Drunk Simulator is a Short Interactive Experience. The player, clearly intoxicated after a night out, has to find their way back to their home before they get too tired and pass out on the street.
Developed on Unity 2019 on my own over the span of 5 weeks, in this game I mostly focused on designing and implementing a polished User Experience, with some minor work done in the regards of level and system design.
Before I even started the production, I tried to break down the sensation of alcohol intoxication into isolated compartments, which were going to be made into game mechanics or features during later stages of production cycle.
I was able to discern 6 main elements: Dizziness, Lack of Coordination, Eyesight Focus Difficulties, Drowsiness, Memory Loss and Sensitivity to Loud Noises.
Replicating Dizziness required mostly camera work: translation animation on the X and Z axis with some occasional rotation animation on the X axis were only partially successful in achieving the goal. The qualitative data received from testers yielded significantly better results only after I introduced some head bobbing motion on the Y axis, and with medium to intense motion blur (changes according to the player’s energy levels).
Replicating Lack of Coordination was more of a challenge, in both designing the system it and implementing it in the project: The first attempt was done by adding a random delay to mouse and keyboard input, and some groundwork was done, but it still lacked the typical “stumbling around” that you do when you experience a state of drunkenness.
This was tackled by adding random values, at a random interval, for a random amount of time to the camera rotation values, which, coupled with the aforementioned input delay, resulted in the struggling to readjust their trajectory.
An yet the stumbling effect did not feel complete yet. The solution came when I thought of adding undesired movement to the character controller by linking it to the previously mentioned randomized camera rotation input.
For example, if the camera tilded upwards, without any input from the user, the character would also stumble back for the same amount of time. Once all of those three elements were implemented, the data gathered from testing yielded positive results, and so I decided to move onto the next mechanic.
The Eyesight Focus Difficulties was fairly simple to implement, and introducing a post-processing effect of
focus blur for elements that were further away proved to be good enough.
The Drowsiness and Memory Loss had more to do with System Design, and I will talk more about them in the its dedicated section, but the first one has to do with an increase of Lack of Coordination intensity as the playtime increases, while the second one made the directions disappear for short amounts of time.
In regards of Sensitivity to Loud Noises, a system of two audio filters have been layered on top of each other in order to replicate the hearing of an intoxicated person. The first filter will muffle the global audio, while the second will pick up the loudest noises and further amplify them, resulting in a generally confused audio output with occasional noise spikes that disrupt the user’s focus.
While Level Design was not a focal point of this project, I still had to put a considerable amount of work into this field, as one of the game challenges was to find your home by navigating through an urban environment.
The main challenge I encountered while designing the level was to create a player path that was not too obvious to follow nor too hard to identify, as the main challenge of the game is for the user to fight against the unpredictable and unresponsive character controller.
The design pillar that led the Level Design was that the user, in the unfortunate case that they would take the wrong turn and get lost, would be able to recover in no time (hence giving more space for them to move around and experience the aforementioned character controller rather than staying still and think about the correct route).
This was achieved by the use of one Pillar Spatial Archetype, always visible across the map (and midpoint of the level), and different minor landmarks, such as small town squares, uniquely colored buildings and sound cues) that would help the player navigate their surroundings.
All the landmarks that are mentioned in the player directions UI section feature a unique appearance, so even if they forgot to pay attention to the written instructions, they can somewhat guess where is the direction they need to go, something that come extremely handy in the later stages of the game, when the memory loss mechanic starts to kick in, and specific instructions on how to get back home will not be available at all times.
It's worth to mention that the two distinct areas of the level, City Center and Suburbs, have distinct appearance, buildings and even background soundtrack and ambience.
Although this project’s System Design is fairly simple as I had other focuses, the main Design Pillar for it was to provide room to explore early on, and deliver increasingly stronger tension spikes through the later stages of the game: in the first half the user has the chance to familiarize with the camera effects and with the unpredictable and unresponsive character controller, while in the second half the difficulty will start to scale up at regular intervals by increasing the intensity of the effects of the player’s drunkenness, keeping the player challenged throughout the end.
The game has a fixed duration, represented by an energy bar, which displays to the player how much energies their character has left before their alcohol intoxication takes over and they pass out on the street (Game Over).
The time is designed to allow the player to complete roughly two thirds of their way home before the energy bar reaches the halfway point. However, after that point, the previously mentioned increased symptoms of the drunkenness start to kick in, making the character controller slower and harder to handle, providing a surge in tension and sweeping away the feeling of security they had.
Once the game reaches this point, making mistakes in following the directions will become significantly costlier. Nevertheless, the last segment is designed to take that into account, and it does not provide as many chances to make mistakes as the first two thirds.
The point of maximum tension is reached in the character’s house driveway: their final objective is recognizable and in their sights, however, the extremely slow speed and unresponsive controls create uncertainty if they will be able to get there in time.