Colonies

The Project

A Google Cardboard VR puzzle game about colonising an abstract planet. Made at ‘Jamchester 2017’ game jam in 40 hours. Winner of ‘Best Student Team’.

My Role

Coder / Designer in a team of 4.

Project Description

The theme of the game jam was ‘Shape the Future’. Our response to this theme was a VR game where you guide a civilisation of space travellers to safe islands where they can colonise and reproduce. Islands are linked by a bridge of three cubes, each of which has some hazardous faces and some safe faces. By rotating the cubes (like a Rubik’s cube) you can create a safe path across the top, so that travellers can reach the next island. When an island is colonised, more islands and bridges appear that travellers will try to reach, which can be teleported to by the player. The game is over when all of the travellers have died.
The game was created in 40 hours at Manchester’s ‘Jamchester’ game jam. This is a largely professional game jam and was a great chance to meet inspiring people who were both judges and participants. Our team comprised of me, Simon Messer of Wee Door, and two artists who used MagicaVoxel to create a vibrant and aesthetically pleasing environment which translated brilliantly to Cardboard VR. As a result of the high quality art, intuitive gameplay, smooth VR implementation and high level of polish (for a game jam), we were awarded ‘Best Student Team’.

My Contribution

I was the sole coder on the team and as such all features were implemented by me, as well as all assets put in engine. Key features include:

  • Cardboard VR – Using Google’s gvr sdk I implemented all vr interactions. The tap to interact for rotating the cubes and tap on a teleport location to move there.
  • Procedural Islands / Bridges – The assets themselves were hand created by the artists, however they are randomly selected from a pool, when required to be placed in the scene. As the player colonises an island more islands appear at each available edge of the island. This means the map can expand infinitely in any direction.
  • General Polish – Lots of the appeal of the game comes from the feedback provided by bits of polish. This includes particle effects, smooth lerping movements, in-scene UI.

Learning Outcomes

Whilst the procedural placement of islands should theoretically allow for an infinite number, there are two current issues. After about 20 islands have been placed the framerate begins to decline, which is an unacceptable issue in VR. In addition to this, after about 10 islands in each direction the player cannot teleport further. This is also I big issue impeding the infinite nature of the game. To combat both of these issues, instead of teleporting the player to different locations, I will instead teleport the world under the player. This will also allow for islands to be culled / fogged out in a 3 or 4 radius around the player allowing infinite scalability.

Links

Abertay Website Press Release

Devpost Page

iconmonstr-github-1-240

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