SHRINK Game Design Document Page 1 SHRINK “U SING ONLY THEIR WITS AND THE ABILITY TO SHRINK OR GROW ORGANIC LIFE , PLAYERS MUST DEVISE CREATIVE AND STRATEGIC WAYS OF ESCAPING FROM THE MOST DANGEROUS PSYCHIATRIC WARD IN HISTORY.” D ESIGN D OCUMENT E XECUTIVE P RODUCER : B EN M OSHER A liberating discovery leads to a desperate escape from one of the most dangerous mental facilities of all time. Players must use their abilities in creative and strategic ways to overcome the vastly superior military guards, and clear a path to safely escape. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 2 Section One – INTRODUCTION SHRINK is an action packed puzzle game which focuses on the themes of exploration, interaction, and navigation through platforming. That primary emphasis will be user interaction strategies with items and the environment. The player starts each level at a predetermined spawn location. From here, he or she will have to devise a way to reach the exit. In order to reach this exit, the player will have to use the environment, items at his or her disposal, and a clever overall strategy to overcome the level's obstacles. The player will be able to interact with characters, items, and the environment itself in many different ways. Additionally, items will be able to interact and combine with other items to create unique conditions or events, and can also be used to attack guards, or other NPCs. For example, a player who combines matches and flammable chemicals will be able to start a fire either in a room in order to attract attention or on an NPC in an attempt to “kill” them. In addition to items, the environment will also be able to interact with items and NPCs. A player could use a wet mop on a flight of stairs, for instance, and then lure a guard down them so that he’ll slip and be “killed”. Items may also be used to interact with different triggers in the environment. For instance, a shower with a missing handle could be able to be activated with a wrench in the player’s possession. Among all the aspects of the game, the varying levels of interaction will be the most important part of development and gameplay. Interaction in the game will change based on how the player uses their special abilities. In SHRINK, the main character has the ability to shrink or grow organic life-forms. This means he can control his own size, or the size of other NPCs. This ability opens up many different possibilities for item usage and interaction with these NPC characters. Items picked up when the SHRINK Game Design Document Page 3 player is shrunk grow in relation to the player. This way, say the player picks up a magnet in his shrunken state. While the magnet is small in comparison to the world, it will be quite large in comparison to the player. When the player then grows back to normal size, the magnet’s size will remain relative to that of the player, and will therefore be much larger than it was before. A large magnet could have many uses, such as the ability to disarm a guard by ripping the gun right out of his hands. In terms of NPC interaction with the shrinking ability, players will be able to change the size of other entities in the world. This opens up many more opportunities for variant gameplay. For instance, a player could grow a smaller animal in the environment, and then watch as it hunts down the guards one by one. Otherwise, the player could shrink a guard, and simply step on him instead of having to face him in a fair fight. Combined with the use of many different items, there will ideally be so many different possible outcomes of any given level that each player will have a completely different gameplay experience. With there being so many possibilities for ways to complete a level, the player will need to be able to come up with various strategies depending on the circumstances. If two guards are watching a certain area, the player will want to come up with a method of either separating them to pick them off one by one, or luring them both down one passage at the same time, and then sneaking around a back passage to bypass them. The ability to think quickly, make good decisions, and adapt strategies to ever-changing conditions will be highly important. Finally, players will also need to have a good grasp of spatial awareness so that they can navigate through the various paths of a level. In segments where the player chooses to play in a shrunken state, the feel of the game will switch from an exploratory focus to more of a platforming SHRINK Game Design Document Page 4 focus. Logically, in order to navigate the surfaces of desks, beds, cabinets, and many other household objects as a three inch tall guy, there’s going to involve a fair amount of jumping from place to place. In addition to simply being a logical transition, this will also add variety to the gameplay. Section Two - GAME PLAY I. Overview SHRINK is a part action, part puzzle game, which will focus on the themes of exploration, interaction, and navigation through platforming. The primary emphasis will be user interaction strategies with items and the environment. The player starts each level at a predetermined spawn location. From here, he or she will have to devise a way to reach the exit. In order to reach this exit, the player will have to use the environment, items at his or her disposal, and a clever overall strategy to overcome the level's obstacles. Our goal for the game-play of SHRINK is to provide the player with a vast number of variables and variety in each level.This will ensure that virtually every play-through will be a unique experience to the player. For instance, imagine the player was trapped in a hallway and there was a guard hunting him or her down. A small crack is visible in the wall. The player could shrink down and hide inside while the guard passes by. Alternatively, the player could quickly engage the oncoming guard, and use his or her powers to shrink the guard down, and simply run past. Beyond even these two options, the player will have a number of items strewn throughout the environment which can be used in conjunction to create innumerable and imaginative routes to safety. II. The Start of a Level SHRINK Game Design Document Page 5 Each level will begin with the player starting from a predefined spawn location. The spawn point of each level will be contextually congruent with the exit used in the previous level (the door you exited through in the previous level will be there at the start of the new level, but it will be impassible). However, any items attained or pursuing enemies the player might have attracted at the end of the previous level will be removed. This allows the player to start with an empty inventory, effectively starting the player anew. All timers and cool-downs will also be reset at the beginning of each new level. The player's progress will also be saved at the start of each level. This way, if the player meets his end, or becomes stuck and unable to continue at any point throughout the level, he can restart at the beginning of the level. In addition to being re-positioned at the start of the level, all the elements in the level reset, including items, guards, and other environmental entities. Any items the user may have picked up during their previous "life" are removed from their inventory and returned to their original place in the world. Any effects on the environment these items may have had are reset as well (a wet floor from a mop becomes dry again). The AI in the level returns to its initial idle / patrol behavior, in its original position. III. Movement The player's primary modes of movement involve walking, running, and jumping. Moving to the left and right will allow the player to navigate through the environment room by room. Though he will be able to jump at all times, players will find that jumping comes more into the game-play strategy while in the shrunken state. When the player is in large form, the on-screen avatar will navigate through the rooms in the current level. Interactive environmental factors in the large state will include such features as doors, stairs, and elevators. Non-Playable Characters (NPCs), will be of greater concern to the SHRINK Game Design Document Page 6 player when in full size form. While the avatar is in his large state, the player will form strategies that must include engaging in simple combat, completion of spatial puzzles, and item-environment interaction. In large form, the player's strategies will be based more upon brute force. Using items to affect the nearby terrain, fighting guards with equipped items, and navigating through large rooms are examples of the core skills that can be utilized while in the large form. Shrunken mode, on the other hand, focuses more on platform jumping, item collection, and avoidance of NPCs rather than outright combat. In shrunken mode, the player will have the ability to traverse not only the floors in the rooms, but many of the other surfaces as well. For example, where a large player would run past a desk, the smaller version would be able to either jump on top of the desk or hide under it, depending on the needs of his current situation. In other scenarios, the player may need to execute a series of accurate jumps in order to reach a certain area. An example of this could be a series of awkward shaped bricks jutting out from a wall. The player would have to jump from brick to brick in order to reach an alternate passageway near the ceiling. In some cases, if a player just barely missed a jump, he may be able to grab onto the edge of a platform and pull himself up(this feature will depend on time constraints of the project). IV. Interaction The player will be able to interact with characters, items, and the environment in many different ways. Additionally, items will be able to interact and combine with other items to create unique conditions or events. These item combination's can affect nearby ground, or can be used to directly attack guards or other unfriendly NPCs. For example, a player who combines matches and flammable chemicals will be able to start a fire in a room. This fire could be used either to attract the attention of a guard, or could be used in an effort to directly set the guard on fire. The environment will also be interactive when using certain items. For instance, a player could use a SHRINK Game Design Document Page 7 wet mop on a flight of stairs and then lure a guard down them so that he'll slip and be "killed." Among all the aspects of the game, this varying interaction will be the most important part of development because it ensures unique and fun game-play. Interaction will change based on how the player uses his special abilities. In SHRINK, the main character has the ability to shrink or grow organic life-forms, as well as any items in his inventory (though indirectly). This means he can control his own size or the size of other NPCs, as well as items that are scattered through the levels. This ability opens up many different possibilities for item usage and interaction. Items picked up when the player is shrunk grow in relation to the player. This way, say the player picks up a magnet in his shrunken state. While the magnet is small in comparison to the world, it would seem huge to the diminutive player. When the player then grows back to normal size, the magnet will remain the same size in his inventory (relative to the player), and will subsequently be much larger than it was before. A large magnet could have many uses, such as the ability to disarm a guard by ripping the gun right out of his hands. Players also have the ability to shrink and grow other unfriendly NPCs in the world around them. What if the player was faced with a guard and guard dog? The player could use this ability to shrink the guard (or grow the dog) and then watch as man's best friend hunts down his next meal, and a clear path would present itself. The use of this ability, combined with the ability to shrink and grow objects, opens up a plethora of opportunities for variant game-play. