• Matthew Mudgett

Synergy: The Iterations of a Great Idea

Synergy is a cooperative, first-person shooter where four players must work together to conquer a boss and hordes of enemies. Each player has a unique ability that helps against the onslaught of enemies. There is a healer with a restoring field, a grenadier with an explosive shot, an assassin with a flurry of throwing starts and a tactician with a deadly laser grappling hook.

For this project, I was responsible for creating the UI as well as 3D modeling the props and enemies. To create the UI The original plan for this game was to create a randomly generated dungeon crawler where players searched for loot before facing a final boss. Although this was a unique twist on the original dungeon crawler genre, we quickly found that we were over-ambitious given the amount of time we had for development. We ended up consolidating our original idea to a boss fight without the dungeon crawling.

At the beginning of the project, I was eager to practice my 3D modeling skills and start creating assets for the game. These props were designed to add detail to each of the dungeon rooms but after we revised our original idea all of these assets did not make it into the final build. The redirection of the game also changed the direction of my design, instead of working on 3D modeling I started focusing heavily on the user interface.

During user testing, we found that some players had a difficult time with the controls and determining which ability their character had. As the UI designer, I discovered that creating a control and objective menu helped guide the player before entering the main game. Although the menus helped players understand the mechanics of the game many users still had trouble differentiating characters and their abilities during gameplay. The solution to this problem was designing different colored hubs that bordered each players screen. This visual aid helped players identify their character and quickly learn their ability.

Throughout the development of the game, one of the most important lessons I learned was the importance of working within a time limit. During the ideation process of game design, it is common for teams to overestimate the amount of work required for a project. Even though some of the 3D models I created for the game did not make the final build, I ultimately felt more comfortable using Maya. A great idea will often face many iterations before reaching its final stage. This lesson is an integral part of design and one that I hold close with all of the work I create.