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Shattered Soul - Technical/Gameplay Designer

Atmospheric Platformer (DigiPen GAM200 Team Project)

Shattered Soul is an atmospheric platformer with an emphasis on collectibles and level exploration. It was originally designed as a puzzle game but development pivoted halfway through the course to a simpler format. We quickly decided to forego any development on the puzzle half of the game and focus on platforming and exploration.

Project Overview:

The mechanics of the game revolve around this "Darkness" and "Saturation" system. As the player explores the world, a radius of encroaching darkness descends upon them. This effectively acts as a timer, prompting the player to move and explore the world with some degree of exertion; this wasn't a game a player could sit around and do nothing in. To fight off the inevitable death timer, players would have to search for and collect "souls", collectibles that fought back the darkness and gave the player more time to find the level's exit. At the junction between different sections of the level, the player would pass through "checkpoint" areas that would calculate how many souls had been collected and affect the "saturation" of the world around them depending on the extent they went to collect them. If the player collected a certain amount of souls, the world would become brighter and more colorful, conversely, if the player didn't collect enough, the world would become more bland and unappealing, signifying progress towards either extreme.

My Role:

As the gameplay designer, my job was to take the high concept (Puzzle platformer, turned "exploration" platformer) into a workable and playable idea we could execute on. Working with the rest of the team, I shifted our creative focus towards ways we could make this a unique experience. My solution became a mechanic that would have a distinctive effect on aspects of our game like player motivation and the conventional "health" system.

Aside from designing the core mechanics of the game, I was also solely in charge of most of the programming. My main focus was the character controller; I wanted to make sure our character was fun and interesting to control in these vast spaces meant for expedient exploration, something which I was greatly praised for during testing and production of the game.

This also meant I was solely in charge of debug implementations, analytics implementations, and handling any bugs or technical errors during the duration of the project.

Project Hurdles:

Although the game jam period was three days, I contracted a moderate illness after the first day that left me unable to contribute to the project. My team and I lost an entire day of in-engine work as a result, and I ended up having to put in extra crunch hours up until the final seconds of submission in order to accomplish the level of polish I expected from the project despite my absence for a third of the time period allowed. I'm proud of what I was able to accomplish despite the time loss.

Project Reception:

The project received higher than a 5/5, receiving bonus points for "Core Gameplay".