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 8 V. User Interface – Cause & Effect SHRINK Game Design Document Page 9 Control Pressed Conditions Outcome Move Direction + unobstructed Player moves in the desired direction Direction + obstructed by wall Player is unable to move in desired direction Jump While in normal size Player jumps 1/4 of total height off the ground. While in shrunken state Player jumps 1 1/2 of total height off the ground. While holding a direction Player jumps in the direction indicated, if not obstructed. Obstructed from above Player jumps as high as possible until collision with ceiling. Use / Interact In front of item Pick up item / add to inventory. In front of non-usable item Item not added to inventory, (some items are too big to be remains in original position. picked up in shrunken state). In front of item with full Currently selected item dropped in inventory exchange for new item. In front of dynamic Context-sensitive animation and / or environment interaction. In front of exit Progress to next level. In front of nothing Nothing. Attack Directed at enemy within range Enemy takes damage or dies depending on health / weapon. Directed at other NPC Kills the NPC, making noise. Directed at wall Makes noise (used to alert guards). Target (Used to Single press Target nearest NPC on same floor shrink NPCs) as the player. Additional presses Target next nearest NPC on same floor, then NPCs on other floors. No enemies present Nothing happens - sound indication? Grow / Shrink (Self) Unobstructed & fully charged Toggle player state, reset cooldown timer. Obstructed either horizontally Grow as much as possible, then or vertically & fully charged return to small size, reset cooldown timer. Cooldown timer not yet Nothing - sound indication? recharged Grow / Shrink (NPC) Target in range & fully charged Toggle enemy state, reset cooldown timer. Target out of range & fully Nothing - sound indication? charged No target selected Nothing - sound indication? Cooldown not yet recharged Nothing - sound indication? Switch Items Left on D-Pad Select weapon on left of current one in inventory, or furthest right if at end of inventory. Right on D-Pad Select weapon on right of current one in inventory, or furthest left if at end of inventory. No items in inventory Show empty inventory, do nothing SHRINK Game Design Document Page 10 VI. Artificial Intelligence – Cause & Effect Behavior Specific Triggers General Trigger Exhibited Patrol (Guard) None Lack of stimulus Become Alert Frighten or kill a neutral NPC Do something that alerts the guard to (Guard) your presence in some way. Interact with audible envoronment (sink, radio, door, etc.) Alert other guard (he will call for help) Get within sight of guard in large state Move very close to guard as shrunken player Shrink the guard Flee / Regroup Run at guard with weapon out Do something that will make the guard (Guard) fear for his life. Shrink guard Start fire in front of guard / in his path Much larger animal begins pursuing guard Kill other guard in front of him Pursue (Guard) Approach guard with no weapon out Do something that will REALLY make the guard want to kill you. Run away or attempt to hide from an alerted guard who approaches you Shrink yourself in front of an alert guard Frighten (Animal) Get too close as large character Do something that would scare the NPC Start fire on or near NPC Chase Grow NPC to large size Approach with weapon out Hunt Player Approach when player is small and animal Do something that will make you look (Animal) is normal size like a tasty meal for the NPC. Grow animal to large size without shrinking yourself first Hunt Guard The player is shrunk when the animal is Make the guards look like a better (Animal) grown (it will look for a larger, more meal than yourself. appetizing target) Make sure a guard is closer to the animal when theyre grown if you are still normal sized Shrink a nearby guard to turn them into prey SHRINK Game Design Document Page 11 VII. Combat Combat may take place between the player and NPCs, as well as between NPCs exclusively. For instance, while a player may choose to attack a guard head-on with a handheld weapon, he may also choose to indirectly attack the same guard by shrinking him in the presence of a cat. The massive cat will then proceed to engage and mutilate the guard. However, guards may also attack the player by means of shooting at him. Even animals, such as the cat, may attack the player should they pose a valuable target (or meal). While combat may be either direct or indirect, each style will still deal with the same properties of health and damage. Health is dependent on the amount of damage a player or NPC takes from a specific attack or action. For example, being shot might kill the player instantly (since he is wearing no protective armor), whereas falling from a moderately high perch might simply deplete a portion of the player's health. Similarly, while a single swipe from a cat would disembowel a tiny guard, a single smack from a giant toothbrush isn't likely to kill the guard with a single blow. Instead, it will only remove part of his health. When any entity, player or NPC, fully depletes its health, it will be "killed." In the player's case, this means that the level will reset, and he will have to start back from the beginning. If an NPC is "killed", a death animation will play, ending with a static "death pose" which will remain for the rest of the level (or until the level is restarted). Aside from having a graphic to represent his deceased state, any artificial intelligence algorithms for that particular entity are frozen and will cease to run from then on. The player must remain weary though, because other NPCs in the area may or may not have been alerted to your presence depending on who or what was killed, and its proximity to other NPCs. Essentially, NPCs who are killed are removed from the level in every SHRINK Game Design Document Page 12 sense, save for their mangled cadavers which remain until the player either advances to the next level, or has to restart the current level. The guards main weapons will be guns. The player will be limited to using the weapon classes listed above. If at all possible, we want to discourage or even prevent the player from using guns. The core gameplay in SHRINK will revolve around the player's creativity and resourcefulness. We want the players to think of new and interesting ways of defeating enemies, not simply grabbing their weapons and easily shooting everything else in the level. Aside from indirect attacks, the general forms of combat involve a static group of weapons: Weapon Types Examples Effect of Weapon Bludgeoning Riot stick Beats back enemies with a powerful Crowbar bashing attack. Match Toothbrush Spoon Skewering Toothpick Stabs through an enemy, dealing a Fork great amount of damage, but without Pencil any knockback Dagger Projectile Nailgun (modifiable) Shoots out stuff to deal damage to Throwing knives enemies at a distance. Special Flammable chemicals Special weapons are rare and each Magnet have their own unique effects on the Helicopter enemy. VIII. Finishing a Level / Victory Conditions The level will end when the player reaches the Exit Door. The Exit Door will be labeled so that the player can easily locate the end of the level. To ensure that players get a full experience, level exits will be generally placed as far from the player's spawning location as possible. In addition to this, the Exit Doors will often be locked or inaccessible at first. This will force the player to confront the other entities in the level in order to proceed. For instance, the key for the Exit Door in a given level could be on a guards desk in his office. Since the guard will be patrolling near SHRINK Game Design Document Page 13 the offices, the player will need to find a way to bypass the guard in order to finish the level. Once the player gains access to the exit, the game will immediately switch states and load the next level. Even though players are encouraged to openly confront the guards, they are not required to "kill" every last thing in the level in order to move on. A player who simply wants to lure the guard away from his post so that he can sneak past and escape will be able to beat the level regardless of whether or not he actually "killed" the guard. IX. In-game User Interface The user interface will give the player a persistant summary of every aspect of the game in real time. Health, items, targets, and cool-down timers for player abilities will all be visible on the screen. Despite the number of viewable components, the GUI will not obstruct the player's view of the on-screen action. The inventory will be displayed discretely in the top left corner of the screen. Because the size of the inventory is limited to three items, all three item slots will be displayed in separate boxes inside a single container. At the beginning of a level, when the inventory has spaces available, each new item picked up will be automatically added to the next empty inventory slot. When the inventory is full and the player attempts to pick up an item, the currently selected item will be swapped out of the inventory for the new one. Selected items will stand out from non-selected items by "popping out"of the inventory screen. Essentially, the tiles where the item images and labels appear will be larger for the selected item, and smaller for the non-selected. The player's health bar will also be displayed at the top of the screen, opposite the inventory. The health for the player will decrease when injured, and will slowly increase over time as the player's health recharges. As health runs out, the health lost will be indicated by a decrease SHRINK Game Design Document Page 14 in length of the health bar. A red graphic will display over its previous position indicating the amount of damage taken thus far. In addition to indicating health status, the health bar will also indicate whether or not the player's shrinking ability has recharged. When fully charged, the health bar will glow blue, whereas it will be green while the ability is recharging. As soon as the player uses the shrinking / growing ability, the bar will change from blue to green (with red still indicating the amount of health lost to damage). In order to shrink or attack enemies, the player will need to target the enemy he wishes to shrink or attack first. In order to show the player which enemy is currently selected, there will be a series of four small arrows surrounding him. Every time the player switches targets, the indicator will also switch to the new target that has been selected. In the case that there is no target selected, the arrows will simply be absent from the screen. X. Camera The in-game camera will keep its focus on the player at all times. The field of view will be great enough to see upcoming threats, and as such will not need to reposition in order to properly frame what is happening. Since the camera will be static in relation to the character, the player will be able to “see through” into the next room when approaching a door or wall. This will assist the player in forming a viable strategy to complete the level. When the player shrinks or grows, the camera’s field of view will stay relative to the player. Essentially, it will appear as if the level is blowing up around the player instead of him appearing to shrink to several pixels in height. After being shrunk, the player will understandably not be able to see as far, but will be able to investigate details which might not be evident to the large player. XI. Music SHRINK Game Design Document Page 15 Time permitting, dynamic musical scores will indicate to the player different conditional changes in the game’s environment. For instance, if the player alerts a guard, the background music might change from a more relaxed tone to a tenser one. Auditory indications would alert the player to many different changes in gameplay. There could be different music clips for when a player alerts a guard, is being pursued by a guard, is taking damage, is attacking, or is dead. This will add a great deal of atmosphere and immersion to the game, as well as another level of strategy, where the player will be able to react based on the tone of the music being played. