Quando história, arte e jogabilidade se tornam um

Ferramentas personalizadas, testes rápidos e análises abrem o caminho

Children of Morta: um estudo de caso da Unity para jogos 2D

The Children of Morta game-project team is composed of 14 creators in various roles spread across the globe. In order to make them work together efficiently as one team, Dead Mage had to take full advantage of Unity’s flexible platform and diverse tools.

  • O jogo

    Children of Morta

  • O objetivo

    Combinar história, arte e jogabilidade em uma única experiência perfeita

  • Plataformas
  • Membros da equipe

    14

  • Local

    Austin, Texas

Jakobsen Locke (anteriormente conhecido como Jacobsen Beck), designer de narrativa na Dead Mage, descreve como ferramentas personalizadas em Unity ajudaram a equipe a trabalhar de maneira mais eficiente.

Jakobsen Locke (formerly known as Jacobsen Beck), narrative designer at Dead Mage, describes how custom tools in Unity helped the team work more efficiently.

A Dead Mage aproveitou ao máximo a flexibilidade do Unity

Uma combinação de história forte, arte maravilhosa e jogabilidade envolvente, tudo num fantástico jogo 2D hack and slash.

Os resultados:

  • Ferramentas personalizadas aumentaram a eficiência do processo de narração em mais de 20%
  • Novos níveis prototipados em 5 dias
  • Tempo de carregamento reduzido de minutos para segundos
  • Apresentado na Made with Unity no Unite Austin 2017
  • Indicado para o 2015 SXSW People's Voice Award e GamePedia PAX West Picks

Cenas foram a chave

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that both the beautiful 2D art and the adventure narrative in Dead Mage’s 2D roguelike dungeon crawler were influenced by Persian folklore. After all, Dead Mage’s founder and studio leader, Amir H. Fassihi, is originally from Iran.

But integrating the fascinating mythological themes of the narrative into a hack-and-slash game, came with challenges.

“We wanted the characters and the narrative to be important, but we couldn’t jam a traditional linear narrative into it because it just wouldn’t make sense in the overall game,” says Jakobsen Locke, the narrative designer on the team.

Dead Mage’s solution was to create a few key cutscenes that develop the story and present them to players at key points in the game.

“One person telling the players the story as they witness it gave us the ability to give players the information they need as quickly as possible, make an emotional impact, and then get them right back into the gameplay,” Locke says.

See an example of a cutscene from Children of Morta below.

 

Writing the story–literally–a challenge

A plan for how to make narrative and gameplay work together is one thing, but when the developers and the narrative designer are in remote physical locations, implementation isn’t necessarily going to be simple. How would Locke get the information he needed from the developers to write the text and integrate the narrative with gameplay?

“At first, the developers would send me videos of some of the cinematics to Austin, which I would use to write the narrative, but we found that that was real wasteful of our time.” Locke says. “Someone would have to spend at least half a day recording video, and get that back to me, then with our time-gap, it would take upward of three days to return anything. It was just a total waste of our time.”

 

A 3-day process condensed into half a day in Unity

In order to make it more efficient for the developers and narrative designer to work together, Dead Mage extended the Unity editor.

“The developers created a few custom tools that allowed me to go into Unity and just quickly jump through all the animations. Then, I could write the dialog or text that we needed directly in Unity. So, the extensibility of the Unity Editor enabled us to take what was about a three-day process, and condense it into half a day to streamline the entire process,” Locke says.

See the custom animation/narrative design tool below.

 

In addition to customizing Unity with internal tools, Locke points out that tight integration with Excel also made work smooth. He could use the Excel functions to make sure all the text was formulated correctly and fits on the screen.

“The way I could just import a formula and it auto-imported all the subtitles just the way we wanted them straight into the game was really cool,” he says.

Mantendo a jogabilidade nova e o tempo de carregamento rápido

Uma narrativa forte foi uma parte do esqueleto que oferece suporte ao Children of Morta. Mas no coração da experiência de jogabilidade está a aventura rogue-like. Os jogadores passam muito tempo em cavernas, no deserto e no templo de vento.

