Stairway to Heaven

A game about life’s expectations, un-expectations, and cute dogs.

My development process was not what I had anticipated. I spent most of my time in the pre-production phase. Getting Unity to launch correctly on my computer was a process met by many gray screens and browsing of forums.

I finally found my solution after several hours; I have to launch Unity offline as well as adding another step.  Overall, it slowed my progress considerably.  However, the start of my game development turned into a theme I used for my game Stairway to Heaven, although my original concept was much more… tranquil.  Choices, unexpected twists, and hidden paths are inevitable in life and in really engaging games.

Over three hours of looking at this.

On an optimistic note, the possibilities of this assignment was really exciting.  Envisioning a world where the environment pushes the narration of a story was reminding me of the console games I played in my childhood, which is where I turned to for inspiration. PS2 games such as Jak and Daxter with great environments were some of my favorites. I researched concept art from this game, and fleshed out a drawing of a world in Unity that featured a floating glass orb filled with various plants and succulents, similar to a terrarium.

The FirstPersonController would be placed at the very end of a Y shaped stone pathway inside the terrarium. The player would be made to feel small in this world, with large objects towering above them. There would be a choice of which path to take, but the player would need to explore both to reveal the story.

Due to my time constraints, I couldn’t execute my terrarium world idea. Instead I reworked a previous Unity game I had made in class and added some of the gameplay elements from my original idea. I utilized a playstyle of ascending to the highest point, by adding a very intuitive pathway to follow.  I liked this element of the very beginning of 30 Flights of Loving, the long corridor which guides the player forward.

[opening view]

Along the path the player is supposed to follow, I added the option of jumping onto smaller cubes to reach the same endpoint. It’s an alternative to the main path of large rectangular blocks–which lets the player choose, while offering an alternative that’s more challenging.

[block image]

Also, I wanted Stairway to Heaven to contain the theme of escaping, and have the player discover hidden secrets. I had my final game set-up so that jumping onto a large stone block along the natural path would force the player to fall through the top unexpectedly, revealing a hidden room that is only accessible through the top. This room has “treasure” of cute doges, and the player is free to exit back into the world from which they came through the sides of the block. But trying to re-enter through the sides is blocked by planes I added with collision properties turned on for one-way travel.

[dog screenshot]

Some issues I discovered in my game during critique was the walking speed and also the issue with being unable to look up and down. Due to the fast speed, the game tester was able to reach the top of the pink platforms (on the other end of the large stone block), although I originally designed the pink discs to just be a point to look at and attempt to reach… it was only added for the purpose of the diversion, which forces the player to fall into the hidden room. However the end result was nice, since the person who tested my game reached the top and turned back around to look at the box-world which they came from.  It was nice to see visually the progress that the player made, which adds the sense of award and achievement which is necessary for a fun game.  In any case, the room full of cute dog pictures was supposed to be the “heaven” which was discovered on “accident” despite original intentions.

[view from ‘heaven’]

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