Level Design: Safety Mania

Since part of the prompt for this game was beginning with mechanics and then putting in a world metaphor, I decided to start with thinking about what mechanics of the shooter I liked and what I wanted to change or get rid of. I knew that I wanted to try and subvert the shooting mechanic in some way, so that it would not be as violent. I decided that instead of shooting bullets, I wanted one of the primary mechanics in the game to be protection, which is essentially the opposite of shooting.

I also thought about how I played games like Galaga and which elements of that game and the game from the book that I enjoyed. I really liked the dodging mechanic, so I decided to try and incorporate that into my game as well, so I thought I would have enemies and/or bullets coming from the top and bottom of the screen.

While I was working on planning out this game, I was also coworking in the library with an old friend, who had been telling me about some difficulties he’d been dealing with. And while we were talking, I just kept thinking about how life just kept throwing hard situations at him. When I went back to working, this idea was still in my head and the idea of life throwing bad things at you, that I felt myself thinking of ways to draw that into a game. I knew that I couldn’t do anything to really help my friend, because he was having some problems that I just couldn’t help solve, but I did really badly want to make his life easier.

The third part of the creation of this game was that, unlike my last game, I wanted to be more honest about my art skills. I’m just not great at literal drawing, and decided that, while I wanted to draw people in theory, it would not look as good as I would want it to. Instead, I opted for blob shapes and cartoonish forms of literal things for elements of life that are being thrown at the player.

The player’s goal is to protect themself and their friends from turning red, which happens by being hit by the red projectiles, and the green projectiles increase their health. In my original form of the game, I had two types of projectiles – ones that hurt and ones that helped – and 3 versions of each. I tried to tie them together with color, but despite that, when we did the playtesting in class, the different types of projectiles confused the players and didn’t have different functions, so I decided to stick with the poison and hearts, as both of those sprites seemed to make it the most obvious that they would either hurt or help the player, respectively. In an expanded version of this game, I would possibly use these different projectiles to have slightly different effects, like the cigarettes would light the player and/or friends on fire.

I also changed the game from having five “friends” in the middle of the screen to three because the amount of things on screen was just too much, making it visually confusing. This would be another thing that I might add if I expanded the game and wanted to make a harder level.

Overall, I’m happy with this game turned out and felt like there were clear paths for growth, which is why I chose to continue it for conference. I was really excited about turning a point system into a health system, and I feel like I became much more comfortable with Unity and C#. I learned how to switch out sprites based on collision and set a timer, along with the elements of game design we learned from the book, like basic shooting and the spawning system.