While at Wanadev Studio, I had the great opportunity to work as a game designer on a brand new VR experience set in the universe of the Propagation series, which are wave-shooting action games renowned in the whole Location-Based Virtual Reality (LBVR) industry.
With this project, our main goal was to design a game tailored for the general public. Easy to handle, with a great replayability and allowing teams up to 8 players in local coop. We aimed to create the ultimate zombie shooting experience for VR arcade rooms.
My main tasks involved the development of the main concept, writing all design documentation and working on aspects including game mechanics, 3Cs, game feel, VR interactions and ergonomics as well as balancing, pacing, progression and score system.
I was also in charge of the scenario, character dialogues, the onboarding phase (tutorial), testing sessions and iteration during development until final release.
▼ THE GAME
Play as a military squad that lands in a city infested with bloodthirsty zombies. You are in charge of restarting the ARES devices located in the city before your time runs out.
A mysterious virus has infected the city. Players have to make their way through hordes of zombies to access the ARES devices (anti-zombie towers), switch them on and defend them until they are fully charged.
Players alternate between phases of exploration and defense, where they have to resist waves of enemies approaching from all sides. If players fail to accomplish their mission and evacuate in time, the city is bombed by the army and the game is over.
Along their progression, players can find a variety of new weapons to equip and adapt their tactics according to the situation (need for short or long range for instance).
▼ MACRO FLOW
In order to sequence all the major phases of the experience, we designed a macro flowchart to visually communicate all these steps (with expected durations) and structure the pacing curve, difficulty, checkpoints, supply boxes and more afterwards.
▼ ARES DEVICES
ARES for Armoured Radiant Emission System are military devices built to destroy zombies. Once activated, the device charges for a certain amount of time, making noise and attracting waves of enemies nearby. Players must defend them until the ARES is fully charged. When complete, it will release a huge powerful shockwave that instantly cleans the area from all threat.
With 13 weapons available, players can vary their combat style by finding new weapons along the paths they choose to take. From revolvers to heavy machine guns, freedom of choice was an important key feature.
▼ WEAPON TRUCKS
We added weapon trucks at every checkpoint to allow players to change their equipment according to their preferences during the run. Each time they unlock a weapon (found in a supply box), this one is added to all weapon trucks.
We designed several enemy behaviors to provide variety and add some challenge for cooperation and tactics. Thus, we wanted to enhance mutual aid and team cohesion.
The different types of zombies you'll encounter in the game will vary in quantity and strength depending on the players' team size.
• Walker (walking speed, standard enemy)
• Zombie dogs (fast runners, group attackers)
• Armoured soldier (slow but much more powerful)
• Crawler (harder to spot, runs when attacked)
▼ PACING & ENGAGEMENT
Although the experience is divided into several major stages (represented by the dots), each one plays a specific role in the progression rhythm and pace (wave shooting, exploration and cinematic).
The engagement curve (in yellow) aims to simulate the intensity felt by the players over time. The 9th dot represents the last and most intense combat phase, followed by an epic cinematic to complete the adventure.
▼ ARTIFICIAL MOVEMENT
Our main constraint was to design a comfortable fast moving system for the players without causing any motion sickness. We wanted to allow them to move freely in the virtual world without moving in the physical space.
We opted for an instant teleportation system with quick screen fade, avoiding any break in the ongoing action. Simply push the joystick of the controller to create a visual arc to the desired position, then release to get there.
The arc reacts dynamically to the type of terrain, as well as static and moving virtual obstacles.
▼ SIMPLIFIED CONTROLS
The game has been designed to be as easy to handle and intuitive as possible. All in-game interactions can be performed with only 2 buttons (pick up a weapon, shoot, activate a button or move by teleportation). With these design choices, our intention was to greatly reduce the learning phase of the controls.
▼ GUIDE PLAYERS
Being a game designed for VR neophytes, we wanted to efficiently guide them by placing visual landmarks (such as ARES devices acting as high towers). All buildings, debris and cars are placed to guide players through an abandoned and chaotic environment.
In order to allow a faster progression, we have added a cable connecting all ARES devices. The cables have animated lights to guide players through the level and help them reach the next goal without confusion.
Indeed, the level is composed of multiple paths, sequences focused on verticality and many unique places to enhance the feeling of journey.
▼ SCORE & REPLAYABILITY
We aimed to encourage players to replay and discover paths they hadn't yet explored, to find and play with new weapons, and to try to beat their personal scores or those of their team.
With these features, we have improved the replay value, which is an essential aspect of LBVR experiences.
I would like to thank all the great and talented people I have had the opportunity to work with at the studio. It was a real honor and pleasure to work together on all these amazing VR projects.
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