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 16 Section Three – GAME ELEMENTS I. Game Mechanics The Primary Mechanics Shrink will be based around a special ability to shrink and grow the characters avatar and other entities in the virtual world. Alongside the ability to shrink and grow, the player must navigate through a labyrinthine world, solving puzzles and platforming. The Secondary Mechanics After using unique talents to traverse levels, the player will discover that there is much more required to play. The player will have to use items strewn across the world in order to further advance through the levels. Items will also be used to help sneak past, distract, or eliminate enemy characters. There will be a simple combat system in which several items can be used as weapons to fight. (Note: While most guards can carry guns, the player will not be able to use them. This is to discourage players from turning SHRINK into an easy first person shooter, and bypassing the challenging puzzle elements.) The Tertiary Mechanics Lastly and finally, there is a critical path for the player to follow while completing the levels. There won't be any specific quests or guidelines to follow, however, for a player who has read the story, there is a certain critical path for them to follow, should they choose to. There will also be special awards and rewards given to players who achieve special cases during the game. An SHRINK Game Design Document Page 17 example of a special case, would be obtaining every item in a level. Another case could involve completing a level, without killing a single guard. List of Mechanics The ability to shrink and grow will be on a cool-down timer to avoid overuse. The recharge time for this timer will decrease over the course of the game as the main character hones his ability. The player will be able to shrink enemy NPCs as well as himself. However, to shrink an enemy, firstly, the ability cannot be on cool-down, secondly, he can only shrink and grow enemies when he is in his large form. When you are shrunk, you cannot shrink or grow enemies. In accordance with the above mechanics, there will be TWO states each entity in the game will have (shrunken or grown). This way, you may not continuously shrink or grow any item or entity. When fully grown, there will be certain surfaces the player will not be able to stand on, that as a shrunken man he would (like a desk, or bookshelf). The player will be able to traverse the levels walking or running right and left, and will be able to jump, but will be subject to the laws of gravity. When navigating through the levels, the player will have to combine running and jumping to navigate. Most levels will have no direct path, and the player will have to platform or climb on objects to complete the level. The player will advance to the next level when he reaches a designated exit for the current level. These exits may be physically accessible but not active (locked). The player must then solve several puzzles in order to make the door active (find key, unlock). SHRINK Game Design Document Page 18 Items which are picked up must be placed in the inventory or discarded. The inventory is limited to 3 items. In most levels there will be more than 3 items, and if / when you want to pick up a 4th, your current item will be cycled out. Some items cannot be picked up depending on your size (a three inch tall man CAN NOT pick up a three foot long crowbar). You may only pick up items (shrunken NPCs are not items). Items may be used at any time, and will not necessarily be removed from your inventory after use (this depends on what the item is and how it is used). The player will have a health bar displayed on the screen. Players can lose health by being shot, bitten, or falling from high platforms. If a player takes damage, it will be displayed on his health bar. A player's health will recharge over time, if he does not take damage after a certain time. If the player's health bar runs out for any reason (being shot, or falling from a high platform), he will die. He must then restart the current level. The enemies will also have a certain amount of health. This depends on what type of enemy they are. Enemy health does not recharge. II. List of Game Entities Environment Entities Entities in the environment can be used by the player to aid them throughout the level. Any object in the game which glows can be used at one point or another. Items in the environment fall under several categories. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 19 Background Layer Doors Platforms Stairs Terrain Usable Entities One of the most important parts of SHRINK is the item interaction. Throughout the levels of SHRINK there will be many usable items. Each item will be able to be picked up by the player, and can be used with other usable items, environmental items, and characters. Broom Cigarettes Crowbar Fork Match Lighter Magnet Screwdriver Wrench Character Entities SHRINK Game Design Document Page 20 In SHRINK, there are a number of characters that you will encounter. You are the only one that can interact with the usable items. However, the environment entities and the character entities can all interact with one another. Player Enemy Cat Dog IV. Entity States Environment States Flammable – Environment can be set on fire. Walkable – Environment can be walked on. Open – Environment can be opened. Closed – Environment can be closed. Broken – Environment can be broken. Movable – Environment can be moved. Immovable – Environment cannot be moved. Item States Usable – Item is usable. Used Up – Item is out of usable charges. Picked up – Item has been picked up. Flammable – Item can be set on fire. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 21 Shrunk – Item is in shrunk state. Normal – Item is in normal state. Active – Item is the currently equipped item. Able to be Thrown – Item is able to be thrown. Character States On Fire – Character is on fire. Dead – Character is dead. Alive – Character is alive. Shrunk – Character is in shrunk state. Normal – Character is in normal state. Armed – Character is armed. Disarmed – Character is disarmed. Drunk – Character is drunk. Mini Boss – Character is a mini boss. Boss – Character is a boss. Player – Character is the player. Active – Character is engaged in chase/combat. Inactive – Character is not engaged in chase/combat. Jumping – Character is jumping. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 22 Section Four – STORY AND NARRATIVE I. Critical Path The Critical path in Shrink will ideally have many different variations. Our intention in designing the game progression is to provide the player with many different choices in order to encourage variant gameplay. As such, the specifics of the critical path are subject to change depending on the choices the player makes. That said, the fact remains that no matter what decisions the player makes, the same basic structure for game progression will be present. Objectives Generally speaking, the player will have to complete a partially linear sequence of levels from start to finish. Each level will cover a certain area of the facility which the main character must escape from. Time permitting, some levels may have more than a single exit which will lead the player along two different paths. For instance, a crack or hole in a wall might lead the player into another level which turns out to be a storage closet infested with vermin. The primary objective of a level such as this could be to locate a key in a mess of cleaning equipment in order to unlock the door and leave. As the player would enter this level in their shrunken state, the level would focus more on the players’ finesse with the shrunken character. Alternatively, a player could simply bypass a hole in the wall in favor of exiting the level in the traditional way such as leaving through the ‘exit’ door at the end. This might lead the player to a level more focused around combat as the full-grown character, as opposed to the stealthier style of play encouraged with the shrunken character. Ultimately, any side path such as this which the SHRINK Game Design Document Page 23 player decides to take will converge back to a central course where they may once again be offered the choice of multiple paths to take. Eventually, the players’ path will lead them to the last level where they will face off against a final boss. This battle will take place in an arena-style level. During the showdown, the user will be forced to effectively use all the skills they mastered over the course of the game in order to win. Following this battle, the player will escape from the facility, and will have beaten the game. Figure 1: A general idea of how the overall level flow will operate. Note that this design easily allows for the modular addition of new levels. In addition to a successful game completion, the players’ death will also be a possible ending point to the game (though players will be encouraged to restart and retry instead of simply being forced to quit on the first death). There will be many different ways a player can “die”. These include being shot, eaten, stepped on, mauled, burned, drowned, skewered, beaten, poisoned, and falling to one’s death. For every method there is for defeating enemies, there will be an equal amount of methods for the player to perish should he or she make a poor decision. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 24 Inside each level in SHRINK, the primary goal will be to solve the puzzle inherent in each level in order to reach the exit. In many cases, solving this puzzle with involve having to find a way to bypass or confront enemy NPCs between the character and the exit. Since the enemy AI will logically react to whatever the player does, he will have to gauge his actions in such a way that he or she is able to overcome the odds and make it to the exit. Very often, in order to overcome the obstacles in any given level, the player will need to utilize items scattered throughout the level, as well as environmental triggers and his ability to shrink and grow. Though there is obviously a certain degree of variation in the way these elements can be used, a player will be unable to complete any levels without using them in some way. For example, a player who may be determined to kill every last guard in a level would use these items and triggers in a violent manner to attack the guards and exterminate all opposition. Alternatively, a player with a more quiet and stealthy style of play may want to use these items and such to create a diversion for the guards while they slip away unnoticed in the shrunken state. Essentially, regardless of the choices the player makes in the course of beating a level, he or she will be forced to interact with the various obstacles in that level in order to advance. The way in which they interact with these obstacles is determined by which items and triggers they choose to use, as well as the way in which they use their shrinking / growing ability. In order for the player to be able to accomplish any of the mid-level or high-level objectives, they will have to complete the low-level objectives first. The low-level objectives essentially include the most basic actions the player will have to do in order to reach the end of the game. While the low-level elements of gameplay may not seem as relevant on their own, they form the foundation upon which the entire rest of the game is built. First and foremost of the low-level objectives