HELIOTROPE

I was the Lead Designer of this project. My responsibilities included:

  • Creating and maintaining the GDD

  • Movement Design

  • Some Level Design & Grayboxing 

  • AI Design

  • Puzzle Design

  • Feedback Design

  • UI Design

  • Directing the Sound Designer

  • Logo Creation

  • Directing the Trailer

  • Copy Text

This was a school project created over 9 weeks in a collaboration between six artists, three designers and three programmers at PlaygroundSquad. The game was made using the Unity Engine for Playstation 4.

Heliotrope is a third-person 3D puzzle platformer. While venturing into an imposingly beautiful canyon landscape, the player will be forced to use their cunning, creativity and coordination to reach their goal of gathering three enchanted gems that will unlock a mysterious tomb. To aid them in their quest, the player has the ability to conjure magical crystal pillars that grow out from the environment. These pillars act as multipurpose platforms that can help the player bypass traps, navigate the environment and outsmart puzzles.

 

Things that went well:

  • We managed to create an interesting and multi-purpose core mechanic.

  • We made some tough decisions at the right times, pivoting away from combat and cutting content when needed.

  • We managed to build a big ambitious level, even if that meant that it lacked polish. 

  • The collaboration with the sound designer went really well. Making the game sound fantastic with a dynamic soundtrack that changed depending on what happened in the game.

 

Challenges:

  • The size of the game’s level was over-scoped in the beginning.

  • Trying to add combat into the game on top of everything else was too ambitious.

  • The team suffered a lot of challenges regarding communication and teamwork.

This project was a real challenge for us due to the relative scope of the game. It provided a great learning experience in regards to knowing what to cut and when to cut it. The project also pivoted a few times, in a few different ways. The most notable was the removal of combat in favor of more puzzle oriented gameplay. After some AI prototyping, we realized we were not confident that we could create interesting enemy behavior within the 9 weeks. The main mechanic (creating pillars) was at that point robust and malleable enough that we could, with relative ease, bend its purpose to involve environmental puzzle solving instead. Designing the interactions and puzzles around simulated physics was for me personally a great and very interesting challenge to solve. I also ended up doing a lot of greyboxing and level design which I really enjoyed.

 

My collaboration with the sound designer was really enjoyable. I made a document detailing every sound effect needed in the game, along with descriptions and accompanying concept imagery (if available). We communicated continuously throughout the project, with the document serving as a checklist that told me when they had uploaded new stuff for me to feedback on.