Game project 3 - late Spring 2020
Little Squire is a single-player puzzle game with emphasis on narrative and the relationship of trust between two characters. You play as a knight, saving and escaping with a young prince from his captors.
At it's core the game is a narrative focused game. While we didn't have combat, the game had puzzle rooms with simple yet engaging puzzles that were integrated into the narrative of the game.
Focus on narrative
Gameplay should be easy
Interactions with world objects
The game revolves around you and your companion's relationship. It was important to give each character their own strengths and weaknesses in order to highlight the feeling of trust and cooperation.
The player controls the knight, a big and strong character. While the child who is small and nimble is the opposite of the player character.
The player can instruct the child to do certain actions. When looking at interactable objects a button prompt is shown, indicating that you can send the child there.
The actions the child can perform is crawl through small spaces, pull levers and stand on pressure plates.
This mechanic is used to allow the player to reach areas that the knight cannot get to.
One mechanic that demonstrates the players strength is the pushable block which is one of the interactables the child can't use.
The block can be pushed around on to pressure plates and used as a stepping stone to create stairs.
This mechanic contributes towards a more creative puzzle solving as it allows for free movement and isn't just a binary switch. The knight could use these to open passages for her and the child.
The levers are a one-time interactable that once used, opens something.
This was to make a clear indicator that the player has done something positive. Pulling a lever can never go wrong. The mechanic can be used both by the knight but also the child in spaces that the knight cannot reach.
Pressure plates are located on the floor and requires something to constantly push down on it, to work.
The player can either instruct the child to stand on pressure plates or stand on them themselves, as well as pushing blocks on them in order to hold the pressure plate down.
Compared to the switch these can switch on and off, this makes for a more engaging puzzle experience as the easiest solution to the problem might not always work.
Clear goal, readable obstacles
When designing the levels I wanted both to push for a narrative journey and create puzzles that engaged the player but also didn't hinder the narrative flow.
Exit visible from the starting point
A feeling of moving forward
The obstacles are always shown inbetween the players starting point and their exit point.
Game level timeline
The levels were laid out in a linear fashion of puzzle rooms and transition rooms. Being a narrative game, the narrative in the puzzle sections were toned down to let the player think on their own while the transition rooms were there to bring forward the story.
Before the player actually gets to the puzzle room they need to traverse a corridor letting them get familiar with the character movement.
At the end of the corridor there is a lever which the player must pull in order to proceed, this lets them try out an interaction with the game world and introduces them how to interact with the game world.
The first level serves as a on-boarding for the players to make them understand their strengths and introduce them to the puzzle mechanics.
To gradually teach the player, mechanics related to the player character were the only ones used.
First sketch of puzzle one
At first glance, coming into the room, the player hears the child on the other side of a locked door and understand they have to let him out.
The only interactable thing in the room is a block and the pressure plate.
At first the player might try to stand on the pressure plate. This opens a door to another room, if the player walks off the pressure plate, the door closes again, teaching them the mechanics of pressure plates.
The player then needs to understand, that placing a block on a pressure plate will keep the door open.
The block is placed next to the pressure plate for easy understanding.
The player can now enter the room.
In here, is a lever and a crack in the wall, allowing the player to see the child.
The crack in the wall also acts as a way to highlight the lever, placed in front of it.
Once the player pulls the lever the child is released from his cell.
Dialogue starts between them and the level is finished.
The second puzzle serves as a way to show the player the child's strengths instead of their own.
This is important for the player, not only to introduce them to a new mechanic to solve puzzles, but also to build the bond of trust between the player and the child.
A gate blocks the way to the exit.
The player must get to the other side somehow.
On the players side, there is only one interactable that they recognize, a block.
The player already knows the mechanics of blocks.
As the player move the block, they reveal a hole in the wall, small enough for a child to get through.
The player gets a prompt that they can instruct the child to go through the hole.
Once on the other side, the child pulls a lever without asking for permission signaling to the player that it is a child with a free will that likes to explore.
When the child pulls the lever, windows on an upper floor opens, indicated by clear god rays from the windows.
There are stairs climbing up the wall, to the newly opened windows, but they have crumbled.
The player needs to understand that they can use the block to create a complete set of stairs and reach the windows.
Looking through the windows, the player can see the child and a lever. The player can now, through the hight advantage instruct the child to pull the lever. Which opens the door the blocked the way of the exit.
On the other side of the wall there is another puzzle, similar to one they did on the previous level. Allowing them to repeat and memorize the mechanics.
When the pull the block on the pressure plate the player can proceed to the next level.
The third and last puzzle serves as a back and fourth interaction between the player and the child in order to show their strength together.
The player needs to cross a mechanical bridge.
Some parts of the bridge are not raised, making the player unable to cross the bridge.
On the other side of the bridge, the player can see the exit.
On the right side of the bridge there is a control room with pressure plates. The player can not get the room, but the child can crawl in there.
The child walks on the first pressure plate and the player can traverse to the next area of the bridge.
On that part of the bridge, there is a another pressure plate that the player can stand on. This opens a gate that lets the child continue to another pressure plate.
As the player instructs the child to stand on the next pressure plate, another section of the bridge is raised and the player can proceed.
The player then reaches another gap in the bridge which requires the child to go back to the first plate. But if the player goes back to open the door and the child leaves its current plate, the bridge will disappear.
A block at the players position can be moved back to the first pressure plate and keep the child gate open.
The child can now travel freely between the two pressure plates, allowing the player to cross the bridge.
Once the child can travel freely they continue in the same fashion until the last static bridge part.
As the players walks on it, it starts to crumble and the player falls down.
Here the child takes his own initiative and tries to save the player by telling them to walk on the lowered bridge part so he can raise the player up to reach the end.
This results in the child saving you, instead of you saving him, enhancing the bond between them and therefore building further on the trust element.
When the player gets up, they get a view of the door they've been trying to reach and two pressure plates.
For this part the player and the child must stand on each of the pressure plates in order to open the door, which is the end of the game.
Since the focus of the game was the relationship and trust between the player and the child, the music becomes a big part of the game. It conveys the emotional side of the player character in the situation they are in while the ambiance of the environment places it in a real space to make the game immersive.
Sounds with distinction
Easy to listen to sounds
The sounds were made from field recordings and analog synthesizers and the music was composed by me.
The ambient sounds are meant to reflect the environment the player is in, in a manner that feels natural and doesn't distract the player from the gameplay.
This was done by using Unity's audio mixer where I mixed the audio at equal levels and applied reverb buses in order to get the audio unison, reflecting the same represented physical space.
There were several scores throughout the game which were made based on the feeling of the scene.
Compared to the ambient sounds which reflects the environment the player is in, the music reflect the inner emotion of the player.