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Engine: Unity

Tools: MS Visual Studio, ProBuilder, Photoshop, online TTS software

Role: Game Designer, Level Designer & Artist

Team size: 2

Development Time: ~4 months

Synopsis:

"Bot Breakout" is an online multiplayer game for 3 - 20 players. It is a party game based on a children's playground game called "British Bulldog" in the U.K.. There are two sides - the Rogue Bots and Security Bots - who are pitted against each other until either one Rogue Bot is left standing or all Rogue Bots have been eliminated. Eliminated Rogue Bots join the Security Bots for the remainder of the game. The game was featured in the Into Games newsletter.

Demonstrable Skills:

  • Game Designer:

    1. Authored the designs for all in-game systems

    2. Designed an asymmetric game that includes continuous player involvement for up to 20 players

    3. Planned out the required designs for the game flow and liaised with my developer to ensure development went according to the design plans

    4. Chose and implemented an aesthetic which would be appropriate to the nature of the game, including appropriate characters

    5. Adapted a kid's playground game into a fun video game setting

    6. Implemented and adjusted UI elements in all scenes and discussed features for my developer to add, such as coloured player names to reflect which side they were on in the main game

    7. Designed 7 powerups (6 team-specific and 1 universal) which compliment player objectives

    8. Adjusted various systems and features after discussions with my developer

    9. Assisted my developer to help make certain features more technically achievable or to simplify complex elements into achievable ones

    10. Sourced character & customisable assets and assisted developer with setting these up for use

  • Level Designer:

    1. Designed the pre-game lobby area to keep players occupied while waiting for the game to start

    2. Designed the 2 levels for the main game to accommodate 20 players using ProBuilder and sourced assets

    3. Tested level designs to ensure they felt good to play and power-ups felt natural and appropriate for each level

    4. Made adjustments and changes to levels accordingly throughout testing

    5. Set up the main menu scene, including creating the custom confetti cannons to make this screen "pop" and sell the party game vibe

  • Artist:

    1. Created various custom artwork used within the game

    2. Created some custom audio sounds that are played in the "Top of the Bots" end screen

    3. Sourced additional sounds, sound effects and all music

    4. Created additional eye textures to be used in the game for different character states

Skills Breakdown:

Game Designer

My primary role in this project was designing the game and working with my developer (a Masters student completing a games programming degree) throughout the project lifecycle. The structure for this class was designed for designers to work on and complete the game designs within the first 2-3 months prior to the developers competing their other assignments and becoming fully focused on this project.

Initially, I had already prepared an idea for a co-operative horror game experience which would be a 4 vs. 1 PvP game. After talking through the idea with my developer, there were some concerns surrounding how well we would be able to achieve the horror aspect of the idea, so we eventually shelved it and I began to brainstorm. I wanted the idea to be something unique and different to what is currently seen that would push my design abilities. This would eventually lead me to thinking about converting a playground game I used to play as a kid into a video game, one which straightforward to grasp and was a lot of fun to play in large groups. The idea was simple: you need to cross to the other side of the football pitch without getting caught. If you go caught, you would then change teams to help capture the other runners. This is "British Bulldog" and it was a precursor to games like rugby, since it used physical contact for catching people.

This would be the first time a video game was created around this playground game, which felt like a good opportunity to push my design skills for multiplayer games. My developer and the professor liked the idea so I began working on the designs. Since I had already worked with PUN / PUN 2 in my bachelors, I knew a lot of the basics already - such as the player limit for a given room (20 players). Naturally, I wanted to take advantage of this and design the game to be suitable for up to 20 players! The playground game is much more enjoyable when you have lots of people playing, so it stood to reason that the same would be true in a video game. The game developed into an asymmetric experience, beginning as a 1 vs. 19 and gradually becoming 19 vs. 1 towards the end.

A lot of games were examined and researched to help inform my designs, particularly party games like Fall Guys and Mario Party and games that use physics like Human Fall Flat and Gang Beasts. I knew early on that physics interactions would add a lot of fun and surprises in the game, so I made it clear that this was something we should look to incorporate as best as possible. During this time, I set up various documents and mood boards to help keep ideas clean and easy to understand for my developer, which can be seen below.

The full breakdown of the designs can be accessed via the GDD under the "Links" section near the top of the page or via the blog posts.

Level Designer

Knowing that there could be 20 players, I needed an efficient and logical way of changing levels to keep players engaged. I decided that it would be best if players needed to cross the map twice before something changed in the level. This should be enough time to explore the level in the first crossing and then still have fun crossing back after getting a good idea for the layout. Levels could either change gradually between every round or entirely new levels could be swapped into the scene every 2 rounds, depending on what would end up being more realistic to achieve. In the end, I decided to have unique levels since it would also make my developer's life a little easier too.

 

Knowing this, I determined that no more than 10 unique levels should be required in a given playthrough of the game. In the designs, if the game became larger to accommodate more players, then more maps can be added and randomly chosen (within reason) to make each session unique and exciting.

There were a lot of possibilities for how the levels could end up looking but my main concern was making sure the levels felt good to play on and made sense in the context of the game. The first level needed to be very secure since it was introducing players to the game, so I opted to make it only possible for Rogue Bots to be eliminated by being caught by Security Bots. Although designs had been made for multiple powerups, only a handful were able to be implemented, so certain powerups were then placed around the map and various sections were created to allow for chances to use them.

For the second level, the difficulty needed to be increased by introducing the possibility of falling out of bounds and by reducing the number of pathways which can be taken. The level also needed to showcase the powerup which had not been used yet, which is why the second level is more vertical for the double jump powerup. The area is surrounded by water to act as a visual representation for where the out of bounds area is and has 3 routes: 2 climbs and one straight route. These paths needed to have different pros and cons, namely that the climbs risked falling into the water but more likely meant avoiding the Security Bots (favours Rogue Bots slightly) while the straight route meant less chances of falling into the water but you would come into contact with Security Bots faster (favours Security Bots slightly).

 

To help clearly identify where players were starting and needed to go, the maps were designed to be the same length with the same starting locations for both sides. Rogue Bots always begin at one end of the level while Security Bots always begin from the centre, just like in the playground game. The end points that represent the start and end areas for Rogue Bots were given a distinct look so that it was clear where they needed to get to in order to qualify for future rounds. Additionally, maps were mirrored to ensure players could learn the levels quickly.

Artist

Where possible, custom assets were made for use in the game. These were primarily elements like textures, icons, and miscellaneous items like custom mouse cursors. It would be easily doable to increase the number of customisable elements for the player character, such as new colours for the body or new eye expressions, but there was no time to fully explore these avenues.

For character sounds, online text-to-speech software was used to create a small library of different sounds that would be played depending on what state the character was in. In doing so, it avoids players hearing the same sounds repeatedly during the game, particularly when many characters will be making similar noises as well. Additional end game sounds were made with another TTS software which uses the voice of GLaDOS to commentate the results of the game. The voice would be changed in a commercial release but was the closest suitable voice that could work with the game.

Early Design Documents and Mood Boards

Bird's-Eye View of Levels & In-Game Features