Ethereal is an action-puzzle game where a drowning soul seeks redemption by using bubbles that the players will create through voice and manipulate through gesture in a water-inspired world filled with ripples and challenges.
Archive for the ‘Ethereal GDD’ Category
– For iPad and iPad 2
– Created in Unity iOS
– Other software and plugins used :
– Librairies used :
– Sound format :
Death is but a passage into another world. However, before the last trip, one must resolve issues from his past and come at peace with certain moments of his life. The moment of euphoria that happens while drowning becomes a long journey during which we can revisit moments of our life and get a second chance. In this water-inspired and ethereal world, voice becomes bubbles, which become the only mean to be heard in this environment populated with ripples, emitters, weird soundscapes and impenetrable walls, all remnants of our former life.
In Ethereal, the whole environment and the actual avatar merge from the same character. As this anonymous person drowns, he/she revisits soundscapes and situations from his/her past to which anyone will be able to relate, making our “character” a relatively generic figure.
Second-to-second gameplay loop
Minute-to-minute gameplay loop
Bubbles are the players’ main mean of action. They are created through a voice input, of which we’ll observe three parameters : duration, volume and pitch.
- Duration determines the size of the bubble. As long as a single vocal input lasts, the bubble will grow. However, there is a maximum size after which the bubble will burst.
- Volume determines the speed at which the bubble will grow. This way, the players can make their bubbles faster, at the expense of precision and at the risk of bursting the bubble if it goes over the maximum size treshold.
- Pitch determines color.
A bubble is created right in front of the avatar and contains the voice sample that led to its creation.
Once created, the bubble’s lifespan starts decreasing. When it reaches zero, the bubble bursts.
The player can flick the bubble. He does so by doing a quick motion with his finger. As soon as the lifts it, the bubble goes on on its own. Its speed decreases at certain rate.
Bubbles can interact with their environment in various ways:
- Ripples : the interaction between a bubble and a ripple will be determined by the actual properties of the ripple and the bubble’s color. If their are both of the same color, the bubble will not affected. If they are not of the same color, the bubble will get pushed away at strength determined by the ripple’s frequency.
- Walls : bubbles can either bounce on walls or burst after contact, depending on the wall’s properties.
- Emitters : A bubble can also activate a dormant emitter. The latter will take the former’s color and start to emit ripples. The bubble can switch some emitters’ color as well.
There is a limited amount of bubbles that can be in play at the same.
Players can make bubbles burst on purpose by double-tapping them.
Variables breakdown (some are already included in Unity, of course) :
- Deceleration factor
- Maximum size
- Growth speed
- Size / lifespan ratio
- Burst level
- Color / alpha
- Sound sample
Ripples are the game’s other big component. They also represent sounds in the environment. However, most of the time, they hinder the players’ progress instead of helping them.
Ripples are created by emitters, which determine they actual properties (angle, strength, sound sample, etc…)
Ripples have an impact force, meaning that they can move objects depending on their strength/frequency. They will always block the players, but some bubbles may pass through them depending on the bubble’s and ripple’s colors.
Just like bubbles, they’re main properties are decided by the nature of the sound sample that led to their creation, though it has not been decided which sound properties will determine what.
- Strength / Frequency
- Angle of dispersion
- Sound sample
Emitters emit ripples. Their behaviour can be determined by the game or by the players’ actions through bubbles.
They can emit bubbles from 30 to 360 degrees in different directions. They can be constantly emitting or emit ripples in small bursts.
They can be moving, either by translation or rotation.
Emitters contain a default voice sample that is most likely integrated within the soundscape of the level.
Emitters can be activated by touch by bubbles, which will give them voice sample it contains, which will in turn influence the ripples created.
Variables breakdown :
- Emitting angle
- Emitting rythm
- Voice sample
- Moving type
Walls will limit the players in their progression, either to mark the limits of the playing field or to block their path. Here, the expression wall refers to a physical obstacle, though it could take different shapes in our ethereal world.
Walls can move by themselves of after being activated by a switch.
There are three types of walls :
- Solid walls : these are basic walls that block physical objects. Bubbles bounce on them.
- “Spiky” walls : these walls make the bubbles burst on contact.
Variables breakdown :
The avatar is a vague representation of a human soul dying. It is very weak, thus it can only move in the absence of physical obstacles such as ripples or walls.
The avatar is controller by the players’ touches. Its forward direction always faces the direction of the last touch that was not on a bubble.
Bubbles are always created right in front of the avatar.
Variables breakdown :
Cores are…the core of what the game is about. They represent the core of the memories and issues the player is trying to solve before drowning.
When the player gets to a core, it is inactive. The player must then activate it by either throwing a bubble on it or activating a nearby emitter that is aimed at it. Once activated, the core’s color becomes the one of the object (ripple or bubble) that led to its activation.
When a core is activated, it starts pulsing of the color it needs to be. The player must find a way to throw a bubble or ripple that is of that color, for everything to be harmonious.
Cores are protected by blocks, which are described below.
- State (inactive, activated, transformed)
Blocks are some kind of defense mecanism that prevents the player from accessing the core to easily. Though they are sharp and not looking as organic as the other objects in the game, they do move together as a somewhat living organism. They react to the player’s action in different manners.
Blocks can be movable, meaning that the player will be able to drag them around the screen at some points.
Blocks almost always have a position they want to get to if they’re far from it. Most of the time, it is a core, but it can also be an emitter or a point in space (that would let them block the bubble’s path, per example).
When more than one of such points are on screen at the time, the blocks will move in a way that both points are protected, thus dividing their number at each.
- Point of interest
By pressing a button, the players will be able to use their voice to create bubbles. To do so, they’ll be able to use three means of control :
– Pitch – Controls the bubble’s color. The color is determined by the player’s last pitch.
– Duration – Controls the growth of the bubble. The longer the voice input is, the bigger the bubble will be
– Volume – Controls the growth speed of the bubble. The louder the voice input is, the faster the bubble will grow (just like blowing stronger in a bubblemaker)
Tap’n go (avatar control)
The avatar will move towards the point where the last touch last position was last registered, at a constant velocity.
If there is an obstacle, such as a wall or a ripple, between the avatar and its target, its movement will be stopped when colliding with it.
Avatar speed :
Double tap (bubble destruction)
When the players want to destroy a bubble (if it is in the way or if they wants to get some oxygen back), they can double tap it.
Time window for the second tap :
Dragging / Flinging
The players will be able to drag the bubble around simply by putting their finger on them. The bubble still gets affected by the collision and ripples though.
The players will alsobe able to flick a bubble by releasing his finger after a quick motion, which will determine the direction and the speed of the throw.
By pinching his fingers, the players will be able to slightly modify a bubble size and thickness in order to change its properties.
The game will have no constant HUD
To be determined.
To be determined.
Since the game revolves around voice input, it makes sense that sound should be of the utmost importance.
Each puzzle will be separated in a given amount of steps from the initial situation to its resolution. At the beginning, the ambient sound is dissonant and kind of disturbing, if not annoying. At each of the forementioned step, an element of this soundscape should get resolved, making things more harmonious. At the end of the puzzle, everything sounds great, giving an audio feedback that adds to the gameplay and visual feedbacks.