Level Design: Road Fire

My conference project mod was to take my shooter and elevate in animation and sound. The game play stayed the same as I still found it satisfying and engaging even with how much I had played the game.

This first big addition was particle effects. This wasn’t something we learned in class was suggested to use instead of animation for making a fire. The results where better than I could ever have expected. Unfortunately too good.

From right to left we have the progression of my fire. Left is the original single image. Next is a single article system fire, Third is a layered particle system fire. This is where the class saw it and the feedback was that it looked good but it seemed out of place in the rest of the artwork. It was too fluid against the drawn outlines of the rest of the assets. So what I did was replace the image used in the single particle system with my original fire sprite which gives the result of the far right. This doesn’t become out of place like the full particle system fire but still accomplishes the goal of making the fire more menacing.


I added a in my own explosion animation that used the same colors of the fire to bring it in universe and make it a little more violent at the same time.

I still wanted to use the layered particle system and found that attaching it to my bullet(enemy) worked really well. The bullet wasn’t on screen long enough to detract from the rest of the screen and had a function flaring up as it traveled just by nature of how particle systems take a few moments to reach their full density. It was a very successful result of trying things out.

I made sound effects for a few key aspects of the game.

This sound if fired when the enemy fires shoot their projectile and is short and distinct to catch the players attention.

This sound was fired when the player shoots their water cannon and in my opinion, makes shooting ten times more enjoyable.

Finally, I added a sound effect for when the player picks up the people. This was intended to drive home that you are helping people but crucially wasn’t working for the final crit. I’ll talk about why I think that’s important after talking about the music.

This sound clip is what loops to make the background music. It is twice as fast as the original music I gave to the class but still had a somber tone and didn’t get the action/ tension across that would fit a road fire. This made the atmosphere of the game in a way apocalyptic. This in conjunction with the zombie aesthetic of the person meant the game was split into two different vibes. During the crit, I found this frustrating since music was something I struggled with during this project and wasn’t happy that it was what was holding the game back. However after talking with the class more the idea of changing the style completely. Embracing that second mood to see where it goes.

The other big thing that came out of the crit is that while I had updated a lot of the sprites to be more alive it caused the older assets to fall behind. What was once cohesive and in line with each other was now two contrasts between the updated visuals and the original.

Overall I’m extremely happy with how this project turned out.  Not just because the gameplay was still very satisfying but because of how the project grew through these additions and how that set up the next iteration of this game. The addition of particle systems was incredibly satisfying and pushed the project forward in a big way that got me excited. The sound effects did the same. The music pushed the game in a different direction which while at first was frustrating is an exciting idea. The idea of listening to where your game is taking itself and go there instead of trying to force ideas is probably the biggest workflow thing I learned from this project. The idea going forward would be to change the fire truck to a van with a water cannon, push the zombie theme more, and use my knowledge of particle systems to elevate the rest of the assets to the current level(smoke from getting hit, active roads, dynamic rocks). The only regret I have from this project is how long it took to get the hitboxes working again when I changed to particles instead of sprites. Maybe I could have gotten to the zombie road version of the game.