Mastery

Mastery is a horror game that capitalizes on the classic fear of helplessness by putting the player in the paws of a dog, unable to interact with the world save for jumping and pushing small objects. Using their keen canine senses, the player must try and find their missing Master before they become too upset and begin barking, alerting malevolent forces to their position.

(Advanced Seminar in Game Design Project)

  • Platform: PC
  • Team Size: 1
  • Production Time: 2 Months (Completed Demo)
  • Tools Used: Unity 4, Adobe Photoshop, Autodesk Maya.
  • Position: Designer, Artist, Engineer. (Personal project)

My Contributions

  • Created the entire game, except the audio and the horse and “monster” models.
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The dark but oddly welcoming bedroom. The scent trail seems to end here…

-Being a dog: Mastery was inspired by Frictional’s Amnesia: The Dark Descent, in which you play as a helpless human who can do little more than push objects. I wanted to go one step further and make the player not even human. As a dog, the world seems larger and simple tasks such as grabbing something off a table become great efforts. Things like vacuum cleaners would appear absolutely terrifying. Being a dog does have some advantages, though.

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Sniffing the hat creates a trail to follow.

-Discipline and Concentration: The main systems in the game are “discipline” and “concentration.” As you witness scary events, you begin to lose discipline, resulting in whimpering, blurred vision, and eventually barking, which will alert enemies to your presence if it goes on for too long. You can regain discipline by finding a chew toy, which are scattered around the environment.

Your concentration meter determines for how much longer you can stay in Tracking Mode. In tracking mode, seeing in the dark becomes easier and you can detect and follow scent trails that lead to key areas and items. However, if you witness a scare event while in this heightened state of awareness, you will lose more discipline. You can regain concentration by eating a treat.

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When completely unnerved, you begin barking, and dark beings slowly come nearer.

-The less you see…: I am a firm believer in the horror style of letting the player’s imagination go wild. By only offering glimpses of shadowy movement instead of full on monsters early on, the player’s mind is free to fill in the blanks with the most personally terrifying images.

Static

Such pretty static…

-Atmosphere is key: Like in Amnesia, I wanted to capture the atmosphere of psychological unease. This is accomplished through lighting and strong audio. The player is constantly kept on their toes with an eerie background sound playing, and with the occasional unnerving groan and scream.

corn field

Shh! Don’t touch the corn or you’ll make noise…

-“I have to go down there, don’t I”One of my favorite ways to build suspense is to show the player where their next object is, and then illustrate that there is danger near there. The player knows they must go “down the hall” as I call it, but they really should not want to. If a player casually strolls down the corridor without so much as a heart palpitation, I know I haven’t gotten the atmosphere right yet.