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About the Game

SLAY is a 2D action arcade game based on the classic game of Joust. Our challenge for this game project was to iterate on a classic arcade game. Our iteration for Joust was a hijack mechanic that allows the player to steal enemy mounts by knocking the enemies off. 

 SLAY was made by a team of 5 using the Phaser3 game framework. It is a prototype created as part of the Master of Entertainment Arts and Engineering program at U of U.

My Role

My main role on this team was gameplay designer.

My responsibility in this role was to design the new core mechanic and implement it in the game.

  • Design: What makes classic Joust fun? It is a 2D platformer where you spend most of your time airborne. We wanted our iteration to add to that uniqueness rather than take away from it, so we thought of possible mechanics that could be done while in the air. Coming up with our hijack mechanic, I was inspired by hijack mechanics in other games such as Halo 3, and I wanted to recreate the feeling of satisfaction players get when they successfully pull off an airborne hijack in those games.

  • Implementation: Our hijack works by adding a jump button into the game. In classic Joust there are only directional controls and a button that will flap the wings of the player’s mount. Repeated pressing of the flapping input allows the player to control their height in the air. I kept this normal control scheme and added one additional input for jumping. Now, while a player is mounted, they can control like normal by flapping, but they have another option as well. By pressing the new jump input, the player will leap off  their own mount and can hijack an enemy's mount by landing on top of it. On a successful hijack, the enemy will be knocked to the ground.

Other responsibilities: 

  • I collaborated with our game engineer to recreate the original Joust in Phaser3. This involved creating and adjusting the arena to fit the size and perspective we wanted for our player and enemy sprites. I also helped with collision and physics adjustments, tuning hitboxes and physics parameters to make the game more enjoyable.

  • I collaborated with our artists to integrate their art assets (sprite-sheets and background images) into the game and animate them correctly as was necessary.

Learning Outcomes

Playtesting is key and we should do more of it

  • The idea of hijacking in Joust sounded fun on paper, but we didn’t know if it would actually be fun until we played it. We focused our efforts on getting a playable hijacking mechanic as soon as possible so that we could playtest. However, we didn’t playtest and iterate as much as we should have. Once we got the hijack to a point were it was “pretty fun”, we began focusing our efforts in other areas of the game such as art integration. While this did help the overall feel and aesthetic of our game, we didn’t get to fine-tune the hijack to the level of enjoyment that we could have.

Spend time on the small stuff that impacts the core gameplay mechanics

  • Seemingly small things like physics parameters and hitbox dimensions can have a big impact on the feel and polish of a game. We realized this a bit late in the development process of SLAY. Even with the little time we spent adjusting hitboxes, we noticed a significant difference in how good the game felt to play. If we had realized this sooner and spent more time fine-tuning these small things, the game would have been even more enjoyable.

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