Echo

 Johannes Olsson                                   Telephone: +46 722 431 026     JohannesO92@gmail.com   www.linkedin.com/in/johanneserikolsson/ 

Have you ever had this recurring dream, a dream where you revisit a specific moment, a time when something went wrong? In Echo, you are in exactly that dream. You play as a young girl named Mira. A cautious girl who enjoys her comfort zones, but this time, she’ll have to leave them behind.

Venture into Mira’s subconscious, and watch her familiar surroundings fall apart. Overcome obstacles, as her mind fails to repress the memories of past events. But, Mira won’t have to face them alone. She will find aid along the way, deep in the water. Help Mira take control of her own mind, and confront the challenges to come.”

Echo was developed by a team of ten during four weeks. My role was that of a Level designer and Scripter. The group used an agile method where task was delegated through Trello, and sprints organized according to milestones.

RESPONSIBILITIES AND CONTRIBUTION

  • Designed the level from paper prototype, block out and implementation of the puzzles as well as other level events.
  • Collaborated with other disciplines to create a level which told the story through the environment and its mechanic, the reflection.
  • Scripted the camera functionality and implemented it into the level, tweaking its functionality to deliver the desired player experience.

DESIGN OBJECTIVES

  • Player should feel small and powerless in an uncertain environment where twists of known rules are around every corner.
  • Let the player experience the story both through environment and mechanic. They should interpret it themselves, nothing is spelled out to them.
  • While the environment can be daunting at times, we want the player to remain curious throughout the experience.

The task was to create a game where the player experienced the story not only through the environment but where the gameplay was directly linked to the narrative. To cater to the dreamlike and daunting environment which we aimed to create, we wanted to keep the player on their toes and in an “everything can happen” mindset. Twisting the rules of the mechanic not only help us to keep the gameplay interesting, it also makes the environment harder to read, making the player feel smaller and powerless while yet maintaining a curious mindset.

QUICK PICTURES

A few example of the level design, and some theory behind it. If you are interested in how these scenes fit together inside the game, i encourage you to check out the walkthrough below. I use Gifs to show the level design, as the camera was used to evoke specific emotion responses.

To make the next room appear bigger and more daunting, the player moves down in a claustrophobic environment with heavy mechanic sounds. We suddenly zoom out with the camera to make the player feel small and exposed in a dark environment. 

WALKTHROUGH

To guide the player forward, we show a snippet of the corridor at the other side of the door .We’ve also set up a light pointing to the door, as well as a flickering light to pull attention towards the correct area.. To add mystery, half of a family portrait can be seen in the background. 

The fast camera switch emphasizes the surprise to the player. We use the corridor to frame the introduction, with enough space for the player to investigate and experiment with this new mechanic. 

The mechanic is inverting the players movement. If the player moves to the right, the reflection move to the left. Both the player and the reflection can grab objects. If one of them grabs an object, the other may move freely. (See GIF Below)

As this is the first puzzle with the reflection, we try to make things as simple as possible. We set up the camera to show everything which is needed in one go, keeping distractions at a minimum. The levers silhouette is clearly seen, together with lights from the elevator. This puzzle challenges the players spatial ability; however, they only need to move in one direction to grab the lever and solve the puzzle. 

To make the next room appear bigger and more daunting, the player moves down in a claustrophobic environment with heavy mechanic sounds. We suddenly zoom out with the camera to make the player feel small and exposed in a dark environment. 

At the second puzzle we twist the known rules for the first time. The reflection has been presented to be isolated from the players dimension, however this time the reflection will interact with the player’s world while moving a box from one side to the other. I used pipes to guide the players eyes towards the box, and flickering lights to guide the player to the where they needed to jump. The player has used a box before and is also required to jump upon one to traverse the space.

We set up the background to tell the story, hopefully raising questions inside the players mind. The space is kept clear as to not distract the player. Walking forward, we surprise the player with a sudden light and explosive sound. The light shows the body of the main character in the water. Further raising questions in the players head. 

The player enters a hospital room, where things from her home environment can be found. Her father’s hat and her teddy bear can be found there sitting in the waiting room. A small symbolic puzzle is solved in other to move on. 

The third and final puzzle. This time we introduce a new dimension to the puzzle, where we put the reflection upside-down in the roof and, force them both to interact with the same object. The player is guided to the correct place by light. 

The player is then led into a corridor with water on all sides, tension is raised by the beeping of a heart monitor. The further the player moves, the more intense is the sound is. As the player cross to the other side, the monitor flat-lines, and the game ends. The ending is kept open and is up for debate among players.

Scripts

This chapter shows some of the scripts which i created during the development of Echo. You can click on the picture for a bigger picture.

Interact prompt

It sometimes might happen that some players does not understand how to control their character. If the player stay for to long in front of the door, We show a prompt.

The ending

We wanted the ending to add to the mystery. We did not want to explain anything as we wanted the player to interpret the story in their own way. 

The Main camera

The camera followed a spline through the game, it would change when players entered a collision box. I actively used to camera to enhance the narrative. In this case, i use the quick swipe to surprise the player when such effect was wanted.

 Johannes Olsson                                   Telephone: +46 722 431 026   JohannesO92@gmail.com   www.linkedin.com/in/johanneserikolsson/