BVW – Round 2


Assignment: Design a virtual experience for a naïve user—someone who may have never played a video game before in their life. We were instructed to use indirect control in order to get our player through the level. We also had to include an interest curve—the experience cannot be boring or feel flat.

Team: John Baxa, Leisen Huang, Paul Navarro, Dorothy Sheng

My role: Game Design, 2D Art, Writer


  1. Our brainstorms were focused on ideas with simple mechanics that we could build a system around to introduce more complexity. While several groups aimed at navigating a 3D space, I urged our team to pursue a 2D route because they’re far more intuitive to navigate for naive users. I suggested the idea of doing a game about a dog lost on a vacation, which inspired Paul to talk about his recent trip to the Grand Canyon. From there, we created a platformer, where the player would control the platforms in order to guide our dog to safety.
  2. The story (which I co-created with Paul) was about a gunslingin’ Scottish Terrier named Poncho who needed to get his ball back from the depths of the Grand Canyon. We decided on a Scottish terrier, because it was more interesting for an audience to see a seemingly incapable animal navigate a dangerous environment. Also, the juxtaposition of a cute, silly little dog next to our cowboy (coughClintEastwoodcough) was too fun to pass up.
  3. For this project, I focused mainly on doing game design. I created three kinds of obstacles or enemies that challenged the player in three different ways:

      1. Cacti would be passive obstacles—blocking off specific areas so the player would be forced to choose between paths.
      2. Boulders were aggressive obstacles—obstacles that would purposefully enter the players’ path and force them to avoid or get around them.
      3. Vultures were not implemented, but were planned to be a timing-based obstacle, as the player would have to time their platform lift to avoid the vulture from attacking Poncho
  4. For visuals, we decided on 2.5D and were inspired by Wiley Coyote. I unwrapped and textured our hero, Poncho, and the environments. Poncho in all his glory!

Poncho model

  1. In our final performance, our naïve guest managed to get through almost the entire level (until stopped by a bug we didn’t catch in playtesting). Our professors also praised us for our theming and creating a “simple, yet brilliant” system where the naïve guest could immediately understand the mechanic and play the game, rather than struggle to navigate.
  2. For the BVW Show Afterparty, we cleaned up several of the textures, eliminated all of the game’s bugs, and cleaned up a few of the puzzles. It was a big hit with kids!

Lesson learned:

  1. Implementing all game mechanics in such a short timeframe is difficult. It’s best to try and get the most from a few mechanics than have many.