Outlines Are Cool: the development of “It’s All Down Hill From Here”

It’s All Down Hill From Here was made with a skilled team of game design students at Sheridan College, This includes Aaron Sutton, Jesse Baker, Johnlee Cooper, and myself, Matthew Murchison.

Intro

It’s All Down Hill From Here was developed in one week as proof of concept racing game.

My Contribution
My contributions to this game were fairly visible ones, I created all of the 3D objects in the game, as well as running several playtest sessions to get feedback on the feel of the game.

3D Assets – I love 3D, modeling is one of the most relaxing things you can do. So when we decided to make a 3D racing game I was very excited. We started with the idea of a box car derby: high speed, low tech, no brakes. But after I delivered the first soapbox car model it felt too safe. So we looked to the classic wagon for a solution.

I built the two wagons seen below, a red metal one and a green/beige wooden wagon. These were progressing but people weren’t quite happy. Many playtesters suggested grunge or dirt. We hadn’t planned to use texture this early in the prosses. Instead, I opted to bash in the sides of the metal wagon, which was better but not enough. I turned to the one of my favourite Sketchfab models for inspiration:

This Calvin & Hobbes comic uses inverted normals to create an outline effect. This gives some visual strength to the objects, adds detail to the models and creates a unified and unique(ish) visual style.

The playtest feedback rock and that was that! I used the same style when designing the environment assets and obstacles (thanks Aaron for the obstacle sketches!).

We iterated a few times on these as new challenges came up, but that was mostly technical stuff.

From then on I focused on getting feedback to refine the gameplay. Here is my first round of testing:

V8 play test (2 rounds)

PLAYER TWO FEEDBACK
Feels like flat or up hill
Wavble
Textures
Potholes
Line is confusing
Make it clear they’re on the same level
Bumping
Sensitive controls
No acceleration

PLAYER ONE FEEDBACK
Left right too responsive
Lacks feeling of depth

A few more like that where conducted over the week, but overall that was my contribution.

Critical Analyses

A lot went right on this project, each member of the team seemed to fit the role they chose really well. And we were all happy with the game, but what others think?

When we presented ‘It’s All Down Hill From Here’ on Monday and it was received pretty well.

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