Playroom: The Mechanics Sandbox

One of the biggest features of Building 37 is its unique gameplay mechanics. They are about as crucial to the game as the story is, and thus require a great deal of work to make sure they are done well. We have spent a great deal of time perfecting the abilities of the paranormal objects. The player is able to use the paranormal objects in conjunction with each other to create some interesting results. While we can come up with puzzles that would make use of the abilities, we don’t know how the user will interact with the objects, or how the player will combine the objects.
Just last week, we had our first, semi-public play testing. At this play test (which you can read more about here: https://twohatgames.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/play-testing/) we were able to watch how the players played our game. We discovered what they had difficulty with, and where we needed to add more instruction. We also learned how players interacted with the objects, and what they wanted to be able to do with them. This gave us an idea, in our next play testing session we should have a room dedicated to these objects. In this playroom we will have all of our paranormal objects usable in their current states so that the player may try all of them and we can see what is and is not engaging. We’ll be able to watch what they do, and how they make they objects work together, and from that, come up with new puzzle ideas that best incorporates what we learned in a unique way. We expect to be surprised and see our mechanics play together in ways we could not think of on our own.
The paranormal objects are a very central part of the game. In a previous blog post, the origin and story behind the objects is discussed in more detail. (you can read more about this here: https://twohatgames.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/paranormal-objects/ ) Now, let’s go into more detail regarding their abilities and usage from a gameplay standpoint.
The first object the player encounters is the Lektrax. This device is focused on giving and taking electricity from environmental objects. For example, if you come across a door that isn’t able to be opened, but you see a nearby security panel that is cut off from power, using the Lektrax, you’ll be able to take the power from a different object, like a light, and give it to the panel to open the door.

Playroom Planning
The second object is the Tohi Ganet. This device is focused on changing the direction in which gravity effects an object. This isn’t as simple as choosing a direction and the objects sticks to that wall, it will be setting the direction of gravitational pull in a certain direction causing the object to fall in that direction. All normal physics will still apply. This can be used in many different ways. One primary use will be the ability to clear heavy obstacles from your path, or create paths that would not normally be available to the player.
Lastly, we have the F0-110-W Sphere. The Sphere acts like a companion to the player, following the player around and performing tasks the player isn’t able to accomplish on their own. One of the most common uses for this object would be to enter small areas the player can’t fit, and reach isolated areas where it can then interface with controls to do many useful tasks, such as turning off security or opening a doors.
We have many ideas for how these objects can be used, as well as how they can be used together, but we know there will always be ideas we never thought of. This is where our playroom comes in. We’ll be able to watch what players do with the objects, and ask what they would like to do, and with that, we can improve on the mechanics, and make the game more fun overall. Besides all that who wouldn’t like playing in a paranormal sandbox?

Kyler Emmerich
Mechanics Designer/Programmer

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