Ooble: The Self Driving Submarine Project
Unreal Engine 4
4x Game Designers
5x 3D Artists
Project Manager - Level Designer
Level Design; Project plan; Pitch delivery
Ooble is a suspenseful side-scroller set in an atmospheric underwater environment. You play as a submarine on its quest to discover the great pearl. Explore beautiful environments, avoiding threatening marine life and falling debris, just in time before the submarine runs out of energy!
- Designing with pacing in mind
- Building a learning curve
- Collaborating with other designers to create a shared game vision
- Designed tutorial and pacing of key level moments
- Collaborated with Level Designer, Christian Berg, on the level map
- Scripted the functionality of the collectible pearls
- Create an atmospheric underwater environment with an engaging, lively background
- Keep the gameplay tense and challenging
The game was designed to inspire suspense and reward technique. This is why it's built on simple traversal and shooting mechanics, tense gameplay moments and with an emphasis on visuals and level design. To keep the gameplay tense, the player needs to avoid different kinds of obstacles, frequently enough so that they don’t run out of energy. This meant creating not only different types of dangers, but also keeping the exploratory area narrow and challenging to navigate under pressure.
LEVEL DESIGN - TUTORIAL
Ooble was one of the first games I've worked on, in which I got to collaborate with another Level Designer. Our goal was to deliver a side-scroller level lasting 4'-5', that would keep the player's sense of exploration and intrigue high throughout the level.
In order to communicate our ideas better and have a common understanding of the different elements of the level, we drew a prototype that incorporated different ideas for rooms and had a sense of level pacing.
The gameplay elements the player needs to know about are:
- submarine navigation
- controlling the flashlight
- targeting and shooting of torpedoes
- how the energy system works
The level starts in a safe space with instructions remaining visible on the screen. The player has time to familiarize themselves with the controls, since the energy level is not draining at this point.
The player can only start the level by shooting at the rock ahead of them. The first rock the player shoots has a different texture, introducing the concept of shootable rocks.
The next part of the game is a narrow corridor with minor rocks to be avoided and a shootable rock.
The broken rock reveals an energy pick-up encouraging the player to keep shooting at these rocks as they go. Later on, a shootable rock reveals a collectible pearl, further reinforcing the message.
Having gotten familiar with navigation and shooting, the player encounters the first tentacle obstacle. The player has to shoot at the tentacle to make it go away temporarily.
A whale is moving in the background as the player traverses through a safe space.
A refreshing change in scenery gives the impression of a live environment.
After getting familiar with the majority of the controls and challenges, a twist is introduced as the player enters a dark cave. The lights in the environment get immediately dimmer, requiring the player to stay calm and use the flashlight, so that they can avoid the rocky obstacles.
Near the end of the game, all the obstacles are combined together (falling rocks, tentacles, darkness), testing the player's skill, as they have to avoid them all with fewer energy pick-ups.
The player reaches the end of their journey, finding the big pearl. A message on the screen informs them about the number of pearls they found along the way, adding an element of replayability in case they didn't find them all.
As the project leader, I made sure to help the team set realistic development goals and ensure good communication. This included:
- Setting up a 2-week project plan with milestones that the team could commit to
- Moderating short daily meetings where team members were sharing with each other what they have done, what they will be working on for this day, as well as flagging for any bottlenecks
I made sure to take notes and keep track of the team’s decisions and progress on files that are easily accessible online. I was also responsible for developing and presenting the game pitch to the teachers and the jury.