VXT

VXT is a speed platformer that challenges players to best their high scores by honing their skills and reflexes. Using the power to reflect off of and connect to different surfaces, VXT offers intense levels for quick-thinking core gamers who enjoy climbing mountains to receive recognition.

 

  • Team: The Midnight Tacos (Champlain College Senior Game)
  • Platform: PC
  • Team Size: 9
  • Production Time: 7 months (three of which done with teams size of 3)
  • Tools Used: Unity 4, Adobe Photoshop, Autodesk Maya.
  • Position: Lead Designer, level designer.

My Contributions

  • Designed the core mechanics and the UI.
  • Worked with the musician to implement the audio.
  • Organized the design team and provided sprint reviews and design documentation.
  • Created the “Mines” levels and the tutorial.
  • Gave feedback on all design decisions.
  • Created in-game videos.
  • Created the art for the game screens and poster.

-Core Mechanics: The player wields a colored field that can be aimed around the character. The color can be swapped between orange and blue with a button press, with the color influencing how the field reacts to the environment. Orange objects can be “magnetically” attached to with the orange field, and the same goes for blue objects and the blue field. However, if the field is the opposite color of the object, it will cause the player to bounce away. Mastering the ability to navigate by climbing and bouncing off of surfaces is the key to getting the best times.

-Balancing speed and skill to achieve fluidity: One of the primary design challenges we had when developing VXT was giving the player a test of skill while going at high speeds. Going to fast resulted in it being impossible to foresee obstacles, while going too slow was not akin to the feel we wanted to get from the game. We accomplished this through dynamically and manually adjusted cameras to allow for optimal and exciting views of each part of a level level, and I designed a system that allows the player to expend a collectible resource to slow down time to allow for better planning, along with an early warning system of upcoming obstacles.

-Intuitive controls: Coming into the development process we knew that the best games are often those with the most easy to master controls, allowing for players to get into the flow of things without breaking the immersion. For a fast-paced game like ours, the simple controls were also key for allowing snap decisions without much clutter. I designed the mechanics around the principle of simple controls not only for that reason, but also to prevent the overcomplicating of the game systems. We embraced the complexities that can be created from simplicity.

-Keeping the player moving: One of the major hurdles was trying to keep the player moving at all times while still presenting them with puzzle challenges. We accomplished this by ridding levels of almost every 90 degree angle, always having smooth curves for the player to move along, never abruptly losing speed. The puzzles are designed to test the players’ skills of navigation, promoting quick decision making and reflexes as they move along, instead of forcing the player to a stop to solve one.

-Dynamic Music: To enhance the visceral thrill of the game, we added a dynamic music system that I helped implement programmatically, which allows for the background music to become more intense the faster the player goes. This player feedback system rewards players as they go faster, giving an amazing accent to the already intense rush of speed. As the player slows down, possibly due to obstacles, I made sure to make the music intensity fade out slowly, so as not to completely break the mood.

-Iterations For Success: VXT started out in a very different spot from where it is today. What was initially a single-player physics puzzler about magnets became co-op, then a 2v2 racer, then a 2-player co-op puzzler, and then finally the speed platformer it is now. The reasons for these iterations were vast, usually deriving from a want and need to simplify the complex mechanics and UI, but often in an attempt to arrive at a game concept that we felt would be able to convey a strong mood. Having to rapidly scrap design ideas and rework the game numerous times was a valuable lesson in time management, being humble with my designs (and willing to throw them out to try again), and about the importance of perseverance and optimism.