My project known as WallRunner is a race around a psychedelic space maze where players shoot down targets and reach the goal as fast as possible. Like the name implies, players can run along walls and there is double jumping; the system is based on the style used in Titanfall.
Panoramic shot of the whole map.
Starting point. The floating HAL eye is one of the targets.
Early version of the project. The original theme was more "gold, silver, and copper" but also had the first signs of the rainbow theme.
Engine: Unreal Engine 4.16
Genre: Arcade FPS
Development time: 5 Months
WallRunner is an arcade-style FPS where players must navigate a floating maze and reach the goal while destroying floating targets. Players are armed only with a light-trace gun, however, the key to the game is movement. Players have a second jump while airborn and jumping at a wall allows for unlimited wall running. These can be chained together; it is possible to jump, wall run, jump off the wall, wall run again, indefinitively.
The goal was to inspire a feeling of freedom and to foster exploration. While it is possible to clear the map with minimal use of either movement mechanic, it is also possible to skip through large sections of the map and create a unique flow that fits the player's choice.
Grading and Difficulty:
In order to give players a tangible sense of progression and to reward skillful play, I devised a ranking system that gives players a score when they reach the goal. There are three different measurements that are given a letter score, from D being the least successful and S being the highest score.
Time to complete
Simply put, how quickly does the player reach the goal.
S Rank: <35s | A Rank: 35s+ | B Rank: 45s+ C | Rank: 55s+ D | Rank: 65s+
There are ten targets hidden in the level. The more targets destroyed, the higher the score.
S Rank: 10 | A Rank: 8 - 9 | B Rank: 6 - 7 | C Rank : 4 - 5 | D Rank: 0 - 4
How many targets were destroyed vs how many total shots were fired.
S Rank: 90%+ | A Rank: 75%+ | B Rank: 50%+ | C Rank: 30%+ | D Rank: <30%
Based on these scores, an overall score is awarded. Each rank is translated to a numerical score which is then awarded a final Rank.
Over the course of development, several changes were made to how each Rank was awarded. Time to Complete saw the most changes. Originally, achieving an S Rank required a clear time of under 25 seconds, which was hard to achieve even if neglecting every single target. Accuracy also required 100% of shots landed, which also was difficult.
Given that one of my original design principles was for players to require mastery of the game's systems, it was natural that I squeezed as much requirements for each rank. That said, I realized that the skill required for an S rank was unreasonable, so adjustments were made.
Movement and Expression:
I remember very clearly when a playtester began trying to use the double jump to avoid a good quarter of the track. When I asked him what he was attempting, he responded "I'm breaking your game".
One of the biggest inspiration for this level was Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze. The game's movement mechanics allow for what seems to be "breaking" flow, by jumping through certain portions, but is actually completely by design.
WallRunner, then, is really about finding routes through the level that minimizes the time to reach the exit while still being able to hit all the targets.
What Went Right?
Movement is satisfying as all hell. Nailing really hard or complex jumps is fun.
Mechanically sound and smooth to play..
What Went Wrong?
Extra features like multiple maps or more modes per each map.
Some of the aesthetics could stand to improve.
What Was Learned?
Player freedom is a powerful thing. Designing around the idea of letting player do what they want invariably requires a very flexible design.
Even if you think you've discovered optimal paths or what you believe is the best strategy, play testers will surprise you. Test often.