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Symphony of Neon
Titus is a 3D Third Person adventure game with light platforming and stealth elements.
The player takes control of a medium-sized dog named Titus who is accompanying their owner on a walk through the woods. When the owner is suddenly hurt and unable to walk, it is up to Titus to brave the woods alone and find help.
My references included dog adventure movies that I watched as a kid, such as Milo and Otis and the Homeward Bound series.
The class that I created this project for was a narrative-focused class, so I spent a good amount of time on the game's story. Some of this was done via exposition and cutscenes, but I also tried to do a decent amount of environmental storytelling with prop placement and composed shots.
While the class was focused on narrative, we were able to choose our own specialization as a secondary focus. I opted for level design because I wanted to be able to create a large enough environment that the player genuinely felt like they were on a woodland adventure.
The UI/UX for the HUD design of this project was refined because I was working on it for another class and simply imported it. This gave me a lot of leeway in focusing on the gameplay systems, such as player guidance.
The primary method that I used for guidance was what I called "Sniff Vision". This name comes from Assassin's Creed's "Eagle Vision", which allowed the player to highlight their objectives in high-contrast colors. Sniff Vision worked in a similar way, highlighting key objects such as old footprints which showed the player where to go.
While I wanted players to enjoy the Sniff Vision, I didn't want them to feel like it was their only option. So I set up guiding geometry and breadcrumbs to help keep the player on the main path. So Sniff Vision would be reserved for when a player was stuck and needed a hint.
The primary gameplay mechanic for encounters was a simple stealth mechanic that I borrowed from Skyrim. The player would stand in a bush to avoid being spotted when a bear came patrolling by.
Beyond hiding in bushes, players could also avoid bears by leaving the bear's patrol area. Each bear has a limited range and will not leave its designated area. Whenever the player is spotted by a bear, an eye icon appears in the center of the screen along with a roar from the bear.
The "eye icon" mentioned previously is a UI HUD sprite that has 3 unique stages with transition animations. First, the eye fades in and is open to let the player know they are spotted. Second, the eye closes when the player is no longer within line of sight to let the player know. Third and finally, the eye fades back to being transparent to avoid cluttering the UI when it is not needed.
What Went Wrong?
While I was so focused on providing a narrative and engaging gameplay, I forgot to ration enough time for level design. This resulted in me having 3 levels instead of 5 and each was substantially shorter and less fleshed out than anticipated. On the bright side, thanks to this project and the sprint plan schedule, I feel like I can more accurately track how long things will take me in the future.
What Went Right?
While the levels were not fantastic, the UI (especially the HUD) was my pride and joy. The sniff vision, the sniff meter, the stamina wheel, everything felt polished and like something I could show off to potential employers. Also, I enjoyed making the story. The namesake of the game (Titus) is the name of a real dog. He helped a lot with inspiration for the story and petting him helped with stress relief after work.
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