The Tower is a First Person Shooter with puzzle elements where the player takes control of Karma, a warrior monk, that must ascend an evil and living tower to save her captured daughter. Armed with two magnetically charged chakrams, she must utilize their special properties to safely and efficiently slay her way up the tower.
The Tower features a unique design, full of enemies and obstacles that incentivize the player to think quickly and utilize their high mobility. The environment is scattered with pieces that allow for dynamic gameplay, enabling the player to think of creative solutions out of whatever problems they come across.
Karma's weapons of choice are two futuristic chakrams upgraded with unique abilities that incentivize players to make meaningful decisions. Both chakrams when thrown will bounce three times then return to the player. Each bounce builds up the discs energy causing it to do more damage to enemies should they hit them. The left chakram is positive and will push objects it hits, while the right chakram is negative, and will pull objects towards it.
Karma has the ability to activate her gauntlets, pulling herself towards her discs. Each Chakram can be grappled to once, allowing two meaningful grapples per gameplay loop should the player think strategically. These grapples can be used to dodge projectiles, reach ledges and enemies, and solve position based puzzles.
Both discs can discharge their built up energy during flight. This causes an explosive ball of force. The left chakram will push objects with its explosive energy, while the right chakram will implode, pulling objects into it. These pulses can be used to destroy objects in the environment, push explosives into enemies, and reposition puzzle elements.
Because the tower is brutal, and Karma falls in one hit, she has enough agility to handedly survive most deadly encounters. She has the ability to double jump, sprint, and wall run, allowing her creative ways to dodge out on incoming attacks. She can also slide underneath low hanging objects if she has enough momentum.
There are four enemies types and one boss that currently inhabit the Tower. Each enemy serves to further the core of the game in its own unique way. They are color coded to create our games on semiotics, allowing the player to make split-second decisions.
Red= These are the most prevalent enemies. They can shoot four projectiles in a shotgun like fashion moving towards the player at a medium pace.
Blue= These enemies wield an energy shield that can absorb and disperse the player's chakram energy. It's only on their front, so the player must eliminate them through clever angles or using the environment. They fire a barrage of slow-moving missiles and take time to reload.
Green= The green enemies are the most docile until you stop moving. They fire a very quick sniper projectile if they are able to lock onto the player, which takes a few seconds to do. Each time the player moves, they must lock on again.
Purple= These enemies aren't able to damage the player. Instead of the fire balls of dark energy that push the player away, and have a ton of health. They are usually found in precarious positions.
Full Gameplay Video
Role and Development
The tower was developed in ten weeks with a team of four and was completed on March 29, 2018. It was developed utilizing the Cerny Method. During this projects development cycle, I acted as the producer and a game and systems designer. It was my responsibility to make sure that our four-person team stayed organized, efficient and motivated while harboring an environment that encouraged creativity. I also handled some of the systems, creating the discs and their grapple mechanics. It was developed using the Unreal Engine.
Obstacles and Challenges
This project had five members at its start. One of the members wasn't able to turn in their work on time, or at all. So, we had to adjust what our final projects vision would be to scope around our new team size. This was also the largest digital game I had made up to this point, so development was filled with mistakes and uncertainty.
The Tower started as a prototype of a simple idea for a mechanic. We knew we wanted to build a game around the Chakrams, which we originally dubbed tele-Frisbees. We made the prototype, and thought they had potential. We found out about Chakrams, and themed the game around where they may have been used, with a few stylistic and thematic changes suggested by our artists.
What I leanred
The Tower project was my second largest project at SCAD. The Tower allowed me to develop skills using the Cerny Method. Additionally, I learned the importance of being a team leader. Originally a five-member team, several weeks into the project our team had a member with a different position. Using my leadership skills, I attempted to provide counseling and guidance to this member and ultimately was forced to remove them from our project. This experience showed me the negative aspect that comes with management responsibilities. However, by providing counseling, and removing this member, I was able to keep the remaining team members on task, focused, and working towards a unified goal. I was able to keep this large project scheduled successfully, with planned time for those setbacks.
As a designer, I learned how to properly design using the MDA framework, realizing the importance of each step in the design process and the value of aesthetics. Through the use of creativity, aesthetics can turn a simple mechanic into something extraordinary.