Don’t take it lightly is a cooperative light-based puzzle game where two players must solve the puzzles in the house, relying on each other’s unique abilities.
As Project Owner, I was responsible for focusing the teams' creativity into a solid whole. This was done by gathering all the ideas, finding what worked best together, and making sure to keep our initial scope under control but still flexible. I also designed most of the puzzles after we had narrowed down the game mechanics.
The theme was Symbiosis and the only requirement was that it was a two-person co-op game. We utilized a Miro board to gather ideas, and then we went through each one of them, mixing some and finding what we wanted to do.
I personally made sure we kept the ideas grounded to make sure we could complete the game.
For the mechanics, we started with the "puzzle pieces". A light source that would shoot out a beam and a reflective surface that would steer the beam to a door to unlock it.
We then went through variations of ways to interact with the reflective surfaces, but decided to go with something basic to make the puzzle design easier, one that rotates and one that moves. We then also added something that was in the way and needed to be moved away. For the final room, we added a special piece that split the light into multiple different colored lights.
I stared the puzzle design by getting the first draft of the room layouts from our artists, then I decided how many "puzzle pieces" the room should have, making sure to introduce each piece at a good pace.
For the actual puzzles, I approached it with designing the solution first and then move/change the pieces to their starting positions, this allowed me to change the difficulty by how much the players need to move/change the pieces.
These designs were then iterated upon throughout the development to balance each player's responsibility and involvement.
When I wasn't working on the puzzle design, I worked closely with our project manager to organize, prioritize and plan out the project. We utilized JIRA for this. I was personally responsible for making sure we focused on the right tasks and analyze and mitigate any risks.
On top of regularly testing throughout the project, we held a full day of playtests where we hosted 20 minutes sessions. These sessions consisted of 10 minutes blind testing that was observed to see how the players responded to the onboarding and visual cues. Then 10 minutes where they could ask questions and get help.
The most notable trend during testing were that players inexperienced with games gave the most valuable feedback through observing what they got stuck on and their thought process when trying to overcome it. While more experienced players gave better feedback when they could ask questions.
Towards the end of the project, I design some effects and prompts to add clarity and atmosphere. These consisted of a simulated lightning bolt in the windows to add more dynamic spookiness, skid marks when the players moved objects enhancing the feedback of interacting with them and a ghostly aura around objects that indicates that the ghost is possessing the object.
Interaction prompts were also added to clearly show what is interactable, this was something that I noticed during play testing.
Overall, the project was a great success. We didn't over-scope or suffer from feature creep, and were flexible and communicated well and adapted all throughout the development process.
This was thanks to our early planning and the clear roles we had, but with this also came some wasted potential, both with the idea and with resource usage. We underestimated how much work our programmers could do, and this lead to them being underutilized. This could have been solved if we as a group came together and reevaluated our design on a larger scale regularly.