"Os elementos rogue-like significam que você repetirá vários elementos de jogo, portanto, quisemos garantir que cada passagem fosse nova. Para isso, foi preciso adicionar aleatoriedade para que o jogador pudesse encontrar novos conjuntos, novos reforços e assim por diante, em cada capítulo, por meio de cenas geradas de maneira procedural", explica Locke.

Mas as cenas geradas de maneira procedural ocasionavam tempos de carregamento prolongados. A equipe não conseguia pré-carregar todos os assets pois gerar um nível levava até cinco minutos.

Tempos de carregamento reduzidos de minutos para segundos

A Dead Mage trabalhou para contornar o problema do tempo de carregamento ampliando o Unity com um sistema de gerenciamento de assets personalizado. Em vez de chamar um asset, o sistema de gerenciamento personalizado chama os dados do asset sem qualquer arte e arquivos pesados anexados. Usando somente os dados leves, é possível chamar a arte necessária.

"A implantação da nossa ferramenta personalizada de gerenciamento de assets não foi apenas uma transição suave, ela também reduziu os tempos de carregamento de 4 a 5 minutos para 10 ou 15 segundos", explica Locke.

Veja o gerenciador de assets personalizado da Dead Mage abaixo.

 

Prototipagem rápida torna os jogadores parte do processo

A jogabilidade em Children of Morta foi fortemente influenciada pelos jogadores. O que começou como um pequeno projeto passional para alguns membros principais da equipe da Dead Mage logo se desenvolveu em uma campanha no Kickstarter, o que permitiu o uso de financiadores como um grupo de teste.

Com a engine Unity, puderam criar uma build totalmente jogável com muitos dos conceitos e ideias fundamentais em duas semanas. Com essa base, continuaram a criar uma nova build toda semana com novas ideias, para que pudessem chamar novos testadores de jogo para conferir.

"Foi ótimo trabalhar com Unity durante a fase de prototipagem. Em uma semana, pudemos adicionar um novo personagem com animações brutas, adicionar a mecânica para que alguém pudesse testar o novo personagem e realmente perceber seu comportamento no jogo. E isso levou no máximo cinco dias úteis", explica Locke.

Prototipagem rápida torna os jogadores parte do processo

The gameplay in Children of Morta has been influenced heavily by players. What started out as a small passion project for a few key members of the Dead Mage team soon developed into a Kickstarter campaign, which enabled them to use funders as a test group.

With the Unity Engine, they were able to create a fully playable build with many of the core concepts and ideas within two weeks. Once they had that foundation, they continued to make a new build every week with some new ideas in it, so that they could get fresh play testers to come in and check it out.

“It was really great to work with Unity for the prototyping phase. Within a week, we could go so far as to have a new character in with rough animations, have the mechanics in there so that someone could try the new character out, and actually see how it feels in the game. And that would only take us five business days max,” Locke says.

Unity Analytics influencia decisões de design

In addition to feedback from the testers, Dead Mage activated Unity Analytics so they could see how players were behaving as they developed the game. Objective data revealed player preferences, such as which characters were most popular and which powers were being used most.

For example, when they experimented with giving all the characters the power to dodge, Unity Analytics showed that this affected players’ use of other powers. Specifically, once the father character had the power to dodge, players stopped using his giant shield because it was easier for them to dodge instead.

“As a result of data from Unity Analytics, we attached a whole new set of abilities that can only be activated when you’re holding the shield. So Unity Analytics drove a design decision that we could not have made if we didn’t have all the data that we’d accumulated,” Locke says.

Jakobsen Locke, Narrative Designer at Dead Mage

"A extensibilidade do Unity Editor nos permitiu condensar um processo de quase três dias em metade de um dia para otimizar todo o processo."

Jakobsen Locke, Narrative Designer at Dead Mage

Como começar a usar Unity para 2D?

Siga este guia prático com informações e recursos que irão orientá-lo, economizar-lhe tempo e ajudá-lo a alcançar os melhores resultados no desenvolvimento de jogos móveis 2D com Unity.

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