World rotation is awesome. We all know this. But there are a lot challenges that come along with creating a game around the idea, especially when you’re inside the thing that’s rotating. It’s difficult to keep track of the environment, of your goal, and it can sometimes feel like you’re not in control, which isn’t what we want. Player feedback has been one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced on this project. The state of the feedback systems is still evolving, but I wanted to talk about the systems we have and what issues/challenges they overcome.
Let’s start with the big guy, the rotation cube. This is the single most important object in the game, and it has a lot of systems associated with it. The first thing you probably notice is the color, and all the neon and light rays that go with it. The color has two purposes. The rotation cubes should really stand out from the environment, so most of the levels are monotone and usually have dark or muted colors, meaning the rotation cubes really pop. Also, each cube has a different color that’s tied to a specific axis. Purple rotates the x-axis, Blue the z, and Green the y.
The next thing you probably notice, well not in the picture but in the game, is the animation. Each cube animates, spins, on the axis the room will rotate on if that cube is shot. It rocks back and forth along the axis, indicating that the room will rotate clockwise or counterclockwise based on which shot is fired (more on that later). The particle effect that runs through each cube also helps communicate this idea. The light squares act as a spindle, running along the axis associated with each cube. Apart from helping communicate the rotation, the particles also help the player to find the rotation cubes in the level, as it’s easier to spot the blooming squares from across a room than the rotation cubes on their own.
The last bit of feedback from the rotation cube is the arrows. They appear when the player is aiming at the cube, and if the cube is within the range of the projectiles. The two arrows indicate which direction the room will rotate based off of which projectile is used, the blue or orange. And the arrows match the colors of the projectiles. The gun also displays these two colors so the player will be able to memorize this system over time.
Color is used as feedback in many of our systems, actually. Apart from the arrows, the moving platforms are also blue and orange, indicating that the player should use the projectiles to interact with them. We also match the colors of the rotation cubes with the lights above the exit door. The lights let the player know when the room is in the correct orientation by lighting up when certain axes are in place. So when the x-axis is aligned, the purple light comes on, etc. The lights let players know which axes are off from a glance, and which rotation cubes need to be sought out to exit the room. Also, one recent change is that we limit the number of lights to the types of rotation actors that are in a room. So if the room has a green and blue rotation cube, the door will contain a green and blue light. We used to have all three lights despite which cubes were in a room but players found the system confusing, because there was information that wasn’t necessary for solving the puzzle.
So those are the main feedback systems we use to give players information of their smaller and larger goals. Apart from those, we mostly use effects to covey certain information. For example, the white blocks along the sides of the moving platforms glow as the world rotates, allowing the player to better follow during rotation and differentiating their function from the stationary platforms. Or the death walls are red, which is all dangerous looking and stuff.
But all of this is important to us because we want to curb confusion as much as possible. The player should feel in control of the environment, even when things are upside down. I hope this gives a little insight into our process and goals, and let me know what you think.
Thanks for reading.