“Japan, during the Kamakura period, two students of martial arts stand before their final trial. Their task, to clear a city of its evil spirits, also known as Yokai, require complete focus, as one small mistake might cost them their life. For our students to attain the rank of a master, they must finish the Trial. Their goal is to travel into the city, fight the Yokai and ring the city bell, marking the success of their trial!
In Trial, you sit down, and together with your friend experience a top-down local multiplayer action RPG in a traditional Japanese setting. You’ll have to work together, fight alongside each other, and should one fall, the other may resurrect their friend from the dead to continue to fight through the city!”
Trial was developed by a team of ten during seven weeks. My role was that of a Level designer and Product Owner. The group used an agile method where task was delegated through a scrum board, and sprints organized according to milestones.
RESPONSIBILITIES AND CONTRIBUTION
DESIGN OBJECTIVES/PLAYER EXPERIENCE
The game consisted of five different areas. Training ground which held the tutorial, District Two, District Three, End Temple and The Hub, which connected them all and offered the player the choice of Either going for District Two or District Three first. However, as they reached The Hub and District Two we knew they had been through the Training Ground, and therefore knew they were supposed to Ring the bell to cleanse the city, that they knew how the gongs worked and how to pick up and use their weapons.
As they enter the hub from the training ground, a cut-scene is played displaying the bell, together with a gate in the background. At this time, the player knows what the gongs mean. To show that the gate is special, it is bigger than the others, and have a golden sigil imprinted.
The players arrive from the Tutorial area and go up the stairs is its their only option. They run straight into the bell placed in their view no matter how they run and are led Upwards and left by enemies and lightning into the Locked Golden gate. On each side of it, two smaller gates. The gongs on each side of the locked door speaks its clear language, the players have to find a way to reach the gongs. The U-shape of the space will push the players to either District Two, or District Three, showing a locked door either way. Each area has a unique set of assets to easily differentiate between the districts. (Continued below)
As our players approach District Two, we first offer them a Health-shrine to refill their health. The next space, clearly made distinct with stonewalls introduce the Snow Lady which is a ranged enemy guarding the gate. The players may see the enemy in beforehand, and are offered plenty of space to fight and learn how this new enemy works. As she is defeated, the players may ring the gongs and continue to District Two.
As our players enter the gate, they are rewarded with a new weapon found in a reward space. Reward spaces are areas which are circular and designed to feel cosy and safe. They are placed throughout the game after hard encounters and usually offer a weapon or health-shrine as a reward.
I wanted to create a memorable and unique experience in my district. As one player is forced to protect the other in District Three, i choose to do the opposite here. In the first part of the district (The Garden), we force them apart in a level-event which end with them reuniting as they may proceed. In the Second part of the district (The corridor) we force them to fight together while coordinating as to not damage each other.
Below i will go through each area seen above. Level-events have a GIF to show how it played out.
(District Two, The garden). I wanted to create a memorable and unique experience in my district. As our players are forced to fight together in District Three, i choose to do the opposite here to offer varied gameplay
As our players fight their way through the area we show them the second gong located at a higher floor. The players are forced to split up to ring both gongs at the same time. There is a health shrine before the Level-event, only seen by the player which takes the path to the right. To give information to one player but not the other (See red circle), offered an opportunity to communicate and work together.
Standing by the gongs I made sure that the gate is clearly visible to show them that their goal was achieved. We also get a good overview of the situation as the enemies’ spawn to overwhelm them. I wanted to create a moment where the players felt vulnerable and isolated, but where they fight to get to each other again.
As our heroes run through the gate they still don’t know what lay before them and their (presumably) low-health should make them nervous! Thankfully, as they reach the other side and run up the staircase, another Reward space lay before them with a health-shrine. The players may move on whenever they want. Before them lay the level-event “Cornered by enemies”, however before that we let them walk up a stair into a preparation space. Its purpose to raise tension and prepare them for the event to come. Here they also find a new weapon, which will help them a head.
(The Corridor) I wanted to create a moment which was different from the rest, but especially the gong-event which had been just before. Therefore, I force the players to fight tightly together in this corridor with infinite enemies. They spawn in front of, behind and at the sides of our players. They’ll have to be careful not to kill each other and communicate to coordinate their attacks. You could say it is the precise opposite of the previous event.
“One last challenge” I choose to present a Snow Lady, guarding the much sought-after Health-shrine. It is not as bad as it seems, as we have enough space for our players to fight her both at once. It also allowed for some tactical manoeuvres, as one could gain aggro, while the other replenished health, securing the kill.
Our players enjoy a victory stretch until they reach the golden gong and The hub district. Once there, they have to open the door by hitting the gongs. This opens the door to the last district.
As a level designer, I was also responsible for most of the Level Events taking place throughout the game. I scripted and implemented the Gong-puzzle to open doors, Both EnemySpawners in District Two and including the End-sequenceEnemySpawner.
The Gong-puzzle has a manager which keeps references to the Gongs and the door which it is supposed to open. When each gong is hit a bool is set to True which resets after two-seconds. If both bools are true, then we open the doors. In the case above, we have simply added some enemies to SetActive, which scales as they are activated for a smoother and more appealing spawn.
As any of the players enter the Trigger Box, enemies start to spawn from each spawn point in a defined interval, and move towards a defined position until the players enter their aggro range. The event ends by entering an EndTrigger which sets a bool which then prevent the enemies from spawning. the StartTrigger. The Endsequence inherits from “TriggerBoxSpawner”, but also check whether or not either of the players carry the Hammer, which us a requirement for it to spawn enemies.