Roles: Lead Designer, Lead Artist, Programmer
Team Size: 4
Development Time: August 2018 - December 2018
Platform: HTC Vive
Mechalangelo is an asymmetric, local-multiplayer VR game in which one player uses the HTC Vive to take on the role of Mechalangelo, a giant mechanized painter who wants to remake the universe in his image. The other player uses an Xbox 360 gamepad to control a small weaponized glider, and is tasked with defeating Mechalangelo in a 1-on-1 fight.
Designing core game loop
Designing combat mechanics for both players
Developing a proof of concept prototype
Character and environment art
The main inspiration behind Mechalangelo was the question "What if we take the Andross boss fight from Starfox and let another player control Andross?". With that idea in mind, VR seemed like a good approach for a couple of reasons. First, the classic floating hands and head boss design lends itself well to VR, and it also meant that our team of two designers and two programmers didn't have to worry about doing animations for a boss character, since the player handled that themselves (woo!). Second, it provided us with the opportunity to make something unique in the space of VR games. At the time of this project's completion, there really weren't any other local multiplayer VR games that could run off of a single setup, especially not competitive ones. The closest you could find were games like Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, which is a more cooperative game, and Mass Exodus, which may work locally but keeps the interaction between players to a minimum until the game is essentially over. With Mechalangelo we were able to provide players with a unique experience, being able to play a game with and against a friend, locally, using only a single VR setup.
Challenges and Solutions
The biggest challenge of this project was balancing the asymmetric combat between the two players. While asymmetric combat can be a difficult thing to balance normally, for Mechalangelo the difficulty was increased due to the differences in the control methods for players. The player controlling the ship is mostly limited to the movement and combat options we create for them, while the VR player has the advantage of being able to move freely within their play-space and use their abilities in unpredictable ways. In order to balance the VR players capabilities without making them feel like the freedom that VR normally allowed them was being overly limited, we focused on creating combat systems and a level design that encouraged them to be more strategic in their movement. For instance, by giving the VR player a teleport with a medium length cooldown, we allow them to make larger leaps around the level in order to evade or chase the other player, and they can move within their limited play-space to take advantage of nearby cover options. However, if they're not careful with their movement, they can find themselves stuck in the open without any cover to protect them. Most of the VR player's abilities are designed with this idea in mind, that they can effectively avoid and deal damage to the other player if they are mindful of their position and resources. For the player controlling the ship, we mainly focused on giving them the ability to effectively evade the VR players attacks and target them easily when they get stuck out in the open. Other small mechanics like power-ups are included for the ship player to encourage them to occasionally make more risky moves that put them more out in the open.