Cooperative destruction with DDR pads

Class: Thesis I - 2018-2019
Instructor:  Frank Lantz    

The goal of Haze Era is simple: demolish all the city’s buildings by bashing into them with your laser orb while avoiding the holes in the city’s landscape. Once a building is destroyed, the space it once occupied is left empty, creating a new hole which will destroy the energy orb if it passes over it. This means that as increase your score, you are also increasing the difficulty of the game. Inspired by classic arcade machines like Ice Cold Beer and Whack-A-Mole, Haze Era utilizes a minimal control scheme and simple mechanics to create an experience that is dynamic, physical, and challenging.  Player input controls are limited and straightforward, with the complexity arising from the design of the machine, as well as each player’s communication style and board-clearing strategies. Play styles include contemplative-puzzle solving with a focus on slow, careful orb control, to chaotic speed-runs, with impulsive decisions and reliance on fast reflex time. The game consists of two DDR pads, with one player on each. One player operates the left side of the bar, and the other operates the right side. Haze Era prioritizes simple rules and a minimalist control scheme with the intention of creating a game with a low barrier of entry while maintaining a high level of difficulty.

As a designer, I wanted to create a game using a control scheme that did not have a steep learning curve and required the least amount of video game literacy possible. It was important to me to make a multiplayer game that did not give players with strong gaming backgrounds an advantage over those who did not. No single player is in control of the orb between them. Instead, they each adjust the height of one side of the bar, with the orb of destructive energy sliding between them. While players are incentivized to work together to achieve success, their style of cooperation is up to them. Whether it’s panicked shouting; careful planning and coordination; observation and awareness; or a telekinetic link, developing a constructive partnership with one another is essential to doing well in the game.

In the end, perhaps this is a game about navigating the spaces we sometimes find ourselves in, confined and frustrated with our limited ability to control or impact the world around us, However, our choice to destroy the world around us has consequences – but in this game, you live with the lasting results of your destructive acts. The path of destruction and short term rewards comes with consequences. But maybe that’s not so bad.  After all, sometimes the most satisfying way to release that frustration is smashing stuff.