MALIN WONG

UX & Level Designer

Nominated in multiple Categories for Swedish Game Awards 2019; Best Art, Best Audio, Best Narrative and Best Technical Execution.


The Black Rose was top 5 in the "popular" category on itch.io 2 weeks after release with over 3000 downloads. It was also picked up by the YouTube let's-play community. Press here for a let's play-compilation playlist.

The Black Rose

Gameproject 3, June 2019

Roles: Level Designer, C# Scripter, UX Designer

Time: 7 weeks

Team Size: 3 Designers, 4 3D Artists, 2 2D Artists, 3 Programmers

Tools: Unity 2019, Perforce P4V, Visual Studio

My contribution: All Level Design, UX Design, C# Coding, UI Coding


I pitched to the group that this was an opportunity to challenge ourselves as developers and designers. We wanted to try environmental storytelling and horror for the first time, in 7 weeks.
I wanted to create a whole experience, which focus was mood and emotions, rather than mechanics as we had done before in the game projects.

Content

About

The Black Rose is a first person, psychological horror experience. 

You are invited out on a date to the Black Rose bar, however once inside you soon discover that something is terribly wrong.


Interact with objects and find hidden notes left behind in order to discover the dark truth; the further in you go, the more secrets you will uncover.


You are not as innocent as you may think...

Level Design

The main purpose of the level design was to make the player feel exposed and vulnerable, as well as an ever-growing sense of dread.



I achieved this by creating uncomfortable and unpredictable spaces and angles but still having gameplay and pacing in mind.



The objectives of the levels are finding the notes and progressing, uncovering more and more of the narrative by paying attention to detail.

First Loop

• Everything seems "normal"    • More light    • Upright furniture and walls    • Light ambience sound


Map and referenced areas:


1. By placing the note and rose on the players eye-level once they open the game, as well as using light and interactable objects, I get the players attention towards the bar. I wanted to make the player continuously check the bar desk, teaching them that it's an area of importance, while also encouraging the player to look for details.


2. The bar is a bigger space to act as a sort of "breathing area", where the player can get a change of pace before going down the suffocating hallways once again. I used guiding lines along the bar and structure, positioning and light to guide the player into the corridor. I prototyped warm tones and light to make the space feel nice and welcoming.


3. I made the hallway narrow and tall, highly contrasting the open space of the bar, to give the player slight anxiety over entering the space. The shape of the hallway makes the player feel small and trapped. By not adding hiding spaces or furniture I expose the player completely, creating tension.


4. The 90° corners limits the players field of view. This on top of the unexpected spaces, like the wardrobe, make the player feel uncertain and vulnerable. This is also the case of the locked doors.


5. The "toilet area" adds more dead angles for the player and hosts events. This again creates tension, which later will be making the player dread every turn and sharp corner. To not break immersion all the spaces are dynamic, making it believeable as an old structure.
The attic space was originally made to host an event, but I kept it as a "hidden" scare, to add more depth if people replayed the game and missed it the first time.

Last Loop

• Looping into insanity    • Less light    • Crooked furniture and walls    • Intense ambience sound


Map and referenced areas:


1. I wanted to remove any feelings of safety or comfort from the player by featuring less light, as well as making the player depend on their lighter. This forces the player to pay more attention and focus on the screen, as well as helping with the scary ambience. I still placed some dimmed lights to guide the player.


2. The structure rotates inwards on the player, changing 1° or less each loop. This subtly conveys the feeling of weight slowly crushing down on the player, which ties in with the narrative about guilt and looping into insanity.


3. The last full loop the player gets chased by Roseanne, the enemy. She stalks the player in the hallway, forcing them to run.


4. Already existing furniture and items were used to make a believeable blockade, to guide the player in to the end level.

Scripting

Lights Out Event

This is the first event after the player has picked up the lighter. This marks the start of the horror ramping up.

I made the prototype and then a programmer helped to refine the code.


The event got changed after playtesting. Here you can see both versions of the event, early and finished product.



The Service Bell

I created a simple animation in Unity and coded the service bell, which is a fun interactable for the player. I mainly used animation events for this.

It's also used in the chase loop, as foreshadowing when Roseanne arrives.



I created a simple animation in Unity by using the "record" mode in the animation window, whilst rotating and moving different components of the Service Bell mesh.

The TV

I made the TV script, which plays a video on the TV via a canvas when the remote control is being interacted with.


I created it to add more interest to the bar, and to encourage the player to pay attention to details.

UI Scripting

The Main Menu

Working together with a programmer, we pair programmed some of the menu functionality.

He showed me some tools, and I used them and my own research to create the diegetic menu system together with him.


The main buttons are static meshes, while the UI sliders are on canvas in world space.

The script lies on one of the buttons, and some of the components are dragged in the script in a public array.

UX Design

The Main Menu & UI Desicions

I thought it was extremely important to have no or as minimalistic UI as possible in game.

As we wanted the player to be very scared, even removing them from the game world for a split second could break immersion.

A 2d artist made the poster visuals.




1. No UI.

Working closely with a 2D artist, we decided that having no UI in game would be a desicion that would benefit the game. Instead, to communicate to the player when they could interact with items, we decided for a minimalistic prompt or hand icon on the screen, with the corresponding interact button.

I thought that consistency in our prompts was very important, so I made the desicion to just have the hand icon with [E] on everything instead of [E] Open, [E] Close etc.

This was also because I didn't want the player to pay too much attention to the prompt, so if it was the same text every time they wouldn't stop to read it.


2. A main menu in world space.
The believeability of our game world was very important, so that the player actually could feel like they were in it. This made me want to attempt a diegetic menu system, which is a menu system in world space.


3. Player feedback.
To communicate to the player that a button was hovered, I made the material on the mesh switch, making it appear as if the flourescent light was glowing. I wanted auditorial feedback as well, and I worked with our audio designer who made an electric sound.


3. Not leaving the game world.
Since I wanted the player to stay in the game world, when opening the options menu the camera "zoomed" in with a lerp instead of adding an UI canvas on the screen.


4. Including more people.
By adding the functionality in the options menu (brightness slider, headbob toggle and mouse sensitivity), I wanted to include more people. I wanted more people to be able to experience our game, wether they had an old monitor, easily got nautious or needed a different mouse sensitivity.