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DEVIANTS

CO-OP ADVENTURE | 2022

Grab a friend and start your journey in this chaotic co-op adventure where you play as two devious raccoons who love causing chaos. Use each other's strengths to make your way through the diner towards the head chef, and teach him a lesson for screwing up your home. But be careful, the diner's staff doesn't like you messing with their property, so they will try to catch you!

Time Indicator

4 WEEKS

People Indicator

12 PEOPLE

Unreal Logo

UNREAL 5

MY RESPONSIBILTIES

  • As a teammate, I would explore game concepts and design it's mechanics/dynamics as well as the abilities of the two players.

  • As a level designer, I would explore possibilities for co-op puzzles and AI interactions that would keep the players engaged with each other and would need each other's abilities.

  • As a level designer, I would need to find the scaling in the rooms with the right camera position to make sure the players see the feedback that the game features give in order to solve the small puzzles.

  • As a level designer, I would make a level that would demonstrate the mechanics as well present the concept ideas that would potentially be brought into pre-production. 

Mounting Ruckus and Rascal mechanic

AS A LEVEL DESIGNER

DESIGNING RUCKUS & RASCAL ABILTIES

While designing the abilities, the goal was to give the abilities synergy. But as a level designer, I tried to design abilities that would add the most level design value. The intention would be to have a playable space get motivated to help each other out with seeing the correlation between their synergy as well as having enough discovery in finding fun possibilities with the enemies. They have their own type of skill difficulty meaning it could be fun for an experienced player as well as beginners.

Ruckus

RUCKUS

Picking up rascal and throwing him

From a level design perspective this ability was created to add verticality in the levels. This way Rascal is able to get to spaces where before the both couldn't. I am able to introduce puzzles, embrace the idea of teamwork and make a fun ability that is funny to look at for both players and viewers. 

Pull/push objects

Because Ruckus is bigger, an ability for him to have is being able to pull and push objects which Rascal cannot. This leads to them needing to show social gestures in order progress together as they share the same conflict.

Rascal

RASCAL

Mounting ruckus

By being able to mount ruckus, level design can have more verticality but due to the balancing mini game that happens when rascal mounts ruckus. There are possibilities for level design moments where they have to communicate and work together to cross a plank to make sure the enemies don't notice them. 

 'Rascal holes': Can get into small areas

All mechanics are centered around their ability to help each other, for the level design it would be a more interesting dynamic to split them apart for small sections in order to create more tension as they rely on each other. This could lead to more variety in connecting game spaces

LEVEL PLANNING

As a level designer, my planning started with exploring some concepts of gameplay moments that could enhance the game feel we settled on. These would either be the type of puzzles we could use or the AI interaction.

From there we needed a structure that the levels would have. I made a sketch for for the type of progression that the game could bring into pre-production. And a sketch for the demo that we would deliver at the end of concepting phase.

PUZZLES AND AI

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These sketches were explored in order to show my vision to the team. Once they got approved I would be able to work on the level plan.

 

For the puzzles, the focus was on interdependent tasks that would offer players to perform cooperative social gestures and give them reason to solve their shared conflict. 

For the enemy interactions it would be less focused on the synergy between abilities but more about one being able to perform an action only they can do while the other distracts the enemy with triggering events such as bursting the oven into flames to create a wall of fire which keeps the enemy occupied.

Level concept for demo

LEVEL SKETCH

For the level, I focused on a 4 section structure based on introduction, develop, twist and climax.

 

The introduction would be focused on playing around with the mechanics in a safe space.

 

The develop section would introduce a simple ability synergy-based puzzle that the players could take their time with.

 

The twist focuses on doing a same kind of puzzle but now with an enemy trying to sabotage them. The enemy would lock one of them up and the other player needs to get them out. In order to make that happen the player is able to loop around the table to lose the enemy as well as getting to higher spaces that the enemy cannot reach. When the players solve the puzzle they obtain a key to the last room.

The climax section is a simple action and serves as the tension release from the previous room. This to get a funny and satisfying kill. 

CONCEPTING

To concept with a big team, we split up in two groups to make game seeds. These game seeds would be made out of two games combined to make a new combination. The game seed I worked on was a raccoon co-op stealth adventure game.

 

When presenting these ideas, I made the group share their opinions in a six hats structure. Everyone could pick one of the hats that would fit their opinion and we were able to share our thoughts through this. 

Through making a decision matrix, we came down to two ideas. Which one of those was the raccoon game I had in mind. We split up to make prototypes to then present those to each other for the final pick. I worked with a visual artist on a mockup and an animatic to sell the idea.

From there I sat down with another designer and went through the abilities that the two players would have to find synergy we ended up with a sheet with all the gameplay information we needed for the concepting phase.. 

I collaborated with a visual artist to pitch the game concept I had in mind. This way we could present our ideas to the stakeholders in a visual format. It focuses on the main mechanics and core gameplay loop as well as the game aesthetic.

GYM

As the game would be top down, the most important investigation as a level designer was the camera position per room basis. I requested a camera from the programmers that would be connected to a trigger box. This way we could track the player's location in rooms and make the camera's blend with each other once the player would leave the room.

My goal was to use the biggest room size and find out what camera positions would give enough clarity for puzzles, clarity for AI movement and seeing the other player's actions.

 

For the puzzles it was to make sure the player could act and react in order to process what has happened in order to solve the puzzle. With no visibility it might not be clear to the player what has happened. For the AI, this was to make sure the players could still anticipate the AIs action and strategies their choices 

DEMO

The end result is a level with

  • An onboarding section that explores some of the features in a safe environment as well as some features to play around for fun.

  • A puzzle section that showcases a puzzle that requires both of their abilities to work together.

  • A stealth section where you have to avoid/distract the enemy while solving a puzzle. 

  • A section to reward the player and release the tension from the previous stealth section.

REDESIGNING DEVIANTS LEVEL
6 MONTHS LATER

FloorPlanReworkDeviants.png

REWORK TOP-DOWN

The most important part in the redesign that makes a big difference is the smaller gated goals within the space as the subgoals were missing in previous designs. Another improvement focuses on different verticality that brings another layer of difficulty as the players need to keep track of multiple layers of puzzles while AI is roaming.

REWORK BLOCKOUT

For the blockout what I wanted to improve compared to the last version is to have a more interesting looking space as the previous one looked more linear. With keeping the camera dynamic in the corner and the layers of depth in verticality, the players get a sense of a bigger space and feel like they get more room to mess around.

LEARNINGS AND TAKE AWAYS

Bringing complementary mechanics and simplyfing the combinations is a challenge but not impossible in puzzle design. By trying to simplify what the effect the ability has gives you often the solution for the puzzle you are creating which helped me create fun interaction without much hassle for me and the player.

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