Displacement: Early Stages

hero_idle_colorDisplacement is a 2D platforming game where you must use a magical teleportation ability to solve puzzles and avoid obstacles. The teleportation is limited to areas within the character’s line of sight, requiring the player to find creative solutions and execute daring maneuvers. You can download and play a proof of concept demo of the game here (2.71 MB).

Displacement will feature at least six levels, each full of different mechanics and hazards based around the character relying on his line of sight to teleport. Some levels will have items or barriers that block teleportation. One will require the player to carry around a lantern into areas of darkness. The game will release on multiple desktop platforms.

An early iteration of the displacement mechanic. This illustration was used to elicit early opinions. Later iterations made the mechanic more forgiving and faster to use.

An early iteration of the displacement mechanic. This illustration was used to elicit early opinions. Later iterations made the mechanic more forgiving and faster to use.

Development History

Development began on the game in 2011 and continues today. As the sole developer, I am responsible for design, programming, writing, and illustration, though I do intend to hire a friend to compose a soundtrack for the game. As a result, work on the game depends heavily on my academic workload.

In September 2012, I released a proof of concept demo and a questionnaire in order to gain public opinion on the game concept and determine whether the teleportation mechanic had enough depth to warrant a commercial project. I structured the level design to teach players the “rules” of the teleportation mechanic without explicit explanation. 27 out of the 29 anonymous playtesters reported they felt fairly confident in their understanding how the game mechanic works. 21 (72%) said they would purchase a commercial game with similar gameplay. Playtesters commented they enjoyed the demo despite it having bugs and a few unforgiving puzzles.

With the success of the POC, I pursued possible game engines, including modifying the Torque2D. I even spent a few months programming my own game engine in C# using XNA 4.0 as a foundation. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that–given my limited spare time–it’s better to use a solution that will quickly result in something playable than waste months on technology that may or may not result in a better game. Something on the screen will always give you more insight than bogging yourself down in code. I ultimately settled on Construct 2, a user-friendly engine that creates HTML5 games.

Current State of Displacement

I designed nearly all of the levels and programmed most of the core game mechanics. At the moment, I’m working on establishing a unique fantasy aesthetic with a fog of war effect to help illustrate the teleportation mechanic’s reliance of line of sight. You can try out a few puzzles in an early build here (WASD for movement, right-click to teleport, E to pick up and drop).

I’ll continue to blog the progress as well as show the process of developing characters, game mechanics, technology, and narrative for the game.

Displacement: Early Screenshot

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