A movement-focused mutliplayer platformer where you race to bathe your Frog King
Product Owner, Lead Systems Designer, UI/UX Designer
Unreal Engine 4
Maintaining the team's vision.
Since I was officially given the title of Product Owner, I was in charge of keeping the game on-track and making sure all of the pieces from every discipline come together perfectly. I was constantly keeping tabs with every team member and was one of the most prominent voices during sprint planning meetings and during presentations. Of course, I was always factoring in feedback from team members and ensuring that any concerns about the game from teammates were heard and resolved in order to not only create a better product but the best possible work environment.
Scrum and backlog management.
After the first 3-4 months of production, we onboarded several new team members to work on Frog Bath. Our team size was then more than two times the size of the original team, which led to me having a more hands-on production role to ensure smooth sailing on the project. Since I am a Certified Scrum Master, I knew a lot of what was needed of me on a conceptual level, but this was my first opportunity to start developing those skills. Now, I have significantly more experience managing backlogs and keeping the sprint goals within scope and on-task for the team!
Taking on the responsibility within a lead position.
Once our team absorbed more people, the team dynamic between disciplines changed to accommodate for that. Before then, I had worked closely with Aiden O'Connor to tackle systems design, but after this merge Aiden moved to a focus on level design and I was made the lead systems designer. The new systems design team then consisted of Robert Price, Stephen Vowles, and myself. As a lead, I came to every meeting with an agenda and focused the discussion on the topic at hand, with the tasks of the week being kept in mind. It also became my job to keep all other team members and all other disciplines informed of any updates to the systems design of the game. This lead to me taking on more of a management and conceptual role for systems design, with Rob and Stephen being delegated tasks for each sprint in terms of implementing, testing, and iterating on our designs.
Ever since Frog Bath's inception, the focus of the game's systems was around providing a fun and engaging way to move around the map. This is divided into three distinct mechanics: the tall jump (for vertical movement), "perfect frog hopping" (for horizontal movement), and the tongue-shot (movement across all axes). All of these movement systems have some level of skill attached to them, with newer players being able to perform them semi-consistently and more experienced players using them in more intricate and creative ways. The variety in movement options allows for players to traverse the level in multiple different ways.
Encouraging player interaction.
Movement was the name of the game at the beginning of development, but this caused the PvP interactions to be pretty underdeveloped. Once more team members were onboarded, we were able to concept out an entirely new system for interacting with players. The biggest issue was that players with the bath item had no way to defend themselves; to remedy this, we added in the ability to put the bath item in your mouth and spit it out in two different ways. Spitting it out unattached to your tongue allows you to throw it at the Frog King and score a point, while spitting it out attached to your tongue acts as a hitbox to stun and knockback other players.
Condensing a lot of information into a simple interface.
Frog Bath is a game that appears to be fairly straightforward on the surface but has a lot of smaller moving parts that are all related to each other. One facet of this is the amount of information the player needs at any given moment; the goal of getting the bath item to the Frog King is simple, but the focus on moment-to-moment gameplay results in a hefty amount of information that needs to be conveyed to the player. As of right now, all of the gameplay UI is still in the process of wireframing and concepting, but the goal is to be able to answer any question the player has that is in any way related to the goal of delivering the bath item through the UI. How far am I from the Frog King? Where is the bath item? Does another player have the bath item? Am I stunned? This is only a small fraction of the questions that have to be answered, and work is already under way to answer them, such as with an objective-tracker icon that hovers over the Frog King's location on the player's screen for them to be able to locate him easily.
CURRENT HUD WIREFRAME
SCORE UI CONCEPTS
Player has bath item
Player just scored
Reflecting the game's physicality inside of its menus.
Almost everything in the game is in some way focused on physicality. Things like player movement, the geometry of the level, the Frog King's AI, powerups, and combat are all physical in nature, and because of this making a 2D abstract menu system felt like a misstep. I wanted to highlight the high level of physicality that Frog Bath has in its menus, and my first source of inspiration was the level select menu in Ultimate Chicken Horse, where players actually platform onto buttons to select a stage they want to play on. This could not be easily translated into Frog Bath, since Ultimate Chicken Horse has a shared camera where as Frog Bath requires each camera to be unique to each player, so I held the idea of physicality at heart in a different direction. The main menu was then turned into a sink that the Frog King uses as his royal throne, with each different part of the menu being turned into its own funny menu. From lilypads bobbing up and down as buttons in the sink to drawers opening and closing to reveal different options, everything in this sink has been contextualized into buttons as opposed to having stylized abstract 2D assets. All of this was programmed by myself, with the ability to add new menus and transition between different "screens" all being easy to iterate on and add to.