Deep Trouble

BUILDING VIRTUAL WORLDS ROUND 5 : festival ROUND

Deep Trouble is an asymmetric multi-player game built for the Jam-O-Drum platform. Deep Trouble was built by a four person team in a period of two weeks. I worked on general programming and designing for the game which includes assigning player roles, environment mechanics, User Interfaces and systems design.

The Jam-O-Drum is a table-sized platform onto which a projector maps the game from a  computer, while up-to  4 guests can play a game on one of the 4 controllers placed on the edge of the table. Guests can give inputs either on the drum (by banging it) or on the spinner (by rotating it). This game was designed for 3 player controls while the fourth corner was used as a fuel meter.

We took inspiration for our game theme from another game which was developed on the Unity Engine, Sunless Sea. But our experience was a co-op game, with three distinct roles for all three players. The three roles decided upon were:

  1.  The captain, who’s in charge of piloting the submarine around and provide speed boosts
  2.  The helmsman, who has to use the sub’s light beam to look for fuel but also be careful not to attract sharks
  3. The mechanic , who has to fix the damaged navigation and light mechanic

This conclusion however was only arrived after much deliberation. We faced a lot of dilemma over how many players should be allowed, whether they should be playing cooperatively or facing each other and what roles they should have.

SWOT-ting over game mechanics

 

Since our game involves navigating a boat only in one direction, that meant that for one player (the player whose side the ship is moving towards) will have his spinner direction inversed, which may be confusing while playing. So that’s why we came to the conclusion of having 3 players, in directions left, right and behind the boat, and all playing for the same side.

We also spent a lot of time trying to figure out mechanics & Interface for each role. Our initial build had cannons attached to a boat, but it got called off as a shooting game, which is against BVW rules. So we had to come up with new meaningful roles to replace the cannon-guy, and we arrived at the mechanic/repairman of the sub. Their job entitled spinning their pointer towards the teammate who needed help and banging on the drum to boost up health. As they had to switch between fixing the light and the navigation instinctively, the UI had to be clear and easy enough to allow it to do so. I came up with this flow of display for the mechanic’s drum

We implemented this and playtested it out. The design was not only intuitive but it was pretty fun to bang on the drum, helping out your teammates. So we decided to stick with this feature. Obviously the aesthetics of it were improved upon.

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