March 2018 - May 2018
Made with Unreal Engine 4, Feast on the Frozen is a first person adventure in which the player takes on the role of a Wendigo who must feed on both humans and wildlife to survive. Players will navigate a frozen wasteland in search of answers that lie hidden within. The game contains wildlife AI, human AI, an open world environment, a leveling system, and more!
When the team decided on making a game about a wendigo, I started planning out how a creature of that type might play differently than a human. It was not enough to just cut and paste typical FPS controls onto our character, It had to have its own life.
- The player had to feel like a monster. I began looking into VR controllers and the idea of a swimming motion to crawl forward. Because VR was a little out of scope, I tried to convert that idea to mouse and keyboard. Thus, left & right mouse clicking to move was born.
- The next step was to design the creatures abilities. Clawing and biting were a must, then I added a bile projectile and scream, and a team member came up with adding a scream to scare nearby foes. One of the challenges of our team was making the character swing his arm without a dedicated animator. I was able to program faux animations in unreal blueprint that worked decently well. At this point, our goal was to make the player character interesting without any environment to play in. If we had this, we knew we could make an interesting game.
- I didn't want the player to have traditional health. Instead, I gave him a hunger meter. The player had to consume food often enough or they would simply die. When we added enemies we eventually just turned it into a health bar, but the players health would still deteriorate from hunger. During research of the wendigo, part of his lore is that he is a cannibal. His intense hunger for human flesh was the basis for the hunger mechanic.
The Player Zoo
For the player zoo, a lot of the mechanics were reworked completely, abilities were added and removed. Our team was extremely ambitious in the amount of content we wanted to produce, and so I had to teach myself the basics of AI as well as pump out a multitude of post processing effects, new mechanics, and more.
- I added the ability to leap as well as perch atop trees. I felt that a creature of this design would have enormous strength. Being able to perch atop trees may give the player better vision of his area. Since we were planning a large open-world environment, and lacked a map, this might have solved that problem.
- I worked with AI to create the foundations for doe and bucks. We needed a food source for the wendigo out in the wild, and having packs of deer move around would be interesting and dynamic. The doe would simply move around the map, but the bucks would fight back and hurt the player.
- We added fire as an environmental hazard. Because the humans are so weak compared to a wendigo, we needed a threat to balance the odds. We decided to incorporate fire as a fear of the wendigo, and make the creature very flammable.
- I removed the health/hunger bar at the top of the screen. Our team agreed to go the "minimal UI" route and use post processing effects to tell the player when they are about to die. A mix of bloom and chromatic aberration alerts the player they need to eat or they will die. To give the player better feedback when they have eaten a foe, I added the rib cage that drops when that action is completed. We quickly switched it to a drop that had to be eaten instead.
For the prototype, we implemented the art assets the team made and began world building. We created a sequence where the player starts as a human, eats another human, transforms into a cannibalistic wendigo, and proceeds to free roam around this snowy mountain in search for answers. This build had wildlife AI, where packs of doe would follow a buck until the player got close, at which point the doe would scatter and the buck would attack the player. We also had human enemies who would carry torches and attack the player. I implemented a progression system where each human killed would grant the player a different ability from the previous build. After hunting down all the remaining humans, the player would fight another wendigo, and finish the level.