Project Duration: 8 months
Team Size: 18
Position: Level Designer, Writer
Platform: PC Steam
Engine: Unreal Engine 4
Hollowed is a 3D side-scrolling adventure game where the player controls two characters with one controller. Play as Halia and her spirit "Oco" as they take on the trials of the Horned One to bring back something lost. The player will have to progress through a fantastical world solving puzzles that require different forms of Oco. Reveal, Explode, Swap, and carry the Weight of Halia's past into the future.
Hollowed won 1st Place in Visual Quality and 2nd Place in Gameplay at the Intel University Awards 2018.
My biggest contributions on Hollowed was the original inception of the narrative and design, level design, the Reveal mechanic, and the cinematic direction of the game. Throughout the project I handled various tasks ranging from writing to scripting level events to building specialized lighting blueprints for artists. I aim to create deep narratives and ambitious design in games. I believe Hollowed shows the beginning of this endeavor.
Like all my projects I seek to establish a world, more than what the player may ever see because this is what defines the game for both player and designer. As a developer my goals were to build up a compelling world that our team could use to drive design, story, and art. This aspect was key in the development of the game by providing inspiration across the whole team and leading us down a consistent vision and pathway.
To the right you can see an early sketch of the above scene. The importance of this section is to reinforce the tasks the players will need to complete, test them on their understanding of using Oco, and to shed light on the cultures that worship the deity of this realm. Each statue the player must activate before entering the trial is a reflection of the people who worship the one known as the "Horned One."
In particular the above scene was inspired from the Anime Full Metal Alchemist and the "Door of Truth" seen in the show. It was also a literal moment of crossing the threshold into the other side and establishing the dominance this mysterious being has over the realm.
I handled several areas of the game including, but not limited to, our opening scene and tree tutorial, anger keystone puzzle, bargaining choice scene, and the closing scenes. These scenes are comprised as both narrative and action beats. To the right is the anger keystone, one of the action beats I worked on. The goal was to establish urgency and chaos. The player is frantically attempting to use the anger state of Oco to traverse the vertical terrain while water slowly floods the area below.
Storytelling in Hollowed was a mixture of 2nd and 1st person. The goal was to establish cinematic scenes in 2nd person, where the player is observing Halia and her story. The design of the mechanics and gameplay was meant to provide the context of Halia's emotional state through the properties that Oco embodied. These would be like anger Oco having quick bursts of movement or depression Oco literally becoming a weight that the player must carry.
I also scripted and implemented narrative beats, such as the scene to the left, that showcased environmental storytelling or foreshadowing the future. These scenes were meant to convey interpretive storytelling without dialogue or layers of text.
While I had influence on all of the abilities of Oco the one I championed was the Reveal mechanic. With this I wanted there to be a literal manifestation of a persons denial. You live in a world where everything is "ok," but when you peak through to reality you realize its not ok. However, until you overcome denial you can never truly embrace reality.
This mechanic showcases this by allowing Oco to be pulled into Halia. While Oco is within Halia reality around her is "revealed" and Oco will begin to forcefully push back out. This ability was an amazing feature that added a layer of depth to puzzles and hiding things in the world that can only be found with this ability.
Hollowed is Free on Steam. I recommend downloading it and giving it a try and please review on the steam website with what you thought about the game. You can also tweet your videos, questions, and anything related to the game at me on twitter @KanashiGD.
Project Polish Productions
FIEA Graduate Students 2016-2017