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Melon Smash 2D Tower Defense | 2020

About

Genre: 2D Tower Defense with only one tower

Softwares: Game Dev: Unity, Artwork: Adobe Photoshop, Sound FX: FL Studio

Project Type: Team Project, Remotely

Development Time: 4 weeks with three iterations for paper and digital prototypes.

Team Members: Yang Hu, Rana Jahani, Viraj Shirodkar, Afraz Zackria, Daviti Tsintsadze, Jai Dodechani

My Role: Game Designer, Level Designer, Artist
My Responsibilities

  • Collaborated in designing game mechanics and game system 

    • Balanced the combat system - the weapons and enemies characteristics

  • Designed characters, objects, and sprite sheets of each character and objects’ state

  • Designed the UI and the tutorial for controls

Game Concept

Melon Smash has the characteristics of a tower-defense game with just one tower (player). It's about a farmer trying to save his precious pumpkin from the incoming waves of vermin that want to get to it. The farmer can keep the vermin away by moving around the map, harvesting his melons and throwing them at the vermin to save his pumpkin. There are two different types of melons and two types of vermin with different characteristics that would attack the farm in multiple waves.

One-Page Design.jpg

Prototyping Strategies

       Project Risks       

  • Risk of failing to code the mechanics by the deadline

  • Risk of failing to balance the enemy waves with the weapons system

  • Risk of failing to balance the player character movement speed with the waves of enemies

  • Risk of failing to create the ideal ascending flow and the game resulting in being too imbalanced – too easy or too complex

  • Risk of failing to navigate the game design team effectively and not everyone taking part in the overall process

         Intentions         

  • Create flawless mechanics of moving, pick up, throwing, and kicking for the player character

  • Create the system of challenge upgrading and weapon / level ups in order to keep the player in the flow

  • Create visually interesting characters, map layout, and objects

  • Create the right game “feel” emerging from the balanced MDA of the game

  • Maintain efficient work distribution and communication inside the team

     Risk Mitigation     

  • First, have a playable level; focus on programming the characters actions with primitive shapes as placeholder,

  • While the work on game narrative, design, and art continue simultaneously.

  •  After building the basic character movement, enemy behavior and melon system for the firs level, start balancing and tuning the game systems

  • Set up melon farms on the map so that players need to run through the map to collect different melons

  • Eliminate the mechanic of planting and watering the plants

Project Plan

  1. Come up with a basic design for the map, melons (weapons), vermin (hostile NPCs), and waves of attack in collaboration with programmers, visual artist, narrative writer, and sound designer.

  2. Figure out the greatest risks in our design.

  3. Build prototypes that mitigate those risks.

  4. Test the prototypes by playtesting the game (in 3 phases).

  5. Come up with a more detailed design based on what we have learned after each playtest

  6. Return to step 2 for each iteration

Gameplay

The objective of the game is to survive all the waves of hostile enemy before the pumpkin gets completely damaged. If enough vermin reach the pumpkin and dig in it, then the game is lost. There are two waves of vermin; in the first wave, the Green Caterpillars will try to reach the pumpkin, and in the second wave, the more aggressive Purple Worms will also try to find their way to the pumpkin.

Click on the gallery to see more pictures of the farmer

Features

Player Experience

1

       Strategizing       

Since there would be different melons and vermin with different attributes, the player needs to decide strategically which melon (weapon) to use on specific vermin, and which stack to use later. Providing players with different weapons and interactable objects not only helped players ability to overcome challenges, but also added more meaning to player's choices since they need to adopt different strategies during the gameplay.

Planning My Actions

2

          Tension          

Player struggles with being fast enough to prevent vermin from reaching the bottom of the farm where his pumpkin is, which spice up the challenges in the game. The randomness in growing melons in each farm and the amount and speed of the vermin in each wave adds to the tension in the game.

The tension resonates with the narrative and the theme of the game - the urgency to save the pumpkin.

3

        Challenge        

As after each wave game gets gradually harder, the vermin are harder to kill and have different characteristics. So, improving skill should meet more hard challenges. We also try to balance the game mechanics and characteristics of weapons, upgrades, level ups in correspondence to the challenge getting harder. In order to ensure that we will try not to have only positive or negative feedback loops for the player, and generally keep the game both balanced and symmetrical.

Playtesting and Iterations

  • Overall, we iterated on designing the game 3 times.

  • After each phase of prototyping the game, we playtested the game to observe players behavior during gameplay such as the methods they use to defeat hostile NPCs, how they use melons, if they understand the rules of the game, and if there are issues with the waves of vermin. We also collected the feedback we received from the players.

  • Then, we analyzed the result of the playtests in the team and reiterated the prototype based on the players feedback and our design intentions for player experience.

Problem: Not Enough Feedback

One of the problems that we observed during the first playtest, was that players were confused about the consequences of their actions.

Solution: Add Visual and Sound Effects

We decided to find ways to give more feedback to the players and polish the feeling of the game. We incorporated visual effects for when melons are thrown at the enemies and smashed

 

 

 

 

 

We also added visual effects for the kick mechanic:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additionally, we added both sound effect and visual effect when the pumpkin is eaten by the worms:

 

 

Animation for farmer's walking and throwing states and the worms' walking and death state were added to polish the game and provide more visual feedback:

Pumpkin.png
Melons.png
Farmer - Kicking the Vermin.png
Farmer - Walking-.png

Sprite Sheet of the Farmer's Movement

Worms.png

Sprite Sheet of the worm's Movement and Death States

If you are interested in knowing more about the game rules and mechanics, prototyping process, and risks we assessed during the development, please check out the Game Design Documentation file.

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