FINDING GRAVITY: Dev BLog

elevator pitch - what was the idea again?

Finding Gravity is a new game that combines three big ideas: switching gravity, solving puzzles, and (most importantly) applying those two ideas cooperatively with another player.  You and a friend will explore a mysterious and atmospheric world by solving ever-more-difficult challenges and overcoming these obstacles together.

 

our FAVORITE part of game dev

Sometimes it's hard working in a team. Let's be honest it's a hit or a miss. Luckily for us, the moment our team of 5 students came together we knew we were going to build something big. As students, our favorite part was definitely the feeling of a small team. With such a small team we basically all played multiple roles and were all involved and committed to the design process. 
 

goals - the experience

Our goal honestly started out to learn as much as we can building this game. Unity 3D always seemed intimating and to was a beast we wanted to master. We wanted to challenge ourselves to make decisions that are intentional and have legitimate game theories backing our every design choice. 
The experience for us, had to be a soothing cooperative experience - To have the satisfaction of finishing a puzzle along with the feeling of comradery with your partner.  

How it began

It all started as a quest for a unique idea for our Game Development Class at the University of Utah. A team of 5 students coming together to make a game. We had bounced off ideas from crazy mechanics to educational games, but somehow didn't ever have the feeling inside that makes you want to give everything up to work on the idea.
For the game to be cooperative, we needed some incentive for players to help each other. Surprising to many, we decided to start out having a unique mechanic which was slightly different to the idea presented today.  We knew we wanted to make a cooperative 3D puzzle game with a mechanic where every player (red and blue) would only be able to see different colored objects in the world (red and blue) and must help their partner around the objects they cannot see. 

 

Sprint after sprint

Slowly, Sprint after Sprint we started to prepare for our end of the year showcase where students would come and show off their games. We had always had the idea of walking on walls in the back of our heads but we always thought it would be too much to do. It had been about 2 months and we decided to give it a shot. We explored multiple ways of how the player would switch their gravity to walk on walls. We finally came up with the easiest and most intuitive solution of the rotating platform. 
We loved the gameplay with the new mechanic. 
 

 

how it all changed

It wasn't long that we realized that we had made a terrible mistake. We started to talk about game theory and player feedback. Player feedback has a unique way of immersing the player and enhancing the game. Whether it be Mario's coin sound or even his mushroom. It motivates the player and helps with retention. What we failed to realize was that the player could was not getting any feedback on the objects they could not see. To stand on  or fall off the side of something you cannot see was the most frustrating feeling ever. That is when we chose to make the gravity platform our main priority and build our puzzles around that.

 

BUGS

This has always been a major issue. After realizing that the first person controller that we had written was "buggy" only due to the default sensitivity settings on Unity, we went hunting for more. Whether it was our "Rookieness" with Unity or if it was Unity itself, we had major issues with the mechanics. 
One major issue we had was that the player would not always fully rotate with the platform. This would cause the player to fall off half way hence causing more bugs. This is why we chose to freeze the player during rotation. 

 

artistic choices

Every decision we made had to be exactly right with the game. This was probably the field where we went back and forth the most. Although it still needs some polishing, the artistic decisions took a lot of time and thought. We ended up implementing a 3D drawing mechanic so players  could communicate with each other. This lead to the boxes and objects being translucent so you could actually draw your solid line through them.  To add to our surreal and relaxing music and feel of the game, we added the firefly particle effects as well.