Armadillo Falls

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Overview

Genre: 2D Motion Puzzler, Gravity

Team: 4 students

Development: 2 months

Platform: Android

Technology: Unity, C#

When: 1st semester of Game Design (B.A.) at HTW Berlin, 2018

My responsibilities

System Design: Designing the game loop, testing with players, balancing

Programming: Implementation of all game mechanics and player state machine, implementing accelerometer controls

Level Design: Creating a level with intuitive puzzles that makes use of gravity changes

Project Management: Keeping track of milestones, backlog and documentation, facilitating team meetings

Armadillo Falls is a dynamic and intuitive Motion Puzzle Adventure for tablets and phones in which you overcome the game world’s environmental puzzles by changing gravity itself. You control a small Armadillo which needs to find its way through a bizarre world and bring its babies home.

 

Armadillo Falls is all about solving puzzles in an intuitive way: by turning your device, you can change the direction of gravity to open doors, change the flow of water and roll, fall or fly towards the exit.

See the accelerometer controls and gravity changes in action:

About the development process

This was the first project we made at the Game Design program at HTW Berlin, and the first time I worked together with another programmer.

 

We came up with the inital idea of making a game that uses controls we had not seen in a game: Changing gravity und the level by turning your tablet or phone.

 

We did a lot of analog prototyping, from figuring out the game loop with physical representations of state machines, to creating levels with magnets and cardboard, to be able to communicate and test ideas immediately.

 

Level Design was a huge challenge, because the player could turn the tablet and approach any part of the level from all directions. This meant that environmental puzzles could have a lot of unforeseen solutions, and it took a lot of testing with players and level iterations to create just one level that had the right balance.

 

This challenge also transferred to programming, as all gameplay elements like acceleration circles needed to work from all directions as well.

My learnings

This was the first video game project I created besides some Unity tutorials and a Breakout clone, so the most important thing I learned was what it means to bring a game from first idea to fully playable proof of prototype.

Seeing how our idea to change gravity and using the accelerometer made Level Design and Gameplay programming much more complicated, I realized that as a designer as well as a programmer, I needed to get a good idea of what challenges a game mechanic would entail, and if that was within the resources of our team.

 

I also learned how important clear communication is in a team, as quite often we realized we had had different ideas of where the game would go and needed to find common ground again.

 

Coordinating the tasks using a backlog and a KanBan-board taught me to manage my own responsibilites as well as keeping an overview of where the project was at as a whole.

 

From seeing this project through to the end, I developed an understanding of my own capabilities as a programmer and how to teach myself what I needed to learn independently, but also when to realize that a task was more than I could realistically handle in a given time and to ask for help.

Credits

Armadillo Falls was made by:

Alex Mejda

Cyrill Callenius

Jorge Reissner

Jan Ortgies

Thanks to our coaches

Prof. Susanne Brandhorst

Prof. Thomas Bremer

Kerstin Schütt