Week 3 – February 2nd, 2024

Work Preparation:

Over the weekend, we participated in the Pittsburgh Global Game Jam as a team to stretch our game design muscles and explore some potential ideas for our project. 

On Monday morning, we conducted our quarters walkaround. We received a lot of useful feedback and suggestions from faculty, which helped us gain a clearer vision for our game and understand what it is truly about. After receiving feedback, the entire team sat down to discuss the changes we were planning to make. We prioritized those suggestions and set our milestone goal for the halves.

Main takeaways from quarters:

  • More shadow-related design in combat or puzzles. Light is a gimmick.
  • Choose an art direction between 2D and 3D, excited about pop-up book art style.
  • No crafting is needed, focus on the core systems.
  • The darkness can be scarier?
  • Need a clearer player goal – narrative conceit.

Narrative Conceit:

We came up with a narrative conceit after the quarters walkaround and our instructor meeting, as we realized the importance of setting players into the world that we create and give them a clearer goal in the game.

“We Nomads traditionally live in abandoned giants’ houses. Ours is doomed. We have sent multiple scouting parties out to explore a potential option. None have returned. Explore every room, find out what happened to our scouts. Make that house a HOME.”

Basically, scouts of the nomadic caravan will be scattered around different rooms of the house and the player’s goal will be to explore each room, rescue every team member, and repair the house along the way. Repairing the house requires no crafting, instead, it is more related to environmental puzzles and interactions.

Level Design Brainstorming:

This week, our game designers focused on brainstorming the layout of levels together. This task was challenging due to the main character’s small scale compared to the size of a house. Consequently, we realized that designing levels with a normal-scale mindset—envisioning a level as a normally sized room filled with furniture—was not feasible. Instead, we decided that each level should represent a corner of a normal room, such as a table or a part of a bookshelf. This approach allows the player to interact with more objects that are proportionate to their size, and it also prevents the player from traversing long, empty spaces that could become tedious.

During our level design brainstorming session, we also explored potential environmental interactions related to light and shadow that could be integrated into the game. Following the meeting, Derek began the process of greyboxing the level in Unity.

Light as a Limited Resource & Use Light to Interact with the Environment:

One aspect we’re experimenting with is making light a limited resource in the game. We’ve implemented a light meter UI on the top left of the screen to show players how much light they have remaining. As time passes, the light gradually dims until it extinguishes completely, symbolizing the end of the game as players become lost in darkness. This system utilizes the lighting mechanics effectively.

Following feedback from quarters, we’re considering removing the crafting system and instead concentrating on incorporating more environmental objects or puzzles that react to light and shadow. Ideas include implementing flowers that bloom in light and experimenting with cast shadows on the ground. These unique light and shadow interactions will be our primary focus starting from next week.

Combat System:

Our first draft of combat consisted of a simple slashing attack that can be performed in 8 directions. 

Basic things like knockback and damage were implemented, but overall the feel of this combat left much to be desired. It lacked physicality, any sense of weight or momentum, and felt inconsequential. A few additions like hitstun and a slowed walk speed while attack did a bit to alleviate these concerns, but more refinements are necessary to get this system to feel dynamic and satisfying.

Next steps for combat include: animations, knockback/hitstun tuning, enemy remains, an attack for Hum, and some variety of combo attack.

Development of New Asset Sketches:

During this week, the artists honed their vision for how assets will be integrated into the game, aligning with the level design map draft. With the first level set in a library within a giant’s house, the artists sought inspiration from pixel art games like Eastward to inform the display of props within the room. This exploration laid the groundwork for perspectives, sizes, and positions of various elements in the game. However, a challenge emerged in maintaining a balance between gameplay and aesthetics, a key pillar of the game, as the playable character is significantly smaller than a normal human. This size difference could potentially confuse players about whether they are navigating a level or exploring an actual room, especially when viewing enlarged assets. To address this, the current solution involves creating small, interactive assets initially, pending the completion of the level design map, as the room structure may undergo revisions. This week, a larger bookshelf was created to use as background walls in the game environment.

Progress Report:

  • Compiled quarters playtest feedback
  • Set up project website
  • Gathered poster and half-sheet feedback and iterated on them
  • Playtest plan made for playtest
  • Responded to the quarters feedback and set up milestone goals for halves
  • Level layout draft finished
  • Level greyboxed in Unity
  • Improved Hum attack
  • Light refillable at campfires
  • Improved player movement
  • Camera movement revised in game
  • Shadow puzzle prototyped
  • Environment reacts to the light
  • Another furniture asset done
  • Lore bible done

Plan for next week:

  • Merge systems together and make a build for the Tuesday Playtest Night
  • Iterate on the shadow puzzle
  • Improve the level layout
  • Iterated on the level greybox
  • Smaller assets for the level
  • Improve Hum attack projectile
  • React to the playtest night feedback
  • Playtest survey
  • Weekly blogs


  • Need to explore the design possibilities and get feedback from playtesters
  • Need to react quickly to the playtest feedback from quarters
  • Need to prioritize the feedback we got and set goals for halves
  • Need to think about creative ways to implement light and shadow into mechanics