Showstopper is an action party game where 2-4 players attempt to die on each other’s swords in order to gain the admiration of the audience.
Role: Product Owner, Lead Designer, Gameplay Programmer
Development Cycle: August-November 2019
Team Size: 5
Purpose: Senior Capstone
Target Platform: PC
Showstopper is an action party game where you and up to three friends play as actors trying to die a dramatic death on stage to win the hearts of the audience. To die a dramatic death, players must keep their own weapon out of the way while trying to land on an enemy’s. It’s kind of like reverse-Nidhogg.
However, it isn’t enough to just die on the enemy’s weapon. Actors are performing shows and therefore must complete an objective based on various plays/musicals. For example, with the Pippin show objective, players have to die on the enemy’s weapon without breaking any of the vases that are littered around the stage. These objectives add variation to the rounds and force players to vary up their playstyle on the fly.
However, we didn’t just want players to mash their bodies together while keeping their sword away. To combat this, we have the crowd favor system. By swinging your sword near an enemy without hitting them, jumping on an enemy’s head, or standing in the Spotlight, players gain some of the crowd’s favor. With enough, they’ll either gain a buff for themselves like faster movement or a debuff for everyone else like locking their sword in one position. This creates a nice dance where players are moving in and out of close combat.
Contributions and Philosophy
- Maintained a cohesive vision throughout production
- Designed with theatricality and ease of play in mind
- Scripted mechanics and systems with Blueprints
- Documented and presented the project effectively at various points for stakeholders
Having been given an entire semester to develop a prototype of whatever game we wished, my team and I worked to make a game about dying on the enemy’s weapon that was fun to watch and kept players coming back. We managed to create the prototype of our dreams with 2 show objectives to spice up the gameplay, the crowd favor system, tight movement options, and up to four player fun.
When designing the game, I needed to find a context that could make the concept of trying to die lighthearted, and we settled upon a theatre setting, which is severely underutilized in the gaming sphere, as the actors could simply pretend to die. From there, we were inspired by the theatricality of playing up the crowd and the variety of plays that we could bring to the game in the form of show objectives. Making the game simple to jump into, fun to watch, and encouraging to return to were the three main pillars of the design, and I think we met those well. I also designed the game for a live ops environment, including an entire reward/progression system that was not implemented due to the project not being pushed to a second semester.
Working in all three of my roles on the game was stressful at times due to my split responsibilities, but it was wholeheartedly rewarding to have a hand in every aspect of the game. I was able to finally work on a project in a truly agile development style where we constantly iterated. The design challenges I enjoyed tackling the most were those of reducing the complexity of the game’s controls and interactions to make it more accessible and incentivizing players to use the crowd favor system as a way to give matches more strategy and depth.