SUBAQUATIC SECRETS

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

  • Creating and maintaining the GDD

  • Gameplay Design

  • 2D Level Design

  • Feedback Design

  • UI Design

  • Directing the Sound Designer

  • Logo Creation

  • Copy Text

Subaquatic Secrets is 2.5D underwater exploration game for the PC, using the Tengine Engine. The team was made up of; two designers, three programmers and five artists. The player controls a submersible in a mission to find mysterious toxic objects hidden in the depths of the ocean. Once found, the toxic objects will need to be transported through a big maze-like level, back to the surface. To complicate the matter, the toxic objects will mess with the equilibrium of the submersible and add forces to it that make it more challenging to avoid slamming against the environment.

 

Things that went well:

 

  • Navigating with the submersible ended up feeling satisfying.

  • We managed to create an ambitiously sized level.

  • The Ping mechanic worked well and served its intended purpose.

 

Challenges:

 

  • The limitations of the Tengine Engine made it difficult for us designers and the artists to work in the engine. This made inserting any sort of asset into the game cumbersome. That, in addition to limitations with lighting made it difficult to make the game esthetically pleasing.

  • Due to time constraints, the best compromise I could come up with for having the game play as well as possible, was to have the arm of the submersible in a static position (except for rotation). This ended up looking strange and made the unfinished nature of it very apparent.

  • The original size of the level was too big, making it hard to fine-tune and polish it. 

  • Communication was difficult due to us working remotely, coupled with the team's inexperience. 

 

 

This project was very challenging due to it being our first time making a game at Playgroundsquad. In addition, we were forced to work from home for the majority of the project, due to Covid-19. Those elements provided a lot of learning opportunities. We set a very ambitious goal for ourselves in the size of the level. Something that we are proud that we managed to accomplish. Unfortunately it also made the level difficult to iterate upon and to polish it. After both this project and the one following (Heliotrope), I realized a weakness of mine regarding level design. I tended to have these grand plans for the levels, drawing them up on paper, filling them with details and variation. Of course, it’s good to plan things out, but for level design in projects like these, a much better way to work is to start off small, prototyping different level ideas and then build upon them when you’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t. 

 

Given the inexperience of everyone involved in the project and the limitations of the engine we worked with, a lot of my focus was on trying to make the navigation features of the submersible as engaging and satisfying as possible, as to not make the game bloated with mechanics.