“How can gravity be so strong, and yet be so weak?” asks Rock Pocket Games’ Natascha Roosli. The question stems from the idea that gravity can hold objects down, yet it can be overcome by simply picking those objects up.
In trying to come up with the answers, the team at Rock Pocket Games have come up with their upcoming platformer, Oliver & Spike: Dimension Jumpers. “According to the researchers, a possible answer to this question is that gravity is not really a force that belongs in our universe. Perhaps it belongs to a parallel universe, and what we know as gravity is merely something leaking through.”
Roosli describes Oliver & Spike as Ratchet & Clank crossing with Zelda and Uncharted, in that it’s an adventure/platformer with a twist. A young boy named Oliver and his bull-terrier, Spike, seek to uncover events of the past and present that have occurred throughout the multiverse. Using his Dimension Jumper ability, Oliver can jump between dimensions to solve puzzles and explore new areas.
There are a number of different dimensions to play through, but Roosli and Rock Pocket are keeping many of these areas under wraps for the moment. However, Roosli did talk about three of the universes they’ve come up with so far. Terra is the dimension most similar to the real world. Firma has lower gravity and is home to creatures called the Wabas. Because of its low gravity, Oliver can perform double and triple jumps while exploring Firma. Finally, Aqual is a world completely submerged in water, creating full exploration opportunities. Roosli notes that in addition to working on other dimensions, they are also taking dimension ideas from the community.
The first trailer revealed Oliver and Spike in Terra leaping in the air before suddenly transporting themselves to Aqual, going from mid-jump to swimming in one swift motion. So will they be able to jump from dimension to dimension on the fly?
“They can jump pretty much at any time as long as they have the color coded crystals needed to jump into a specific Dimension,” answered Roosli. “One Crystal stands for one jump. We do not force the player to jump from a specific spot or location. One important aspect is the fact that if you stand on a random statue or stone (or house) you will end up on the exact same location in the other dimension. A big part of the fun lies in the freedom in jumping.”
Roosli adds that timing dimension jumps can be pivotal to solving puzzles. “At the start of the game, the dimensions are straightforward and the crystals hint at which dimension would be helping in a specific situation. We do want to design the puzzles with an open approach, though, so there is room for the player’s creativity. It’s important to make sure that the player doesn’t get frustrated by using a crystal by mistake. We will also work on including areas in which it’s possible to freely jump to your heart’s content in order to find hidden achievements and locations.”
How is it possible to create this level of detail in the world before suddenly shifting it to a completely different world on-the-fly? Roosli credits some ingenuity in working with the game’s engine.
“We actually made a tool in Unity which allows us to switch between Dimensions while the camera stays in the exact same position,” explained Roosli. “This makes it easier to compare and check positions of props in an efficient way and place them accordingly. After all, it is very crucial to the gameplay to have props and environments of linked dimensions relate to each other. It’s important to make sure there are no massive game breaking differences between the Dimensions while placing objects. It’s a lot of fun to design the areas and make them the same, yet different. Making props for every single dimension unique is certainly a big task but also very rewarding when we see the end product.”
“Then there is the issue with dimensions who have been influenced by the storyline, such as Firma. Parts of the dimension are missing due to happenings in the story, which the player will learn about. Obviously, the gaps and missing terrain are a challenge for the player. We consider disabling the switch inputs if you might die from switching at a special location but if we do this, we will most likely also offer a mode where you can switch this hint system off. Alternatively, we are playing with the idea of gadgets you can use to preview your locations on other dimensions.”
Also, while it’s an arduous process, the team also needs to check and make sure there aren’t any pesky collision issues. “On top of the manual level design, we do have a character controller which checks the characters’ location in all three dimensions simultaneously at any given time,” added Roosli. “In case of issues with object collisions, the characters will be slightly adjusted to avoid getting stuck inside props.”
Roosli also mentions that the team is hoping to add co-op, which can lead to additional achievements. One such scenario has Oliver distract a hostile plant, while the player controlling Spike sneaks up behind it and pushes down a giant log to crush it. A major part of the co-op experience is Oliver helping Spike reach different areas, since the dog can’t climb objects. Roosli says the focus here is on creative puzzling more than a cooperative combat experience.
There is currently no release date for Oliver & Spike: Dimension Jumpers, but Rock Pocket hopes to have the game ready for release on consoles with a PC and Mac version to be made later.
blog comments powered by Disqus