Week 10 - Asymmetric Gameplay
One of the core concepts behind the game was separating the camera from the avatar--both are controlled by different players. With this asymmetric gameplay, there are many design challenges to keep both players interested and engaged as well as for delivering the desired horror experience. When first given the pitch for the game, the separation was explained as one player is the eyes and the other player is the ears. However, each player is much more than that.
In the original concept, the diver had most of the interactions in the world--pushing boxes, opening doors, getting attacked--while the drone was responsible for keeping the diver in view and occasionally pressing a button. This was a cool start but reduced the drone to simply following the diver and giving them little agency in the game. Unfortunately, this is still an issue that we are facing, but through puzzle design and the players working together to fire flares helps to balance the asymmetry. Some of the puzzles require the drone to reach areas that the diver cannot because of the debris and falling apart of the ship. This gives the drone more of a purpose because through the environment and level design, it gives them actions that only they can complete.
Our second biggest challenge is delivering a horror experience with two players. Luckily, psychology is in our favor (or against depending on the success of the project). Many psychological studies have found that emotions are contagious. With a coop horror game, the feelings of fear can be heightened by playing with a second person if we are successful in creating the experience that we want. However, with this in mind, it could easily fail if one person does not experience the fear and if instead feels amusement or something else that takes away from the game and breaks immersion.
Both challenges take root in the core concept of the game and are things that we have been wrestling to prevent. Hopefully, with the mechanics we have designed and the environment we have created, we will be successful in creating an asymmetric horror game.