GAME CONCEPT

Bonnie & Clyde if they were vampires in a 2-player co-op third person action-adventure game where they use their licks to destroy everything between them.

 

Excluded from demons and enemies of humanity, they live on the margins of society to defend their love and live as they want.

PROJECT BREAKDOWN

  • 2 complete weeks (40 hours/week)
  • Unreal Engine 4
  • Focus on creating innovative co-op gameplay and a consistent experience
  • Scripting of enemies and events
  • Marketplace assets/plugins used:
    • FX Variety Pack
    • Unreal’s Third Person Template

“Vampires co-op” is a game concept I had in mind for a while so I wanted to prototype it.
I especially love co-op games and I think there’s still a lot to explore upon this genre.

 

My objective was to make a prototype that
proofs the fun of the concept through 2 phases :

1) Gameplay: 3Cs, core features and co-operation

2) Level-Design: few workshops to add tutorial
and some storytelling

1) Gameplay

Estimated Duration: 40 hours
Time Spent: 39 hours

   Pre-Prod

It had been 3 years I didn’t use UE before this prototype. I gave myself a limit of 40 hours to make sure I focus on the essential and to see wat I could do during a “standard” week in a game company. This doesn’t includes coffee breaks though

 

My inspirations:

  • A Way Out (Camera, Character, staging, storytelling for 2 players)
  • Fable for Two (Co-operative mechanics, Gameplay)
  • Naruto Storm (Easy to play, Action gameplay)


I had a clear vision of the project in mind but I really needed to prototype to see if the gameplay works. I knew both players will send each other’s lick to attack any enemy on their path. The tongue would automatically go from a player to another, and if they succeed enough licks within the right timing then they will make a special combo attack.


The use of the camera was still very blurry to me : I wanted a third person-camera like in A Way Out to feel closer to the characters, and at the same time I wanted something that is readable and that works with the lick mechanic.

Core Gameplay

 

The core gameplay main goal is to set up various cooperative loops
which imply cohesion, communication and complementarity
to defeat obstacles and dangers.

 Character/Controller/Camera

I used the Third Person Camera template and tweaked some values. I had in mind a game with a pretty nervous pace and with a design focused on positionning and timing.

  • Character: faster movements, less inertia, removed Jump mechanic.
  • Camera: I put it a bit further from the Character. I wanted to keep something close to the characters for the storytelling, and also further enough to understand what’s happening around the characters since it’s an action game. Vertical split screen requires space to understand the environment. A Way OutIt Takes Two are great references for that, they’re always readable and pleasant to play.
  • Controller: I kept something very simple. Co-operative games are often more enjoyable when they are easy to play since 2 players can have a totally different player profile.

Overall thanks to the template I didn’t spend lots of time on the 3Cs and I’m pretty content with the actual result. They are a bit rough but they fit well with the game’s intentions.

   Licks

This is the core mechanic: characters can quickly lick each other. It goes from a character to the other automatically and it interacts with anything between them. When a player does a lick attack, they have a little moment before the other one can chain a lick behind. Otherwise the tongue comes back to their character. The more they chain theirs licks: the faster they are for destroying enemies or interacting with objects.

This was the trickest one to make. I had to find the right way to make it, and find the right signs & feedback to help the players. I first started to work with Splines but I couldn’t have a dynamic tongue easily, so after a few hours without progressing I found the cable component, and it fitted much more to my needs. Through quick iterations I noticed that it would be hard to have what I wanted. I expected a movement from the left to the right which would take a bit more time to reach the other player, and which would feel more powerful and more like a snake or like Venom’s tongue. Knowing that I couldn’t have this I aimed for a more nervous pace with the tongue showing up directly and I added feedback like the little FX when the characters attack. It could be better but dealing with the time made me try to find creative ways to overcome problems and I like it.

   Perfect Combo

After a number of successful chained attacks before their tongue come back to their owners, characters will automatically trigger a combo attack that makes lots of damages to enemies on their way. It pushes players to succeed their combo and coordinate it against the enemies.

The perfect combo is triggered after 6 successful licks chained, but I only realized later that it lacks feedback to know how far is the current combo.

   Dash

Since the challenges are mostly about positionning and timing, a Dash feature became quickly important. It gives players a way to escape quickly from enemies and a way to give more mobility when players want to align in order to attack.

This feature was pretty classic to make. Adding an FX would have been nice though.

Approching player
Takes damages
Charging attack
Destroyed

   AI Design

For the AI I really focused on the most important : a cube which makes a simple dash attack that would attack a player + a very simple distance detection to reach the closest player to the enemy. With this behaviour it was already possible to make several combat arenas so I kept to that.

 

Then I focused on signs & feedback:

  • The enemy becomes black and scales up when they are close to a player character. Once they are fully charged they make a dash attack on the character.
  • Enemy becomes red when they take damages.

 

Finally, some gamefeel. Bounces, scales, and particle FX: I made something simple as fastest as possible to have a sense of fun when players destroy them.

   Staging

When both characters finish all the enemies, they can trigger a special cinematic by pressing their trigger button at the same time. I think that split screen cinematics are pretty powerful when it comes to involve 2 characters cooperating, and it was important for me to show that through for the several reasons :

 

  • The actual gameplay lacks simultaneous cooperative actions so it pushes the players to do the traditional “3,2,1…Go!” which brings more communication
  • The reward is pretty juicy and fits well with the action aspect of the game.
  • It also fits with the cinematic and story aspect of the concept

 

I spent around 3 to 4 hours making it. I tried to keep it really short and I made it at the end.

2 Player Co-operation

 

Finally, let’s have a little reminder at the co-op design typology and
let’s see how our mechanics can belong to these categories:

Synchronous
co-op actions

 

Licks position
Synchronized navigation
to have the best line attack over enemies

Ultimate co-op attack
Press the trigger button at the same time

Asynchronous
co-op actions

 

Lick Perfect Combo
Cooperative timing in order to trigger the Perfect Combo: it makes more damages and takes advantage over enemies

Co-operative
Progression

 

Multitasking
To achieve multiple tasks, players have to communicate, separate, gather and be organized in order to solve situations

Puzzle solving
Players think and communicate in order to solve puzzle situations

2) Level-Design

Estimated Duration: 40 hours
Time Spent: X

 

WORK IN PROGRESS…