is the necessity for the player to collect items SHRINK Game Design Document Page 25 and add them to their inventory. Without first collecting items, the player will be unable to use them to beat the level. The act of adding an item to inventory involves moving “over” the item in the world, and pressing the correct button to pick the item up. Once added to the players inventory, the new item will automatically appear in the player’s hand and replace any other item the player may have been holding in that inventory slot. In order for the players to collect items, they will have to find them first. This will require players to explore as much of the level as they possibly can. During this exploration phase, the player will also discover environmental triggers they may like to use. All of this will contribute greatly to the strategy the player will form for beating the level. At the very base of all the primary actions the player will have to perform in order to successfully reach the end of the game is the mechanic of shrinking and growing. Without alternating their play style, the user will not be able to fully explore the world, and therefore will find completing any given level virtually impossible. Summary Simply put, the overall path the players will follow through the game will be a partially linear sequence of levels which culminate in a final boss battle, after which they will have won. Given that, it is important to note that although the player will have many different options concerning how they go about beating the level, they will still need to accomplish all of the low and mid-level objectives in order to beat the level. When put in order (from high to low level), the primary objectives which make up the critical path of SHRINK are as follows: • High Level Objectives •Mid Level Objectives •Low Level Objectives SHRINK Game Design Document Page 26 Complete the full sequence of levels from start to finish. Reach the specified exit door in order to complete a level. Solve the puzzle inherent in each level in order to reach the exit. Confront the guards and other game entities in order to solve the puzzle. Use items in order to confront the NPCs. Collect items and add them to inventory in order to use them. Find items in order to collect them. (Also find environmental triggers and alternative pathways). Explore the world in order to find items and other areas of interest. Alternate shrunken and grown state in order to fully explore the world. II. Script and Dialogue In-Game Dialogue Spoken dialogue in SHRINK will be presented as auditory sound clips recorded by professional voice actors within the development group. These sound clips will be used as both a narrative device, and an indication to the player of changing factors in the environment. For instance, should a guard notice the player’s presence, he may shout something along the lines of, “You there! Stop!” Additionally, when the player encounters an NPC of import, they will ‘shout’ something more elaborate, adding more flavor to the game. During the final encounter, the warden of the facility will have the most elaborate taunts. He will fill several minor holes in the story, but also answer the ‘why’ question. Because the battle with this final boss will be the longest, we feel that it will have to most elaborate script. During the battle, there may be only taunts and jests. However, at certain, specific times, the battle will pause as the warden explains or describes more of your predicament. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 27 Below is a list of the shouts for the basic guards, the four minor bosses, and the player: Character Conditions Dialogue Common Guard Guard spots the player Hey! who are you!? What was that?! Hey, you there, stop! Guard begins chasing player Prisoner escape! Over here, over here! Come here you bastard! Guard becomes alerted What's going on in here? Is someone there? Chief Surgeon Greeting Ahh…You were a brilliant specimen. It will be a shame to put you to rest. Player defeat You could have been magnificent… NPC defeat Killed by my own pet… You've…disappointed…me… Security Director Greeting Heh heh heh… I should commend you for getting this far from your cell. I'll have to hire more guards. But no matter, you will not be going any further!" Player defeat That's as far as you go! NPC defeat Impossible…Nobody escapes…my reach! Chief of Staff Greeting You're trying to escape? I cannot allow that to happen. My superiors do not allow failure! I will remedy this situation! Player defeat You were just a number. You will be replaced. NPC defeat My superiors…will finish...the job… Ullrich Wulfe Greeting Player defeat NPC defeat Main Character Unable to use item I can't use that item here! (Franz Heidrich) Unable to use ability I have no energy! I don't have a target! Unable to use gun This gun has no ammunition! Tutorial Dialogue Additional in-game dialogue will occur in the first tutorial level in order to guide the player through the fundamental concepts of the game. This dialogue may be represented in written SHRINK Game Design Document Page 28 format on the screen in addition to being read by a voice actor. What follows is a draft of what the script for this level may consist of: *Level starts* “Welcome to the world of SHRINK. As you can see, your character currently has limited movement. Let’s begin by walking around the cell. Use the joystick to move right and left, or press ‘A’ to jump.” *Player moves around and jumps* “As you walk around you cell, you can see where the exit to the level is. Before we can reach the exit, we need to free you from your straightjacket. As you walk through your cell, take a look at any items you can use. Above your bed, you can see a sharp edge on a broken bar. This is the perfect time to use your special SHRINK ability.” “Press the ‘right bumper’ to shrink yourself. Notice that the outline of your health bar has changed from blue to green. This means that your SHRINK ability is on cool-down. Once it turns blue again, your SHRINK ability is recharged, and ready to be used.” *Player shrinks* “Now that you are small, you need to make your way up to the bed. Try jumping on top of the books to reach the bed.” *Player manages to jump up onto the bed* SHRINK Game Design Document Page 29 “Now that you are on the bed, you are almost there. You can see several bricks sticking out of the wall that you can jump on. However, these lead in the wrong direction. Let’s try jumping on the chains, and then jumping onto the bar sill.” *Player jumps up to bar sill* “Excellent. Now that you are on the bar sill, we can use the sharp edge of the broken bar to cut the straightjacket off. To use an item, first run up to it, then once it begins to glow, press ‘Y’ to use it. This also works to pick up items that you can use elsewhere in the levels. Run up to the broken bar and ‘use’ it to free yourself.” *Player is freed from bonds* “Now that you are free, you can try to escape. Let’s grow back to our normal size, and try to open the door. Press the ‘right bumper’ again to use your SHRINK ability, and walk over to the door. Again, once the handle begins to glow, press ‘Y’ to use the item.” *Player tries unsuccessfully to open the door* “Oh no, the door appears to be locked. Most levels in SHRINK contain locked doors, and you must find a way past. Remember those bricks we saw earlier? Try shrinking down, and see where the bricks lead to.” *Player reaches the high shelf next to the door* “Very good! You have found a shelf with access to the open bars in the door. From here, it looks like you can just jump through the bars and be free! But wait, you can also see SHRINK Game Design Document Page 30 that there is a guard outside the door. You’ll need a weapon to fight with.” “Try picking up the fork that is on the shelf. Items that you pick up are displayed in your heads up display, in the upper left hand corner of your screen. Items also follow the same SHRINK pattern that you do. If you grow with an item in your inventory, it will grow with you.” *Player acquires fork* “Now you are armed and ready to escape. Jump onto the bars in the door. Be careful though, if you fall that distance in your shrunk form, it may kill you. Try jumping through the bars, then quickly using your SHRINK ability to grow to full size.” *Player escapes from cell* “Good. But you aren’t done yet! Now that you are outside your cell, a guard has been alerted to your presence. The only weapon you currently have is a giant fork, which is a melee weapon. Run up to the guard, and press ‘B’ to attack the guard.” *Player kills the guard* “Very good. Now you have successfully completed the level! In SHRINK there are many different ways to use items and the environment to achieve your goals. Now you are ready to solve puzzles on your own!” III. Narrative Character Back Story SHRINK Game Design Document Page 31 Franz Heidrich was just an ordinary doctor, practicing psychiatry in northern Austria, close to the German border. Franz's clients were generally well-mannered, aristocratic Germans and Austrians, just living their lives. Soon though, the German populace became more aggressive and upstart; telltale signs of the war becoming more and more obvious. Franz held firm in his belief against the war, and wasn't afraid to voice his opinion to his clients. Before long, German soldiers were alerted to Franz's vocal opposition. In order to silence any dissent against the war effort, the Nazi SS set their sights on Heidrich. They invaded his workplace, and in a brutal public display, forcefully removed Franz from his job. A young German doctor working for the Nazi SS named Ullrich Wulfe caught word of Franz's capture, and immediately attempted to enlist his aid. Franz accepted Ullrich's offer, on the condition that he would continue to work as a simple psychiatrist, and not be sent to a death camp. As Franz began his work for the Nazis, Ullrich found himself more and more impressed with the results Franz wrought. Months later, in an effort of appraisal, Dr. Wulfe promoted Franz to work at a questionable new facility in southern Germany. Ullrich made no specific mention of his new duties, and detailed little of the experimental procedures Franz witnessed during his visit to the facility. Franz again accepted the offer, without knowing exactly what his new position would entail. Not long after his arrival, Franz began to question exactly what was occurring in this new facility. His outbursts quickly became more frequent and more emotional. Ullrich made many attempts to quell his riotous subordinate, which only exacerbated the quandary. As Franz's objections became louder, Ullrich's leash tightened. He began to deprive Franz of many freedoms he had previously enjoyed. Before long, Franz was little more than a prisoner of his own office. Despite these restrictions, Franz continued to contend with Ullrich, and the situation worsened. At last, Ullrich snapped. He had security escort Franz to a holding cell. It soon became SHRINK Game Design Document Page 32 apparent though, that not even a holding cell could quell his voice. In a final act of desperation, Ullrich had his former assistant subjected to the very experiments he himself had been performing. Game Prologue Dr. Ullrich Wulfe paced in his office. The soles of his shoes were already worn, and this new incident with a man (whom he wished to become his protégé) was infuriating. As he paced, he pondered his curious predicament. His hand suddenly twitched…. again…. Dr. Ullrich’s hand had been twitching and trembling, freezing and burning, ever since his last experiment; the near fatal experiment that he performed on his latest lament, Franz Heidrich. Ullrich stopped pacing. He looked down at the notes scattered on his desk. “Failure” read one title. “Experiment Terminated” read another. “Lack of Results” read a third. But still one gave him hope; “Awaiting Response”. His latest subject, Franz had finally been a key link in his work. Ironic? Or befitting? Ullrich grasped the two thoughts, and then softly chuckled. Ullrich’s latest work involved mutating cell structures. His first test was to attempt to modify the structures, making them smaller. Once a successful experiment was carried out, he would attempt other manipulations. Super strength, resistance to chemical and biological weapons, these were but a few of the mutations that Dr. Wulfe was attempting. His latest experiment had gone awry. During the cellular deconstruction, he carved a small crevice into his own finger, and unknowingly allowed his blood to transfuse with Dr. Heidrich’s. Ever since, infrequent spasms plagued his hand. He had yet to perform a single experiment since. