Game Design for Entertainment Systems was a module during my third year of study at Plymouth University. The objective was to emulate an independent studio and work together to research and develop a polished game prototype in our chosen genre.
The genre we chose for Boxed In was a third person puzzle adventure game. The team wanted to capture the spirit of platforming games produced during the mainstream transition from 2D to 3D graphics.
Researching the steps needed to decide on a solid art style was critical before we began production. I started by studying existing games in the genre and the effect that their art style had on their production and reception.
We recognised that a unique art style is very compelling when combined with gameplay and world-building from the research. We then themed our game around a cardboard world that shifted in response to the player's progression.
The characters and environments take the familiar and add a twist, taking inspiration from franchises like Tearaway (Media Molecule) and Toy Story (Pixar). We split our game into separate zones, each with unique artistic properties within the cardboard aesthetic.
We designed our main character to be modular to acquire new abilities throughout the game. Completing tasks for the other inhabitants of the game world rewards these abilities, allowing them to progress into the next zone.
Later levels required the player to perform two or more abilities to solve puzzles in the game world, encouraging them to experiment with their newfound skills.
Working as a four-person team, one of our biggest challenges was creating and implementing every asset in the game from scratch. Each 3D element had to be modelled and prepared for texture work via UV mapping. Then textured following the existing cardboard style and imported into Unity.
I was assigned the role of Project Manager to provide direction in getting our project into a demoable state for a class deadline. I allocated new work every week, building a plan for each team member in the following four weeks leading up to the demo day.
I set out a roadmap for the team, which focused on getting the first two areas finished and polished. We prioritised a shorter experience that was enjoyable to play above having an extended demo with multiple incomplete scenes.
This approach was a success. The first two polished levels served as a great introduction to the demo and were received positively with enthusiastic feedback.