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Green Launch

Event: Young Games Designer AwardsDate: Saturday 29 June 2019  Venue: BAFTA, 195 Piccadilly, LondonHosts: TBC-Area: Game StillsBAFTA/Abigail Tan

Green Launch (Unity) – Abigail Tan (16) Brentwood

“A challenging fast-paced action platformer where you use your 'Solar Launch' abilities in an alternate reality to overcome hazardous obstacles and discover how to save the environment.”

In Green Launch, the player runs a computer simulation that takes them into an alternate reality where the world has been devastated by the impacts that humans had on the environment. They have to overcome the challenges of the alternate world to find out what needs to be done to prevent the same thing happening to the real one.

The game's levels incorporate the settings and themes of acid rain, oil spills, and global warming in the form of melting ice caps and rising sea levels. The hazards that can kill the player relate to the setting of the level. The landscape of the 'alternate world' is devastated in comparison to the world as we know it; hazards threaten the player's existence constantly. Players will leap across giant acid lakes, evade dripping ice and spikes, race against time to stay above the rising seas, and more.

This was my first Unity game so I had to get to grips with how the engine worked, allowing me to gain experience utilising industry standard software. I also learnt to write code in C# as I had only used Scratch and Python before.

My game incorporates some mechanics that aren't commonly used in other games (such as the special jumps using the Solar Launch Pads). As a result, there were no comprehensive tutorials I could follow to code these jumps. Therefore I had to figure out my own solutions and use my knowledge of the code and game engine in order to get the mechanics to work. This made the coding aspect of development an invaluable opportunity to enhance my problem-solving skills.

I also learnt a lot about game design and difficulty progression. As my game is intended as a challenging action platformer, it was important to get the difficulty curve right. I did some research and found that teaching the player a new skill, then testing them on it in later levels, was an important aspect to implement well in a platformer. Therefore I repeatedly tested the game to adjust the difficulty curve so that it would be optimally paced for the player and not be too frustrating.

Overall, one of the most valuable lessons I learnt during the development of Green Launch was turning an idea into a working game prototype, and conveying the themes I wanted to get across. I wanted the game to teach the player about environmental issues in an interesting and accessible way. However, it can be difficult to incorporate a theme like this without taking the focus away from the main gameplay. Through making this game, I have learnt how to balance a focus on core gameplay with maintaining an important overarching theme throughout the game. The implementation of the environmental settings was a major part of this.

I would add in more level sets themed around different environmental issues. For example, I would add levels about air pollution, plastic pollution in the oceans, and wildfires or droughts caused by global warming. In addition, I would add level sets that involved the player actually helping the environment. I'd also develop the mechanic of the Solar Launch Pads further, perhaps allowing the player to sprint under obstacles or teleport to alternate locations in the level. This would open up more gameplay possibilities without overloading the game with mechanics.