Week 9 – Crystal LSE / New Horizons

Week 9 was not only our first week back from Spring Break, but our first week working in a Coronavirus World. As such, we left our project room and took our supplies with us to work from the comfort and safety of our homes.

This obviously caused quite the shift in our process and how things would be conducted going forward. We worked hard to acclimate to the changes and press forward, discussing new paths to forge and new mountains to climb within this project while making sure Perforce, Zoom, Trello, and all our other necessities to work remotely were working properly.

Some new mechanics and tweaks were made for testing, and made for an odd build for sure. A new “climb-jump” mechanic is in place where the player can “throw” themselves via climbing to ascend quickly. In addition, we experimented with changing the LSE’s material from stone to a translucent crystal. While we have yet to dive deeper into these changes given the tectonic shift in our work life, it led to an interesting video to show for this week:

The crystal body certainly makes navigating the LSE…well…odd.

As mentioned in Week 8, the team discussed doing some major pivots in response to our Half Semester feedback. The two biggest comments included being “too conservative, too safe in your explanation” as well as a ” bigger emphasis on Combat”. In our earlier meetings this week, we started ideating on how to push the envelope of what we were building and moving out of the comfortable shade of Shadow of the Colossus’ influence. To this end, we ended up on a pair of potential prototypes we are excited to see in the future.

Frozen Flight

This was one of our more out-there ideas for sure. We thought “what if our main method of location was sliding on ice in the air?” Using established characters like Frozone from The Incredibles and Iceman from X-Men, we thought about how one could make an icy path in front of them as they “flew”, and are in the very beginnings of building this kind of movement scheme in Unreal. This mechanic would allow the player to go around the LSE from various heights in order to scope out weak points or other forms of attacking it.

The “emphasis on combat” in this prototype is still in the works, but there are few ideas (and subsequent questions) floating out there:

How does the creation/manipulation of ice work on melee combat?

Can the player make a fist to surround it ice, effectively turning their hand into a frozen mace?

Can the player make frozen weapons from thin air? Is there a difference?

How does ice work against our LSE anyway? Is it worth it to make a new LSE?

Powerful Hands

As previously mentioned, the mechanic of “climb-jumping” was programmed in and started to be played around with a little bit this week. While more testing needs to be done, it got us thinking about the idea of putting all the power in your hands. All the power.

But how would moving around work in this regard? Clenching your hand in a fist can power it up (ie. making it glow different colors and perhaps create a sphere around your hand). By punching the air, you will effectively dash in that direction. Hitting the ground will send you flying into the air. Climbing will still be in place, as well as the new “climb-jump”.

To fulfill this fantasy and push the experience, we thought of big moments. Since you have this superpower, why not push that feeling of power as much as we could?

How strong are you?

Can you match the LSE punch for punch, or just use your strength in offensive and defensive ways when necessary?

What else can we do with this strength?

A big moment came to us with this last question:

You ascend the Giant and reach one of your goals; a steel plate attached to the creature. Any other mortal would be unable to remove it. Tightening your fist, you watch as your hand glows, turning from a strong gold to a raging red. Grabbing the metal, you rip it from the creature. It takes a couple of seconds, but you finally hear it slam into the ground far, far below you. The plate was armor, protecting something the Giant did not want to be exposed. A single crystal hangs in the cavity of the creature, suspended in the air through magical tendrils connecting it’s the power to the Giant. With a quick tug, you rip the crystal from its nesting place. With a quick squeeze, you shatter part of the Giant’s life in your hand. The Giant roars and swings its arm, but you’re unfazed. You grab a nearby surface and throw yourself into the air, already hunting for the next crystal to turn into dust.

Last but certainly not least, our artist has been hard at work creating new models for the player’s hands in order to better sell the experience:

While the initial concept for these gauntlets went perfectly with our previous prototype, we believe the style is fluid enough to work with these two new ideas as well.

So while Week 9 was mostly about adapting to this Coronavirus outbreak, we tried to stay relatively strong as we were all quarantined in our homes. The next few weeks will be difficult, to say the least, but we have worlds to build and LSEs to break!