2013

~ 3 Weeks

Phyre Engine (PS3)

Lead Designer

My Role

During the development of Dichromacy, I had the role of Lead Designer in the team. During the first half of the project, I mostly designed enemy waves, tweaked the controls, and all the variables connected to the player’s experience. In the second half of the development cycle, during the process of porting the project from PC build (Unity) to PS3 build (Phyre Engine), I made sure that the programming team would implement all the features correctly, taking into account all the design principles and providing the same game experience to the player.
I built new enemy waves working with scripting tools created for me by the programmers, and designed other elements such as the HUD, the control scheme and the powerup system.

Game Description

Dichromacy is a shoot’em up game in which the player isn’t allowed to shoot. The player can only rely on a shield to deflect the enemies’ bullets.

The game has been developed during one entire academic year at the NHTV Breda University, with a team of 15 people.

Being part of the PlayStation First program, the game was developed for PlayStation 3 with the use of the Phyre Engine.

Design Goal

For Dichromacy I wanted to create a fast-paced experience in which the player would have a sense of empowerment (through the Powerup System), while keeping a sense of risk and tension. The game mechanics had to support the overall feel of the game: I wanted them to be accessible for new players, but require some experience for being mastered.

Awards

Best Design GameLab3 WINNER

Mini Post Mortem

What Went Right

During the development of Dichromacy some things went right, but a lot of others went wrong. This resulted in a great learning experience for me. Above the things that went right, the one that was mostly successful was the creation of an entertaining cooperative experience for two players. Thanks to the clever use of the game mechanics, we managed to create a game capable of supporting a cooperative behavior between the two players. Design choices such as shared powerups, shared score and the ability to revive the companion made it possible.
The game also offered a sufficient amount of gameplay variation thanks to the alternation of enemy types, different enemy behaviors, powerups and gameplay phases in which players had to avoid obstacles.

What Went Wrong

As already mentioned, a lot of things went wrong during the development. During the first half of it (while we were prototyping in Unity), I had a very hard time creating enemy waves due to the way the prototype itself was built. This resulted in a lack of playtesting, and in the waste of a lot of time that could have been spent for crafting a better experience.
Halfway through the development (when moving to the PS3 build), we decided to scrap the single player mode (which was originally the core experience I envisioned. I wanted to make an hardcore singleplayer experience that would have mixed mechanics from games such as Arkanoid, Ikaruga and Guitar Hero, but at the end of the development we ended up with a more casual experience, very different from the one originally envisioned. The main mechanic (deflecting bullets back at enemies) was less intuitive as I thought it would have been, and due to the lack of time and the difficulties faced by the programmers developing on PS3, we didn’t manage to smooth it out and to allow a more enjoyable experience for the player. We didn’t do enough playtesting due to the late implementation of major gameplay elements, and it resulted in a very rough game experience.

Team

Alex Camilleri

Design Lead

Judith van Puffelen

Design, Art

Robin-Yann Storm

Producer

Arie Gijsenbergh

Design

Juul Joosten

Programming Lead

Sam Hardeman

Programming

Casper Jorissen

Design

Kenny Oprins

Art

Sam Hardeman

Programming

Derk Over

Art Lead

Lavinia Brailescu

Programming

Thomas Wanrooij

Programming

Felix van den berg

Art

Michael Ching

Art

Jamie Visser

Programming

Tobias Koepp

Art