• Mike

Mobile Game Prototype: An Ice New Look

Hello and welcome to another weekly update, this time looking more into our game idea, concept art and tiles that are a work in progress.


 

Game Concept


Our game will retain the maze escaping theme that has been mentioned previously, but we're going to change the overall aesthetic to that of an explorer trying to delve deeper into an ice-y cavern.


The idea of using ice was an idea that came to me during one of our team calls last week, in which I suggested we try replicating the ice caves the player needs to navigate in the Pokémon games. Below is the visual concept for the game that I made in Photoshop using an Android phone template & some of the sprites from the Gameboy Pokémon games:



I decided to show the game this way so that it's easy to get the idea and to see how it might look on a mobile device, with slight variations between each image to highlight different components.


First Image

The first image (far left) shows just the main game; an explorer controlled by the player is sliding along the ice and must reach the hole in the center of the phone in order to progress.


I designed a simple maze with few elements to demonstrate our main game mechanic easily, with 2 routes the player could take to reach the hole. I believe having multiple routes out of the maze adds to the challenge of finding the most optimal escape path. The fewer moves used, the better the score will be for that level, but we will figure this out fully later on once we get the development underway in Unity.


I also left some space above and below the main game window for us to incorporate features like UI, background art etc. so that we have some real estate to work with while developing the game.


Second Image

Next (middle) is the same image but with arrow guides to show the ways the player could go to help the explorer reach the hole. The player will have a given number of moves each level that they can make to navigate the maze, which will be done by swiping on the screen in the direction you would want to go.


After swiping, the explorer will move in a straight line along the ice until he collides with an object - so the black arrow below him shows the direction he will head in until he hits the rocks at the bottom of the screen. You would then want to swipe right to continue making progress, after which you are presented with the first choice; go up or go down. The pink arrows from here on indicate one route out, and the black arrows indicate the other. Both will lead you to the exit hole, but one of these is faster and so would offer a better score from using fewer moves.


Third Image

The final image (far right) adds in some basic UI along the top of the phone to show elements such as the current level number, the number of moves remaining and an additional objective. In later levels, these additional objectives will need to be completed first in order to unlock the hole and add to the difficulty. In this case, the additional objective would be to collect the gem that is at the bottom of the maze.


The objective could be comprised of more than one item that must be collected, for instance an idea proposed by our game / level designer is for the player to collect a pickaxe. This would then let the player break open the hole and proceed to the next level, and would fit perfectly into the theme of the game.


 

Work In Progress Environment Art


Additionally, I have been working on the art assets we would need to help build up our game. We've agreed to go with a pixel art style as that is the medium I am most experienced with using, and so will be using a mix of different programs to help me generate our artwork. Primarily, I will be using PiskelApp, Adobe Photoshop and Aseprite for making pixel artwork.


My plan is to first create environmental pieces that can be easily used in Unity that are tileable and appear seamless when placed next to each other. I'm currently working on the tiles for the ice using different styles:



I'm experimenting with different styles to find one that my team and I will feel happiest with, and these are still works in progress (you can probably see a couple of areas on the left and middle grids that don't look quite right!). I'll keep working on these and possibly additional designs so that we have options!


Additionally, I've made a start on some rocks and boulders:



These are also undergoing experimentation, and I am aiming to create a decent selection of props we can use to help design our levels. In some cases, I will potentially adapt existing art that is freely available online, which will of course be accredited in our documentation. In the above, 2 rocks were adapted from online sources with colour changes and minor pixel tweaks. I will also log the different colour palettes I use as I go and will upload them onto the blogs in the future should my lecturer deem it suitable.


 

Closing Thoughts


This past week has been quite pressed for time, so doing art has been a nice change of pace to always thinking about programming work! I also was able to attend the Develop Brighton event for the first time - the previous 2 years I've been abroad whenever they took place, so was never able to go in person with my university! I've been able to listen in on some very interesting talks, including one from Todd Howard, and have been trying my best to juggle in networking whilst I complete my studies. If anyone that did attend happens to be reading this - hello! You might remember me as the peacock guy from some of the Discord's channels!


As there are 3 of us in our team, we've divided up the primary roles of programmer, game / level designer and visual designer between us based on what we feel are our natural strengths. I will be our visual designer for this piece (surprise surprise!), so will be sharing various artworks and such in these posts from now on, however we plan to make ourselves flexible so that we can support each other with whatever is needed.


Expect to see weekly art from now on as we finally get underway with developing our ice maze cave game! Thanks again for reading, and stay safe :)

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