Masaka is a sidescrolling 2-player strategy game, combining elements of platforming, beat’em ups and MOBA-inspired elements.
It was developed with the Unity Engine at HTW Berlin.
In a Japanese harbor town you play either the frog or monkey lord.
You lead your minions into battle, let them capture and defend turfs, collect money and fight the enemy lord.
Awarded “Best Game 2013” at Game Space, HTW Berlin.
Download Masaka here. 2 Controllers are recommended.
My tasks included
- Designing the interaction with minions (throwing, attaching, tail)
- Designing minion behavior
- Designing core mechanics
- Defining controls
After developing Fun House I wanted to learn more about game design by making a completely different type of game.
I was responsible for interaction design and game mechanics (in particular the interaction with minions), defining controls and playtesting; working closely with the other game designer and programmer.
Check the following gallery for information about the early game development:
Most of testing and balancing was done within the Unity engine. After having the core elements implemented and working (such as moving around, a standard attack, attaching minions and capturing turfs), we added extras like throwing minions, additional attacks and money for bonus points.
It was our goal to make all mechanics intuitively usable.
As guidance, we defined 3 “pillars” – the most important things we wanted to focus on and make all decisions with them in mind:
1. Fast paced
We wanted the player to enjoy the fast movement and fights.
2. Resource management
Since Masaka isn’t a beat’em up game only, finding a good solution how to merge fight/strategy was our main goal.
Instead of having many different strategy elements, we developed only a few and made each of them integral for the gameplay.
To fuel competition we focused on the interaction between the players, e.g. by allowing them to steal turfs and money from each other and making fights fun and worth some points.
- Standard movement, double jump, 3 kinds of attacks and various interactions with minions
- If lost all health, he falls down, disappears and respawns after a few seconds
We made sure that the player has a certain amount of health but can’t mow through countless amounts of minions without getting knocked out eventually.
- 1 type of minion
We thought of having different types of minions, for example heavier, slower ones with more power and minions with the ability to fight long-ranged, but then preferred to keep it simple.
Because we wanted the player to use them, we made them essential:
- Only minions can capture turfs
We also wanted the player to enjoy using them, so a lot of work went into the interaction and controls.
- Can be sent in one direction (they jump when they reach the end of a turf or platform, proceeding in the intended direction until they hit a wall – then turn – or an enemy/neutral turf
- If they meet enemies, they automatically attack
- If they reach an empty turf, they automatically capture
- Can be commanded to patrol an area (platform or turf)
In the following early drafts for the interaction with minions and how they were finally implemented:
I came up with it because the player originally was intended to be much faster than his minions. I liked the idea that he could quickly draw a path for them to follow and then
could take care of something else.
Now the player can also see the visible path of his enemy and crash the party.
- The map is divided into several areas called “turfs”
- Capturing turfs and keeping them is the most important element of the game; it grants the player most points with the least risk
- After x seconds with at least 1 minion of the team in a turf, the turf drops a certain amount of money, depending on its location (the more minions in a turf, the faster money spawns)
- Owned turfs let the player spawn minions, so players can access more minions quicker and build a bigger army
- Money can be collected by the lord who owns the turf, or stolen by the enemy lord as soon as the turf is empty; it adds directly to the score
Money fuel competition and adds further motivation to capture turfs and push the score.
It also supports the setting of the game.
- Light attack
- Heavy attack – can be charged by keeping the button pressed for maximum damage and maximum range, knocking the enemy minions and lord farther away
- Jump attack – pushes enemy minions far away
Knocking out the enemy lord grants the player 100 points, as much as a captured turf, but with way more risk of getting knocked out himself.
Because the game is so fast paced it is important to have good player feedback all the time, shown in the following examples:
During the first test session with players we thought about removing an attack and the throwing because not all of the players used them, but after noticing that some of the test players used those mechanics very efficiently, we kept all of them.
Programming – Tobias Wehrum, Sebastian Denzer
Game Design – Sascha Busch, Eva-Kristin Beilmann
Art (Concept, 2D and 3D) – Jan Ott, Robin Tamura, Alina Reder
Level Design – Jan Ott, Robin Tamura
Sound – Iwan Gabovitch