Table of content:

1) Gameplay mechanics

2) Level Design

3) UI & VFX, Management

Engine:

Unity

Platform:

Genre:

Team Size:

Time:

PC

Strategy

6

7 weeks

Visual Studios

Photoshop

After Effects

Perforce

Trello + Miro

           Software:

Concept

Clanker Gangs is a turn-based strategy game,

where you control a band of robotic outlaws in a

steampunk-western frontier.


Defend your settlement against opposing bands with a trio of distinctive units, amass gold to deploy reinforcements and plan your approach to crush

your enemies!


This game was developed for my final project while

studying at Futuregames. Read more below!


 Gameplay Footage

My Contributions

Product Owner

Project management

Held scrums/sprints

Supervised kanban board

Level Designer

All levels + blockouts

Paper prototypes

Setdressing

Gameplay Designer

Core mechanics & rules

Daily agile iterrations

C# Scripts

UI Artist

Menues, icons, interface

Portrait renders

Sound & VFX

Audio mixing

Handled voicelines

All special effects

Trailer + cutscenes

Character spotlight

Emphasis on strong unit designs,
with distinguishable silhouettes and
characteristics

that clearly communicates their purpose & function.

1. Gameplay Mechanics

I designed a framework for a tactics-style game with a visual

identity as a deep-diving exercise in strategy fundamentals.


Central to the game is the unit trinity; early on we determined the game to be built around

three key units in a lenient rock-paper-scissors system, and build the game around said units.

Other important core aspects were to focus on the player's decision-making and anticipation

of enemy actions before they make a move.

Skill Synergy

Unit skills & interactions that synergize to create satisfying, creative combos when executed that rewards the player and reinforces unit identity.

Lay plans

Open, visible levels in a turn-based system that encourage the player to stop and strategize their next course of action against an elaborate AI.



The goals for the set of two levels was for the player to seamlessly grasp the basic mechanics in the tutorial, then apply those skills in order to beat the main level's AI equilvalent by combining the units' capabilities in emergent ways to their own liking. 


While other games that share similarities have grid-based movement systems, we decided to try and innovate with a grid-free system allowing us to

design levels more unconditionally - with greater accommodation

for movement options, level interaction and player agency.


2. Level Design

#1: Pre-production mockup that I pitched, originally having a cold-war era setting and tile-based
isometric board. We decided to cut the tiles and floor elevation in favor of open navmesh movement.

#2: Paper prototype of the earliest planned level.
The paddock in the bottom right was to prototype raytracing for when ranged units were shooting behind cover.
#3: Very early blockout of the test level, which at the time was for prototyping with the camera rig and unit pathfinding.
#4: Appropriately sized blockout with some WIP props and clutter added. Working UI placeholders and core mechanics in place.
#5: Blockout of the quarry, adding more interactivity and hazardous elements to the level layout.
At this time we had to concentrate our resources on fully scripting the core mechanics.
#6: Minor changes while we are still implementing functionality.
Placeholder textures, effects and shaders while using the probuilder plugin.
#7: Game fully playable, still with placeholder textures. Next was to focus on the release build's main level.
#8: Rapid paper prototype of the proper main level, with a more clear and open-ended layout.
#9: Framed perspective of the ideal layout. Secondary mechanics such as control points and gold nugget nodes added.
#10: Implemented level layout, designed with three branching pathways around the central point. Buildings textured.
Working on a tutorial level at the same time, which limited allocation of time for setdressing.
#11: Final level layout with improved lighting/polish.
#12: Final level layout.

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6

#7

#8

#9

#10

#11

#12

3. UI & VFX, Management

Sample:  damage effects (medium & gibbed)

Full VFX reel

Graphics


For this project I did the majority of the UI graphics,

as well as programming the menu wrapping & navigation.


This included sprite texture sheets for particle emitters,

animation trees for the turn wheel components and icons.


Other contributions were early concept sketches.




Animated portraits

Early on during pre-production we deliberated that we

wanted animated portraits and voicelines for the units

reminiscent of classic strategy games.


To go about learning how to do this I did some research on

other games with animated portraits and discovered that

characters are often pre-loaded inside the level, hidden

out-of-bounds within the scene while partially disabled.


Using this as an inspiration I set up a few camera props

with backdrops for the dummy units and rendered the projections into raw image textures which could be

called on demand within the script.

Art Direction & Management


As product owner, my role was to make sure the product and direction was consistent
with our established goals. Because of team size, in this case it also meant that I was
involved in all aspects of the project management.

I was responsible for establishing the vision of the game and conducted the daily standups,
of which there was two (one in the morning, one quick midway through the afternoon)
to keep communication and problem-solving conscious throughout the whole
development cycle. This was largely necessary due to the fact that we were

working from home during the pandemic, from start to finish.

I handled the whiteboard, scheduling and some of the open playtest sessions.
In accordance with the 3D artists I worked with them to create a mood board collage for
the style direction, as well as overseeing the Kanban board flow for each weekly sprint,
user stories, individual requests and task prioritization.

