EXODUS is the second and final development team of the Entertainment Technology Center’s first Yearlong Game Project. In Spring 2019, the first team created high-level game design and technical documentation for a single-player survival game with real-time strategy elements called The Exodus. The player should strategically move their survivor’s home base, send survivors to gather and refine resources, and develop a plan to rescue more survivors. Along with a prototype, the first team laid groundwork for art assets and level designs. EXODUS is implementing, playtesting, iterating, and balancing this documentation to completion. Our team will also refine the unique artistic vision left last Spring and publish the game to a digital distribution platform.
Roles: Level Designer, Game Designer Team: 5 Members Engine: Unity
Step 02: Discover the player experience goals and the core mechanic.
Step 01: Become a playtester.
The first step in my process as the new game designer for The Exodus was to put myself in the player’s shoes. The first team handed us a proof of concept, where players could begin interacting with the world. Before even reading the design documentation, I had to play the game for myself, asking questions any player would have. The team’s technical artist, Varun, was also on the project last semester. Varun answered some of my questions after I played the demo in solitude. He will be a big help for me to tap into the previous team’s design thinking.
What do these numbers on screen mean when a path is laid out?
Design iteration: The number should display the gasoline icon on screen and these resource-consumption numbers should be added up for the player.
Is this mini-map interactive?
It is not, the previous team decided that players should not be able to move around the map as freely as in Starcraft II because it is an uncharted planet. The mystery of what is to come would lead to more tension in the player.
I sent a worker to a tile with an unknown resource, now what?
You’ve acquired that unknown resource.
Design iteration: Resource collection should be more obvious to players, and refining seems pretty detailed for a prototype. Is it necessary right now?
How do I cancel out of moving my fortress?
Right click to cancel the action.
I know there’s crude oil here... now what?
Design iteration: “Send Survivor” should be explicitly written on the character selection screen.
What are these resources on top of the game screen called?
Design iteration: OnHover UI to understand which resource is which more immediately.
What does it mean when I click on a resource then the survivor screen shows up?
Design iteration: Survivor selection screen needs action verb: "Assign Builder" or "Assign Harvester."
What does the little number 20 mean on the build screen?
Design iteration: Add a “Steel” UI logo next to 20, to communicate the resource required to upgrade the moving shelter.
How do I cancel out of the build menu?
You click the little “X” on the top left of the menu’s UI canvas.
Design iteration: Right click should also work to cancel out of a menu, just as it works to cancel out of the “Move Shelter” action.
Is the moving tower supposed to move this quickly? It looks more like a spider than a large, moving shelter.
For testing purposes, the previous team made the shelter move quickly to travel across the map more efficiently.
Design iteration: Varun agreed that slower-paced movement would look better in the final game.
After sending two survivors to the same resource, the moving shelter disappeared.
Our first bug!