way an injured player would be able to be healed is if the medic in the group can stop and
bandage their wounds for a moment. Although, there will be certain alien remedies that can
cause quick healing but they still have to be applied and do not instantly heal. When a player is
injured in combat, his reaction will be determined by his exact injury. For example, if he were hit
in the leg with a bullet badly he may be forced to crawl or limp slowly. In comparison, if he were
hit in the arm he would not be able to carry anything with it. Fortunately for people in this time,
medical advances allow the team medic to remove and heal bullet wounds in even the most
critical organs. There will be a damage system incorporated into the game in which each type of
ammo or gun does a certain amount of damage to each body part for every player (even AI
opponents). A list of damage points for the Assault rifle follow:
Assault Rifle Specific Point Damages
Head- 100 points/ instant knockdown (cannot move)
Chest- 90 points/ instant knockdown (cannot move)
Arms- 30 points/ unable to carry with wounded limb
Legs- 50 points/ instant knockdown(able to crawl)
Feet- 45 points/ limping
Hands- 20 points/ unable to carry with wounded hand
The game will be objective oriented. The players will complete multiple tasks in reaching their
overall bigger goals. Certain decisions will have to be made by the player and whichever choice
they make will open up different paths along the storyline. For example there will be a scene in
an early part of the game where a Shadow Dweller is attacking a Light Dweller elderly person.
You are presented with two options; either help the person out or decide its best to steer clear of
the situation. If you decide to help, the elder will help you later on in the story line with some of
your tasks; if you decide not to help you will have to do the certain tasks alone. However, there
is nothing to say that if you don't help, there won’t be some other form of help for you on those
tasks where you'd be alone.
Polar Shadows is a fast paced game but not one that’s too fast for the players to react. The AI
will be smarter than in most games, unlike some, where the enemy doesn't even have time to pull
it's weapon out to shoot you because it's so slow.
This will not be the type of game where weapons are placed throughout the map at random and
you can find and pick them up. The locations of weapons will make sense throughout the game
such as; the human weapons you find may be on fallen soldiers that were on the planet
previously. Helan weapons can be purchased in the city of the Light Dwellers if the right
connections are made in the storyline or you can pick them up from their fallen soldiers as well.
Some weapons that will be implemented in the game are as follows:
-Heavy Machine Gun
-Light Machine Gun
-Cyclone Beam- shoots high powered beams in the form of a cyclone out of its end
-Ice Blade- Ritual blades made from the hardest ice and crystal
Figure 12: Very similar sword to the Ice blade
-Spitter- unique weapon that uses anything as ammo, the user can load any common objects into
-the funnel and it its shot out as shards.
-Stasis Gun- Traps enemy with paralysis
-HFBG (High focus beam gun) - Helan sniper, uses crystals to magnify laser light into precise
-Poppers- hand held ball that is thrown at enemy, on impact the ball explodes and leaks a
chemical that instantly burns due to reaction with oxygen
-Blunt Objects (thugs)
Platforms: All platforms will have a version of this game ideally. The "Target Audience" for
this game would be a late teen to mature adult one. This game has some mature content to it such
as graphic violence and profanity. The game will be appealing for those who are into adventure,
shooter, thriller, and tactic based games. This game will have multiple levels of difficulties so
that it will not push away people who do not enjoy the tactic/strategy part of the game and would
rather just jump in and start shooting bad guys. Polar Shadows will incorporate a complex story
line that will hopefully draw much interest to even the non-devoted shooter gamers. Even if you
don't normally play games like this, seeing the previews for it would make you want to play it
just to see how the story develops.
Look and Feel:
This game will be designed with graphics that are relatively high quality in comparison to other
games of it's time. The game will have vivid settings and characters. Ideally, the player will
become entranced at the sight of the Light Dweller Cities and all of their mystery, likewise with
the Shadow Dweller areas, the player will have such a sense of fear and anxiety they will want to
leave as fast as they can. The ambience will be something to note as well in this game. During
appropriate areas or scenes certain triggered music will play in the background slightly, but not
enough to make a cheesy effect. A specific example I’m speaking of is when a player wanders
the Light Dweller Cities; There will be classical, refined music that promotes a sense of
unknowing, mystery, and tranquility. On the opposite end, the Shadow Dwellers will have a
more eerie music playing in the background giving you the feeling you are in one of those
As mentioned earlier, the HUD will be limited in this game. The user will control the game with
each console specific controller, and each will have the buttons laid out to make things easiest.
