April 19, 2013

Prototype 1: Chips and Wires

Hello Everyone. My name is Brian and I am the other half of the programming team on Nurbits. Today I will take you through the design process of the first prototype for our game.

Once we settled on the pie slice game mechanic, I began prototyping what I thought it might look like as a basic step sequencer like puzzle game that relied heavily on the computer chip as neuron association outlined in our grant proposal. I began work with a chip model that had on it one of our 3 patterns of differing time scales. Here are the 3 pattern representations shown below, each with a different pattern, in yellow, that must be hit for a chip to reach its threshold to fire. The patterns not only represent the threshold that must be reached, but also the pattern of signals in which that chip fires on to whichever chip it is connected to.

The patterns on the chips represent beats in a measure of a loop of a song, with each “slice” on the pattern representing either a quarter, eighth or sixteenth note. Having these different note lengths/pattern sizes would help not only with increasing the difficulty throughout play, but also allow for more varied and unique musical composition.

Each chip also has a number of inputs on the left and an output “wire”, on the right, that could be hooked to another chips inputs. The example below shows a 16 beat pattern with two inputs.

The puzzle I came up with for this prototype involves connecting a string of chips together from the starting “stimulus” chip to a goal chip at the other end. The stimulus chip is there to give one or many starting signals to the puzzle, each with their own pattern corresponding the pattern of a chip. The player must recognize and match these patterns with the correct chips, and once a chip is successfully connected, the chips audio will play in time with its pattern. 

To better show this I have made this below video to take you through a level of this prototype. 
Once you've watched the video and understand the basics of our gameplay, feel free to try to play the demo yourself, which we have provided here (Unity Web Player required to play). 

Creating this first prototype took less than a week, which may be clear if you made something unexpected happen in the demo, but it was very helpful not only for me to get my ideas out, but also for the team to have some starting point to critique and iterate on. This prototype was used as the jumping off point for some different gameplay ideas and some more prototypes to come. I hope you enjoyed this look into our development process and remember to keep a lookout for our next post and playable prototype.

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