My team’s game was required to follow a theme: exponentials. One of my contributions to our project was designing solutions to satisfy this requirement, both aesthetically and mechanically. To aesthetically solve the requirement, I suggested the environmental backdrop and threat to the player would be a virus, as viruses can spread rapidly at an exponential-like pace. To mechanically solve the requirement, I proposed our game use a “Cookie Clicker” gameplay mechanic. A Cookie Clicker is an object that you click for points and allows the player to purchase auto-clickers to automate getting points, leading to exponential point growth. These points can be used to purchase gameplay upgrades. While a cookie does not match the aesthetic theme of our game, we used it because it is a "Cookie Clicker" mechanic's most recognizable gameplay symbol, rather than making our own symbol that players got confused with. The implementation of the cookie clicker to earn points for upgrades resulted in interesting risk-taking gameplay. The player needed to balance earning points or defend against an exponentially growing enemy force.
Another contribution I made to our project was to create the game’s levels using Unity’s tile system, which made it easier to reuse tiles and create levels quickly. COVID CRASHER has 3 different levels: the nasal cavity, the esophagus, and the lungs. In developing each level, I wanted them to feel unique in environmental layouts and gameplay mechanics. As such, the nasal cavity is very large with multiple paths the player can choose. The unique gameplay mechanic in the nasal cavity I designed and implemented was the mucus, which slows the player and enemies when in contact with them. Each path varies in the amount of mucus, customizing the difficulty based on the player's choice. The second level is the esophagus, a long straight corridor. To make this level mechanically unique, I designed and implemented slick saliva that temporarily increases the player's movement speed when in contact with it. In addition, I conceptualized checkpoint triggers in the level in which the patient, that the player character is inside, coughs. When the patient coughs, the screen shakes and large numbers of enemies spawn. These checkpoints provide a challenge to utilize the points they have earned and the speed-boosting saliva. The final level is the lungs, with many branching and connecting paths to hunt down the COVID boss. I implemented the final-boss to fire spike projectiles at the player. To make the lungs aesthetically unique from the previous levels, I simulated lung breathing by utilizing Z-fighting between two textures, which provide the appearance of the lungs inhaling and exhaling.
In developing COVID CRASHER, the game went through multiple iterations, with playtesting from classmates, school clubs, friends, and family. My team and I would discuss needed adjustments and timeframes to complete our goals. Some smaller adjustments I made based on the feedback were creating a consistent color palette, contrast the environment from the UI, and detailing the levels with realistic organ structures. In addition, I implemented the player’s movement and designed enemy encounters. Our team was exceptional at communicating what needed to be done and following through on our goals as a team. We knew our limits and allocated the appropriate amount of time and work we could achieve for that week.