SPACE BAR

Grapple to unknown worlds in this visually stunning video game! 

Centre for Digital Media 

Semester One - Mockup Industry Project

This was a six-week project with a team comprised of five students. This assignment was created by the school to prepare students for the following semester. A prototype was presented to the school at the end of the six weeks. 

Role 

Project Manager & UX Designer

Tools Used: 

Autodesk 3Ds Max, Unity, Adobe Photoshop

Space Bar is a third person action adventure game where the player must grapple to floating debris, avoid hazardous obstacles, drink copious amounts of liquor and obtain collectibles.

 

Players must travel throughout the solar system, propelling themselves towards objects in the atmosphere.

GAME TRAILER

WHY

All of us on the team are huge fans of the Assassin's Creed franchise, in particular, the grappling feature. The main character slings himself to and from buildings in ancient towns. 

For Space Bar, we wanted to focus on that feature and make it as absurd and entertaining as possible. 

To do this, we created a world where the character is floating in zero gravity through space and is also impaired from excessive alcohol consumption. 

Design Process

Right from the beginning, we wanted to create a game that you could essentially get lost in.

 

This idea was drawn from our love for playing the Assassins Creed franchise, specifically the grappling/free running feature. 

To do this, we needed to create an engaging set of game actions that would eventually form our core loop.

 

Secondly, our environment had to be visually stimulating to create this 'escapism' feel. 

After we had developed the first iteration of the core loop, a story had to be created to bring it all together. 

Our story had to help solve a problem that was kept arising during user testing. Participants "enjoyed slinging around" but they weren't sure why or what they were supposed to be doing. 

We created a narrative of an alien that must grapple his way to new worlds after his home is destroyed by a black hole. To further complicate things, the alien is a drinker which adds to the effects of gravity loss even further. 

As a group we tested our game over and over again, iterating as much as possible. It pushed us to make big decisions such as changing the environment, adding collectibles, and making obstacles move on their own to create more of a 'lost in space' aesthetic. 

My Contributions 

1. Script & UX DESIGN

My biggest role in this project was creating the 'why' aspect of the game. The core loop works, and the user is entertained by the slinging aspect, but beyond that why play? 

This was done through the story for the game and the proposed level design and UX elements. 

With the storyline of an alien grappling through space to get to different worlds, we tried to give the user a sense of a free roam game within a constrained environment. 

Choosing the bright colours for the character, obstacles, collectibles, etc., was done with the intention of capturing the audience with stunning visuals. 

2. Project Management   

This project was in the first semester where we were in the process of learning scrum/agile methodologies. I tried to apply these tools to the best of my ability at the time. 

I set up an online Trello board (virtual kanban/scrum board) for the team at the beginning. As the semester went on we started using less and less of it and turned back to a waterfall system. 

I also implemented some iteration exercises at the beginning to get our idea rolling as fast as possible. It was as simple as throwing ideas on a board after a day of researching which is similar to 'lightning demos' in a sense. 

This was a major lesson I looked back on afterward. Everyone has to be on board with a system for it to work, and if things start to slip you have to address it. I did not for this project and I will use it as a lesson going forward with my industry project in the third (summer) semester. 

Challenges & Solutions

1. setting a foundation

We were so focused on creating the core loop at the beginning that about roughly halfway we really just had the bare bones of the game. 

This was okay but we were all on different pages about the actual story and content of the game itself. This brought poor communication going forward and when we had to present to the faculty halfway through the term, the execution was poor. 

Solution

Going into other projects or collaborative work, establishing a groundwork can really solve this communication problem. 

Now being familiar with design sprint practices, I'd use iteration exercises such as 'lightning demos' and the 'four-step sketch' to create an aligned idea process.

 

I used these tools with my other group that created the 'Finfleet Mobile App,' and it increased communication and alignment within the team. All of us were always on the same page.  

2. Objectivity & Testing  

We user tested so many aspects of this game and got fantastic feedback which we used to our advantage. That being said, at times our group was too emotionally attached and took the feedback to heart. 

This made making iterations difficult going forward and were often ignored. Personally, the biggest challenge was convincing some team members to think objectively without sounding offensive yourself. 

Solution

This never got solved, but if I were to run into this again, I'd do more user testing with a different demographic to see if the same results arise. If they do then, it may be easier to convince other team members to see the results from a more objective stance.