Pleading Flames

January - March, 2021 / System designer and Product owner / Team of 7 / Unity, Git, Redmine

A sci-fi FPS inspired by Alien Isolation and the Metroid Prime games. The player uses an industrial flamethrower to burn foes as well as for propulsion in zero gravity, in a story revolving around escaping a spaceship infested with mutated alien horrors.

During the first half of the semester I was the only designer present on the team. I assisted with documenting/implementing systems and made our early demo level.

A gif of the flamethrower in action

Core Gameplay

Pleading flames was originally to be a game of players setting traps and judiciously using resources, but as development went on, it became clear that the flamethrower was the real star of the show.

The idea of using a flamethrower as the player's primary weapon came from movies like the Alien franchise, as well as a personal desire to use a close range stream fire weapon instead of traditional guns and explosives. The nature of the flamethrower as a weapon which could burn through swathes of things at once made us opt to make the enemies more numerous than our horror counterparts.

We also gained newfound narrative direction for our game in our inspirations. In the Alien movies, traditional weapons are avoided because the monster's acidic blood would likely rupture the ship's hull. Since Pleading Flames features a small swarm of aliens instead of a singular giant threat, the team decided that the ship's hull was designed to resist heat better than direct impacts and explosions, since it would have to account for re-entry from orbit. This direction compelled us into more of a hard sci-fi narrative, and as a result, our systems shifted to become something that evoked the fantasy of being in outer space.

Zero Gravity Mechanics

One of my favorite contributions was designing the zero gravity system, Inspired by Teknopants's 0Space, allowed players to leap off walls and float through the spacecraft, or use their flamethrower to change their trajectory in midair.

I was particularly enthralled by the idea of using them as a sort of pseudo platforming segment, to slow gameplay down. By having these zero gravity segments free of enemies, we would not only minimize confusion about how the aliens would behave in a weightless environment, but also allow the player a second to breathe.

A gif of the player interacting with a zero-gravity zone

An early UI design

Player Feedback

A large part of our gamess feedback was implemented and designed by myself. Feedback was primarily conveyed through the UI I designed and implemented, as well through sounds I created externally. The flamethrower itself is actually filtered white noise (as well as several layers of crinkled plastic sounds).

The HUD was designed to evoke a minimalist science fiction visor, similar to the Metroid Prime games. By having all lines be at increments of 45 degrees, I created a strong shape language. Similarly, the palette of yellow and black was created to evoke the game's more industrial themes, as well as to contrast the common use of blue in science fiction palettes.