For Virion I mainly focused on Level/Board Design and Aesthetic elements of the game, as well as some place holder work on the Instructions.
One of the first things I did for Virion was board designs. I came up with a multitude of board designs for potential use in game, each with a unique aspect that was an attempt to set the levels apart and to prevent any of my levels from being too “generic”.
One of the first levels I made was Chasm, the level that playtesters played during the first playtesting session.
Many of the playtesters liked Chasm, and I think it allowed many of Virion’s core mechanics to be showcased very well during play. Chasm is a level that forces conflict very early in the game, mainly through the use of spawn location and the blanked out islands running through the centre of the level. The location of these islands creates an invisible line which marks “my side” and “your side”, which creates an interesting battlefield, especially through the use of reverse symmetry.
This is an ugly picture detailing the various areas in the level. As you can see, the space in Areas 1A and 1B is limited, and as this is a territory control game, players will be wanting to expand outwards to capture more territory and control more space. Units in Areas 1A and 1B will be forced to move over the line if they want to expand, effectively breaching the other team’s Area 2. If the (inexperienced) player wants to move the Trojan out, they will be drawn to the “mid” corners of Areas 2A and 2B as that is the location of the most free territory. This will provide an attractive target for the other team, a target which they will be willing to move pieces in through the centre of the levleto capture. Both of these scenarios create conflict, and force the players to plan their moves carefully but aggressively to capture as much territory as they can to win the game.
Another level I created, “Duo”, for another playtest was based off of the idea of a tutor, and features a split across the middle. This creates two separate battles on each side of the map.
This level was interesting to design. The decision to have two Trojans in the centre of the map facing off against each other was one derived from feedback saying that the Trojan was the most useless unit during the middle and end of the game in Chasm. I wanted to make it so the Trojan was a unit not confined by its spawn point but also immediately relevant/in the fight. I gave the Trojan three escape points so it could never be trapped, though using those escape points would usually lead to the other Trojan gaining control of the centre of the map.
Having each side separated from each other made me worry slightly, as I was afraid that matches would end in a stalemate and a conclusion would be nigh impossible to achieve. Upon a suggestion from our team’s programmer to open the back so units can pass to the other side that problem was mostly bypassed. In the games I saw where this map was played, conflict was prolonged but a stalemate never occurred.
I also made 4 other maps for Virion, though those did not appear in either playtest and are not finalised so I will not talk about them in this post.
Another role of mine was to create the Spyware model, an easy job thanks to the concepts of one of our team members and previous experience with 3D Modelling.
The spyware was a unit designed to look fast and dangerous, befitting of it’s role in Virion. It is comprised of a single sphere located in the centre of the model, two sharp pincer-like objects at the front and three small cubes floating at it’s back.
Modelling the unit was easy enough, as was rigging and skinning the model for animations (which we weren’t sure about having at the time).
Eventually the spyware unit’s rotation was altered, so now it looks like this.
Kind of like a rabbit, which fits the Spyware’s “fast” role a bit more.
I was also responsible for particle effects, not all of which had been implemented for the playtest. It’s hard to show all the particle effects exactly how they act in a screenshot, but my best attempt was made to make all effects fit their roles. I also gave blue particle effects a greenish tint (partially visible in Hit effect, takes place at different times from when screen was taken for most of the others) and the orange a red tint to make them more distinguishable on the game board.
Hit – Explosion outwards symbolising destruction of enemy unit.
Cap Unclaimed – Stream of blue or red going downwards to signify the player capturing the unclaimed tile for the first time.
Respawn – Rising blue or red coming out from the spawn tile, beneath the unit.
Move – Blue or Red trailing units as they move.
Cap claimed – A carpet effect which is meant to cover the claimed tile as it converts.
I also created the placeholder instructions screen, something I tried to make as brief and to-the-point as possible, but also easy to understand. I think I did a moderate job, as most people who read them were able to play the game without issue. I did miss out on some crucial elements such as holding to win, which was a pretty bad mistake considering it’s how you win. Keyboard controls were left out, another mistake which came from me not thinking about the possibility that people might not be playing with controllers.