Nicolina Åkerfelt
Level Design & Scripting
echotest4.png

Echo

echo.png

Echo

Roles: Game Designer, Sound Designer
Time: 5 weeks
Team Size: 3 Designers, 4 3D Artists, 3 2D Artists
Tools: Unreal Engine 4, Perforce P4V
Contribution:  Game Design, Level Prototyping, Sound Design, Pitch


Contents


About

Echo is a single player 2.5D sidescroller platformer.

Follow the story of a young girl named Mira, and her Echo in the water. Control both characters at the same time, as you overcome obstacles whilst Mira's mind fails to repress the memories of past events.


GAME DESIGN


ScreenShot00188_brigther.png


My biggest focus with the game design was to create a coherent atmosphere and environmental storytelling.

There were many discussions on how to convey the story of a girl who has drowned through the environments and level design in the game.

 


Family Hints

In the first couple of level sections, there are photos of the player character's family portraits hanging on the walls.

Looking at them, one can see that the player character's
father is wearing a hat.

familyhint_waitingroom2.png
 

Later, in a waiting room level set in a hospital environment,
one can find a hat sitting on a side table next to a bench.

What the game is trying to hint at with these objects, is that the girl's father is at the hospital, having left his hat in the waiting room.

The scene before the waiting room is placed at a bridge on a lake.
Here one can see ambulances standing by the lake side, and as the player crosses the bridge, a copy of the player character is
shown floating face-down in the water.


Locations

With the different locations and scenarios in the levels, the game is trying convey the dream of a girl who is in a coma after a near-drowning accident.

 
_Bedroom.png
1_Hallway2.png
 

The first levels are placed in a bedroom and hallway, presumably the player character's home.
However, all of the furniture is very big in comparison to the character, and underneath the wooden floor one can see water running.
This hints that something is not completely right in this scenario, and that the game actually takes place in the girl's subconscious.

 
Ambulance.png
 

In a later level, one can see ambulances standing on the side of a lake.
If the player continues to cross the bridge, a body of a girl who looks like the player character is shown face-down in the water.

After this, the player will enter a hospital environment, hinting about where the girl ended up after the accident.


LEVEL PROTOTYPING


ezgif-1-e4542bdfe6.gif

I created paper prototypes for obstacles and story beats in the game.
From my prototypes we created the three main obstacles in the game.
In these, the player gets to interact with the player character's
clone in different ways, and learn how the mechanics and world works.

The first time the player sees the clone is a short scene
where the player can see the clone behind a water barrier at the end of a corridor.
This is to introduce the player to the clone, without making them actually having
to use the interactions between the two in any way.


ezgif-1-23f74bb797.gif

The first interaction and obstacle is where the player gets to use the two characters for the first time.

In this interaction, the player is taught how to control both characters,
and that when one character is holding onto something, the other one can still move.


ezgif-1-f70df5b23e.gif

In the second obstacle, the player is taught that inanimate objects can cross
through the water barrier, which is blocking the two characters from each other.
Using the clone in the water, the player can push a box through the water barrier,
which the player then can jump onto to get up on a higher ledge, which is otherwise unreachable.


ezgif-1-b90965e5f3.gif

In the third and final obstacle, the clone is placed upside down,
and the player has to control one character on the ground and one in the ceiling.
Working together with the two characters to rotate a winch,
one can lift the anchor blocking the door out.

This interaction also shows a potential way of using the clone mechanic
in case this game were to be developed further.


ezgif-1-ddafdb5e43.gif

In the final scene, the player character opens a door connecting her world to the water world.
Whilst walking up to the door, a heartbeat monitor is heard,
beating faster and faster the closer you are to the door.
Then, when opening the door, the player character disappears into the water, and a flatline noise starts.

Here we hint at the player character not surviving the drowning accident, as she joins her clone in the water.
Nothing is said, but as the flatline is a familiar sound it will make most players think of
an electronic monitor as having no brain waves or heartbeat anymore.


SOUND DESIGN


The sounds in the game can be categorized as
player actionsbackground objects, and ambience.
Examples of the sounds can be head in the videos below.
The player actions consists of footsteps, jumping, landing and dragging objects.

The footsteps are dynamic, and change according to what physics material the feet hit, so that the player feels more
as if their character is part of the world.

Door2.png

Read More

The footsteps are dynamic, and change sound effect according to what physics material the feet hit,
so that the player feels more as if their character is part of the world.

The jumping and landing sounds are of a girl's breathing, to make the player character feel more responsive,
whilst adding to the feeling of being small.

There are objects in the background which makes noise, to add more depth and life to the world.
This is for example a telephone that which been left dangling off a table.

The ambient sounds in the level help the rooms to feel bigger,
and they create an eerie and unknown atmosphere.

Videos of Sounds


Sound Implementation

I implemented the majority of sounds for the game. One of these is the footsteps' sound of the player character.

The footsteps' sound effect depend on what
physical material the ground has.

The steps sounds change in pitch in order to make it not repetitive,
and in the wooden footstep sound effect there are
subtle wooden creaks played at random times.
This is to make the player character feel more like a part of the world.

Footsteps & Jump Sounds Implementation Blueprint


1

Animation notifies were placed in all animations where the player character's footsteps touch the ground.
A line trace is then sent downwards, to see if the footstep hit any kind of physical material.
Depending on what physical material the footstep hit (wood, tiles, or carpet), a corresponding sound effect will be played.

1