Development Roles: Systems designer involving creating the game's classes, balancing their abilities, gun turret and player movement values, and balancing the enemy wave spawn patterns. Level designer.
Players: 4-6 (Online)
Genre: Shooter, Multiplayer, Co-operative
Summary: Players play online with up to 5 other teammates as they defend a base against oncoming waves of attacking swamp monsters. The monsters will attempt to break down the gates and attempt to steal the base's primary crystal resource. However, the monsters can drop crystals upon death and then spent on base turrets for upgrades, class abilities for use, or put them into the base to fuel ammo for the turrets. Base turrets can be used as machine guns, cannons, or snipers. Players also have access to 4 different classes to choose from the start of the match to fill specific roles.
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: Crycetium started out as a tower defense setup with players jumping into base turrets and shooting with them and bows at approaching enemies. When I joined the project, the team was looking for a way to add advancement and a way to personalize the type of character players can choose. There were initial talks of customizing the look of characters, I tossed around the idea of integrating a level up system through skills by spending the crycetium collected in the game, and so on. Eventually, after little bit, we decided to go with a class system for players to choose from that would have different abilities and could be upgraded to get more and more abilities in a match.
Class Building: Within a week, I created a presentation for the team that gave an overall view of how the classes should work and the classes I was able to come up with (some pictured left). We still had to keep to the time we had to make this, so I specifically labeled to focus on 4 of the 6 planned classes in order to have everything finished in time. Each class would have an alternate bow shot and ability they could use, with two more they could get by upgrading their class with crycetium. However, the last two abilities were cut due to time constraints along with the scout and sniper class. Overall, the group decided to create the ranger for the offensive players with the bow, the blazer to collect the resources and distribute them among everyone, the specialist to heal the players and base, and the gearhead with abilities focusing on turret exclusively. Stat boosts were also introduced later on to make the classes naturally feel different as well.
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 before that they wanted to move faster with the base being huge, the air control to actually allow them to move in the air, and so on. I did change all of them to give the player a bit of air control and I increased the movement speed a little. This took a long while to find the sweet spot over numerous QA sessions with people still commenting that they wanted to be faster and more in control. Eventually, I increased the air control to give noticeable, but slight, control in the air to control their fall somewhat. The movement speed also increased slightly, since a new base was being created, and the blazer class would receive the biggest speed increase, since they would run around the map the most.
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 the work needed to control firing the thing. This was one of the trickiest ones to balance because the cannon and sniper turrets generally had one kickback, then followed by a cooldown, but the machine gun fires rapidly. First thing I wanted was to stay away from the notion that the player would have to focus on trailing the mouse down and break their concentration from the game if the turret was kicking back too much. Turning that down, I increased the spread of the bullets the longer it fired and added slight horizontal feedback so that firing it wouldn't always be stable in any way.
Stat Grinding - Class Abilities: The classes were quickly implemented one by one and I was to work with the VFX programmer on detailing how each effect would look. Alongside that, I also had to create a spreadsheet and keep track of all values used for each ability and how they were being used. There were quite a few changes done over the course of the development for the sake of balance and interest: ranger's piercing shot was changed to decrease damage over each target hit rather than increased, the ranger's stun arrow and blazer's slow trap had their effects swapped for importance on traps being useful in the field, the gearhead had its alternate bow ability dropped and redesigned from an arrow powering up turrets to calling in a air strike after player feedback did not prefer the gearhead class, all classes had their alternate bow abilities drop the crycetium cost and placed it instead onto their main ability, and so on.
First Concept: While we already had two maps completed and a third one also being developed, I took on the task of designing a fourth map for consideration to move forward with. Looking at the maps we had completed and the third map being set in a canyon-like setting, I noticed all the maps had a focus on elevation in the bases. This started the idea of a base closer to the ground than the others we had. The base took on an H shape since I wanted enemies to funnel into a trench-like setting with players being able to shoot the enemies that get to the entrances closer to the defense point. I also added a platform above the base for players to get a better surrounding of the base while also keeping an eye on the objective to defend. Overall, this design suffered from pacing issues of the sides of the base taking a while to reach each time to defend for the players and I didn't think there was enough variety in the base setup to keep the player entertained as they moved through the base.
Second Concept: After some lighting changes and placement of rocks into the terrain by Bradley Jones, I decided to scrap the previous base and start again with another base still close to the ground, but within a tighter space for the players to reach everything. The first concept for the base was to be a field outpost in a valley, but with the second concept I decided to switch the feeling of a small fuel depot. Thus, I created two large gates to give the feeling of vehicles moving through or to drive into (no vehicle assets were made at this time or any paths in the ground, this is just what I was using for 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 setup also allowed me to experiment with an idea that the other maps do not have: placing turrets outside the base with the consoles for them inside. The team all gave positive feedback on the first pass of this design.
Second Concept - Added: With some difficulty reaching the top of the wall, I added stairways around the base for players to climb up and shoot over the wall. The added post in the middle I added for 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. I still needed to experiment with the lighting of the map and inside the building to see if this feels right. Enemies will be added soon to be tested and see how a full game feels.