Game Designer ∙ AR Platformer ∙ CastAR (Tilt Five)
This project has been one of my favorite projects since I worked at CastAR. As a Game Designer in the R&D Department, we needed to discover the uniqueness of the CastAR platform, then build experience based on it. After nearly a month-long design discussion and development process, I have made a Super Mario-like platformer game in Unity3D.
‣ Coded the platformer game mechanics, player’s behaviors, and gameplay system using C# and visual scripting language.
‣ Design several playable levels based on the techniques used in Super Mario 3D Land.
‣ Self-generated art assets include drawing pixel arts, texturing, modeling, and importing to Unity3D engine.
‣ Host the playtest sessions for evaluating the advantage and disadvantages of the AR platformer genre.
‣ Presented and explained the uniqueness of the demo in the VC pitching to show the potential opportunity of the CastAR platform.
Click any Button to Contune Reading…
Beginning of the Design Process
Before coming up with entirely brand new ideas, game mechanics, or gameplay styles for the uncharted territory of Augmented Reality, we started with some games that always invoked us when we were young, such as the retro games from the 80s.
The first genre that came to my mind was the platformer, and the most classic game was the Super Mario Brother franchise.
So the R&D director and I had several discussions of how to transform this well-known game into a compelling AR experience and leverage what we had on the CastAR system that other devices can’t. We go through all the Mario games released before 2016, from the first one, Super Mario Bros. on NES to Super Mario 3D Land on Nintendo 3DS.
It turned out the Super Mario 3D Land is one of the best studies cases for us to learn how to utilize the three-dimensional space to emphasize the platform mechanics and the spacing in the digital world. It is mainly a hugely different experience when played stereoscopic 3D effects are on, which is when we found the key to open the secret of the AR Platformer knowledge.
The fascinating part of developing an AR platformer is pushing the boundary of the existing platformer games. The freedom of moving the in-game camera to any position gives the player even more motivation to discover the virtual world. It is like looking at a miniature digital world on your table and trying to find any surprise from it.
Augmented Reality gaming is entirely different from regular video games that allow the player to have a 360-degree angles rotation camera and see the visual from a screen frame. The special of AR is that it will enable you to move toward a virtual object as close as you want. In this case, you can design some hidden items, paths, or surprises for the player to discover.
Glad that we used Super Mario 3D Land as an example to start because I can focus on level design that leverages the AR unique advantages that other platformers cannot achieve. I use level layout, core mechanics, and game elements to enhance the volume space experience.
Therefore, I recreated and modified the Super Mario 3D Land World 1 levels to this AR Mario project. First, knowing how Nintendo approaches the level designs for Nintendo 3DS with stereoscopic 3D effects is a great lesson to learn. Second, since I understood the design method, I started to adjust/modify the levels based on the Super Mario 3D Land World 1 to boost the 3D effect in Augmented Reality.
Also, it is a Super Mario-like game, so everyone had less learning cost of knowing how to play the game. Then the players/VCs/investors can get into the game immediately after picking up the device and clearly experience the differences between the current generation of the platformer and the next-gen.
To discover the secret of crafting a magical and unique experience of Augmented Reality experience, knowing how the player feels is extremely important. Therefore, I hosted several internal playtests to observe the player’s reaction and interaction to understand the player’s behavior and motivation.