Project Duration: Ongoing
Team Size: 4
Position: Game Designer, Writer
Platform: PC Steam
Engine: Game Maker Studio
Cosmonaut is a 2D action adventure game. The game features survival horror aspects and retro pixel art. The games main focus is on the story, exploration, and atmosphere providing a creepy "metal coffin" feel. Players must consciously be aware of their surroundings to keep themselves from getting trapped with enemies. Combat involves chaotic movement and using the environment to survive while navigating in zero G.
- Expanded mechanics based around the initial pitch of jumping from floor to ceiling in 180 and 45 degree rotations.
- Handled design, documentation, and wire frames of tools, weapons, enemies, and interactions.
- Used disempowerment, tension, isolation, and uncertainty to create the proper environment for a horror experience. This informed design and pacing between narrative and encounter beats.
- Designed map layouts for both ships, using google sheets to convey placement and provided visuals for fast iteration on object placement.
- Worked with programmer to create AI behavior, room hazards, enemy abilities, player abilities, and player weapons.
My overall contribution to the project was through creating mechanics and using them to build interesting encounters that reinforced horror themes. I also contributed by writing the dialogue and scripts for the game and in most cases served as a producer for testing, documentation, and communication. I helped to guide and solve problems with all other disciplines to maintain a core theme and have that reflect in their work. I reviewed content created by artists and contributors to make sure it followed the vision.
This game was developed in the teams spare time with the intention of releasing on steam.
Zero G Jumps
Since the initial prototype we have gone through around 10-20 iterations of the jump including its camera movement. Early on I could tell that the camera movement would be important, we wanted the player to feel as if they were making disorienting leaps around the ship but we did not want them to get frustrated with trying to move around. This led to several scenarios of setting up camera lag and then changing various speeds as we tested. The player avatar could complete the jump without the camera snapping into position which felt much better and allowed for the player to mentally understand what their avatar was doing before the disorienting aspect of the camera shifting kicked in.
Disempowerment & Weapons
One of the most difficult aspects of Cosmonauts design was the weapon the player finds. The reason this was difficult was due to the portion of horror that is meant to feel disempowering. Guns do not make a player feel disempowered, they do the opposite by giving the player the ability to control their fate by allowing them to kill or eliminate whatever stands in their way. We had to jump back and forth on how much we wanted the weapon to be used, how effective it was, and if it was even necessary.
We eventually settled on a dynamic scale, where the player would start with no weapon, then a weak version, then a stronger version. This allowed them to start by feeling vulnerable, but as time goes on they begin to gain more confidence in their ability to combat enemies. This was to paralell Jarobi's own development as a DSR. On top of this, we made enemies create hazards when injured or killed to provide a choice for the player that had them ask "Is it a good idea to try and fight this enemy here, or should I try to sneak past."