Wire We Doing This - or code name Bit Bots - is a giant destruction derby daydream. You have a giant mech armed to the teeth with tons of goodies to destroy everything in your wake, but you only have so many controls. So open up your control box and rewire your controls to destroy what’s in your path.
Made for Sheridan’s sprint week with the theme of “alternate controller”, our team produced a game where part of the fun is wiring your controller exactly how you want. Players have access to the “guts” of their control box, and can rewire controls to get access to every aspect of their mech. There was a heavy focus on what will be fun to play with, and therefore there was extra care to make little bits of enjoyment wherever we can.
The first day was spent brainstorming with the team to decide what kind of game we wanted to make with the design challenge of “alternate controller”, we bounced between toys to AR and even NFC or a combination of many different elements. We gravitate towards a mech piloting game, with a focus on rewiring your controls. Though we wanted a more puzzle like game, where the players needed to rewire their controls to complete challenges.
We then proceeded to break down and delegate tasks between the team, and decided on a more voxel aesthetic. Mainly to have a natural “fun” art style, and to help the members who aren’t as skilled with 3d modeling to use simple software like Magicavoxel to help move production along.
We also discussed different camera systems, and decided on a first-person perspective to simulate piloting the mech from the cockpit. The controller had a lot of discussion as well, and we agreed that we would design the game with a controller that had very few (a lever and a button) inputs in mind. This was to force the player to find ways to use more features of the mech, and thus the “rewiring” mechanic.
After all that planning we split and do our work!
After some feedback from our mentors, a flaw was pointed out in our core mechanic that would have backfired our entire vision. Since the focus was on completing puzzles, a point was made whether the player was led to “rewire” and change their controls or simply forced to so to complete the puzzle. This led to challenging the premise of the player completing the puzzles entirely, and whether a different goal for the player to accomplish would be more effective. This led to trashing the whole idea of puzzles entirely.
The solution was considering what our core loop was, did we want the player to rewire their mech - or pilot the mech how they wanted? Currently our core loop was to rewire the mech, and had the player being forced to rewire the mech.
We shifted towards more a demolition sandbox, where the focus became to have the player rewire the mech however they want. Instead of forcing the player to rewire, it’s heavily encouraged and where the fun was.
Follow The Fun
Now that we made the major shift from a puzzle game to a sandbox funland, the focus became on how to make the game more fun. That means we want particles! Explosions! Cool Sounds! Useless things that don’t do anything but make me feel happy! Maybe that last point was for me, but it’s very important. We want to present the player with toys in game that are just out of their reach, and an interesting control box that’s begging to be poked around with.
More time was spent building satisfying weapons and experiences, everything from the movement to even the simple punch was made to make it satisfying to use. There was also small details we added to make it more “fun”, for example we never told the players they couldn’t put multiple wires on one input.
We also never told them what the “DO NOT USE” wire did (it actually blew the world up), but most importantly we never told the player how to play the game.
By changing our game direction from a puzzle to a sandbox helped us out in the end, and actually made us achieve our original vision. We wanted the players to feel like they were piloting a mech, and the final build of the game nailed that. Players were grinning ear to ear as they toyed away with the control box and the game, seeing what they can do. It was a great success.