For this project, I was inspired to take the theme of brutalist architecture, and combine it with having weird game controls (from Wow Nice Teeth) and a goofy game atmosphere . My idea was to make a game about building buildings. There would be a silhouette of a building that the player should try to build, and a bunch of blocks in a pile that they can move to construct the building. They would struggle to build the perfect building, due to several challenges:
- The controls are ASDW, but with their functions reversed. They would also all shuffle function every time a new block was selected, making them unintuitive to use.
- The blocks are combined to construct the building in a specific way, like a jigsaw puzzle, so the player has to figure out which piece goes where
- When the player drags the pieces around, they have to make sure that they don’t bump them into other pieces. When a piece bumps into another, it pushes it. If pieces are pushed around too much, they wont be in the right places anymore and the building will look less and less accurate.
The design goal was for the players to be unable to get their building to match the silhouette. By putting pieces in the wrong places, and clumsily bumping them into each other, they would end up with a monstrosity, similar to some examples of brutalist architecture in real life. I hoped that the process of clumsily messing up as you put a building together would connect to the atmosphere of goofiness that my previous prototypes had.
When I started working on this prototype, I had three major design challenges:
- The game was not funny enough. It just felt too serious to make a game about building buildings, and I needed to figure out some way to inject my humor more deeply into it.
- In order to have a jigsaw puzzle mechanic, the building would have to be made of many blocks, just as puzzles are made of many pieces. But this was problematic, because it took a while to get each piece into place, and it got boring and repetitive to move too many pieces around.
- Even though shuffling the ASDW controls sounds challenging, it was actually much easier to get used to than I expected. This also made the prototype feel kind of boring.
To combat these challenges, I did two things. First, to improve the humor of my game, I took inspiration from Katamari Damacy. I made the buildings be constructed out of a hodge podge, instead of a bunch of boring blocks. Second, I decided to tone back the jigsaw puzzle mechanic, to put greater emphasis on other aspects of my prototype. I refocused on making sure the physics and controls of my game worked well, with pieces bumping into each other. I did this in several ways:
- Instead of having all the blocks start in one pile beside the silhouette, I had them start in two piles (one on each side of the silhouette). This way, the player is forced to move in more directions, because there are more things spread throughout the screen which the player has to access.
- I also added enemies. If the player bumped into them while carrying a block, they would drop that block and it would be sent back to its starting pile.
The addition of the second pile of blocks worked great for my game. The enemies were harder to figure out though. The goal of adding them was to make it harder for players to move the blocks to the building, since the unintuitive controls were not challenging enough by themselves. But the enemies felt a little boring and inelegant, and were very easy to avoid because the controls were still not challenging enough. I ended up scrapping the enemy idea, to instead refine the controls.
For this, I decided to make the controls more slippery. For example, when you pressed W, you would go up, and when you released, you would still go up but slowly start to slow down. This is a mechanic I took from my first prototype, Wrestling with The Whales. Until I added this mechanic, I had not realized that Wrestling with the Whales and Wow Nice Teeth had such complementary control / movement mechanics. It was really interesting for me to make that connection between those two prototypes, and to bring those mechanics together in this new project. And most importantly, the combination of these mechanics made the challenge level of my prototype finally feel right.
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