Space Escape is a 3D walking simulator designed to show off the character controller. There are two distinct states: Normal Gravity and Low Gravity. The player's goal is to reach the escape pods before the station shatters into nothing.
Game Feel Designer
Fine-tuned a 3D character controller using the UFPS Asset in Unity3D for controller input
Implemented various objects to give the feeling of the station falling apart
Designed 2 character controllers to demonstrate the different types of gravity
Developed a HUD system to look like a futuristic helmet for gameplay feedback
Coming up with the Idea
This project was created for an Independent Study. I knew I wanted to show off a character controller and really fine-tune it for it to be as smooth as possible, but I needed to come up with what the situation was for it. I decided to go with Sci-Fi in a space station because I wanted to show different character controllers in the same space. This led me to create a Low Gravity Player and a Normal Gravity player. My next step was to figure out what makes a character controller feel good.
I started by researching games with good controls, fluid movement, and low gravity situations. Some things I looked at were:
Mass Effect 2
NASA Zero Gravity Simulator
Mass Effect 2 starts with the ship being attacked and you go into a space that's falling apart. The audio gets distorted, and things appear brighter making it look like you're in a low gravity situation. Because ME2 is a 3rd person game and not 1st person I didn't look at their character controller. I did like how the movement slowed down, and the player stuck to the ground. It gave the feeling of the player having gravity boots that kept them on the ground.
Dishonored is a game that a lot of people praised for their character controller. The movement is fluid, and according to players, the character feels like they're taking up space, which is important with a 1st person controller. The bob also isn't distracting which can be an issue in some FPS controllers.
To make sure I had the Low Gravity feeling I looked at NASA's Zero Gravity Simulator. The first thing I noticed was how hard it was to move where you wanted to go. People seemed to need help to go where they were intending. The other thing that I noticed was the audio was hard to hear, like in ME2. It might have been partly because of the hum of the machine, but either way, it was interesting to see.
Designing the Character Controller
With my research done the next step was to start designing the controller. I had to come up with what to adjust to make the controller feel good.
Comparing Character Controllers
The character controllers each have their own feel to them that makes them distinct. The audio distortion, camera bloom, and visor overlay help contrast the two different modes. Without these additions, players didn't feel the change as strongly.
Normal Character Controller
To give the feeling of the low gravity I made the camera slow to rotate with a lot of drag. I wanted it to feel like it's hard to go where you want.
Jumping and Falling
The jump force is very similar to the normal controller, but it does go a tad higher. The big difference is in falling. The player fall is quite slow to give the feeling of weightlessness. The player is still able to move around because I want them to have that agency.
The speed is a lot slower compared to the normal gravity. This is to give the sense of wearing gravity boots that take a lot of effort to move up and down.
Low Gravity Character Controller
The camera's rotation follows very closely to the input with minimal drag.
I set the camera height to be around where the player's eyes are for their model size. The bob is quite subtle, to mimic walking normally.
The jump force has the player not quite reach the ceiling. The landing bob, like the head bob, is also fairly subtle. A normal jump doesn't have a strong landing bob, so I wanted to mimic that.