Lastly, I also booked and arranged for the original music out of my own pocket.


I made it clear that while our workflow had milestones and deadlines to adhere towards,
I wanted everyone to focus on what they wanted to produce themselves in preparation

of our portfolios, as that was the end goal of the project. 

Scout

Sniper

Miner

Because gold deposits are static level elements and are perishable once depleted, they force the player to steadily seek out and replenish their gold. This puts pressure on the player to strategize on the fly, keeping the game and pacing dynamic. The miner required a lot of tuning so that it felt satisfying to use, without feeling restrictive or uninteractive due to its economic nature and lack of range. By being able to create setups for big, thundering explosions it secured a healthy role in the game. 

The Mineis a bulky melee unit that is centered around economy and forwarding progression.

They have the ability to mine gold from ore deposits and place explosive Dynamite Barrels.


The Miner is a key component of the unit trinity - enabling players to push the

frontlines, sustaining the economy by gathering resources & complementing

other synergies. They allow other units to interact with barrels that can be used

to blow up enemy clusters, obstructing ranged AI targetting or triggering

knockback chain explosions. (Enemies can also shoot these barrels.)

MOVE

RANGE

HEALTH

The Sniper is a long-ranged, aggressive unit centered around damage and area denial.

They have the ability to shoot from great distances and to bounce ricochet shots between targets.


Snipers were designed as the lynchpins of the combat system - they can shoot

from behind smaller obstacles, deny points of interest and detonate dynamite

barrels without consequence. They excel at hitting wide swaths of targets

and dealing damage, but have meager movement options as a tradeoff.

Initially the Sniper was a very powerful unit which playtesters became fond of. Because our aim was for the player to never single out a particular unit archetype while playing, we tweaked it so that it required the support of other units and designed the level with multiple approaches around obstacles, such as the scouting jumping over pitfalls in order to close the distance.

MOVE

RANGE

HEALTH

Icon made by Marcus Bildtgård

The Scout is a nimble support unit centered around crowd control and infiltration.

They can dash around the battlefield and manipulate the environment with their Air Blast ability.


Scouts are a versatile hit-and-run unit a toolkit that allows for multiple styles.

They are nimble units that can be used to leap over hazards, boost units around,

shove enemies into environmental kills and launch barrels into enemy clusters

with its handy ability.


They are particularly useful for bypassing and flanking down Snipers, an

important counterbalance within the unit trinity. Their frontline presence

is comparatively mild.

MOVE

RANGE

HEALTH

It was designed specifically for players to interact more with the level design. Apart from using its ability, it’s also ideal for more advanced approaches like "back-dooring" by claiming uncontested control points, which can prevent enemies from spawning in new units. Early on we wanted an archetype that could flank and sabotage, adding depth to the combat system in an easily understandable way.

Scenes I worked on / setdressed:

Introduction

Tutorial level

Main level

Title Screen

Level showcase: "Bandit Quarry"


An illicit mining town vista that has

been overtaken by a rival gang.


The main level was designed to wrap around discernible central landmark with various open paths to get there, serving as a point of interest and way to gauge

distances cohesively within the level layout.


This large gold node is initially claimed by the AI and

serves as a crossroad between the different sections of

the level, telegraphing to the player a suitable

go-to destination.

Pacing


I wanted the layout to be simple and multi-approachable, particularly with player agency in mind that they should be able to

decide their own course of action - with subtle ways of ultimately

streamlining the level towards the central chokepoint.


The level pacing is thought out through gold node placements.

Because they are depletable resources placed around the level,

if the battle is drawn-out all possible paths converge at the center -

- gold here is plentiful but is a hotspot for AI confrontation. 


The pacing increases as the AI accumulates gold then culminates

at the midpoint once static resources begin to dwindle.

Routes & Golden path

The player starts out at the bottom of the town after having been briefly introduced to

the core mechanics in the previous level. After establishing a foothold by claiming the

first control point the player is presented with a forked road (A, C) and shortcut (B).


The two forked routes curve around the quarry while differing in layouts and enemy placements, as well as having divergent paths in their respective far-ends of the

map that rewards the player for exploring with spendable gold nuggets


The shortcut requires the Scout's ability to pivot units over the hazardous pit, giving

the player a precarious choice of doing so early on at their own risk assessment. 


Fights are generally concentrated increasingly towards the middle, coinciding with the

risk/reward curve of gold distribution. Since all the paths intersect and ultimately

lead to the center, either can be considered the ideal golden path.

Camera setup


I intended for the player to be able to see and navigate the entire level environment at all times so they could plan accordingly. The player controls a flying perspective camera rig within an invisible boundary box. They can move, zoom and rotate the rig while

suspended from a bird's eye view.


The camera was made to be modular in order to tweak it depending on things like size and manual boundaries of each level. All camera movement is lerped for smooth panning.


25/01/2021 - 12/03/2021

January

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