Block ‘n Tackle’s Floating Characters

I’d like to make a quick note about the characters in Block ‘n Tackle, my Full Sail final project game, and a lesson I learned from their creation.

If you’ve played or seen video of the game, you probably noticed that the characters float in midair. The reason for this is that their collision boxes are much larger, vertically, than their character models are. You see, we had to have our levels designed and implemented before we got a chance to integrate our final character models. As a puzzle-platformer, the game requires the characters to be placed in precise positions in the levels to access platforms and objects: that’s the core of the gameplay.

The puzzles were designed with the collision of Unreal’s default character pawn in mind. Only after level design was complete were we able to get our final character models in and see that they were too small. Adjusting the characters’ collision so that they rested on the ground would either break our game’s puzzles (as it changed their positions relative to platforms and objects), or require readjusting every one of them. Unsurprisingly, that simply wasn’t an option with the time we had remaining.

So we were left with three options: break the game’s puzzles, use placeholder character models that made no sense with our story or aesthetics, or let them float. The decision ultimately came down to me, and I chose to keep the floating characters, believing it to be the least of the three evils. The lack of visual polish is a shame, but better than breaking the core of the gameplay or our world and characters.

The ultimate lesson, of course, is to be mindful about every aspect of the game. A game in development is many moving parts, each of which can change throughout the course of production. The character collision issue in Block ‘n Tackle taught me to think more about how those changes might occur, and how they might affect other parts of the game. In the future, I intend to be mindful of those things as much as I can and create plans on how I can work to keep them all in harmony. I hope that remembering to look towards the big picture in this way will help me to make better games.

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