This is my work on the legacy version of SAI created during my third year at university. This is what preceded SAI that was created during the UKGF Tranzfuser competition in 2019 and then was released mid-2020.
During this project, I was a designer. My duties included:
Scripting player character movement and combat mechanics
UI design and implementation
Working with the writer to create dialogue that did not detract from the arcade-style gameplay
Record and implement dialogue alongside UI
Working alongside animators with technical animation and implementation
Polish the timing of everything!
Below is a post-mortem style write up of SAI legacy I did after the game was completed and before we started working on the later version for Tranzfuser. It goes into detail on my thoughts and design process behind the player characters mechanics.
Firing the bow had to feel as satisfying as possible, without obstructing game play.
It has 2 fire modes: A Hip fire and an Aimed fire.
The hip fire, while faster deals less damage and is significantly less visceral to use.
On the other hand, the aimed fire feels powerful. The arrow is fired on the release of the right trigger, to reflect that feeling of drawing a bow back and releasing it at the perfect moment. The release is accompanied by the smallest amount of controller rumble, to give the player a slight tactile feeling when firing without overloading them with vibrations.
Critical hits in Sai not only reward the player with a satisfying sound and subtle hit-stop, but they also recharges the players healing ability after 5 hits. This encourages the player to aim carefully as often as they can and truly improve at firing the bow.
The arrows used in Sai are created by the characters magical spirit. This allows us to create faster fire rates as the animations aren't limited to having to draw and notch a new arrow every time the player fires.
When creating the movement of Sai, i wanted to produce a character that the player felt like had complete control over, allowing them to embody the character and become immersed in the gameplay, with no delays to input getting in their way.
It was also important to create a character that felt more powerful than a human. The druid is empowered by magic and therefore the player should feel like they are to!
Fast movement speed and springy yet controlled jumps were key to this, alongside reactive turning and camera movement.
The biggest challenge when designing this was keeping the character weighted and grounded. Despite her magical abilities and powerful movement, the Druid should still feel real, and each action should have a composed weight behind it.
The abilities were by far the most creative part of designing Sai. There are 3 different categories of abilities; Movement, Damage and Utility. Each set contains 2 abilities that the player can choose between during a play through. They can never have 2 from the same set and this came with a few design difficulties.
Each ability in a set had to be equally as enjoyable to use as well as being the same power level. If one topped the other, players would always select that one.
This ability is The Spirit Step. It's a movement ability in which the player gains increased speed, turning control and invulnerability for a short amount of time.
This ability is The Burning Sacrifice. The player can hold down the input button to draw the enemies towards them. As they do so, there is a build up of screen-shake and controller rumble that compliments the sound and particle effects seen on the character and also reflects the increase in damage as you hold the ability. On release of the input, the character explodes in flame dealing its built up damage to the enemies around it. The increase of shake, rumble and sound creates this huge build up of tension that is then released alongside the ability, creating a very satisfying effect.
One step deeper into the ability, the player can learn that if they time the hold and release to match the sound and particle effects of the ability, they deal the maximum damage possible, rewarding clever and skilled play.
Lastly we wanted to encourage lots of player creativity and emergent gameplay throughout Sai, specifically with the abilities. To do this, i created the abilities with the idea that they could be combined in some way, to help the player defeat particularly difficult enemies, move across the map faster or just do something incredibly satisfying.
Here is an example of the Tailwind, another of our movement abilities, being combined with the Burning Sacrifice to destroy some flying enemies, who are notoriously difficult to shoot.