Ssssucculent – Final Presentation

Game Name: Ssssuculent
Team: Ssssuculent
Members: montspy, freya, vulcan

About the game
Ssssucculent is a 2.5D, third-person view “endless runner” style game in which the player controls a snake avatar and tries to gain as many points as possible before dying. The game setting is a desert in the southwestern United States, and all characters and scenery are chosen to fit this desert feel. The avatar is a rattlesnake that slithers back and forth over a sandy and rocky terrain. Running into obstacles, such as boulders or cacti, injures the snake. The player accumulates points by surviving longer and by eating desert critters like shrews and roadrunners.

Development of the game was split into three main components: the game mechanics, level design and character design. Together, these three pieces (and some added polish) resulted in a truly fun and exciting game.

Game Mechanics
Our initial design challenged players with a combination of a lives system and a time system, where the game would end (and the player would stop accruing points) if either a timer expired or the player collided with obstacles three times. This feature was the most significant change from our alpha to our final build; play testers complained that they would feel “cheated” as the time ran out right in the middle of their progress. The system used in the final build removed the timer entirely, instead giving players a single regenerating “shield” that would protect them from one obstacle before going away and could be regained by eating a critter.

Level Design
Because we got rid of the game timer, we focused on developing a steadily-increasing difficulty curve; a feature which was originally a high-tier goal. The level design from the original prototype was somewhat simple, and a good player could easily get bored with the game. The final build had much more variety in levels, plus a difficulty system that would cause the game to generate more difficult chunks as the player gained more points. Ten level chunk prefabs were developed, each with an assigned level of complexity. We developed an algorithm that would add chunks to the track based on the level of difficulty, with more difficult pieces more likely to appear as the player progressed through the game.

Character Design
One of the most important aspects to solidify the game feel was tuning the movement of the snake avatar. The snake moves in circular arcs, alternating left and right. The speed is based on the radius of the circle, so making larger turns makes the avatar move more quickly. The player can gain more points this way, but also runs into the danger of colliding with obstacles as the snake is more difficult to control. The other in-game characters are the critters the snake can eat to gain health and bonus points. Initially the game only had one critter, a simple rabbit that would run straight ahead without changing course or speed. This critter felt too stiff and mechanical, so several of our goals involved adding new critter behaviors. We eventually ended up with three critters with different behaviors

Overall, we achieved most of the goals we outlined in the initial design document. We completed all of our low-bar goals, most of our medium-bar goals, and even some high bar goals. We chose to focus on the high-bar goal of increasing the level difficulty instead of some medium-bar goals like shortcut tunnels and multiplier zones because it was more important to the game play after we made changes to the game mechanics. If we were to restart from the scratch, we would not significantly change what we produced. Except for some minor architectural changes to make future level design easier, our current implementation meets our design goals admirably, and our game is fun and can be easily maintained and improved.


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