Center for Games & Playable Media
- Author(s): Davies, Jensen
- et al.
Within my game, SpaceTime, you’re a singular purple cuboid in outer-space. It’s not entirely clear why you’re a purple cuboid, or in outer-space. The objective of the game is to traverse your way through an isometric layout of platforms until you reach the “WinBlock” sprite, at which it will either advance you to the next level after three seconds, or state “You Win.” The catch? There’s a randomly generated asteroid field as well as space junk that floats across your path. Colliding with either results in restarting. The other catch? Time is frozen when you don’t move, and resumes when you do move. Being a purple cuboid floating in space, I wanted to aesthetically convey a feeling of certainty to the player. Everything (besides controls and the time mechanic) is immediately clear--“Oh, I’m in space. I must be the purple cuboid, and I suppose I have to travel across the platforms.” While being aesthetically pleasing (and somewhat ominous), I figured space would guide the player without much needed explanation. SpaceTime engages with multiple class concepts. We discussed uncertainty and randomness, which comes into play with the spawning of the asteroids and space junk. The difference between suspense and surprise is evident in SpaceTime, too. The game is heavily suspenseful--the player sees where they must go and what they must avoid, but they don’t know how they’ll get there yet. We also covered gender in games, which SpaceTime engages with by being entirely neutral. I don’t believe there is a single aspect of the game which suggests any one particular gender created it, or that there is a target audience. We also discussed game genres, and our personal experience with games. This is a challenging, platformer bullet-hell, which is much of what I have played in the past. Also, to tease out underlying symbolism in the game (which we did a lot throughout the course, i.e. Passage), SpaceTime can represent any person living their own life with constant obstacles being thrown in their path. It’s a reminder that taking the time to stop and think about your decisions can benefit your future greatly, and rushing things often results in setbacks, or even restarting completely. It demonstrates that taking a step backwards can be necessary for achieving your goal. The major time-related mechanic in SpaceTime takes inspiration from SUPERHOT, a first-person-shooter action mystery game where time moves extraordinarily slowly when the player doesn’t move. In terms of innovation, SpaceTime is an isometric platformer that engages SUPERHOT’s time mechanic (although time stops completely when the player doesn’t move in SpaceTime), which I have yet to encounter elsewhere. Also, one could argue that the decision to make an isometric view-point game is innovative, since the industry very rarely produces any games of the type (Tyranny is one I can name). The setting, abstraction, and aesthetic of the game combine to also be innovative, avoiding any type of character representation and lean towards gendered themes or political viewpoints. SpaceTime has undergone several changes from play-testing feedback. In the original alpha, it was difficult to see where/when an asteroid would collide with the players hitbox. This has been improved by implementing drop shadows to the asteroids. If the base of the player touches the drop shadow, the player will restart the level. On top of this, I added a couple new sprites. The original grey isometric cubes have now been replaced by a more stylized, dark cyan platform. Now, alongside the asteroids, space junk (in the form of a metal bar) will float as an additional object to be avoided. I also implemented drop shadows on the space junk, and a slight shadow on the base of the purple cuboid character, making it look less like they’re moving through the platform and rather above it. SpaceTime also only had a single level, so I created a second one that is larger, with varying sizes of tiles, as suggested. With this, I had to implement a level switch, teleporting the player to the new level two upon completion of level one. One major challenge (as well as conflicting point of feedback) was the movement style of the character. I received six different comments on the movement, two of which wished for it to be changed to better fit the angle/style of the isometric cubes. Four suggested I keep the same 8-directional movement, as it added the ability to fully navigate each individual tile. I myself would’ve liked to change it, but I found it difficult to implement without uprooting most of the logic I already had in place. Ultimately, the movement is 8-directional, as the majority of play testers suggested.