Role: Designer / Producer / Animator
Team: Robert Chen, Peter Clain, Yaw Etse, Chelsea Howe, Joyce Lee, Kevin Locke, Caitie McCaffrey, Hao Nguyen, Christopher Ra, Melissa Sung, Gordon Szebenyi, Matthew Whaley.
Dev Summary: An incomplete PC game created in XNA in Fall 2007.
Concept: Symbiosis is a two person networked game about the relationship between two dissimilar but dependent creatures. The players, one as a human, one as a beast, have no idea who the other is, cannot text, talk, or communicate in any way except through the actions and gestures of their avatars. Each character has its own skill set, but neither can survive long without the aid of the other. The beast requires the human’s help to open doors and gates; the human relies on the horns of the beast to ward off attackers, and the speed of the beast to outrun that which can’t be defeated by force. Part puzzle, part adventure, and part something entirely new, Symbiosis strives to give players a unique experience unmatched by any single or multiplayer game on the market.
Why?: Without the stresses and deadlines of a company, our game design team has the ability to explore innovative and experimental gameplay. The idea of cooperative gaming is familiar, but never forces the players as deeply into their characters as Symbiosis. As naturally as an ordinary human can’t understand the growls, neighs, or barks of an animal, and visa vie, the two players are unable to communicate through the spoken or written word, and instead must rely on their actions and a limited set of gestures to convey intentions, commands, or emotions. This restricted communication can lead to emergent pseudo-languages between partners using their gestures and motions, as well as a deeper sense of reliance and co-dependency.
Design Notes: Our team strives to expand common perceptions of what a game is and how it ought to be played. Not only through restricted communication and partner-oriented challenges and puzzles, but through the nature of the player’s goals as well. Toying with archetypal win conditions and experimenting with artistic styling in-world have set the gaming experience apart from classic RPG, adventure, and puzzle games.