This is an ETC project liased with Visual Concept, working on pioneering and prototyping a new way to enjoy the game of basketball; capturing the essence of the game and re-imagining it in an easily accessible way. Similar to how Rocket League reinvented soccer, we want this game to not explicitly be basketball, but reminds players of basketball when playing it.
We ended up developing Bzzap, a local 4 player game. In this game players will compete on teams of 2, gliding, diving, rolling, passing, and ramming into each other (Bz-Zap-ing) to steal the charge(the ball) to get the charge in the opposing team's hoop.
1. Own the vision and empower the team to own the game, make sure the game captures the competeness and cooperation of basketball.
2. Took the responsibility of making design decisions to guide the project's direction, like giving ourselves constraints of local multiplayers, 2vs2, split screen, etc.
3. Converting raw ideas into solid design that is within the scope of the project. The project came from a crazy idea of sea horses riding hills like Tiny Wings.
4. React to client and playtest feedback, decide what's the next problem to address.
5. Implemented a 3D level editing tool in Unity that allows users to generate prefabs by clicking at the desired position in scene, allowing fast level iterations.
6. Responsible for level design, did over 10 iterations on levels, combined the elements of basketball court like 3-point line and middle line in the level. More thoughts on the final level can be found here.
7. Tweaked the camera with Cinimachine, make sure the camera works both in the air, and on the ground.
8. Working together with artists, implemented visual effects including particle systems, texture animations and shaders in the game.
1. Playtest feedback is important, but developers need to have their own priorities.
For a long time, we heard playtesters complain about camera and control, everyone had different oponions about them. We tried a lot of different versions of camera and control schemes to fix the problems.
Later we found that, though our camera and control are not perfect, they work for many playtesters, too. Because camera and control are the first things playtesters would notice, so we got a lot feedback about them. But their priority should not be our priotiry as developers, especially when we got only 15 weeks for the whole project.
There were more prominent problems for us, like gameplay, strategy, and teamwork, where players could not always give effective feedback given limited playtesting time. There was a moment we said, OK, no more camera and control, we need to fix other issues. And looking back now, I wish that moment could happen earlier.
2. What playtesters say might not be what they mean.
As said, camera was a big frustration for our playtesters for a long time, they were frustrated about not being able to control the camera. It turned out that, players are more satisfied when the game does the appropriate camera control for them. What they really mean by saying "I want control the camera" is "I want to look at where I want to". If the camera control supports that, it's good, but if the game does the control for them, it's even better.