Game project 2 - early Spring 2020
Bahari is an atmospheric single player adventure game focusing on exploration and photography.
Intrigue, Isolation, Relaxing
At its core the game was going to revolving around explorational gameplay. Setting the game underwater in a distant world from ours was perfect. The intrigue and isolation of the water made the perfect combination for a self search and a spiritual journey
Open spaces of water
Limitations of air
Not forcing the player
No real dangers
Explore on your own
Get more insight and collect pieces of your past life
Photograph mysterious stones
End your journey
The goal of the game is to explore the intriguing otherworldy underwater life and photograph mysterious stones that gives the player insight of their previous life. Collect all of them to reveal what's on the inside.
The player is however free to return to the surface and end their journey whenever they want.
Exploration was one of the design pillars and in order to make exploration interesting, it needed a purpose. This was achieved by adding artifacts that stod out from the environment and granted the player insight of their past life. This made for a more intriguing world that rewards the player for exploring.
While there are no dangerous creatures in the deep, to keep the game loop engaging, the player needs to be aware of their oxygen levels,
In order to refill their oxygen the player must swim into air pockets to get new air, to continue their exploration.
This leads to an expedition-like experience, where the player is always on a time limit while exploration, either favoring shorter expeditions with great sight or longer ones with reduced visuals. (See below)
While I wanted the controls to feel easy to understand and control I also wanted the player to feel the weight of the water in order to provide an immersive experience.
Easy to orientate under water
Acceleration based movement
Underwater movement is often unintuitive in my experience so I wanted to make something that felt natural and easy to understand.
In order to make the movement as intuitive as possible I made it to always be based on the position you're looking for a natural movement.
Using WASD the player controls their forward/backward and left/right movement.
Using Q and E they control their up and down movement.
The player can also look upward/downward with their mouse and move up and down by doing that instead of Q and E.
Q and E Movement
In order to maintain the immersive third person experience I wanted to avoid the player going into first person when photographing with their camera.
Instead when the player aims their camera it sends out a visual sonar out of it making interactables flash as you hover over them as well as producing a ping sound along with the sonar.
When aiming the player can take the photo at any time creating a flash indicating that the photo has been taken.
Once the photo is taken the camera will recharge as it visually starts glowing again.
To feedback to the player that they've captured something, the object that they captured starts to radiate.
Aiming camera, sonar indicating where the player is aiming. Gets no feedback from objects indicating there is nothing of interest but the player can still take photos for their photo album.
Aiming camera at interactable object. Object gets highlighted showing the player there is something of interest.
In free diving it is important to have a low pulse as you consume less oxygen, in order to translate this to the game, I made the player have to control the characters heart beat.
As the player swims underwater they will soon discover that they will start to get tunnel vision as their breath is running out, in order to avoid this the player has to beat their heart removing their tunnel vision.
The more times the player does this, the faster it will take for it to return again. The amount of heart beats you have left is indicated on the players suit.
In order to reset this progress the player needs to find air in air pockets.
This creates a dilemma where the player can either continue and try to get as far as possible with limited vision, or take shorter trips with full vision.
To communicate this mechanic, while keeping the immersion of the game, I went with a diegetic interface, placing the heartbeat counter on the back of the character and having a vignette for running out of air.
This contributes toward a feeling of isolation further enhancing the sense of isolation further enhancing the sense of the inner journey the character is making as well as making the game more engaging.
Suit indication for the amount of heartbeats left before needing to refill oxygen.
Tunnel vision creeping closer, limiting the players vision until the player beats their heart.
While I didn't make the animations I implemented them. The animations rely on the movement direction of the character and slowly morphs in between these animations to create a natural body flow that feels heavy due to the water.
To create a more immersive experience I connected the head movement to the camera movement of the character in order to create a more immersive experience where the player is looking at the same direction as the character in the game.
Head is the first thing that moves and the body with it to create a more lifelike movement to enhance the immersion.
Since the game didn't have a first person perspective the need for a clear and visual reaction of photographing something was important in order to show the player that they photographed something of importance.
Clear aim direction
Response when aiming at interactables
Interactions that make sense within the game world.
The way to interact with the world is with your camera.
When the player aims their camera a sonar cone flashes in front of the player indicating that they are aiming and what they are aiming at.
When the sonar hits something of importance the player gets a reaction of the object making it glow as well as pinging back to the player in order to make a clear response.
To communicate that an object has been successfully captured, I used a radient effect on the object.
While the game was supposed to be relaxing, something that engaged the player more in the game world was needed.
To do this underwater currents were added, fast flowing water that pulls you in on a guided path.
When the player enters a current they get pulled in and follow a spline which they can swim in proximity to. This creates a scenario where the player has to time their photography in order to capture what they are looking for.
To remove the stress element of this section the heartbeat is disabled to make sure the player can focus on what is of importance in the current, photographing on a timed event.
The music is supposed to be a reflection of the players inner journey as they explore the depths. To achieve this the sounds mostly relied on the ambiance of the ocean as well as ambient mellow music.
Low mixed audio
Integral sounds (heartbeat) is loud
Sounds should not disturb the player from their experience
The sounds I used in the game were a combination of field recordings and analog synthesizers in order to produce a natural landscape to bring the player closer to nature.
Most sounds were mixed low except for the players heart beat which is what is the loudest in order to enhance the feeling of isolation as well as being a clear indicator of when the player has beat their heart.
The players sonar is also prominent in the audio mix to give a clear indicator that the player is aiming as well as being giving a sensation there might be something pinging back at the player when aiming.