Role | Project Lead Duration | 5 Months Tools Used | Unity, C#, Maya
Turbo Turbine Speed Simulator is one of several game experiences made for Chevron's Kern County Power Lab museum that I worked on during my two internship sessions with the Two Bit Circus Foundation.
Intended to populate a museum exhibit with a mad scientist meets renewable energy theme, the project is a four player racing game where players must align their car turbines with directional wind energy in order to propel themselves ahead of their competition.
As the project lead for this installment, I pitched and designed the concept and mechanics of the game and handled all of the visual aspects seen in the experience through modeling, shader work, and level design.
Turbo Turbine Speed Simulator and the other installments that were worked on for the Kern County Power Lab Museum were intended to populate a museum exhibit themed around a mad scientists lab and his experimentations with renewable energy sources. With theming of the mad scientist lab and wind power in mind, I geared the concept and contextualization of this experience around a high speed turbine tunnel where the scientist would test his ground breaking wind technology.
When envisioning the gameplay for this project I wanted to emulate old school straight road rally style games and landed on a simple yet engaging play experience in which the player controls the steering of their vehicle while also controlling the orientation of their turbines which grant more speed when orientated correctly.
With the intent of Turbo Turbine Speed Simulator being made for an arcade setting, considerations had to be made for the gameplay in regards to the mechanics and overall concept and experience that these mechanics would fulfill. Being an arcade game, the player experience had to be satisfying in the short span of time that they would be interacting with the game and it would have to have a degree of replayability.
With these ideas in mind I decided to streamline and simplify the controls and mechanics of the game, gearing the gameplay design moreso around how the racing level and environment would interact with these mechanics.
The first core mechanic and a fundamental element of any racing game is the car's steering and movement. From our reference and inspiration of old style rally car games, the design of the wind tunnel and track that our players raced on became a straight line which eliminated the need for acceleration and forward control. This design decision placed more of an emphasis on the car's steering, of which we constrained the maximum rotational angle where we wanted to find a happy medium between player control and difficulty of dodging level obstacles.
Steering and Acceleration
Having removed the ability to control acceleration and forward movement, our wind turbine alignment mechanic became the means by which player's would gain speed while also following the thematic constraint we had for the project.
The direction of the wind in the tunnel would constantly change as the player's raced indicated by the arrow outline above the player. The player's turbine direction which they would rotate accordingly to match the wind direction would be indicated by the solid arrow. The bar above the player would show how closely aligned with the wind direction they currently were and how much speed they were gaining as a result.
To further reward player's for achieving perfect alignment with their turbine with the wind direction, they would also gain a shield that would protect them against certain obstacles in our level.
Turbine Alignment and Shield
Turbine Graphics Explained
LEVEL DESIGN AND OBSTACLES
To push the replay value that we deemed so important due to the arcade game setting, we wanted our level design and the placement of our obstacles to be done procedurally. As the different level obstacles and their positions generate, the logic of our code alters the obstacles and positions that will be then be generated next, with an emphasis on switching up the types of obstacles to avoid repetition and ramping difficulty where more obstacles spawn as the player's get closer to the finish line.
Stationary Walls - Set walls that stop player movement
Moving Walls - Walls that move horizontally back and forth that stop player movement
Slow Fields - Fields that would slow player speed when driven over
Movement Traps - Traps that when driven over would stop movement for a period of time
Directional Strips - Diagonal areas that would push the player sideways
Along with the obstacles that would impede player movement, we also included boost pads as an interactable that would boost our player's speed and send them into the air for a period of time, allowing them to dodge the obstacles in front of them while air-borne.
For the visuals of the level, I created a series of modular wall pieces using an assortment of sci-fi asset pieces that then populated the level and racetrack.
TAKEAWAYS AND CHALLENGES
Being resourceful with assets was a key takeaway from my time with the Two Bit Circus foundation and in this project, as I heavily utilized kitbashing, modular asset creation, and shader work to create the supporting visuals for this and other experiences for both the level and game tutorials.
Playtesting was absolutely crucial for this project as we constantly iterated on various gameplay aspects such as the sensitivity of the turbine rotation and the frequency of different obstacles to get the experience as fun and engaging as possible.