Role | Solo Project Duration | 3 Weeks Tools Used | Unity, C#, Maya
Hibernation is an isometric arcade-esque game in which the player assumes to role of a hungry bear whose goal is to eat as many calories as possible in the limited time-frame before they must undergo the process of hibernation.
I was the sole developer on this project and it was built over a 3 week period under the constraint that its gameplay loop be no longer than two minutes.
While brainstorming ways to contextualize the design constraint of a limited play time, I landed on the topic of a bear who naturally faces it's own time constraints in the wild in which they seek out food to consume before they must hibernate through the winter. (Though the numbers of caloric intake in the game do not represent a fraction of what bears can actually eat in the wild during this period!)
Inspired by Untitled Goose Game and seeing the parallels between Hibernation and it in it's theme and gameplay, I set out to capture the same light hearted and humorous style in Goose Game that I was so fond of in my own project and attempted to do so through the music, presentation of UI, visual style, and gameplay interactions.
GAME MECHANICS AND INTERACTIONS
When designing the mechanics and actions that the player could take in Hibernation, I first considered the different environmental interactions that our bear could play with that would later make up our different game puzzles. In vein with Untitled Goose Game, I wanted to ground the bear's actions in reality which quickly narrowed down the avenues that I could explore for the player mechanics.
A challenge that arose for me after nailing down the three main player mechanics of: eating food, mauling objects, and picking up objects, was how I could utilize these mechanics to create different puzzles that didn't feel repetitive and that were engaging and stimulating for the player. The primary method that I sought to do this was creating a variety of different environmental interactions that utilized the player mechanics and actions in tandem with one another that would chain and lead to the puzzle reward of food.
DESIGN PROCESS - PUZZLE DESIGN
Referencing the animal involved puzzle gameplay in Untitled Goose Game, I designed and implemented various different puzzles and challenges that the player could complete throughout the level using their actions as a bear that would reward them with vast amounts of food and in turn calories that would fuel them for the upcoming hibernation.
The design process for the puzzles in Hibernation began with honing in on what the reward for each puzzle would be: food. With this in mind I began ideating on the various actions, environments, and interactions that the player could play with using the combination of aforementioned mechanics that would yield food or puzzle items/interactions that would lead to food.
1. The player walks past a sign next to a pond that reads: Fishing Hotspot: Sockeye Salmon Love Grub!
2. The player walks past a NPC exclaiming that they love fishing and have so much grub.
3. The player mauls the NPC causing them to drop their grub.
4. The player picks up the grub and brings it back to the pond where 4 Sockeye Salmon then spawn, where they can be eaten for calories
1. The player walks past a NPC exclaiming that they have so many hotdogs but no firewood to cook them.
2. Through exploration the player will find an axe on a picnic table and dead trees throughout the level.
3. The player can pickup the axe and bring it to one of the dead trees to create firewood.
4. The player can pick up the firewood to the NPC which causes a large amount of hotdogs to spawn, where they can be eaten.
I wanted each puzzle in Hibernation to have at least 3 steps of thought / action to avoid falling into a trap where the puzzles became simply bringing an item from point A to point B which would then yield a reward. Using environmental tells such as NPC exclamations or sign readings became the primary jumping off point for the puzzles in the game though I'd want to experiment with different avenues and just overall more complex puzzle design when I polish this project in the future.
GAME RULES - CALORIES & SCORE
The player's goal in Hibernation is simply to eat as many calories as possible in the two minute timeframe that they are given, with eating foods directly adding to the player's score or calorie count. The foods in the game utilize accurate real world caloric counts which allowed me to reward players with higher calorie foods if they completed puzzles as opposed to just simply walking around and eating the food already placed in the world. For instance, completing puzzles will usually yield high calorie foods such as salmon, steak, and ribs or an abundant amount of lower calorie foods, while trash bins that can be mauled and the ground would only contain apples and hotdogs.
GAME RULES - TIME
The natural phenomenon of a bear racing against the clock to eat enough food for hibernation worked naturally well in the arcade-esque time setting and I attempted to push this further in the game by creating a day and night lighting system that would reflect based off how much time the player had left.