Fates Echo

Game Design

Project Year
Spring 2024
Project Type
Senior Capstone
Role
Developer, Project Manager, UI Designer
Team
Kris Bumford

Project Description

A collaborative project between Kris Bumford and myself where we aimed to create our first video game. Fates Echo is a 2D top down dungeon crawler, where you follow the hero Rodelt as he ventures into a dungeon in order to support his failing shop that he runs with his partner Dorin. Unfortunately once Rodelt reaches the end of the dungeon where the treasure is... he dies. The game begins when Rodelt awakens at the end of the dungeon as a ghost, where he meets a ghostly goat guide named Amber. Together they make their way out of the dungeon while assembling Rodelt's fragmented memory of his past.

Link to Demo

Brief

This project was apart of my senior capstone at Santa Monica College's Interaction Design Program. We were given the semester to create a design project of our chosing. For this project I worked along side fellow designer and friend, Kris Bumford. Together we wanted to create our very own video game. Having both been long time gamers we were eager to start this project. Working together we decided to delegate roles. I became project manager and the back end developer on this project. Meanwhile Kris handled a lot of the front end development, creating tile maps, sprite sheets, character art, and being the story lead. This was both our first times tackling a project of this kind or scale. Begining a long process of brainstorming what we wanted our game to become.

Inital brianstorm of story line and story beats in figma

Process

After our initial brainstorming sessions began our actual production process. To start off we met with some experts in the gaming industry. Running them through our ideas and picking their brain about the process of game development. From those meetings we gained a lot of valuable insight. However, the biggest take away I had from those meetings and what I thought was the best piece of advice was. "To set a realsitic scope" because I had a lot of lofty goals and expectations I was setting for our game and it was honestly really stressing me out on how we were going to be able to manage all of them. From there we learned there were a lot of things we were going to have to cut. Which at the time was a bit of a heart breaking revelation to come to, but ultimately ensured us meeting our goal of having a playable demo by the end of the semester. So I took the time to create a document outlining everything we’d need to have to meet that goal. Then creating a presentation where I explained what it was that we needed, and my reasoning for making these decisions. Which Ultimately helped me set that realistic goal for myself making, this project way more approachable and less scary. But also ensuring Kris and I were under the same understanding where this project was headed. 

Document checklist of task needed to finish game
Alignment Sheet of Sprites and Animations
Check list of implmented tiles, items, and mechanics

The program we decided to create it in is Unity. For a couple of reasons, the incredible amount of plugins that are available, and the number of resources to troubleshoot off of, and most importantly the ability to share projects across multiple computers. Making it easier to work cross functionally with Kris between the front end and back end of this game. Seeing that this was my first time making a game let alone working in Unity. I started off by following and watching tutorials, learning Unity as a program, and learning how to code or script with C#. I started the development process by following an initial tutorial to lay the foundation for what our game was going to be, scripting things like player movement and object collision. Around this time Kris started to deliver some of the sprite and tile sheets needed to start building our game.

Rodelt Sprite Sheet by Kris
Enemy Sprite Sheets by Kris

After receiving the graphic assets from Kris, I began to implement them. Leading me to add our first enemy, the humble slime. Making it so when the player entered a certain range they would follow and try to damage Rodelt. I also Scripted the hitbox to Rodelts attack so he could actually deal damage to the slimes and defeat them (with the accompanying animations). I then started to create transitions for the levels to give Rodelt the ability to actually traverse the dungeon he finds himself stuck in. Where he enters through the doorway and it takes him to the next area.

There were a lot of challenges that I faced while creating this game. My inexperience being a large factor in a lot of my issues. From running into a bug, if I took our player off of the zero'd origin they would cease to function. Or animations not playing propperly when triggered. The list could go on forever. But what I found to help me in these moments was going into forums or discords. Asking other members of the video game creation community where I was going wrong. Helping find small errors, or syntax errors in my code and explain to me why these mistakes were happening. The more I worked in Unity and the more script I wrote. I slowly began to understand the process, making my work flow more efficient and less problematic.

Building out dungeon level with tile maps from Kris
Scripting in behavior and animations for Slime

Final Concept

Putting all those pieces together, along with other smaller pieces like the UI, dialogue moments, the levels that Kris designed, and just a bunch more. We were able to meet our goal, a playable demo designed to take players through the core gameplay experience of Fates Echo. Experiencing the combat, seeing the enemies, the environment, and a bit of the story.

Main Menu Screen
Credits/End game Screen

There are still more mechanics we’d like to implement to take this project to the next level, but we are very happy with the point we’ve been able to come to. In the future I would like add to flush out more mechanics giving the gameplay more depth really bringing the player into the world. For example adding knockback between Rodelt and the slime, giving that interaction more weight. Learning how to add visual or particle effects. Really making those moments pop out and feel more rewarding. On top of implementing cut scenes to give more depth to the story and make the player feel more connected to Rodelt and his journey. Please be sure to check out our demo on itch.io. A link can be found at the top of the page under the project description.

Rodelt dialogue moment
Rodelt attacking enemy (slime)
Rodelt in dungeon room with enemies
Amber and Rodelt dialogue moment

Grad Show

Because this project was apart of our senior capstone, along with creating the project. We presented it at our Grad Show, where anyone could show up and have a rundown of our entire project. As well as where we were showcasing the first build of our playable demo. Kris and I created an immsersive booth to visitors the feeling of being in a dungeon and experiecing the atmopshere of the enivornment.   

Photo of our exhibition at the grad show
Happy player of our demo
Kris talking about the video game
Kris and I talking to different groups about the video game

Reflection

I have learned a lot about game development over the course of this project. While I have enjoyed every step of the process and learning what it takes to make a game, there are parts where I have enjoyed it more than others. What I learned to be the most frustrating and difficult part for me was actually writing the code and trying to make all the actions play together, make sense, and function how I want. It was rewarding when I solved the issues but definitely the largest hurdle I faced in making this game. What I really came to enjoy was designing the game and world itself, the interactions that took place between the person playing the game and the environment they were in, as well as the actions between the player and Rodelt. And the relationship between Rodelt and the rest of the world. This entire process has been extremely humbling but also extremely rewarding and I feel like I have learned an incredible amount not just about game development but also myself. Kris and I would like to continune development on this project as we hone our game design skills. But also would like to branch off into other gaming projects to flex our abilities outside of this one project.