Fallen Star

Published by mikesean45 on

Roles: Co-systems/level designer, audio designer
Tools Used: Unity 5, Logic Pro X, Microsoft Excel
Platform: PC
Duration: 3 months
Team Size: 6 (1 producer, 1 artist, 2 designers, 2 programmers)

Fallen Star is a different take on a tower defense game. An ever-expanding black hole is threatening the solar system and the player must accumulate enough resources to build a wormhole converter to destroy it, while at the same time preventing it from getting any bigger. Enemies will come from all sides and try to fly into the black hole, which will cause it to grow. The player must spend resources to defend against these enemies while trying to save enough to build the wormhole converter.

I helped develop the systems and layout of the game, and was in charge of audio design. I designed the layout of the planets in rings so that they would be destroyed in groups and give the player a better sense of how much the black hole had grown. I expanded on the ring system and gave the player the ability to manually rotate the planets in a selected ring so players still felt like they were in control.

We spent a long time determining what kind of enemies would spawn in each wave, how much at a time, and in what order. Much of our time was spent in QA, trying out different tower types, enemy types, and enemy waves, balancing it so the player could get a sense of the mechanics before the game got too hard. Pacing was a big focus for us and we needed to figure out how to keep a tense and urgent atmosphere without overwhelming the player.

The final layout

One of the ways I helped to accomplish this was the angle and view of the camera. I set it up so the player can see about 70% of the solar system at a time and can drag to rotate the camera around the center. This way, the player could see enough that they felt like they had a grasp on the situation, but would still have to look around to make sure no ships were coming from behind.

Another way I balanced tension with control was how the player accumulated resources. Initially, resources were automatically gathered from each planet. We found that players had trouble knowing how many resources they had and how much each planet gave them. I made it so that players would have to harvest resources manually. They could also choose to leave planets unharvested, which would allow the number of resources on that planet to grow more and more over time.

This not only created a nice trade-off for players to form a strategy around, but also provided a reward system for the player’s decisions.

The result was a game that kept players on edge while never making them feel like a loss was unavoidable. Testers had fun trying out different plans and strategies and they always wanted to play again.