Players: 4-6 (Online)
Genre: Shooter, Multiplayer, Co-operative
Game Summary: Players play online with up to 5 other teammates as they defend a base against waves of attacking swamp monsters. Killing monsters can drop crystals, which can then be spent on turret upgrades, increase class abilities, or deposited into the base.
Developer Role Summary:
Lead/Level Designer: Devin Broughton
Systems Designer: Jeremy Davenport
UI/UX Designer: Bradley Jones
Lead/Environments Artist: Nicole Pito
General/Technical Artist: Curtis Wartenberg
Animator: Thomas Harrison
Lead Programmer: Josh Brandl
Gameplay Programmer: Kevin Egan
VFX/Systems Programmer: Dustin Kushnereit
Producer: Nathaniel Parkinson
Sound Designer/Composer: Andrew Poirier
Video Editor: Dan Michaud
Get Personal: When I joined Containment Corps partway through development, the team was looking for a way to add advancement and a way to personalize the characters in the game. I tossed around the idea of integrating a level up system through skills by spending the crystals collected in the game, instead of immediately depositing them into the base. We decided to go with a class system that would have different abilities and could be upgraded to get more abilities in a match.
Class Building: Within a week, I created a presentation for the team that gave an idea of the classes I was able to come up with (some pictured left). Due to time constraints for the project, I specifically labeled to focus on 4 of the 6 planned classes. Each class would have an alternate bow shot or ability they could use, with two more abilities they could get by upgrading their class with crystals. However, the last two abilities, along with the scout and sniper class, were cut due to time constraints. Stat differences among the classes were also added later on to make the classes naturally feel different as well.
The Wonderful Life of Balancing
Stat Grinding - Movement: Once the classes had started to be programmed, I was given the task of changing the values of movement for the player. QA testers had reported that they wanted to move faster and movement didn't feel good. I changed player falling to allow them to control their fall and I increased the movement speed. This took a long while to find the sweet spot over numerous QA sessions. Eventually, I increased the air control to give a noticeable, but slight control in the air to control their fall. The movement speed also increased slightly, to speed overall game flow and the blazer class would receive the biggest speed increase.
Stat Grinding - Machine Gun: At the same time, I was also tasked with making the machine gun turret fun to use because QA feedback stated that people did not like how useless it felt. This was very tricky to balance because I knew if I made the machine gun very accurate, it would be too powerful. First off, I drastically reduced the effect of how much the player would be forced to look up while firing. After turning that down, I also increased the spread of the bullets the longer it fired and added slight horizontal feedback so that firing it wouldn't always be stable. This would require the player to control the machine gun "slightly" as they fired, unlike before where it was set to push your view up to the sky while firing.
Stat Grinding - Class Abilities: For the class abilities, I also had to create a spreadsheet to keep track of all the values used for each ability and how they were being used. Some balance changes I made included: the ranger's piercing shot was changed to decrease damage over each target hit rather than being increased; the gearhead had its bow ability dropped and redesigned from an arrow powering up turrets to calling in an air strike; all classes used to spend crystals to use bow abilities, but that was dropped. All of the changes made during development were usually made while I examined lots of QA feedback.
First Concept: Looking at the maps that were being developed and in the game, I noticed all the maps had a focus on elevation. This started an idea I had of a base closer to the ground and I started imagining what an outpost would look like set in a plain or valley. The base took on an H shape since I wanted enemies to funnel into a trench-like setting and players being able to shoot the enemies from multiple sides. I also added a platform above the base for players to get a better surrounding view of the base while also keeping an eye on the objective to defend. Overall, this design suffered from pacing issues, and I didn't think there was enough variety in the base setup to keep the player entertained as they moved around.
Second Concept: I decided to scrap the previous idea and start again with another base still close to the ground, but within a tighter space for the players to reach everything. Along with this, I decided to switch the feeling to a small fuel depot. Thus, I created two large gates to give the feeling of vehicles moving through or to drive into (we didn't have vehicles, it was just inspiration). I also created a small house to give the sense of people living here and taking care of the outpost, which was made out of reused assets from previous map bases. This base also had something unique that were not in the other maps: placing turrets outside the base, with the consoles to control them inside the base. The team all gave positive feedback on the first pass of this design.
Second Concept - Updated: Stairways were added around the base for players to climb up and shoot over the wall. The tower in the middle added no gameplay purpose, but to help sell the feeling of an outpost. The other big change I made was the lighting to simulate the end of the day towards sunset.