-Work in Progress: Gameplay-
Technical Designer / Writer / Voice Actor || FPS Puzzle-Platformer || Unreal 4.8 || 13 developers || 5 months
Scroll down for the project details and what I did
-Trailer edited by Colin Valek
Gravitas, a Single-player 3D Puzzle-Platformer for the PC, transports the player to the Gallery of Refined Gravity (GoRG), a futuristic contemporary art gallery designed around gravity manipulation technology. The Curator, a quirky artist in the form of a floating cube-shaped robot, gives the Player a special Gravity Glove that can create gravity fields, and guides them through the GoRG, hoping to inspire them with his brilliant new medium.
Gravitas was a finalist in the E3 2016 College Game Competition and was published to Steam on August 24th, 2019!
what did I do?
Scripted all narration and narrator character behavior
Coordinated with the team leads to implement special scripted WOW moments throughout the game
Worked on the central Gravity Field mechanic
Wrote the game script
Designed and implemented all characters
Voiced the primary narrator
Directed and recorded all voice acting
Edited and integrated all recorded narration
Created the final version of both the Main Menu and Ending Credits
I also wrote, animated, and edited a special Steam Greenlight Vignette focused on highlighting our game's personality through the Curator character. Most importantly, this gave me the opportunity to design and build his Office, which was a ton of fun!
This game was created during a 5-month long Team Game Development course at the SMU Guildhall. It served as one of two 'Capstone' games for my Cohort (C23), and was the largest project in terms of team size and game scope that my team mates and I had ever undertaken. The entire project was a 'full game industry simulation', and as such we had Executive Producers, peer evaluations, and all behavioral conduct was expected to be professional. The consequences were real, the deadlines strict, and the work intense.
Team Design Goals
Make our biggest and best game yet in the SMU Guildhall program, simulating a real industry environment with the largest team yet
Have a main mechanic that is simple but offers a lot of puzzle possibilities
Polish the controls, narration, and overall level flow to minimize player frustration
Unify the game's aesthetics around both player communication and the narrative
Adapting to Team Changes
During the first half of the project, we lost nearly half of our Art Department. We began pre-production with 5 artists, and planned our aesthetic goals and milestones accordingly. By the Proof of Concept: Gameplay milestone, the team was down to 3 artists. This placed an enormous amount of stress on the team (Leads in particular), but ultimately resulted in a complete aesthetic shift from a massive overgrown island in the sky (Sky Ark) to a small contemporary art gallery in space.
Early in development, this project was simply a series of puzzles that lacked any sort of personality or world identity. The entire team struggled for months to find the game's identity and fun. In the last half of the project, we pushed to implement a Narrator that would assist player communication and give the game a unique flavor. This resulted in two new characters:
The Curator: A small cube-shaped robot containing the personality of a quirky modern artist who has gone slightly mad with both ego and lonelyness.
SHI: A voice construct program designed for voice control over the GoRG. SHI has no actual personality or opinions, but somehow still gets in arguments with The Curator.
These characters had an immediately noticable and positive effect on players' experience, and helped form the game's identity going forward.
Space Shark Studios (Click the names for their websites):
Front row, from left to right:
Programmer - Srinath Udapyayhula
Back row, from left to right:
Alex Shilts - Writer, Voice Actor, Technical Designer
What went right
Great overall aesthetics and personality
Nailed the 'Contemporary Art Gallery in Space' look
Good writing, character design, and voice acting
Iterated well on playtester feedback
Good puzzle design, which worked in tandem with the narration for optimal flow
What went wrong
Non-concrete team Lead decision-making
Waffling on major design elements
Inconsistent team communication
Analysis paralysis throughout the first half of the project
Loud-spoken team members overshadowed the quiet people during team discussions
What we learned
Make more concrete decisions early and playtest to determine viability
Pleasing every member of the team is not the top priority
The ultimate goal of game development is to ship the best product possible that makes the team overall proud