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 33 Ullrich began to pace his office again, pausing every once in a while to glance at his doorway. The door was not quite closed, and not locked. It was always locked, except for now, whilst the doctor awaited results. Suddenly the door screamed to its fully open state. A young guard nearly toppled, took a breath, and righted himself. “Sir, Doctor.” He gasped, taking another deep breath. “What, what is it you fool! What is so important!?” “Doctor Wulfe, sir, subject 744 is missing.” Dr. Ullrich gaped, words not enough to describe his current rage. The guard then lay down Ullrich’s worst fears, “Franz Heidrich has gone missing.” * * * Franz Heidrich opened his eyes. He knew he had made a mistake. After all, he had a knack for not stopping when it was required of him. He attempted to sit up – a feat made more difficult by the straightjacket that encompassed his body. It had been more than three years ago that he had signed his contract with a strange young upstart doctor by the name of Ullrich Wulfe. Really, however, he had no other choice. Once the Nazi SS had captured him, it was either working for the enemy, or dying for the enemy. Franz knew that his day had not yet come. He signed a contract to work as a mid-level psycho therapist. His work was slow and boring. He conversed with soldiers who were having trouble staying focused, soldiers who had trouble following orders, even officers who were afraid of their soldiers ignoring them. It troubled Franz, being forced to work for those whom he spoke out against, but he was motivated enough to deprive himself of emotion as he carried out orders. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 34 Soon, his work paid off. Ullrich kept constant tabs on Franz, a silent eye constantly over his shoulder. One day, a face joined the eye, and a mouth offered Franz a new position, away from the soldiers, in a brand new facility. Franz requested a tour of the new facility, and it was granted. Ullrich walked him through the concrete floored building, the walls littered with windows and doorways. Some of what Franz saw that day frightened him more than the soldiers. However, with no further description from Ullrich, the experiments were left to torment his mind. Reluctantly, even with genetically modified horror, and experimental drug trials invading his dreams, he accepted the new position. Franz was still at the new facility. He had been here for over a year. His current room, however, was smaller and colder than the room in which he started. His office was in the far corner of the west wing of the building. It was only a short distance from that of Ullrich Wulfe’s office, and the concrete walls carried his constant dissent far. Wulfe had tried to modulate Franz’s impedance of the experimental work occurring at the facility. One day, Ullrich finally snapped. Franz had been summoned to meet with Ullrich and discuss his latest outcry. This time however, two armed security guards met with Franz, and few words were spoken. Three weeks ago, Franz had been dragged into his new cell by the two guards. After a brief visit from Ullrich, Franz had bargained to obtain several books to read while in captivity. Ullrich agreed to give him some books, and in return, Franz doctored several of the support staff of the facility. Now, as his eyes finished adjusting to the darkness, he looked over the walls again. The books still lay in the corner under his wooden bed. The bricks on the outer wall were still broken and jagged. He looked down at his own body and closed his eyes. His stomach hurt. His arms and SHRINK Game Design Document Page 35 legs were sore. His eyes had bled, as had his nose, and ears. He had been drafted to join several tens of other subjects in experimental trials. After his first experiment, he knew exactly what he was being prepped for: experimental genetic mutation. This was the third time now that he had awoken from a blackout. Always back in his cell, and always back in the plain white straightjacket. He felt his hand twitch slightly, the movement subdued by the taught jacket. His hands had twitched before, but only since his second trip to the operation room. He tried to focus on the pain. His hand twitched again. Franz closed his eyes and focused on his hand, feeling the pain switch from coldness, to burning heat. He felt blood start to form in the cavities of his nose, but kept his thoughts on the pain. Suddenly, as if a switch had been turned, everything stopped. The burning in his hand ended, and encompassed his entire body. He opened his mouth to scream as the walls and floor began to grow around him… Game Epilogue Franz inserted the large brass key into the keyhole. The greased lock made little sound as Franz turned, the mechanism clinking and clanking as the gears rotated. In a rush, Franz threw the door open, its wide maw silently groaning as Franz stepped through. Franz glared down at the key, and with another fit of fury, snapped the key shaft, still half in the latch. He swore under his breath and looked out, breathing in the almost-fresh air. The stench of the facility pursued him, and as he gazed out across the field, he knew his task was not yet complete. The bleak skies were in turmoil, as the dark clouds battered against one another. The only light visible to Franz streaked out across the grass from the turrets and guard posts littered amidst the hills. Franz sighed, his freedom not yet satiated. He looked back over his shoulder, reliving every SHRINK Game Design Document Page 36 minute of his captivity in a single moment, and shuddered. He turned back around to face the field, and the fortified courtyards beyond. The dirt road stretching into the distance was hardened by the footsteps and vehicle treads. The grass alongside was crushed and dry. Signs of the death wrought by this place had escaped into the ground surrounding. For any normal person, the task of evading guards and sneaking out through the courtyard would be suicide. For Franz Heidrich, it would be yet another test of wit and determination. With a grim look on his face, he closed his eyes and thought. With all that he could now accomplish, was it really worth it? Was his torment and suffering equal in part to the gift that he could now control? Franz opened his eyes. That would be a question for another time. For now, he had to secure his freedom. He leapt out across the field, his feet padded by the soft grass. His determination drew grim, as he approached his quarry. With a burst of mental energy the world around him grew as Franz began the next chapter in his ultimate quest for freedom. Section Five – TEST PLAN I. Test Goals In testing SHRINK, our main priorities will be to obtain feedback from players regarding each aspect of the game, as well as obtaining ideas for how to improve interaction and navigation of the game levels. In analysis of the feedback we receive, we will specifically be looking for qualitative and quantitative responses on how to improve or modify the overall gameplay, the individual game components, the technical aspects, and the artistic look and feel of the game. This will be done through live play-tests followed by either an oral interview or a written survey. In each play-test session, we will attempt to bring new faces into the mix, in order to get a more comprehensive pool of results. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 37 In our play-tests, it is also imperative that we not only get suggestions on how to improve the already-present aspects of gameplay, but also how to provide the player with results he or she may expect from certain actions. To elaborate on this, one of our main goals in producing SHRINK is to provide the player with the means to do virtually anything in the world that they can conceive of. As such, we will constantly be using our players’ expectations to help shape our level design and gameplay experience. Of course, internal testing will also take place to ensure product quality. This process of quality assurance will consist of three phases; testing, revising, and refining. These three processes will be applied to technical and artistic aspects alike. Before the outside play-testers are given a version of the game to test, the internal play testing will have already gone through several cycles. Our goal in outside play-testing is to acquire feedback on unanticipated events and features that users would like to see incorporated into our product. II. Test Components General Components to Test As stated earlier, each play test will focus on different features or sections of the overall whole. For the purposes of SHRINK we have defined several key groups of features that will need individual testing. The chart below lists the macro scale categories, and the micro scale features in each category. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 38 Macro Micro GAME COMPONENTS Shrink / Grow Lateral Movement Jumping Ledge Grabbing Attacking Item Usage Win conditions Lose Conditions GAMEPLAY ASPECTS Platforming Exploration Item Collection Combat Interaction (Items / Environment) Level Flow Level Progression Overall Difficulty Item Placement TECHNICAL ASPECTS Game Bugs Control Schemes (Keyboard, Controller) AI Physics Game Screens / Menus Sound Collisions / Clipping Level Loading Performance ARTISTIC ASPECTS Color Scheme Art Style Animations Character Designs Sound Design (Music, Effects) GUI Design Specific Testing Aspects •Technical First and foremost, the game will need to consistently be combed for bugs stemming from logic errors in the code. While each new feature added will go through extensive testing in-house, the implementation of the core mechanics will go through testing beyond the initial debugging. In particular, player movement, physics, and collision will need to go through many stages of testing SHRINK Game Design Document Page 39 in order to ensure that it is all fully functional. The reasoning that lies behind this is that these particular game features will be used much more than any others, and are absolutely essential to the gameplay. As such, the chances of a player discovering an unforeseen exploit in these mechanics are higher than would be in a less used game feature. Additionally, the impact that a bug in the collision and physics systems would have on the overall gameplay could be potentially catastrophic. In addition to the main mechanics of the game, we will be gauging the games’ performance by load testing the engine at given points during the development process. With so much content going into the final version of the game, it is important that the game be able to run well despite the level of intricacy. This will require benchmark tests on a wide variety of machines to ensure reliably comprehensive results. As part of these load tests, we will perform operations such as loading the environment with hundreds of different renderable objects which will collide with terrain surfaces, giving us an idea of how effective our collision system is at conserving system resources to provide a seamless gameplay experience. Other technical issues may have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. For