Rock the house!
“Pet Rock: Weapon of Mass Destruction” was a game I developed with a team in my Production II class, a course which aims to emulate industry standard development cycles by grouping students of different disciplines to work on a single project. In this class, I worked with designers, artists, and programmers to develop a game using the scrum methodology, through sprint cycles complete with prototyping, market research, documentation, QA testing, and much more.
"Pet Rock: Weapon of Mass Destruction" is a game where you play as a devious pet rock with a mission to cause as much mayhem as possible! Traverse an entire house of rooms filled with wacky objects, cause anarchy with an insane physics system, and complete challenges to earn stickers along the way! As a pet rock, the player can roll, jump, and perform a devastating ground smash. They can use these abilities to navigate to difficult to reach places in the world, smash objects and create a mess, and discover secrets.
The goal with this project was to create a casual game with loose guidelines and freedom of choice. In the vein of the recent success of the “simulator” genre, we wanted to make an accessible experience with simple controls and mechanics that let the player decide how they want to play. More casual players can find fun in just experimenting with toys and silly physics interactions, while more achievement oriented players will try to earn every sticker in the level.
As lead designer for this project, which started with just three team members, I held a range of responsibilities.
Market and gameplay research: What makes these kinds of abstract games successful?
Level design: How can we place objects throughout the room to create platforming challenges and encourage interesting interactions?
QA planning, testing, analysis: Which interactions are satisfying and which are not? What level of engagement are different kinds of players putting into the game? What features need refinement?
Documentation: Clear visual and written documents and spreadsheets were vital for giving direction to the rest of the team, in terms of specifying details and requirements for art and system creation.
Game feel: A physics game better feel good to play. Even one interaction that feels off to the player can break immersion. I spent many hours carefully tweaking object and properties along with player controls and movement to make sure everything felt realistic. I also created the breakable object system, which is vital to the satisfying feel of our game.
“Pet Rock: Weapon of Mass Destruction” started with just three team members. Midway through the semester, the game made it through the cutting process and took on 3 more. At the end of the semester, we brought the Pet Rock to GameFest 2017, a student game showcase and competition put on at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The whole team is incredibly proud to say that our game took 1st place at the competition, over 25 other student games from 7 different game development schools!