This is my work on Shark Bait, an arcade style party game where players control sharks and battle against each other to eat the most fish. It was created during my second year at university (2017 - 2018).

During this project, I was a designer. My duties included:

  • Designing and scripting player character mechanics

  • Designing and dressing some levels

  • Implementing UI and designing UI functionality

  • Cameras

  • UX design for player feedback such as screen shake, controller rumble etc.

  • Polish of timing and balance

On this project i took the role of character mechanics designer,

Below I go into a little more detail on some of the designs of the Shark Bait characters and my process when approaching this project.

When designing character mechanics for Shark Bait I took inspiration from the Sharks real-life attributes and twisted them into unique mechanics. This created 4 distinctive sharks, with their own tactics, style and feel to the gameplay. 

For example, the Great White shark has been observed lurking beneath its prey and using its extreme power to strike from below, often launching out of the water with its catch in its jaws. To translate this into Shark Bait, I wanted to split the spirit of the Great White into two abilities, one focused on stealth and the other on its powerful attack. In-game, the player can use the stealth ability to disappear completely from the fish while making it very difficult for other players to see them, giving them the perfect chance to strike fast with the dash. 

Great White Dash ability.

 

The Great White is launched forward with a burst of speed for 1.5 seconds. The idea behind this ability is to give the player a powerful strike to finish off a kill on a fish or stun an enemy shark who's getting in their way.

 

While feedback is fed to the player through the controller with a satisfying rumble, I avoided adding things like screen-shake and blur, so as not to inhibit the player's vision too much, allowing them to get that perfect strike.

As a quality of life feature, as the Great White dashes, their mouth hitbox is enlarged to make it slightly easier to hit their target. We found through testing that players found it difficult to strike the smaller fish and quicker moving sharks, the hit-box size increase makes it easier to use, and feel less disappointing to use a powerful looking ability and get nothing from it. 

Great White Stealth ability.

The Great White shifts its skin and turns almost completely invisible to the fish and other players. This ability allows the player to get right up to its prey without them trying to run away until it's too late. It also makes the Great White very difficult to spot by the other players, allowing them to get around the map without being interfered with. 

 

The effect here was created with a simple material change on the character model, using transparency and refraction to create this quite scary, shifting shape moving through the water. 

Alongside the Great White, each other shark has 2 unique abilities tied to their real-life attributes. The Mako uses its great speed and agility, to target fish and send its enemies spinning. The Whale Shark can draw shoals of fish towards it and blow its competitors away. Finally, the HammerHead uses its heightened electromagnetic senses to stun fish and blind other sharks