example, if part of the program that loads the level breaks, development will likely have to focus entirely on the immediate problem, as any other testing cannot be completed when the game itself cannot even be loaded up. For the most part, issues such as this should be corrected during the debugging phase, but in the case that something unforeseen happens, it should be dealt with before any further testing is done. •Fundamental Gameplay The first round of dedicated outside testing for SHRINK will need to focus on the basic game controls. Without an intuitive control scheme, the players will be focusing more on how to SHRINK Game Design Document Page 40 make the character move around the way they intend it instead of how to accomplish more advanced game objectives. The idea here is to get the controls to a point where a player can just pick up the controller and go instead of having to spend time deciphering the control scheme first. Having these controls perfected as much as possible will give us more accurate results in the play- tests. Following the refinement of the controls, the primary game mechanics must be tested. First and foremost under this category is going to be lateral movement and jumping. Also inherent in this stage is going to be refinement of camera behavior. We will be looking for feedback here on how well players can relate to the movement model, and how effective they find the camera in framing the scene. Similar to controls, we want the main mechanics of the game to come to players naturally rather than have them sit and ponder the most basic aspects of gameplay. Once the movement has been refined, we will be able to start testing the more unique aspects of the gameplay. The inventory system, for example, will be vital to almost every aspect of gameplay save for movement. There are several aspects to the inventory and item systems which will need to be tested. First off, we want to make sure the player can distinguish items from non- interactive background objects. This will require some basic implementation of the artwork in order to test. Once we are satisfied that the items are distinct from the environment, we will test methods of item pickup. For instance, should an item pick up as soon as the player moves over it, or should he or she have to press a button while over it to pick it up? Does it make sense to the player if their currently selected item is replaced by an item they pick up? Questions like these will only be answered through feedback from the play-testers. Once item implementation has been refined to our liking, we will need to test the dynamics SHRINK Game Design Document Page 41 of actually using these items. In the full version of the game, items will most often be used for combat purposes. For this reason, testing combat with item usage would be reasonable. As part of this, it would also make sense to incorporate lose conditions, level restarting, and a heads-up display into the test. This would give the players all the components they would need to fully test the core combat mechanics in the game. From this test we should get an idea of the level of difficulty needed to make combat fun, as well as help us understand how the players instinctively intend on confronting opponents. •Usability Once the fundamentals of gameplay are nailed down, the testing process will grow to focus on the more advanced levels of gameplay which the fundamentals make possible. Building on the movement mechanics, platforming, falling damage, and win conditions will be introduced first. This begins to get into fun factor, rather than a simple, “is this working?” Questions begin to come up, like, “Is this fun and intuitive? Does it seem fair?” From there, it expands to level/room navigation. This is where the testing becomes more unique to SHRINK itself. The player needs to navigate the level. This further expands into a larger scale level flow. The player now has a beginning and end and he must traverse the level. Exploration is introduced. Here, we can begin to test puzzles and SHRINK-specific elements. Was the level design fun? Were the mechanics fun when put together? The final element of basic gameplay is the item system and how it interacts with the player and environment. We can place items and have the tester use them and grow/shrink with them. Was it intuitive? Did the items stand out enough? Are the items vital to the mission easy to find? Are the secret items challenging enough to find without being frustratingly so? On top of this is the menu navigation/GUI. Although this isn’t directly part of the gameplay, SHRINK Game Design Document Page 42 it will be vital to have a menu which the user can find agreeable. Were the menus navigable? Did they make sense? Our aim is to have menus that not only are visually appealing to users, but inherently intuitive to them as well. Even a computer illiterate should be able to find their way through our menus. •Art & Sound Art and sound, while admittedly not part of the actual play experience, will be important in immersing the player in the world of SHRINK. As part of one of the other tests, artwork, animations, sound effects, and music could be added in for possibly an exclusive test of the design work. What we will be looking for in feedback on the artwork is that everything fits together thematically. For instance, do our visuals fit in with the feel of the sound design? We want all of the design elements to build on one another, not contrast to each other. III. Test Plan In house testing has already begun, and gone through much iteration in order to make sure that the core of the gameplay works (aka. the code compiles). However, as we start to add more functionality and playability to the game, we will need to obtain feedback from our possible consumers as soon as possible, in order to actually use the results and modify SHRINK as necessary. Our starting play tests will occur as soon as we have a functional “game”. In an effort to assure fun gameplay, the first external play test session will be on the macro level, getting feedback on the overall feel our game actually communicates. We want to make sure that the atmosphere in our game is actually being presented the way we intended it to. After we are assured that the core is delivering the level of immersion we are looking for, we will implement and test more of the details that make SHRINK unique. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 43 As each new feature and component is added to the game, it will be tested in house before being released for external testing. This is a preventative measure that allows the maximum possible time for our external play-testers to provide feedback. The reason that in house testing provides better out of house testing is simple; if we present broken code to an external play tester, they will focus merely on the large scale problem that is inherent in the code and not focus on the more minute details that we wish them to review. A situation such as this would effectively render any outside beta testing entirely useless. In beginning play-tests on the public, the first round should simply be to make sure the basic controls of movement are intuitive. A test like this could be as simple as sending out a survey to a group of people and, giving them a brief description of the game, have them fill in which buttons they imagine being bound to which functions. After having configured the controls in a way which the player is familiar with, they can then be given working versions of the actual game to test. Essentially, we want to release the components of the game bit by bit as they are developed, and get feedback on each individual one. In addition to reporting their own opinions about gameplay, we will encourage players to report any bugs or errors they come across in their game experience. Each time one of these errors is reported, it will be dealt with immediately and distributed to the testers over an internet repository. After the bugs have been worked out and the primary elements of gameplay tested, the focus of testing will switch from a technical focus to a more “usability” oriented one. In the usability play-tests, we will be looking less for suggestions on how to fix things like the running and jumping (though we will still be open to people’s suggestions at this point), and looking more in favor of ways to make the game more fun. Testing on this level would involve sending players a SHRINK Game Design Document Page 44 working version of an entire level, and having them navigate it themselves without any outside assistance. When the player solves the puzzle and reaches the end, we will both interview and survey them for their reactions, and modify the game mechanics accordingly. Also important in the process of play-testing levels will be taking into account the players’ personal suggestions of different ways to complete a given level. Since it is unrealistic to expect the developers to be able to come up with every possible scenario for beating a level on their own, we will let the players themselves contribute to the list of possible scenarios. In doing this, we will need to find clean, conservative ways of integrating interaction into gameplay with a minimum amount of hard-coding. Given enough players, the number of possible scenarios should eventually grow to a level at which the vast majority of people will be able to complete a level in any way conceivable to them. IV. Test Results A test response application (TRA) was created in order to glean responses from play-testers which would assist us in improving the overall gameplay experience. The questions on the application covered control schemes, level flow, difficulty, and fun factor. We asked the user to both rate each of these factors on a scale from one to five, and then provide us with as much written feedback as they could. Once they had filled out all the information, they submitted their responses, and the program output a text file containing formatted responses to all the questions. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 45 Below is the list of responses from the play-test: User 1: ********** PAGE 1 - Expected Mapping ********** Movement: 1 Jump: 6 Pick Up Weapon: 7 Attack / Use: 8 Shrink / Grow: 9 Switch Previous Item: 10 Switch Next Item: 11 ********** PAGE 2 - In-game Controls ********** Clarity of in-game controls: 5 Response of in-game controls: 4 Response to physical button mapping: SHRINK Game Design Document Page 46 They felt pretty good since i actually made the controls myself Button Mappings to be Changed: It felt like I should be able to move the right joystick to pan the camera around and look at the rest of the level. I would have liked to be able to see where the rest of the map was so i could plan out the rest of my adventure, and being able to drop small items, shrink, then pick them up in big form would have been nice to have ********** PAGE 3 - Gameplay ********** Navigation ease: Kinda, the platforms were not easily distinguished, but once i found the path it was kinda easy to follow Platforming identification: not that easily, some kind of outline or more distinguished feature would have been useful Exploration ability: every level can be explored more, i wanted to go outside between the bars when i was little, specially through the broken segment, but i would have liked to hide in the pillow or knock over the candle or other things like that Shrink ability relevance: yes, it gave me a huge advantage to have a huge fork against a gun (cause forkz beat gunz??) Fun factor: yea all in all it felt pretty natural and the flow was fairly well, once again tho, the platforms were kinda hard to find/the paths through the level were kinda hard to find ********** PAGE 4 - Additional Comments ********** User 2: ********** PAGE 1 - Expected Mapping ********** Movement: 3 Jump: 6 Pick Up Weapon: 8 Attack / Use: 7 Shrink / Grow: 12/13 Switch Previous Item: 10 