Player’s have been bitten by a zombie and must develop a cure using chemicals in the hospital before they die of the infection. Be sure to grab a pen and paper when you play! You’ll need it to write down the order in which you place chemicals. If you are having issues with running the game it might be down to a Direct X issue. Downloading this may help: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=35
Over the 9 weeks of this project myself and the other designer of the group focused on iterating upon designs for the feedback system, the cure creation mechanic, zombie values and the spawning of chemicals. I also looked at creating the UI pieces that went into the game and developing a tutorial system for the game.
In the beginning, the concept suffered from having a weak feedback system. With the game being based around a puzzle of creating the correct chemical formula for a cure, the feedback needed to both help the player but also keep the challenge of trying and retrying to find the cure. This in mind, myself and the other designer created a simple whiteboard version of the chemical creation mechanic.
In this image, the first guess by the player had one correct (denoted by the large heart beat) and two chemicals that are correct but in the wrong place (denoted by the small heart beats). For this prototype we used colours to denote chemicals as these colours went on to represent individual chemicals. The use of colours was also influenced by the puzzle mechanics main inspiration; Mastermind.
From this prototype we were able to observe that most people managed to figure out the formula through deduction with aid of the heart beat feedback system. It also keeps it challenging enough as the heart beats are ordered from the tallest to the smallest; not in order of the chemicals placed in the centrifuge.
Once the feedback design was nailed, we moved on to using timings. At first we used this whiteboard version, adding in an overall game time of 15 minutes; from this we deducted 10 seconds for scavenging and 2 minutes was deducted to simulate waiting for the centrifuge to mix the chemicals and give the cure/feedback. Instantly we figured out that 15 minutes of overall game time just was not enough to even get close to discovering the cure. We decided to boost the game time to 30 minutes and this gave people a lot more time to guess it but other factors (scavenging, zombie attacks/avoidance, scavenging and the actual chemical creation itself) still made those 30 minutes challenging.
To truly test the time rulesets that had been designed, myself and the other designer created ‘The Cure D&D’. The goal of creating this prototype was to make a two player version of the game that allowed us designers to hone the timings before any of the game actually existed in engine.
For this we added in dice rolls to cover: noise generated, perception and zombie attack. The player who is the scientist starts in the medicine laboratory and does not know where any zombies spawn. The Game Master has control over the movement of the zombies, making sure that it is difficult for the scientist player.
The scientist is given 10 (one of each) chemicals at the beginning. The player would create and guess the cure similar to the whiteboard version of that mechanic. In this prototype however, the Game Master would be in control of what the correct formula is and would be in charge of giving feedback to the player accordingly.
After these prototypes it gave design a really good view of what values to use in game engine and what kind of atmosphere to create. Knowing this the other designer on the team went on to deal with implementation of sound using FMOD. I then focused on creating the menu and in-game UI.
Starting with a UI flow I went on to create the menu screens. Our logo was created by one of the artists in the group; made with a red and black colour scheme. Following this I then added in some orange and white for the text/text highlight.
The in-game watch that counts down the game time was created so that the player had a visual representation that was different to the usual text for a timer at the top of the screen.
Later in the project, we had another pass on how to translate time to the player. Whilst the watch worked extremely well, telling players exactly how much time was left, we decided to go for a more ambiguous timer. We had created a blood splatter to appear when the player was attacked by a zombie and we thought that using this as our timer as well would be a good idea. To use it as a timer we decided to have the blood splatter become more opaque over time, increasing in opacity every second. This makes the game a lot more atmospheric and tense as the player knows they don’t have a lot of time left but not exactly how much. It also fitted with the larger thematic of zombie culture. In most zombie films/TV shows, the infected don’t exactly know when they will turn.