Since the HUD is limited, there will be a compensating factor. The high tech visor that players
can activate will have numerous functions. It will have a heads up display of team status (health
condition, orders they are following, alerts), objectives, mini-map all those listed previously. The
visor will also identify objects that the normal person would pass up such as ammo laying around
or a usable source of power. For example, a player with the visor deactivated would more than
likely walk through a dark passage and miss several objects like ammo, power, secret areas, etc.
The player with his visor activated would see them easily because the screen of the visor will put
a circle around them and give a brief description. The visor will play an important role but is not
necessary to play the game successfully. In many instances the visor will need to be deactivated
to see the field of battle better. Since there is no ammo display on the interface, the guns
themselves will have small screens that will show the count of ammo. Unfortunately, the
weapons that do not have these screens (Helan) the player will have to learn as they go about
ammo capacity for each weapon. Health will also not be visible on the screen without the visor
activated but, there will be signs to the player of the current condition. The player will begin to
notice his screen moving as if his character is limping if he is injured in that certain way. The
character will also say things to indicate his status, such as "ahh man this hurts," if he is wounded
or make grunting/pain stricken sounds. The controls for the game will be relative across all
platforms. The controls to the game would be similar to Halo 3 except for the "back" button
would pull up your visor. There will not be an imaginary sight painted on the screen for you;
Players will have to use the sights on the guns.
Figure 14: Halo 3 button layout,
Figure 13: ammo count on gun
similar to ours.
Level Design: HELOS
· The Surface - The surface of Helos is a barren and cold wasteland where nothing can survive.
The terrain is very rugged, covered mostly with mountains and frozen rock. Snow spreads over
everything like the sands of a desert. Scattered ruins remain in certain hidden away areas, but are
hardly contain enough to learn about their former occupants. Blistering winds blow through the
valleys and blizzards occur as often as night falls. This is not a place where anyone can stay alive
for very long.
Figure 15: Icy surfaced planet like Helos
· The Entrance of the cave – The team has set up a semi organized base camp at the only
known mouth of a mysterious cave. They have an enclosed fence around their few buildings and
a couple guard towers that each member takes a shift on. Sentry guns also line the camp although
there has never been an indication they would be needed.
Figure 16: a snowy base camp resembling Delta’s.
· Light Dweller’s cities – A well lit city that flows with life. The inhabitants seem to have a
hidden power that drives the city as no generators are present that would fuel the city. Their
technology is quite advanced even though most of it is built from stone. They seem to have
mastered the full use of their brain and can transfer energy through thought, which provides
much of the infrastructure in the city. It is relatively civil compared to most places in the caves.
There are many hidden passages and hideaways. The city is separated into different sections such
as housing, market, temples, and a barracks. The paths are all made of stone and each lantern is
lit by some sort of entity. The buildings mostly have some sort of language written on them
similar to how the Egyptians used to write on their temple walls. The architecture is similar to
the Aztec people.
Figure 17: An underground temple
close to what the Light Dwellers live
· Shadow Dweller’s Area – The shadow dwellers' area is very dark. It consists of their tunnels
and huts that they have constructed from the bones and skins of fallen Helans. The tunnels and
walls around their territory are usually scratched as if being marked like a cat would. The smell
of blood lingers in the air and is present on many places of the cave walls. They do not use fire to
light their way, mostly due to them not being able to see with their eyes. This area is not
civilized, nor is the architecture built in any intelligent way. Traps wait around every corner
intended for patrolling Light Dwellers. This place will definitely require a torch or some night
vision in most areas.
Figure 18: a spooky, dark cave area where a shadow
dweller might lurk.
-Vektou's Lair: Vektou has his own private fortified lair in which he resides most of the time; it
is guarded at all times. Odd things are found in his dwelling that indicates his longing for his
former self like his musical instrument (alien form of a piano). He also has the Shadow children
live in his quarters for some reason and treats them as if they are his real children.
Connecting tunnels and caves- The remains of trading paths are present in the tunnels
that connect the Light Dwellers Cities. It is very obvious that the paths used to be very
busy with tradesmen and travelers. Shadow Dwellers lurk in some areas as well as Light
Dwellers doing their assigned patrols. Some Light Dwellers’ lanterns still remain to light
the path. The floor is dirt, and the walls are rock, like the inside of any normal cave.