Switch Next Item: 11 ********** PAGE 2 - In-game Controls ********** Clarity of in-game controls: 4 Response of in-game controls: 4 Response to physical button mapping: Yes Button Mappings to be Changed: grow and shrink to the the shoulder buttons SHRINK Game Design Document Page 47 ********** PAGE 3 - Gameplay ********** Navigation ease: fairly, wish i was easier to gain speed Platforming identification: Most of the time Exploration ability: The available level, yes Shrink ability relevance: Yes, it also killed me Fun factor: Yes ********** PAGE 4 - Additional Comments ********** gaining speed needs to be a tad faster, was hard to get to certain platforms without being at the very end of the brick User 3: ********** PAGE 1 - Expected Mapping ********** Movement: 1l Jump: 6 Pick Up Weapon: 8 Attack / Use: 13 Shrink / Grow: 7 Switch Previous Item: 3 Switch Next Item: 3 ********** PAGE 2 - In-game Controls ********** Clarity of in-game controls: 5 Response of in-game controls: 4 Response to physical button mapping: I died too often. Yes they were physically comfortaable. Button Mappings to be Changed: no. Maybe. I am unsure. ********** PAGE 3 - Gameplay ********** Navigation ease: Yes Platforming identification: Yes Exploration ability: Sort of.I will NOT elaborate on this. Shrink ability relevance: Yes...because the level was designed so that it would...so I would hope it would help. Fun factor: SHRINK Game Design Document Page 48 I guess. This is a somewhat limited experience as there is only one "level" and there are not really multiple solutions beyond a certain point so it can only bge so fun right now. ********** PAGE 4 - Additional Comments ********** wek'udcvkjsvcjk/bsdjkljkscbnjkkldflofklfekdfbjksjksbnCVLKSJDBCVKLSB> User 4: ********** PAGE 1 - Expected Mapping ********** Movement: 1 Jump: 6 Pick Up Weapon: 8 Attack / Use: 13 Shrink / Grow: 7 Switch Previous Item: 10 Switch Next Item: 11 ********** PAGE 2 - In-game Controls ********** Clarity of in-game controls: 4 Response of in-game controls: 5 Response to physical button mapping: Jumping, Moving, and switching between items were really good. Ishrank/grew myself a couple times when trying to use items. Button Mappings to be Changed: I don't think they really need to be changed. If I played for more than a few minutes I owuld have gotten used to the shrinking. ********** PAGE 3 - Gameplay ********** Navigation ease: Yeah Platforming identification: Yes, the different shades are very effective in differentiating between usable and non-usable platforms. Exploration ability: Pretty much, I was hopin I could break the window in the room, but I was able o get to all the places I wanted to. Shrink ability relevance: Definately, you can't complete the level (I think) without shrinking. Fun factor: Yeah, shrinking down and exploring what I can pickup and where I can go was more fun than you'd expect. ********** PAGE 4 - Additional Comments ********** I know this was a demo level, but more options to complete the level (more items, more paths, etc..) would really improve the game. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 49 User 5: ********** PAGE 1 - Expected Mapping ********** Movement: 1rllllll Jump: 6 Pick Up Weapon: 7 Attack / Use: 8 Shrink / Grow: 9 Switch Previous Item: 10 Switch Next Item: 11 ********** PAGE 2 - In-game Controls ********** Clarity of in-game controls: 5 Response of in-game controls: 4 Response to physical button mapping: yes Button Mappings to be Changed: nah ********** PAGE 3 - Gameplay ********** Navigation ease: for the mos part yes Platforming identification: most of the time Exploration ability: no, some bricks i couldn't reach and a door in my way at the end Shrink ability relevance: yes Fun factor: yes ********** PAGE 4 - Additional Comments ********** Inventory seems kind of small, will he be able to increase it later? User 6: ********** PAGE 1 - Expected Mapping ********** Movement: 1 Jump: 6 Pick Up Weapon: 7 Attack / Use: 8 Shrink / Grow: 9 Switch Previous Item: 10 SHRINK Game Design Document Page 50 Switch Next Item: 11 ********** PAGE 2 - In-game Controls ********** Clarity of in-game controls: 5 Response of in-game controls: 4 Response to physical button mapping: Yes -- they were essentially what I expected and they responded relatively well. Button Mappings to be Changed: None. ********** PAGE 3 - Gameplay ********** Navigation ease: Yes, though the acceleration required for some jumps seemed unneeded in the beginning. Platforming identification: Mostly; the one exception is the windowsill. Exploration ability: Yes. Shrink ability relevance: Yes, Fun factor: Yes. ********** PAGE 4 - Additional Comments ********** It's hard to determine what is collidable and what is not. Consider identifying some other objects (windowsill!) much like you have with specific bricks. User 7: ********** PAGE 1 - Expected Mapping ********** Movement: 1 Jump: 6 Pick Up Weapon: 10 Attack / Use: 8 Shrink / Grow: 11 Switch Previous Item: 13 Switch Next Item: 12 ********** PAGE 2 - In-game Controls ********** Clarity of in-game controls: 3 Response of in-game controls: 3 Response to physical button mapping: they were easy enough to figure out. Button Mappings to be Changed: I would have perfered if he attack was mapped to one of the bumpers rather then x SHRINK Game Design Document Page 51 ********** PAGE 3 - Gameplay ********** Navigation ease: you dont jump high enough Platforming identification: yes Exploration ability: sort of, it guided you rather well Shrink ability relevance: yes, it was the only way to complete Fun factor: it was moderately fun ********** PAGE 4 - Additional Comments ********** interesting art direction. From the play-test, we were able to get a better idea of what players were expecting both in terms of gameplay and controls. Many people found the platforms to be difficult to find and navigate. Since the player picked up speed at such a slow rate, some of the platforms which were further away were very difficult to reach. In addition to this, some of the platforms were outside the player’s viewing range. This made certain platforming sequences even more difficult. Players also complained about how health could not be regenerated. Once the player took falling damage, they were stuck with that damage for the remainder of the game. Even more frustrating was the fact that the final segment of the level forced the player to fall from halfway up the map, automatically docking them a good deal of health. This way, if a player lost a certain amount of health, it was virtually impossible to survive the fall at the end of the level. In addressing these issues, we added several features to the game. First off, we made the player’s speed increase much faster. We also added a feature which makes the camera move around the player, essentially extending the player’s viewing range. These two additions combined with a revamped level background made the platforming sequences much easier. We added scratches on the wall leading the player to the correct platform. Furthermore, shadows were added SHRINK Game Design Document Page 52 underneath the bricks to imply that they are platforms and therefore interactive terrain. In terms of interaction, we made the player able to both get drunk off of the broken bottle of liquor on the cell floor, and set themselves on fire using the candle on the shelf. To indicate to the player the objects and items in the game which were interactive, we added a glow which activates when the player gets within a certain range. Once the player had caught themselves on fire, the player is able to run past the guard and set him on fire. To extinguish himself, the player can use a wrench found in the third room to activate the shower and douse the flames. Adding deeper levels of interaction is one of the primary focuses in the development of SHRINK. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 53 Section Six – TECHNICALITIES I. Technical Features The key feature for SHRINK is clearly, the ability to shrink and grow. It is the primary mechanic for the game, so it must be intuitive, flow well, and be fun. Our original plan was to simply grow the level around the player. This is designed to help immerse the player and make them feel more attached to the world’s scale. They feel more like THEY are shrinking, and not just watching their avatar get bigger and smaller. In reality, creating a background that will look good at both scales is very difficult. It is easier (and actually looks more interesting visually) to have the player slightly scale up and down to a smaller factor. So when the player is growing, the level increases in size and the player decreases in size by a smaller amount. The 2D camera then zooms according to the new scale. In order to account for terrain and collision, we use separating axis. This system works by taking a polygon and projecting it onto another one. If a collision is detected, it provides us with the minimum resolution vector. In other words, it gives us the easiest way to make the objects not be colliding anymore. Every entity has a polygon that may or may not be collidable with terrain. The terrain also includes doors and stairs. Items are broken down into environmental items and items that the player can pick up. Both have a distinctive glow around them, to help the player see what can be interacted with. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 54 When not picked up, items are drawn at the level’s scale, thereby drawing them at the correct size whether big or small. When picked up, they are drawn at the factor that the player himself is scaled by. This lets the item be drawn at the correct scale, regardless of when it was picked up, and the player’s current scale. This accounts for all situations, whether it was picked up big/small and the player is currently big/small. Environmental items are really just items that can’t be picked up. They can either be directly interacted with, or via another item. For instance, the wrench can be used on the shower, to activate it. To do this, an item is noted with an action. A counter-action can then be set, which is the optional result for the item/environment interaction. Our back-end is handled with an XML serializer. This elegant system makes it easy to add in new entity types and properties. A new property is added into the XML file, and a line of code is added to the property in the code, to tell the serializer to look to the XML for that property. This makes it very easy for us to add new default properties for different entities. The XML then puts all of the objects into our EntityGraph, the full list of entities in the game. Another feature of the XML is that it is reloaded with every game reload. Due to the game scale, this is quick. And a great benefit is that we can edit the XML with tweaked numbers, and reload the game with the new properties applied. So it’s very quick and easy to do things like change the player’s spawn point, move items, etc. Finally, this XML system can also write XML. So we have an in-game map editor that was very easy to write and is easy to use. Once the polygon is defined with three points, it is added to the XML file and is immediately collidable. AI works with a conditional system. When the player disrupts an enemy’s normal state, SHRINK Game Design Document Page 55 such as being within his view, he begins his pursuit algorithm. After a time of not finding the player, he drops down into a more basic investigative mode, and then resumes his normal patrol/activity. II. Technical Roadblocks In order to implement these features, there is the possibility that potential roadblocks will slow down the development. Hopefully, by anticipating some of these problems, the severity of the issues will be lessened. As far as the shrink mechanic, we must make sure everything shrinks/grows, everything must stay in relative position when changing, and items that are being held must now change with player, not environment. To work against these possible problems, there must be constant testing and debugging. In the end, the shrink mechanic must work flawlessly since it is such an integral part of the game. When it comes to the interactivity of the game, there are near limitless amount of interactions possible, limited only by the imagination of the user. Another possible problem is that users may not understand what can/cannot be done with certain items. To alleviate some of these issues, we must allow for many different people to play test and get feedback on what interactions should be added from the different player perspectives. In addition, we can signal to players with arrows and glowing objects as far as what can interact with each other. III. Control Scheme 'Left Joystick:' Move Left / Right 'A:' Jump 'B:' Attack (with item) 'R. Trigger:' Attack (alternate) SHRINK Game Design Document Page 56 'Y:' Shrink self (toggle) 'L. Trigger:' Jump (alternate) 'X:' Pick up item 'L. Bumper:' Switch item left 'R. Bumper:' Switch item right 'Start:' Pause (toggle) 'Select:' Quit IV. Keyboard Control Scheme 'Arrow Keys:' Move Left / Right 'Q/W:' Item Selection 'E:' Pick up Item 'Space:' Jump 'D:' Attack/Use (with item) 'S:' Shrink self (toggle) ‘Esc:' Pause (toggle) 'Numpad:' Camera ‘Home:’ Get hint 'F1:' Quit 'F2:' Enter debug mode 'L. Shift (Debug mode):' Activate draw mode/ commit polygon 'L. Click (Draw mode):' Place vertex in polygon 'R. Click (Draw mode):' Toggle between shrunk and grown collision. