Descent of Champions
Ubisoft Game Lab Competition 2019
Technical & Systems Design Responsibilities
Combat Ability Design
Score System Design & Implementation
Jumbotron Design & Implementation
Platform: PC for players, Website for spectators
Production Period: January 2019 - April 2019
Hours Spent: 2000+
Descent of Champions is a round-based arena brawler with combat-based objectives. Three players use giant rocket fists to beat up robots to entertain the wealthy spectators.
Spectators take the role of extremely wealthy citizens paying for high-class entertainment. Using our custom-built website, spectators gain money over time that can be spent on challenges for the players and emotes to show off their support.
Winner of Best Creativity and Integration of the Theme! ($2000 Scholarship)
Other Award Nominations:
Best Art Direction and Production
Best Quality of the 3C's (Character, Camera, Controls)
Best Technical Challenge and Innovation
Finalist in the 2020 Intel University Games Showcase! Info linked here
For this project, I worked with Andersen (Designer) in the first five weeks to nail down systems that the player would be interacting with. To match the mandate of the competition, Spectacle, we decided to make an objective-based arena brawler based on gladiatorial battles of Ancient Rome. We took that base idea and gave the fighters rocket-powered gauntlets and pitted them against different types of robots, and gave our spectators the ability to pay using earned currency to spawn powerful enemies and effects to customize their viewing experience.
We decided to make our abilities reflect the controls of other arena-fighters that use Xbox controllers. Each fighter has a basic Rocket Punch, Rocket Dash, Ground Smash, and Rocket Clap. Rocket Punch is the base attack move, so we bound it to the X button to follow in suit with other fighters. We used the same reasoning when deciding on the B button for the Rocket Dash, as most movement abilities in other fighters are found on B. Ground Smash is a power move that does increased damage to enemies within a radius in exchange for having a cooldown between uses. Rocket Clap was designated as our ranged attack, damaging enemies with a sonic burst in an outward cone in the direction the fighter is facing. Similar to Ground Smash, the Rocket Clap also has a short cooldown to prevent spamming the ability. These two abilities were bound to Y and A respectively to keep all of the player abilities on the four buttons, which in turn gives each player the ability to combo moves.
The Rocket Dash ability. Documentation created by Andersen Pinckney
To create a sense of progression through the game, we decided to make our game last for five one-minute and thirty-second rounds. Each round chose from a pool of three gamemodes that were easy to understand and fun for the players. The first gamemode is Rocket Hockey, in which the players would earn points everything they punched a robot into one of the two Hockey nets. The bigger the enemy, the more points they received. The second gamemode was Core Collector, in which players had to collect the most cores of their color. Killing a robot drops a core in the player’s color. The bigger the robot, the more cores it dropped. The final gamemode was Golden Grunt, in which the players had to kill the most golden-colored grunt robots. These enemies would run away from players, forcing them to use their abilities to catch up to them and kill them. For the last two rounds of the game, the game would choose randomly from the three gamemodes, making sure the same gamemode wasn’t played twice in a row. All three of these gamemodes have one objective, which made it easy to understand for new players. Scoring was based on how many rounds each player won. If there was a tie, the tiebreaker would come down to how many total objective points the players had.
The three enemy types: Grunt, Sniper, and Elite. The bigger the enemy, the more they're worth for the Rocket Hockey and Core Collector gamemodes.
For the second half of the competition, my main priority was taking on programming tasks that we didn’t need our three programmers on, which mostly was our Jumbotron. The Jumbotron communicated everything to the players, so it was very important to make sure that every aspect was crystal clear and easy to understand. Along the bottom bar, we put the round number, time left in the round, and the current gamemode. This bar never leaves the jumbotron, as those three pieces of information are the most important. In the middle of the round, the players' score for the current objective is on the left side, highlighted by each player’s color. This also stays on the screen for the duration of the round, as the players need to see how they are doing. The remainder of the screen cycles through the time remaining, a gif of how to play the current objective, the current round’s leader, and the chat from our website. This was done to help replicate how jumbotrons at sports arenas act during a game. Putting the chat on the screen allows the players to see the support from those who are spectating.
The round end panel. The Jumbotron manager ensures that the proper round score, objective image, total round score, and current round display properly at the end of each round.
2000 hours of combined teamwork later, I feel very proud of what our team accomplished. At the same time, this contest taught me plenty. Being able to work out the pipelines of how features should be implemented as soon as possible is important. Otherwise, team members are sitting around because they have to wait for other team members. Being in a small team environment and working with other disciplines in the same room also allowed our team to quickly iterate and implement new features. Hard work does pay off, and it is an amazing feeling when you are recognized for it. I hope to continue this success in my future projects.
If you would like a copy of the game, please contact me!
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Richard Hardy - Designer
Mark Botaish - Programmer
Tyler Chapman - Programmer
Isaac Mills - Artist
Andersen Pinckney - Designer
Scott Aquino - Programmer
James Van Nuland - Producer
Nick Kline - Artist