Carcastrophe

A coop game in which 2 players must defend a castle while feeding a pig.

Synopsis : The Castle has been under attack for days and most of its warriors have been wiped out, only two remain. To win, they must trick the Enemy into thinking they still have plenty of warriors and food. 

Context : Game Jam (theme : Historical figures from Occitanie, France)

Duties : Game Design, Level Design, UX Design, Programming

Engine : Unity

Team size : 5

Duration : 48 hours

Awards : Jury's prize

Contribution

  • Designed the cooperative aspects of the game (more details available below).

  • Prototyping and Unity integration.

  • Implemented various systems and feedbacks in-engine aimed at encouraging the intended experience (based on playtests feedbacks). 

  • ​Developped the game along with another programmer.   

Working on cooperation : interdependance , panic and control

Game overview : 

loopCaracastrophe2

Winning condition : The Pig is filled up.

Losing condition : The trick is exposed (the health bar reaches zero).

To get the experience we wanted, we based the design on three guidelines : interdependance, panic and control. 

 

Interdependance

 

Conflicting mechanics : 

Feeding the Pig implies not having a weapon in hand. Players can't defend the Castle while carrying food. Defending the Castle is mandatory to stay in the game and feeding the Pig is the only way to victory. So they must keep a global look on the game and collectively plan their respective tasks constantly.

Conflicting paths :

When both players are defending on the upper level, they can't cross paths. As a result, they must communicate and keep an eye on each other's position to deal with the enemy squads efficiently.

On the Centre Area, the feeding trajectory (from the Haystack to the Pig) is vertical whereas the passage across the area is horizontal. If one player is feeding the Pig, it means the other player is responsible for defending the Castle on both sides (then he must quickly go from one side to the other). As a result, they must be aware of each other even when they don't share the same goal. Each of a player's movement decisions involves the other player.

Unique weapons : 

  • The game has three enemy types and three weapons.

  • Each weapon is dedicated to a specific enemy type.

  • A player can hold only one weapon at a time (pick and drop logic).

 

Since weapons are unique and frequently dropped anywhere, players don't always have access to the weapon they need (the other player is holding it or is blocking the way). So, players rely on each other for shooting as well as for moving.

Panic

Increase difficulty : 

The more time passes, the more the enemy squads are abundant and varied (a squad with different enemy types requires multiple weapons to be neutralized). Difficulty increases over the course of the game.

Slow down progression :

  • The Pig has 3 levels required to win the game.

  • Players feed him by bringing food and maintaining the "feed" button for a certain time (feeding delay).

  • Feeding the Pig also means not having a weapon in hand.

 

Each level requires more food, the "feeding delay" increases as well. The progression is slowed down. Mixed with the rising difficulty, it sets up a tension which grows over the course of the game.

Partial information : 

The Pig's level progression is communicated by animation only.

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Players know when : 

  • They successfully fed the Pig (it stretches, then goes back to normal).

  • They reached a new level (the Pig increases in size.

But they ignore :

  • How many times they have to feed the Pig to complete each level.

  • How many levels there are​.

Players know they are progressing but, as the tension rises, they question their distance from the end goal and their ability to hold on until they finally reach it.

Control

 

Planning possibilities :

Incoming squads' position and type are announced before they appear on the screen. It allows players to plan ahead. They can use this early information to place weapons strategically and can be more confident about feeding the Pig.

Room for error :

The centre area of the Castle is large enough for players to cross each other and is connected to both sides. So, if they have conflicted movements around the Castle, players can use the centre area to get it right fairly quickly. They are constrained but not stuck.

While feeding, the "feeding delay" is shown as a gauge. If the action is cancelled before the end of the delay, the gauge slowly decreases. In practice, if a player commits to feeding the Pig and notices an urgent event afterwards, he can drop the feeding and come back to it without too much cost. Players can even relay on the task and fill the gauge cooperatively. This way, players are not punished for being attentive but panic and tension remain.