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 57 We have chosen to map the buttons to be as comfortable and ergonomic as possible. Most of the button functions have been copied from many other games, such as movement and jump. Other buttons specifically for this game have been thought out and placed logically. The right thumb buttons have been mapped so that there will never be an extraneous reach to get any buttons. The triggers are convenient alternatives to right thumb buttons should the player wish to use them instead. The bumpers have been chosen to hold the most important buttons, the shrinking and growing of yourself and your targets. This is because of how easily it is to reach and press these buttons, they will be used quite often throughout the game, and have been placed accordingly. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 58 Section Seven – BUSINESS CASE I. Development Scope In order to develop the game, a strict plan is in place to maximize our time and resources. As a prototype, our team will consist of eight employees. Two level/game designers, this position is key. Given the strong puzzle and interactivity components of the game, the level designer is the heart of the development team. Based on numbers provided by GameCareerGuide.com 2006 Are You in Demand?: Game Industry Salary Survey, the average annual salary for someone in this position is $65,000. Additionally, two programmers will be needed. These workers will do the core grunt work and should ideally have a strong background in both artificial intelligence and human computer interaction. Their average annual salary is at $85,000. Two art personnel will also be necessary for the development. The art will be very important since it must be equally complicated and detailed for both small and large versions of the level. The average annual salary of a video-game artist is $65,000. The game will also require a dedicated sound specialist, whose job it is to create fitting a soundtrack and additional auxiliary special effects. Their average annual salary is around $50,000. The final person of the team is will SHRINK Game Design Document Page 59 be a quality assurance tester. We can additionally employ part-time testers as well, but given the highly interactive and experimental nature of the game, it will be important to also have someone at the position full-time. The average annual salary for a tester is around $40,000. We envision that with this team in place, the development schedule should be able to be implemented over a four month time frame. By pro-rating the salaries above over a third of a year span, employee costs will be around $175,000, depending on what insurance and financial benefits the employees will be offered. Additional expense will come from marketing and physical development costs. Also, given the fact that these estimates are from 2006, the average salary is slightly higher at this time. Factoring in each of these additional pieces, the overall budget should be around $350,000. II. Business Case SHRINK works on several levels. These levels are the following genres: Adventure, Platformer, and Puzzler. They are all potential selling points for the game. It works as a puzzler, because an entire level is a puzzle. Players must ask themselves, How do I get past the guards and beat the level with what I have? In that regard, it's similar to popular games like Resident Evil and Portal. It works as an adventure game, because players walk around, collecting new items and abilities to solve aforementioned puzzles. This puts it in the same vein as games like the recently- rebooted Sam and Max franchise, and The Legend of Zelda franchise. Finally, it works as a platformer, primarily when shrunken. Players navigate through the level by jumping along platforms. Other games in this genre include the primary Super Mario games, Braid, and the Castlevania series. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 60 We feel as though our key demographic is males ranging from 17-25, with the upper bound being around 35. Because the game will likely be rated M for Mature by the ESRB, gamers below 17 are excluded. Above 30, many gamers will probably be turned off by its content, and a large percentage of females will be turned off by its content as well. This isn't true in every case, however. Grand Theft Auto IV is a very violent game (and part of a very violent series) that sold over 10 million copies as of August 16, 2008. Although primarily played by roughly our target demographic (18-35), it is popular for females and older gamers. SHRINK's violence is not necessarily a stumbling block for it, as other games have shown, and it can support a healthy demographic range as well. III. Competitive Analysis We can pick out one key recent game from each genre. First, the puzzle genre. A great example of a recent successful puzzle game is Portal, by Valve. Portal was an interesting game for a large number of reasons, and created something of a cult phenomena around itself very quickly. We can learn a lot from Portal for many reasons. Firstly, like SHRINK, it was a new IP. And like SHRINK, each map is like a living puzzle. It also has some complicated mechanics, and manages to do a terrific job of teaching the player these mechanics without a clunky tutorial system. In other words, great pacing and level design. It also had a fantastic story that the player really plays, rather than following the typical [game-story-game-story] that games usually follow. Clearly we can learn a lot from Portal. We can look at all of these things, and change and build on these mechanics. What Portal did wrong, frankly, is that there isn't enough of it for some gamers. We attempt to avoid this by offering as much interactivity as we possibly conceive and implement. In Portal, solving a puzzle is solving a puzzle, and all the player can improve upon is a speed-run. In SHRINK, SHRINK Game Design Document Page 61 players can explore all the different levels by beating previous ones differently. As noted earlier in this document, there are multiple exits to a level, leading to multiple other levels. Players will want to not only beat the game, but re-beat it. As of December 3, 2008, The Orange Box package, including Portal sold 3 million copies worldwide (http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/56193). We are unsure as to whether this figure is PC-only, or includes the Xbox 360, but we can assume it does include the console. However, this great figure does not include sales from the Steam download service, where The Orange Box is still within the top 10 Steam sales as of February 17, 2009 (http://kotaku.com/5155504/pc-sales-charts). This is a game that was released October 10, 2007, and is still on Steam's top charts. SHRINK falls within Portal's genre, because as previously indicated, they share a common puzzle mechanic, trying to escape a particular level using what's available. Onto the adventure genre, we can talk about The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. This was a recent Nintendo DS title that has sold 4.13 million copies worldwide as of March 25, 2008 (http://www.nintendo.co.jp/ir/pdf/2008/080425e.pdf#page=6). We can also mention a more pure adventure game, Sam and Max, which has recently been rebooted and stayed on top of GameTap's top-played games for at least a month (http://www.telltalegames.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1270). But focusing on Zelda, we have a game in which the player goes around the world, collecting new items and weapons to access previously unaccessible areas, solve new puzzles and defeat new enemies. SHRINK shares in some of these elements. Like Zelda, the player's inventory is persistent and is used to solve puzzles. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 62 Phantom Hourglass did many things right. It was a lot of fun, sold well and scored well with critics. Much of its greatness comes from the largeness they were able to pack into a smaller package. SHRINK shares in that too, because we also have a smaller scope. We hope to draw on this and have a very rich world, even though SHRINK is level-based, even though our scope is smaller than many games today. But we can succeed where Phantom Hourglass did not. Reviewers had two primary criticisms. One was that the touchscreen-only control scheme was decent, but seemed forced at times. SHRINK has a more traditional control scheme that aims to be responsive and intuitive. Another was that the game felt too casual and the puzzles too easy. We will avoid this by drawing on the previously-mentioned Portal, which has been lauded for its level design and difficulty curve. We hope to have simpler puzzles in the beginning that teach the player, and more complex puzzles later on that expand on what they learned in the beginning. The final genre we fall under is platformer. Here, we talk about Braid. Braid, like Portal, is a new IP, but is also from an upstart developer and was only released via the Xbox LIVE Arcade download system. This is where SHRINK falls. It is partially a platformer, like Braid, and is a smaller-scoped game, like Braid. The developer suggests that about 55,000 copies of the game had been sold in its first week (http://braid-game.com/news/?p=323). A low number compared to the previous ones, but this is a small, independently made game only available via DLC for one console. From the linked blog, we can tell that the developer was actually fairly pleased with this number, showing that a profit has been made on it. Braid was successful in many ways. It was a very solid platformer that had some difficult and interesting puzzles on it. Critics and players alike responded positively to these mechanics. SHRINK Game Design Document Page 63 They go well together, which bodes very well for SHRINK. There is a lot of potential in this genre, because it is so basic. It can easily be merged with others, as Braid and SHRINK both do. We can draw on strong puzzle and level designs, as well as a detailed and unique world. But Braid, like Portal, loses much of its replay ability after one play through, and it is short as well. SHRINK strives to offer the player more playability through its high level of interaction. We can take what these two somewhat similar games have done, and build on them and attempt to address the length issues that seem to persevere.
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