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Charon's Crossing

Submission for the 48 hour Global Game Jam

Summary: Head down the River Styx on your barge, getting off at various piers to collect lost souls as you go. Some souls are confused and must be subdued first before they can be collected. Ringing your bell will attract willing souls to follow you as you move to the next pier, where they will be collected when the barge arrives.

  • Intuitive gameplay - Being a 24h game jam, there was little time for UI or a tutorial section so the game had to be intuitive for first-time players. One big issue was informing the player where the barge was, and how much time they had to get to the next pier. This was solved by creating a dynamic camera that, whilst partially focusing on the player, also matched one of the barge's axis. This means the camera would always keep the player near the center as long as they were maintainging a good pace, intuitively preventing them from being left behind.
  • Astmosphere and aesthetic - The underworld and Charon are often depicted as intense. hellish and demonic with a focus on flames, death and decay. However, we wanted a more casual atmosphere with Charon exhibiting a more melancholy tone as he simply goes about his day-to-day business (reflected in the voicelines). Consequently, the design centered around mid-poly, stylised designs resying heavily on a post-processing effect (this also reduced asset-creation times).  Addittionally, the ghosts are deliberately cute, glowing and appeareing somewhat translucent serving to both fit the theme whilst also providing light which works well with the post-processing effect.
  • Level design - Simpistic routes were not only faster to design but prevented players getting lost, losing their souls and falling behind the barge. A simple landscape painting of a path and grass layer along with outlining paths with foliage alsot made it clear of the general direction the player's should follow.
  • Ghost design - Ghosts are either willing or unwilling (15% are unwilling). Ringing the bell will attract nearby ghosts to follow Charon with the radius they are willing to follow within expanding over 7 seconds. If the bell is not rung near them again before this they will revert to aimlessly wandering again. They also walk half as fast as the player. This means the player is able to use their speed to explore more of the island and find more ghosts whilst still having to micro-manage their 'conga-line' in order to ensure they don't lose any. This allowed us to get a lot of gameplay out of a simple set of mechanics with the player following a 'macro-strategy' of finding as many ghosts as possible whilst continiously having to adapt and micromanage as their ghosts begin to wander. This is an approach I have observed in League of Legends where a lot of champions/roles with downtime have these minigame elements that keep the player engaged.