My goal was to create a game that would challenge both my technical and design abilities. I chose to experiment with two genres that at first glance seems dissonant to each other, this to test my design abilities. The approch I took was to see if I could take the stationary gameplay of a tower defence and place it in a dynamic enviroment, this being a dungeon crawler. It complemented the technical aspect aswell since there were alot of variables to take into account when making a 'dynamic' tower defence.
*Made in Unreal Engine 4.21
*Created in 6 weeks halftime
*Singleplayer casual game
*Assets created in Maya
*Music made in Studio One
I went into this project thinking that the systems that were needed for this game would be fairly easy, I was wrong. Especially since I chose not to follow a grid or have predetermined build areas, this meant that there were several scenarios where the player shouldn't be able to build. This mixed with all the states a tower defence can have became a fun challenge. The core reason for this project was that I wanted to see if I could create a condensed game experience during the timeframe I had. This without using any free assets or scripts. As for the graphical part I chose the game Pan Pan as reference, due to its simplicity and charm.
I wanted to expand on the Tower Defence genre by combining it with dungeon crawling, creating a less stationary and more dynamic experience that still kept the core fundamentals of tower defence. But to also allow the players that want to, deter from the tower defence aspect to a certain degree.
The design approach I took when it came to the enemies path end point was to allow the player to move and hide it, this to give the player agency and a sense of control. I also tried to give them some emotional value through illustrating the end goal as the characters sick friend, this to give the player a sense of responsibility.
In order for the player to not just leave the end point in the start of the dungeon, I chose to decrese the speed of the player the further they got from the end point. I also came to the realization that the turrets could not be permanent on the map but needed a lifespan this to not have an exponential increase of mobs through out the levels and to prevent the player from hiding behind a huge defensive wall of turrets.
I chose to give the player four abilities, two spawning abilites and two active abilities, in an effort to support two different playstyles. The first being the passive player that focuses on towers and planning, the second the aggressive player that takes a more heads on approach. Both of these should be viable on their own, but combining the two would be the most optimal choice. The abilities were an ordinary shoot, a landmine that can also be used as a grenade, a tower that shoots enemies within range and a blocker that blocks the enemies path.
The way I approached this was to trace for the navmesh and other entities in the world, these were the deciding factors to build. If said area has a navmesh and is not within the bounds of another gameplay related entity building was permitted. This to prevent the player from turning the end goal to a movable fortress of death and stacking towers upon each other.
Feedback and Immersion:
Feedback, feedback and feedback. The biggest lesson I learned was that the ammount of feedback that's needed to make a project feel like a game. Without the feedback I felt confused about what was going on and I did not feel immersed. Even the most minute things such as vegitation swaying and birds running away from the player and the AI added very much to the immersion. If the world isn't alive then the game can't be alive.
Simon Carlsson - Technical Game Designer