Fun House is a 1st-person action adventure in black light style.
It’s developed with the Unreal Engine 3 and my first HTW Berlin game project.
The player must find a way through an abandoned fun house, his only weapon and tool a camera.
On his way he solves puzzles and shoots ghosts haunting the place, lead (and mocked) by the creator of the fun house himself.
In the end the player faces the creator of the fun house in a boss fight.
My tasks included
- Designing game mechanics (core features, camera modes, enemy behavior)
- Creating puzzles
- Designing level concepts
- Building levels in the UDK
- Designing the boss level
The game uses standard WASD-movement with additional actions like jumping, shooting (photographing), using items and switching camera mode.
The player has a simple inventory of the items he picks up; they all function as keys.
Camera – can be used to photograph key items to make them materialize in front of the player. Can also kill ghosts by photographing them.
Arcane Mode – camera upgrade, reveals paths and makes objects appear.
Ghosts – roam the level and spawn in certain situations. Die when photographed. By touch player loses 1/3 health.
Keys – 5 of them hidden in the whole game to open the final boss door.
The keys to the boss door were designed to fit the differently themed rooms.
One of our challenges was explaining the basic mechanics to the player.
Many players did not understand that photographing items makes them actually materialize.
We experimented with just letting objects appear, but learned that the players didn’t look down to the ground to see it.
If they did, they didn’t fully understand what happened at all.
We solved the issue by having the narrator explaining this process and let materialized objects come directly out of the photographed pictures.
We designed floor plans on paper first by considering what would be most fun for the player to explore and possible for us to implement during the short project time.
Then we built a gray box prototype of the whole game which we adjusted continuously.
One of the first rooms we designed.
Some of the platforms only appear in „Arcane Mode“, a concept easily understandable for the players.
Important for us was to make sure the player knows which platforms are affected by the „Arcane Mode“, to prevent frustration from turning the mode off and falling to death. For that reason these platforms have a different texture.
The labyrinth was quickly prototyped within the UDK to test how to lead the player through it without frustration.
It was later removed because other rooms turned out to be more fun.
In the casino room you can see a sort of puzzle. The slot machines show different types of symbols; the doors in the room have symbols on them as well.
The player has to photograph the slot machine displays that show three symbols in a row. We thought it would be fair to guess, since three in a row on a slot machine is an eyecatcher.
We included ghosts spawning when the player photographs wrong items because we wanted to encourage players to figure out their surroundings without wildly photographing everything and getting confused over what they picked up.
The ghosts also work as feedback, surprise element (raising tension) and a better solution than having nothing happening at all.
In the first sketches the player was supposed to photograph a giant cake and hand that piece of cake to a wolf blocking the stairs. In the implemented version the player has to photograph a steak which seemed to be easier to understand.
The boss battle
I decided that the boss fight should take place in a huge circus ring, as contrast to the whole game before taking place in narrow spaces mostly.
I wanted the arena to look overwhelming, the player wasn’t supposed to see its upper end in the dark.
Since the „Arcane Mode“ makes everything visible, I had to place audience on all of the terraces, not only where spot lights are.
For the boss fight we chose TV screens because of the dark/light contrast and the possibilities they provided.
First boss concept:
A lot of ideas for puzzles we came up with in the beginning were dependent on the interior of the fun house which was still in development.
We continuously iterated the rooms and the number of them, merging them together, to keep the whole game as tight and fun as possible.
As you can see in earlier map sketches I did, we had developed four different camera modes and gameplay situations for them.
In the end, the game was too short to justify the existence of all of them, so we merged them into “Arcane Mode”.
First floor walkthrough
The camera modes as they were originally designed:
Game Design, Level Design – Julie Junker, Eva-Kristin Beilmann
Art (Concept, 2D and 3D) – Isabelle Baschista, Hac Hai Pham
Scripting – Franka Schmidt, Ralf Benecke
Audio – Julie Junker
Narrator – Robin Tamura