Role: Co-Lead Game Designer, Artist, Visual Effects
Genre: Multiplayer Beat 'em Up
Engine: Unity 3D
Doodle is a 3-player cooperative Beat-em Up style game. Players control 3 different characters, each with their unique combat role and skills that they bring to the table. Players must coordinate and help each other in order to combat groups of enemies. No battle can be won with just a single player alone, so cooperation is key!
The core mechanic of this game is based on color mixing. Enemies take massive damage from attacks that are their own color and receive no damage from other attacks otherwise. The player's attacks are colored: Red, Yellow, and Blue, whereas enemy colors are: Red, Yellow, Blue, Orange, Green, Purple. Secondary colors must be mixed in order for the enemy to take damage, so players must cooperate with each other to approach different enemies.
Game Designer/Artist - Christina Orcutt
Game Designer/Software Engineer/Animator - Thomas Lu
Sound Designer/Composer - Julie Buchanan
The first thing we had to do was teach players our color mechanic. We needed to teach the players that the colors meant something in relation to what they were attacking. Then we could teach players about our color mixing mechanic and how the basic color theory would help them defeat enemies. We were able to accomplish this from first bringing in blank white enemies that all players could attack. Next, we introduced only the primary colored enemies. These enemies matched with the players themselves, thus the blue player could only kill the blue enemy. Lastly, we introduced the secondary colored enemies (purple, green, and orange) which could only be defeated if say blue and red attacked the purple enemy together. By gradually introducing how the colors mixed, we found our players understood our mechanic rather than just trying to throw every colored enemy at them and hoping they could figure it out.
Cooperation was the most difficult to convey in the game. There were many playtests where we had three players completely ignoring the other players in the game and surviving in the game on their own. This was not part of our player experience goal. Our player experience goal was to require players to cooperate together in order to accomplish the levels. In the beginning, a player of a select color would kill all their colored enemies first before the other two and then would be stuck doing nothing till the other two were finished. This lead to players becoming bored and wanting something to do. In the end, we decided to create a secondary attack, aka 'Special Attack,' that would help the other players when the battle got a bit overwhelming or difficult. This kept the other players engaged and gave them something to do once the enemies they could attack specifically were all dead.
Initially, our vision for the game had many disagreements. Because we were two designers, the design of the art around the mechanic was mixed. My partner had initially wanted a sketchbook-type look for the main character robots whereas I wanted a more colorful medieval-Jester-like look sketchbook. Working through each of our individual ideas we concluded together that the characters could be anything, not limited to just jesters and robots, but could include all different kinds of character aesthetics to fit within our sketchbook world. We also kept with the colorful look because it made more sense within the context of the color-based attacks we had created for the characters and enemies.
Yay particles and feedback! We had to figure out a way to properly communicate to players when damage was being done, in addition to damage taken without making the screen too busy. We eventually settled on having a health/mana bar for the characters telling them when they could use their secondary attack and how much health they had left; while the enemies were given numbers matching their colors when hit. We also gave different particle frame by frame animations for when players hit an enemy as well as a slight knock back; and vise versa for when players were hit. I think there are still places to improve upon on the business and refining it down but I believe for the most part the particle feedback is understood.