global game jam 2018

Cosmoswing is a 2 player experience built for the PC for the Global Game Jam 2018 under the theme “Transmission”. This was built by a 4 person team in a period of 2 days. I did level design and gameplay programming.

When we received the theme of what we’re going to make, we spent a while brainstorming on ideas that would make sense with “Transmission”. After we bounced around a few ideas, we liked the concept of carrying a message in space. But along with that, we also were looking for a fun game mechanic to go along with it and we discussed several ideas that could blend both with the theme and a good game mechanic. We settled on the player being able to control a rocket in space, jumping across planets.

The idea was that the rocket continuously rotates a planet and to jump correctly, the player should aim the rocket towards the edges of the orbits of the destination planet. If they aim towards the center of the planet, the rocket does not catch the orbit and crashes into the planet. This was kinda based on real rockets using planets’ rotation to gain velocity and achieve efficient landing, like in the movie “The Martian”.

It was a unique mechanic, but we weren’t quite convinced how fun it would be. The only way to find out was by prototyping the simplest planetary jump quickly, and working upwards from there or getting rid of it entirely. We set to work and I used Unity’s in-built functions and a bit of math to get a prototype so that we could start testing as a team.

After adjusting interplanetary distance, rotational speed and translational speed, we found that it was indeed fun and kinda tricky to jump planets.  You had to have very sharp timing and notice the angles to pull of the jump. We decided to go ahead with the game, which was the rocket would serially go into a randomly highlighted planet, collect an alphabet from there and go to the next one. At the end, we would have to unscramble the group of letters that we found to find the code,or transmission.
But after we integrated the blasts when the rocket hit the planet, the gameplay became so fun that we decide to pivot the game and just make the gameplay all about the jumping planets, with blasts and all. So we decided to add another rocket, and make the game a two-player race where the winner is the first person who can maneuver past all the planets and reach Earth.
The rest of the game was all about level design and testing it out. It was hard to get the game balance, because if interplanetary distance was too little then it became easy, but we also wanted the player to get across the screen.So after multiple iterations, we decided to have a U-shaped layout, which gives the player the freedom to risk it all by making a big jump directly to Earth, or play it relatively safer but planet hopping. After a long night, we finally got the game balance to just right, after multiple external playtests. Our hard-work was rewarded, as we were chosen as the game with  the Best Game Mechanic!

You can download and play the game here:

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