Production II Dev Blog | Concept #2: SUB.merge

Here comes the second concept my team Double Food Night has developed for our Production II class! The end-goal of this class is to develop a game within a team setting - working with designers, artists, programmers, and producers - by the end of the semester. The first three weeks of the class is to prototype three different ideas in order to crank out the best possible idea to go forth into the semester, especially because of Mid-Mortems, where teams will be cut!

And thus, let's take a dive into SUB.merge, a discovery-based exploration game about diving into the ocean where you will uncover wildlife and artifacts from an ancient civilization...

The Idea

As I said, the core element of SUB.merge is the sense of discovery. Even the initial concept had this focus; at first the idea would be to collect other bathyspheres you find underwater in order to form what would essentially be a 3D version of the classic game Snake. We moved away from this idea because of complications in the camera and overall gameplay and eventually got to the idea we are at now. The main game loop of SUB.merge is to go underwater and find fish and other aquatic life that you can document in your research journal. On top of that, you can then capture the fish through a yet-to-be-determined method in order to then go back up to the surface to sell for profit. This money acts in two ways: you can buy upgrades for your vessel and if you don't make a certain amount of profit to fund your expedition within a week's time, you lose! Once you upgrade your ship how you want, you can then go back underwater and go to the seafloor in order to look for rare artifacts to document. The win condition of the game is documenting everything the game has to offer. As of right now, there are a lot of different places we could take the game. We could pursue more action-based mechanics with the fish hunting or even puzzle-based systems when discovering new items. Either way, the core of the game must always be about the sense of discovery and finding new things

The Execution

Contrary to what we did last week, we decided to focus more on the digital prototype for SUB.merge. We wanted to focus on making the player feel as if they were inside a submersible vessel, and to show off the different ways we want to let the player explore and map out the world around them should we choose to go forwards with this game. One of the things we spent a lot of time on was the layout of the bathysphere's interior and what information we need to present to the player. I made a mock-up of the layout for our artist to then 3D model and for our programmers to implement. The things that were implemented in the digital prototype are highlighted in green in the diagram below.

Additionally, the concept of being able to pick up an item and bring it back up to the surface was shown off, along with the initial concept of distance-based rendering on objects to simulate the underwater feel. After all, the most important thing about this game is making the player really feel as if they are underwater!

There was also a physical prototype that experimented different ways to make the discovery of artifacts more interesting, but sadly we were unable to get pictures or footage of the QA session we did.

The Result

There was a lot of good reception to the fantasy of the game and the emphasis on the sense of discovery, which is good! We now know that people would want to sit inside our bathysphere and explore what lies below sea level. What did not go well was how the camera worked in the prototype, but that is something that can easily be remedied. It is something to take note of, and due to how important the camera control is in a game about exploring, it is at the top of the list of things to fix. Many people also enjoyed being challenged when discovering new artifacts like the physical prototype showed. Knowing this, we will most likely implement some sort of puzzle that goes with the discovery of items!

And that's it for week 2! Next week is the final week of initial prototyping and then we've got a week of polish on one of the ideas of our choosing. Here's to another week of ideas!

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