TAFFU'S TALE: A TRICKY TRIP

ROLE

Lead Developer

DESCRIPTION

Taffu received his first assignment as a monster tamer in this magical world. 

He has been tasked to assist a village that is being troubled by 3 monsters.

Can you help Taffu overcome the challenges in order to befriend the monsters to restore peace to the village and its surroundings?

YEAR

2021

GENRE

Platformer

PLATFORM

MOOD & STYLE

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This was made by the artists

TEAM COMPOSITION AND CONCEPT

We were a team of 7 talented individuals that each had a significant part in the project. We wanted to create something cool and we wanted to challenge ourselves as well by taking on an ambitious project. We wanted to make every single thing in this project by ourselves and we did. Everything that you can see or hear (apart from the background music) was made by us.

Rutger van Teutem was the project lead and all rounder. His role was to ensure that everyone could work together and that everyone always had something to do. He also focused on the game design with Youri.

Youri Schuring was the game designer. His role was to make concepts based on the chosen idea. In these we would find things such as gameplay, story, and interaction. 

Yasmin van Rooijen was a 3D artist that focused on environmental assets that were not nature. These are assets such as buildings, structures etc.

Xander Stuivenberg was a 3D artist that focused on the other environmental assets that were nature based. This were plants, trees, UI, and some other 2D related things.

Anita Suetens was a 2D/3D artist that made the characters. She also focused on some UI elements and the story with the designers.

Bas van Seeters was the front end developer and tech artist in the project. He was responsible for shaders, post processing, lighting and more. He also worked on the dialogue and inventory system. Bas and I made the trailer together as well.

During the project I was the lead and back end developer. My focus points were with the player interaction in the environment. I also focused on the multiple AI's in the game from monsters to villagers, each monster had unique behavior. Another responsibility was that I ensured that the project would be bug free. I was also the model for the motion captures and together with Bas I made the trailer.

The game is about Taffu a young and new monster tamer. He was tasked with restoring a village to the glory it once had. The villagers were hiding in their homes. The place looked trashed and there were almost no food resources available. By capturing and taming the monsters the villagers could start restoring the village while realizing that the monsters were just as afraid of them as they were for the monsters. At the end the village is fully restored with the 3 monsters being the new inhabitants as well. 

CONTRIBUTION

The biggest responsibility I had in the project was the AI of the monsters. They had to be unique for the game, since our platformer game focused on introducing new mechanics throughout the levels. 

Together with the designers we came up with fitting mechanics as well as how we would like to see them in the game. After we settled on those choices I started creating the AI.

The first monster that the player encounters is in the forest. This monster was afraid and started cutting trees for its desires and as a means to escape from the villagers. This monster had a node based patrol behavior where he would run away to a different zone when the player got to close. If the player was stealthed the player could befriend it so that the monster followed the player. After returning to the village with the monster the villagers could repair all broken wood related things.

The second monster was a gigantic bird in a canyon. This bird was collecting anything that was shiny, mainly metals. The bird kept those metals in the nests it had build. This monster came with a puzzle mechanic as well. The bird always wanted to keep its metals close so it tried to spread them out over the nests. To tame the bird the player had to make sure that the carry weight of the bird exceeded what it could hold. Every time it moved from one nest to another it would pick up 2 items and at the next nest it would leave one behind if the nest was empty. With this the bird tried to spread out the items. You as the player had to solve the puzzle by predicting where the bird would go next so that you could leave items in it's nest to make sure that he wouldn't fly away. After taming the bird you would unlock higher jumps. By guiding the bird back to the village the bird started to clean the village up by collecting glass and trash. 

The last monster was the slime monster. The slime monster was a very hungry monster that wanted to eat fruits. In order to tame the slime monster you had to search the fruits it wanted so that you could feed the monster when it was resting. The slime trail slowed the player down since it was very sticky, so you had to be careful when platform near sticky areas. Once fully fed the slime monster would follow the player as the player seems like a reliable source of exotic fruits. Back at the village the slime monster helps with repairs. The sticky slime was used as glue and since the monsters cared about it's food sources the fruit plants were able to survive in the village.

I also implemented the patrol behavior of the villagers and the village progression system. Since we wanted to implement speedrun mechanics I also tracked everything from the player so that it would save the data in the form of a post card as the final reward. In the post card you could see your statistics.

SCREENSHOTS

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Saw Monster Environment
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Bird Monster Environment
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Slime Monster Environment
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Postcard

MOTION CAPTURING

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We wanted to have custom animations especially for the monsters. Due to this we went to the black box at our university to make custom animations. 

I was the actor in the motion capture suit. Rutger was the coach giving me guidance about what I should be aiming for or what I should improve. He also assisted me with complex animations. Bas was progressing the animations in the software and giving us a green or red light depending on the results. 

Due to our teamwork we were able to make a lot of complex animations for both monsters and villagers. 

In Unity we customized the rig that we would be using so that the animations could be used for any monster after some fine tuning. We of course had some fun in between as well in order to get the best of this technology that we were unfamiliar with. 

Thankfully it didn't take too long to understand the amazing technology behind motion capture and how we should calibrate the studio.

With all systems and custom animations in place we finally had version 1.0. It still required some fine tuning, polishing and bug fixing, but the end was in sight. 

At the end we definitely felt that we might have over scoped the project for the 8 weeks that we had, however we were also in agreement that we did a fantastic job delivering such a large scale project in such little time. 

As a team we had a fantastic chemistry. There was room for healthy debates and criticism where needed. This allowed us to push each other further without getting burned out. 

We also received a lot of compliments from both teachers and students which really felt rewarding for the effort we put into this. This was the first group project at my university where we had full freedom and we wanted to deliver something that showed how much we appreciated it. 

I also personally learned a lot from this project. It was one of the first game projects on a larger scale where I could work together with other developers. Rutger also did some development, hence the plural. And for once I wasn't the project lead. This allowed me to observe and see how a different project lead handles the project.

One big thing I learned was that I should've started prototyping in the early stages, instead of working towards the final. This would give the game designer more assets to mess around with. The prototype scripts would be thrown away, but could be used as an inspiration for the final product. 

It also felt amazing to be able to focus on just development and do what I enjoy most; programming. I enjoy being the lead as well and many other roles, but this project made me realize that in my core I am just a developer that enjoys creating games for entertainment purposes. 

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The Start Screen
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The Town Fully Restored

VERSION 1.0

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