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HOPE-NOXIOUS

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GENERAL INFO

High Concept

Hope-Noxious is a cooperative puzzle game that takes place in the future, where you and your friend play as cute robots trying to escape a robot factory. The game contains different levels and the players have to solve puzzles, overcome different challenges and survive the rising acid waters.

The Mission

During my time at Futuregames, this was our second game project. The task was to create a game in 4 weeks, with Symbyosis as one of the main pillars. The course also provided a comprehensive learning experience for us by introducing how to work with agile project management systems. 

TARGET AUDIENCE: YOUNG ADULTS

DEVELOPMENT TIME: 4 WEEKS

GAME ENGINE: UNITY

TEAM SIZE: 9

Core Mechanics

The two players control robots with different characteristics, designed for balanced gameplay and equal fun.

I created these images in Photoshop to showcase the mechanics in 2D. They were also used in the Pitch presentation.

THE MECHANICS:

The Spider Bot can jump to high platforms to access interactable objects necessary for progress.

The Crawler Bot can go through pipes and destroy wooden boxes that blocks the way.  

Click for a better view

Core mechanics - Slide deck

FIRST CONCEPT & STARTING OVER

Explanation of First Concept

Initially, we wanted to create a chaotic experience that would force the two players to communicate in stressful situations. We, the designers, started to make smaller paper prototypes, and we eventually came up with an idea where two players have to solve puzzles to reach other levels but at the same time - avoiding an enemy by throwing a decoy.  

 

The first concept consisted of: 

2 players with identical roles.  

1 Enemy, chasing the players. 

1 Decoy duck, that could be thrown by the players to distract the enemy.

Puzzles (mini-game interfaces) that have to be completed to access new levels.  

Screenshot 2023-07-08 at 13.43.05.png

Digital paper prototype of the first concept we made in MIRO. We could drag things around and test different scenarios. 

Alpha Playtest 

During our alpha playtest session, we received feedback from the industry guests that our game didn't meet their expectations. They pointed out that since the project's goal was to create a game emphasizing "Symbiosis," it was strange that both players were identical in every way. The players didn't need each other to succeed, making the game mechanics feel pointless.

 

With only two weeks left, we decided to start over, only keeping the camera system and the game perspective. 

Slide deck of models we made for the first concept 

The core loop for the first concept

MY CONTRIBUTION

Summary

* Product Owner (Vision holder, Documenting, Pitching, Planning)

* Sound Design 

* Composer / Music producer

Product Owner

As Product Owner, I was the vision holder for this project. I had to make sure that everyone on the team shared the same vision during the entire production. In my role I felt a strong need to communicate with every department as often as possible, to make sure that everyone was on the same track and that the development moved forward in a way that felt good to everyone.

LOSING CONFIDENCE DURING PRODUCTION

Starting over halfway through the project caused us to lose momentum and confidence, and the team fell into a slump as we worked around new issues. In the end, we realized that one of the reasons for our doubts was that we basically didn't really belive in the project, even if it turned out better than the original concept. If we had taken more time in the beginning to carefully consider our goals, our problems would have been easier to solve as we would have been more enthusiastic about the content we were making. 

WORKING WITH SRUM

As a product owner, I was responsible for communicating with the team, of course, but also collaborating with the Scrum Master to plan tasks and sprints. Throughout the project, the Scrum master and I had meetings to discuss what we needed, how much we already had, and what was possible to deliver, always keeping the game in mind. The teamwork went smoothly at first, but after the second week, we faced challenges in combining the planning of tasks with game production. Some team members, including me, had difficulty understanding the direction of the project, which led to frustration in the group. In addition, some team members felt there was not enough work, while others felt there was too much.  

All things considered, we had a positive attitude and we tried to work with what we had. We managed to do something that was fine in the end. The most important thing was that we learned a lot. 

Click for a better view

Some images from our sprint reviews and retrospectives.

GAME DESIGN DOC

Unfortunately, I encountered difficulties in keeping everything in place after we changed direction halfway through, which resulted in an outdated game design document. 

PITCHING AND PRESENTING 

For the final day of the course, I prepared a PowerPoint presentation that detailed the sources of inspiration for our idea, as well as the feedback we received from the jury members. I aimed to make the presentation easy to follow and understand.

Game Audio

1. The Music - Writing and producing

I used the software: Cubase 11 Pro to create the audio for the game. I found it quite exciting to take on the responsibility of composing music for a puzzle game, especially since it was a new challenge for me. Though I had previously created some electronic pieces, I had never specifically written music for cooporative puzzle games. However, I believed my previous work would inspire me to create something fitting for this game's setting, which was a futuristic factory where robots are attempting to escape. 

To enhance the overall tone of the game, I decided to create musical elements that would represent the two robots and their environment. This was my first step. My second step was to ensure the music I composed would fit well with the gameplay. Since the gameplay itself was more calm than stressful, I aimed to capture that feeling through the music. 

 

The music itself is a mix of technological synths, drum beats, and modified orchestral instruments. It's somewhat cinematic and filled with techno-related elements, to capture the "robotic", "futuristic" style. I worked efficiently with Cubase's built-in sound samples, adapting them with my own material. And as usual, when it comes to creating music for video games, I had to write tracks without a specific melody in mind. The goal is for players to be able to listen to the music repeatedly without becoming distracted by it.

The picture below shows one of the music tracks inside the DAW-interface. (Cubase)

I frequently used the MASSIVE X plugin, which is a vast and inclusive library with pre-made high-quality features. With minimal adjustments, I was able to create melodies, basslines, and soundscapes quickly.

2. The Sound Effects 

I used a combination of my personal sound effects and royalty-free sounds from Epidemic Sound to increase my efficiency. Despite not creating all of the sound effects from scratch, I willingly spent time modifying the royalty-free-ones to create unique sounds. This involved adjusting the pitch, panning, and EQ.

Despite its stylized graphics, the game effectively conveys a sense of realism through its mood and tone. This meant that I could make realistic sounds to further enhance this effect.

The picture below shows the Sound Effect project inside the DAW-interface. (Cubase) 

For consistency, I decided to produce all of the sound effects in a single project. This allowed me to have a great starting point for each sound in terms of output-volume and other factors. It turned out to be very helpful, since some of the sound effects were quite basic while others were more complex. I also could easily duplicate effects from one track to another, which was a time-saving measure.

REFLECTIONS

What went well?

1. Despite starting over 2 weeks into the project, we successfully incorporated Symbiosis into the game.

2. Although we lost some momentum and confidence during the development of our new concept, we continued to work hard and maintained a relatively good communication throughout.

Starting over from week 2

It took us some time to come up with a concept that we believed could work well for a co-op experience. However, during the development process of the original concept, we became a bit stressed and forgot to consider whether the idea would be feasible or not, which unfortunately turned out to be the case.

Art direction

Our team was dedicated to improving upon the original product, but I overlooked some important aspects of art direction in the process. While we had envisioned a stylized game from the start, I struggled to effectively communicate this vision to our artist. Additionally, we encountered difficulties with light baking during the final stages of development. Unfortunately, these issues led to a less artactive final product.

Challenges along the way?

Lessons learned?

1. In the beginning - failing is okay as long as you learn from it. 

2. It's important to consider that every design decision in a game will affect other aspects, including the art.

3. Bake the light earlier. 

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