Hello everybody, It’s a pleasure to be back on PlayStation Blog for a new feature about PS VR platformer Astro Bot Rescue Mission. Today I would like to show you the way the team has been coming up with the various gameplay ideas that made it into the game. It all starts on a sticky note….
Since the forming of ASOBI Team back in 2012, we are making a habit of brainstorming ideas regularly. Brainstorming is a relaxing time where anybody from the team gets to voice their ideas out in the open. The first thing we do is lock onto a specific areas to dig into. We never discard any idea. Because an idea that sounds ridiculous today could well be relevant tomorrow or become the springboard of something better.
Ideas we thought of are jolted down on colourful sticky notes that decorate our office walls. We keep it very visual because it is more fun, accessible and fits well with our international team. It does mean everybody needs to be able sketch their ideas to some extent. However basic it may look, the important is to get a clear, fun concept across.
In the case of Astro Bot for instance, on one occasion, we were looking for “Boss ideas”: something huge towering above the player that would feel like an epic battle. I clearly remember one of our designers drawing a huge gaping mouth with teeth you had to punch loose. A few discussions later, we added the hook shot and we had something we could take to the next level.
The post-it is then handed over to one of our game designers who will flesh out more details about the gameplay and create a simple storyboard.
Once again, we keep things visuals and avoid wordy descriptions. This ensures anybody in the team can get a grasp of the idea within seconds without having to read too much.
Once we are happy with the plan, the storyboard is handed over to a Gameplay Programmer who will single-handedly create a gameplay prototype. At this point, visuals do not matter, we are looking for fun gameplay first and foremost. The Gameplay prototype may take anywhere between a few days (for a small mechanic) to a few weeks (for a complex boss) until we are happy with it.
The final stage is the production. At this point, up to a half dozen people of all disciplines work together to bring the look and feel to what will be experienced by the player. This is when the dragon gave way to a gorilla to be more in phase with our city theme. The first version is always pretty rough, without fluffy hair, headphone and dramatic lighting.
Over time then, we refined every aspects, improved graphics, added special effects, sounds all sorts of other bees and whistles. Throughout the rest of production, we often do additional gameplay rebalancing until it feels just right. This is also when we turned the top of the building into a first-generation PlayStation console. Had you ever noticed?
This way of working may seem simple. And it is. It is a very useful way to try out lots of innovative ideas quickly while involving everyone in the thinking process too!
Thank you for reading today’s story, let us know what you think in the comments below and just like our colourful sticky notes, be sure to stick to PS Blog for more Astro Bot Rescue Mission behind-the-scenes!