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Spy Cats Intel: Fall 2023

Written by Colwyn Bordeaux and Carter Kiss


This semester, the Game Design and Interactive Media capstone group’s goal was to bring the spy in Spy Cats and create a new level. We started off the beginning of the semester by brainstorming new mechanics, the story of Spy Cats, and level ideas. Then, we moved on to create the 2nd level in the game.


First, we started with brainstorming mechanics where we had over a dozen ideas split into categories such as combat, movement, and abilities. Below is a screenshot of our jam board with all that we brainstormed.



That's a lot of ideas! We're a small team and have a limited amount of time to work on the game, which means we’re unable to do everything, so the team narrowed the list down to a handful. The ideas we decided to run with for abilities are the extendo-tail, where the player can use their tail to attack enemies from a distance, the meow enhancer, which stuns enemies, the hacking ability which sees the player complete a minigame to unlock doors and other secrets as they traverse the level. Movement we decided to include wall climbing and a jump boost. We also decided to include the ability for the players to disguise themselves from enemies.


Next, we brainstormed ideas for future levels and changes to the level currently in the game. Below is a screenshot of the several different ideas we had. Just as the mechanics we narrowed down this list of ideas to three and decided on one to work on this semester.



Now that the brainstorming sessions were done, we got to work on creating the level and programming the new mechanics we decided on for the semester. The team started with programming the wall-climbing mechanic and drafting concepts of the main, and the sub-world we decided to include, at the research facility level.




The level design team started off blocking the level in-engine after the concept paper drafts were made, with the vents subworld. Here the player uses the wall-climbing mechanic to traverse a maze-like world set in the facility’s air ducts as they travel between floors. As the design team started work on the new mission, the art team drew concepts for new enemies that players may encounter.



The level design team then moved on to blocking the main world. Here the player must traverse the different floors of the facility, find notes, fight rats, and avoid detection by the security cameras to find out what the rats are doing in the facility at night. Below is a video showing off the completed first version of the level.


Let's cover each new feature in detail.

The Teleporter

One of the big new features at the facility level is the introduction of the teleporter. This advancement in technology will help you navigate levels at lightning speed to get to where you need to go fast. Teleporters are scattered around this new level and act pretty self-explanatory. Just walk in and you will be transported to another part of the level. With the inclusion of this feature, levels can be even bigger and feature even more unique areas!


Wall Climbing

A new mechanic we’ve implemented this semester is wall climbing. On certain objects such as bookshelves and filing cabinets that block your path, you’ll be able to climb up them. So how does it work? For each object that’s climbable, we create a blank object with a hitbox, attach a script, set the object’s tag to the climbable tag, and set it to the ground layer. When the player walks up to the climbable object, the player script checks for the tag and toggles an “is climbing” state. If this toggle is on, the player can then climb the object.


Collectibles

Oh shiny! We are introducing collectibles to get your ha- I mean paws on! Soon you'll find collectables scattered around the facility level for players to collect. By finding these collectibles you'll unlock secrets and story details.


Stealth

The last new mechanic we want to touch on is stealth. Stealth is an upcoming feature to Spy Cats and will allow players to sneak around levels to avoid enemies and level hazards.


That’s all the progress we’ve made of Spy Cats this semester. Stay tuned for future Spy Cats Intel reports, and be sure to wishlist the game on Steam!


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