Project type: Personal project
Duration: 4 years
Team size: 4/5 Persons
Technology: Gamemaker, Adobe Photoshop
My tasks: Game System Design, Level Design, Art Assets
DYO is a local co-op puzzle platformer for two players where each player slips into the role of a minotaur. The minotaurs are trapped inside a maze and only through teamwork they can find a way out and climb up to the exit. The game is played in a split screen mode where player one is playing on the left and player two is playing on the right side. The minotaurs can run, jump and lift each other up to reach higher places. By pressing a button, they can lock their respective split screens in place. The interlocked split screens are then merged into one single shared screen both players can traverse. Only through the intelligent use of this core mechanic they can shift and rearrange the levels’ structures and layouts so that they become traversable. In addition to that, there’s a number of sub-mechanics which are continuously introduced while progressing through the game, e.g., movable objects like boxes, split screen mirroring, growing and shrinking of the player characters and level structures. The game features a subtle narrative conveyed not only through level design but also through art and music.
Since DYO was our first personal project, we could focus on our preferences. That’s why we came up with a local multiplayer game and quickly decided to concentrate on cooperative gameplay. We wanted to explore unique mechanics, thought about limitations in video games and how to overcome those. After a couple of prototypes, we found the potential in the already mentioned mechanic of merging the two parts of a split-screen which fascinated every one of us. From now on, we concentrated on how to introduce this mechanic to new players in a very subtle way since we wanted to avoid direct explanations to the player to preserve the mysterious atmosphere and enforce independent exploring. Later on, new mechanics such as movable blocks should push the limits of our core mechanic even further to encourage our out-of-the-box thinking approach. The gameplay inspired the whole setting. The level structures were similar to a labyrinth, that’s why the Greek myth of the minotaur came to our mind. DYO’s art style features a mixture of digitally created sprites and analog sketches what creates an original visual style that looks both discrete and interesting. The soundtrack equally blends rhythms and instrumentation inspired by ancient composition techniques with modern synthesizer sounds. Not including an online multiplayer mode was a deliberate decision. The experience we intend DYO to only work in a local multiplayer setting. While we did include a single player mode for accessibility reasons, we strongly encourage to play with a partner.
Starting off with the central participation in developing the initial concept and the level design for our first prototype I put a lot of work into designing a comfortable difficulty curve regarding the understanding of the introducing levels. Therefore I studied countless playtest sessions and observed the player behavior during many exhibitions. Since the project was overworked lots of times, my initial levels are mostly vanished from the end product but served as a reasonable basis for further level creation. Later during development, I had phases where I couldn’t participate in direct game development due to other projects and my studies. At this time I mainly helped with showing DYO on conventions and joined the team for meetings and design decisions. In the finishing phase of the project, I was involved on a full-time basis again and work on art assets and publishing tasks.
Awards & Recognition
- „Deutscher Multimediapreis mb21 ‚Sonderkategorie Games‘ Winner“ 2017
- „Deutscher Computerspielpreis ‚Bestes Nachwuchskonzept‘ Winner“ 2017
- „IGF 2017 ‚Best Student Game‘ Honorable mention“ 2017
- „A MAZE. Berlin Official Selection“ 2016
- „A MAZE. Berlin ‚Human Human Machine‘ Award Nominee“ 2016
- „Bit Bash Chicago Official Selection“ 2016
- „In local multiplayer, it’s a fun, innovative and challenging puzzler […] in single player it can be a truly mind breaking experience!“
– Calum Fraser, Alpha Beta Gamer
- „einer der besten Beweise, dass Spielen eben auch nicht immer ein schon von weitem sichtbares hip! auf die Stirn geschrieben sein muss, damit sie das Medium voranbringen.“
– Sonja Wild, Superlevel (German)
- „It’s a really cool idea“
– Joe Donnelly, Rock Paper Shotgun
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