Body Designs

August 25, 2015
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The game’s feel revolves around the analog sticks on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 4 controller. I love the smooth motion of moving the stick in a fast or slow circle, the way the stick snaps back to the center of the controller, the gentle resistance of pushing the stick in any direction. There is a fluidity and ease in the action of the analog sticks that I find lacking in most button-based control schemes.

My desire to make the game’s movement feel great has driven the game’s development and informs almost every aspect of the design. From the shape of the bullet patterns, to the sound of painting a wall, Soft Body‘s mechanics encourage movement and give personality to the game’s tense and joyful fiction. I want people to take tons of small risks and push their luck by skirting fields of projectiles, and I want them to find fun and choices in their characters’ flowing animation and to push themselves to master controlling two characters at the same time.

Control two things at the same time

In Soft Body, players are able to control two characters at the same time, one with each analog-stick. For most people, the split consciousness requirement of this mechanic is a new sensation accompanied by a mixture of focused effort and baffling inability. I like to compare it to learning how to sing and play guitar at the same time. Though difficult and odd, this control scheme provides a straight-forward framework for adjusting the game’s difficulty: gradually increasing the need for separation also increases the difficulty.

Separating the two bodies is simple. By pushing the right analog-stick from it’s center resting position, the Ghost Body detaches from the Soft Body and becomes independent. If the right analog-stick returns to it’s resting point for a fraction of a second, the Ghost Body will automatically return to the Soft Body and reattach.

Painting

Paints walls by moving the character close to it. Simply paint all the walls to progress through the level.

Notice that you do not need to be right next to the wall. In general, Soft Body’s mechanics tend to err on the side of simplicity and generosity rather than exactness. Players love to speed through painting, but a small painting range means that players occasionally miss a wall or two and have to revisit an area. I have found that giving the player a larger painting range strips away some of this fussiness and allows people (especially younger or inexperienced gamers) to enjoy speeding around levels.

Pushing

To push the ball on the rail, players need to attain the Ghost Body. With rails, I can map out a path for the player to follow without constraining or limiting player movement. Similar to painting, I designed the rails to be simple. Get close to the ball and the ball goes forward. Take note that the red body is able to split off from the yellow body and push the ball.

Multi-layered levels

A lot of levels in Soft Body consist of multiple layers of geometry. When players finish painting a layer of geometry, that layer will then disappear and a new one will appear. Sometimes, new enemies and turrets will spawn as well.

Source: gamecenter.nyu.edu
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