Off The Record was another small prototype made during my path of learning Unity and C# (based on Unit04 of the Unity Gameplay Mechanics course. I'm publishing this to show my approach, thought processes, and decision making during development. I try to keep these short and concise, if you have any further questions or feedback, I'd love to hear from you! Reach me on Twitter at @PhilipDrobar.

My goals going into this:

  • Polishing up the base prototype as much as possible in a short time.
  • Improving some of the rudimentary implemented gameplay mechanics.
  • Win state: None. Fail state: Falling off the record. Player goal: Reaching higher waves of enemies to push off the record.
  • Time to complete: less than 2 days in total.

My approach on...

LOOK OF THE GAME: The original prototype just has some spheres on a hexagonal stage. I wanted to make it look more appealing while also improving the gameplay a bit. As the player rotates the stage, the thought of making it a spinning record popped in my head. I changed the player sphere to a basketball, making it stand out with its orange color. The enemy spheres are also a bit more uneven, making them look more threatening. I also added some walls at the edges of the stage. This creates some more surprising situations as the player and enemies alike can bounce off of them, either helping the player to stay on the stage, but also stopping enemies from falling off.

POWER-UPS: In the original prototype, the power-ups are spawned with the enemy waves. As they are timed though, it's possible to run out of power-ups before being able to push off all enemies. As it is very difficult to intentionally push them off without a power-up, I changed the powerups to be spawned periodically.

The second change was that in the original prototype, the power-up timer would not reset if the player picks up another power-up while already having one active. This would actually make the player "loose" power-up time. I changed the power-up mechanic that the power-up time is cumulative.

UI: There's no UI at all in the original prototype but I knew I needed to convey some basic info to make it playable for others. I decided to show the player the current wave number to implicate that there's more to come after the current enemies are defeated. As this is not something that's always important, moving it to the corner of the screen is fine.

The power-up bar is more important, thus moved to the top center of the screen. It's also in a matching color to the power-up, so it's immediately clear that the two are connected. The power-up bar helps the player in gameplay as they can decide whether they have time to go and try to hit an enemy or seek out the next power-up instead, making this crucial information.

SOUND:  Again, the original prototype had no audio whatsoever. I added some rudimental audio cues to important gameplay elements, namely:
- Player picking up a power-up.
- Player losing powered up state.
- Player hitting enemy while powered up.
- New enemies spawing.

What I would do next to improve this prototype:

  • Add more enemy variety, especially in the speed and size of enemies, making some of them only spawn in later waves.
  • Limiting the number of total power-ups that can be spawned on screen.
  • Some more gameplay events could use sound cues, like
    - Hitting an enemy while not powered-up
    - Enemy falling off the stage.
    - Player falling off the stage.
  • Adding more environmental variety:
    - Walls that break after being hit 2 or 3 times.
    - A rotating wall / propeller in the center of the stage. Would push the player and enemies around. Could appear after some waves.
  • Creating more types of power-ups, like one that increases player speed/mobility.
  • Adding some particle effects (on enemy spawn/player spawn as well as powerup pickup) to add more polish.

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