A mobile board game. Created for Abertay’s ‘Dare Academy 2017’ competition over 6 months.
Coder / Designer / Lighting Artist in a team of two.
OIL is a 2 player ‘pass-and-play’ mobile board game, inspired by ‘Battleships’ and ‘Dots and Boxes’. Players begin by placing oil on the shared map. When all of the oil has been placed, players then take it in turns to search for the oil that both players have placed, earning bonus points for digging up larger clusters of connected oil. The winner is the player with the most oil at the end of the game. It is designed primarily for the iOS App Store, with plans to implement support for tvOS.
It was created in Unity 5.6 for Abertay University’s competition ‘Dare Academy’ which is the successor for the DARE competition that was hosted by Abertay University until 2016. 6 teams are selected by a panel of industry professionals, and these teams take their projects to EGX in Birmingham, where the winners of the competition are announced.
I worked with the Producer / Designer Simon Messer of Wee Door for this project and as such was the sole coder on the team. Key features implemented include:
- AI – A rule-based system for AI was implemented allowing the user to play in single player mode against a believable opponent.
Gameplay – The turn-based structure and interactions were built in a data driven way allowing the same turn manager to handle both human player and AI inputs, in all different phases of the game.
- Map Grid System – When all of the oil has been placed on the grid, the map is analysed to create joined clusters. Clusters are created in the Unity Editor, with a shape and a score value (think tetris-shapes), with a larger number of tiles being worth more bonus points. The map looks for the highest possible scoring configuration of shapes out of all the connected pieces of oil, using any orientation.
- Lighting & Mobile Optimisation – As this is a mobile game, considerations had to be made about lighting/shadows for good performance. Unity’s Enlighten engine was used with prebaked static lights and models for most of the assets, with a separate shadows light for the dynamic objects. This allowed for a strong visual style that was able to run on mobile.
- Source Control Management – Coordinating the git repository between myself and Simon, as well as an outside artist who was brought in to create some bespoke assets/animations was a key part of the project to ensure a smooth collaboration experience.
- UI Programming – All UI was implemented by myself.
- Design – All of the game’s design was collaborative between myself and Simon, with all key features/decisions being the result of regular creative meetings.
I learnt a lot about user experience design during the creation of this project, Simon was keen to have a stripped back UI and so trying to make sure there was plenty of communication about what was going on to the player without resorting to just putting it in a UI bar was an exciting challenge.
Lighting optimisation was also a key part of this project, as we wanted to achieve a high quality lighting model that would run on mobile. In previous projects, a simpler lighting model was utilised as this had never been a key focus.