Project type: University assignment
Duration: 1 Semester
Team size: 5 Persons
Technology: Unity3D, Adobe Photoshop
My tasks: Programming, Game System Design, Level Design, Visual Development
„Armville – Archie’s Bookchase“ is a high score based platformer game which encourages skilled gameplay and the mastering of the extraordinary movement. The character you’re playing is called Archie, and he’s a librarian, who’s in need of a giant mechanical arm to navigate through the shelves. The player finds himself in Archie’s library, and his task is to collect the five red books, which are placed in different corners of the level. Therefore he can only use the free rotation and movability of his mechanical arm, by using said with an analog stick on his controller. If the player is punching on the ground, Archie will move in the opposite direction, which makes him jump upwards. In addition to that, there is a grabbing mechanic, which makes it possible to swing around the corners of the bookshelves. This unique locomotion concept is enough to navigate through the level entirely, find the most efficient route, catch all the books and return to the start point.
Since the whole game was a project for university, we had several constraints which influenced our design decisions. The task was to create a sidescroller game, and the levels were limited to four times the size of one screen length. This restriction could lead to a shorter duration of one playthrough and the overall experiences. That’s why we decided to create a game concept with very high replayability. The first design decision to encourage our focus was the already mentioned movement concept. For new players, it will feel very unconventional and slightly, but after a couple of jumps, the players are getting used to it. A lot of players will consequently be trying to beat their high score, by surpassing the time they need to complete the level. Another replayability enforcing aspect is the level design. We managed to create a nonlinear level design with three equally fast routes which can be found by every player. Another advantage is that the players can choose a path according to their skill level and later on they can explore and master different ways of completion. For our visual approach, we wanted to make sure that the style is fitting perfectly to the gameplay and the handling of the character that’s why we tried to create a unique and humorous look.
I had a lot of different jobs during the project starting with the initial idea of the movement concept which luckily got approved by my teammates. To visualize my plan and as a design basis, I began with prototyping in Unity3D so we could discuss the gameplay and the feeling as a team. After we set our parameters and established the level proportions, I was mainly involved in the level design and playtesting. In parallel, I helped to programme the final version and tried to profit from the coding knowledge of my teammates. Furthermore, I helped with the visual part by creating three different fake screenshots with three different styles we evaluated together as a team. In the end, we decided to pick the look our artist suggested because the cartoony look was the best fitting for our sightly clumsy looking movement. Finally, I helped by coloring the entire level in photoshop from a black and white version a teammate created.