Project: Cold West

Futuregames: Game Project 3

Interested in something specific? Use the buttons below.

Futuregames

Game Project 3

Cold West is a game developed for the last major team project during my education at Futuregames.

Together with 4 artists and 2 additional designers, we set out to create a wild western-themed city builder.

My roles:

Intro

Cold West - Product Owner

Objective: 10 minutes strategy game

Theme: Choose between 4 different directors as inspiration

Designer: 3

3D Artists: 4

Programmers: 0

Cold West was a project which was completely out of our comfort zone as designers, as we have never tried making anything remotely close to a city builder or strategy game on our own or in a team prior to this experience.

Together with the team scrum master, Jakub Wolfram, our technical designer Gustav Liden and our amazing artists, we managed to finish an ambitious project in just under 7 weeks’ time.

  • SHARE:
Genre

Wild western themed, city builder

Combining City building, wild western theme & weather seasons

Concept

Cold West Explained

The goal for this project was set by the school, Futurgames, to create a playable strategy game with 10 minutes of gameplay.

Together as a team, we decided upon creating a Wild Western-inspired city builder, based on the director, Quentin Tarantino.
The project allowed us to challenge ourselves by creating a rather fast-paced town builder with a simple core loop, making it easy to learn but hard to master.

We decided to try and portray Tarantino’s violence in the form of weather seasons rather than blatant violence.
Most of our inspiration in terms of gameplay came from the Anno game series & Frostpunk.

concept
Building

Grid-Based Building

We decided early on to focus on a grid-based building system much like the system found in Anno 1800.

Thanks to our wonderful technical designer, Gustav Liden, we were able to create a relatively bug-free experience.

Dependencies

Promoting realism

We wanted the general building system and visuals to make sense in the form of how a western settlement is supposed to look and feel.

Using real-life & game-based references, we decided upon creating a dependency system that would add slight depth to how a player builds a town, by having certain buildings be dependent on resources in the world and other buildings in the proximity.

Seasons

Surviving the winter

The end goal of Cold West was to survive the coming winter.
That meant that the player had to stockpile food as the winter season stopped all food production.
Together with our talented artist, I was able to create a straightforward system for the different weather seasons.

Planning

Setting our goals

The task at hand was quite ambitious both in terms of gameplay features & 3D art.
However, we rose to the challenge and tried to push for a realistic approach to our visuals and a rather simplistic yet interesting progression system gameplay-wise.

Through daily discussions and by carefully assessing our strengths and weaknesses we were able to set out 3 main goals for our development pillars.

Production time:

7 Weeks

Art

Modular

To achieve our goals in terms of detailed realism we decided to go for a modular approach, allowing us to quickly put together and edit buildings as needed by using modular pieces.

Systems

Grid system & Dependencies

By focusing on a simple gameplay loop and mechanics, we wanted to iron out as many bugs as possible while still giving the player the satisfactory feeling of growing their settlement.

UI

Minimalism

With the lack of 2D artists on our team, we decided to focus on a very minimalistic approach in terms of design.

Roles

My contribution

As the product owner, I was tasked with the assignment to guide our vision
of what we wanted to create as well as calculating our way to the end goal.

By assessing our strengths and weaknesses I was able to encourage and promote a solid workflow.

However, due to the lack of programmers, each designer had to step in and take on multiple hats to ensure that our goals were met which also meant that we had to cut corners to ensure a viable golden master.

My roles:

Product Owner

Visualizing our game

Putting together a coherent vision in terms of visuals and gameplay is often easier said than done.

From the start of the project, I tried directing our vision towards a common goal, where attention to detail and coherent architecture laid the groundwork for our upcoming tasks.
By opening up discussions in terms of workflow and how to tackle our large list of needed buildings, I was able to solidify a modular approach, where the artists focused on creating modular pieces to then be combined into final models.

Product Owner

Setting our goals

As this was our final and most ambitious project during our education at Futuregames, it was imperative that our goals were set with a realistic perspective in mind.

By carefully paying attention to our initial progress and then discussing the results each week, I was able to get a rough estimate in terms of development time, both scripting or art-wise.
Together as a team, we then took the information and set up a rough roadmap which I then expanded upon with the scrum master.

Product Owner

Organizing our workflow

Using Miro, I was able to introduce a flowchart-like workflow to our team, allowing us to quickly map out the prototype systems we had in mind.

This allowed us to have a more detailed overview of the general player progress, resource management balance, and workload priority depending on delays and issues we might have discovered on the way.

UX Design

UI & Tutorial

UX design was not one of my strong points but the project offered
a great opportunity to learn and gather as much valuable information as possible.

Not only did challenges arise in terms of design and layout
but also in terms of explaining the basic game elements to new players in under 2 minutes’ time.

UI Design

Minimalistic approach

Due to us not having any 2D artists in our team, I decided to focus on a minimalistic approach to our design and put more focus on immersion.

Together with one of our talented artists, I was able to quickly design and prototype a minimalistic UI with a slightly personalized touch.

Tutorial

Laying down the foundation

Creating the tutorial was a very fun challenge in itself.
I had to keep in mind several aspects in order to both convey the wanted information to the player but also keep the player engaged through the tutorial.

Using a flowchart I began summarizing the information we wanted to convey and in what manner I wanted the player to progress.

Tutorial

Refining wall of texts

After the initial feedback sessions, it was obvious that the tutorial was quite heavy, which made the players skip through the tutorial as fast as possible.

This lead to the players struggling to understand the basics of the game and proved that the tutorial had failed to convey the information in a simplistic manner.

I ended up reducing the initial text size by over 60%, by reconstructing the sentences and using different synonyms.

Tutorial

Visual guidence

The initial feedback sessions introduced yet another challenge in form of visual guidance, as players were at times confused over where they needed to click or what the text was describing.

Using simple elements and animations I was able to tie together the informational boxes with the corresponding UI elements of interest.

System Design

Secondary Systems

During the project, I was in charge of designing and developing 2 different systems that worked as support systems to our building and survival gameplay.

They offered slight but much-needed depth to our project in terms of player progression and visual progression.

Dependency System

Building a realistic settlement

Early on in our development, it became obvious that certain players did not care about how they constructed their settlements as long as they were able to survive.

This type of playstyle was in direct conflict with how we wanted a settlement to look visually, as we were aiming for a realistic approach in terms of town building.

Combined with inspiration from other city building games, player feedback, and team discussions, I was able to design and develop a system that promoted a realistic take on town building.

Weather System

Visual Indicators

The last touches to the project came in form of the fire propagation system.
I bought a relatively cheap asset from the marketplace and tied it together with my magic abilities.
After some custom scripting, I was able to set fire and burn down the enemy AI, set fire to almost any type of object, allow AI to catch on fire by walking into burning objects & destroying objects such as doors and wooden barriers.

Contact

Don't hesitate to leave me a message and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.