Hyper Syntax is a 3D flying game which matches fast multiplayer action with tight arcade-like controls and gameplay. Control the space by casting a light trail behind your ship to destroy other players. Available on Steam.
Level & systems designer for project
Created core documents, gameplay, and systems
Interim producer to manage tasks on all teams
Level design including all asset creation & hazard implementation
Responsible for all marketing on project; taking it to Steam Greenlight & indie showcases
At the highest level, Hyper Syntax is an evolution of Tron in a 3D space. Every part of the design supports that core concept, which is why there is no shooting. Gameplay is focused on those visceral moments of chasing opponents down and steering them into obstacles.
From the outset shooting was never intended and only shortly even considered for the game. Early on we messed with getting the feel of flying with a light trail down and examined player behavior, noticing players had plenty of fun minding their own business and going wild with light trails on their own. We honed this into an experience of getting players to interact more through movement rather than shooting.
Watching a match always gave a lot of visual stimulus from the flurry of light trails across the screen. Honing in that intrigue of both watching and creating these beautiful patterns to play through was always very important. Many game modes, from racing to creative to objective-based, were considered to support this. Eventually, we honed in on Capture the Flag as it gave us the most to work with in level design and creating fun, visceral gameplay within the spaces.
All the level design in the game supports player feeling over time. The spaces are large, often symmetrical and open. Early on players are free to explore and mark the territory as their own. As time goes on the space gets more claustrophobic and players need to make much more efficient use of the remaining space. Hazards are scant and most of this relies on interesting player input to make devilish traps. The game is a constant effort of outpacing opponents while making sure you build hazards you can also escape from.
Originally the game only had light trails and we saw how far we could push that. We messed with players interacting in a mostly empty box to see what they would do, but found it was a very single player experience this way. We still honed on that, but found that we had to get players head-to-head more in a game inherently putting your primary tool of action behind you.
Secondly came the boost as a natural way to outpace opponents. With it soon came a stamina bar. The boost was a good tool to use to sneak up behind players and then swoop in to block their path. It made dogfights happen more and gave a push-pull effect to interactions. First players had to put themselves at risk to be able to steal a KO from opponents.
Lastly came an EMP blast, which is the only true offensive skill a player has. By tapping a button the player lets out a small EMP sphere from their ship which locks opponent ship controls temporarily. Holding this button charges it and makes the blast radius larger at the cost of more stamina. Locking the controls puts an important imperative on players to always understand their surroundings.
The Grid level I was responsible for creating, showing the light trails created by players early on in the game.
Levels are usually fairly large, with plenty of space for players to fly safely but with dangerous nooks to avoid others in combat.
Each level is distinct in environment, with a far-out space theme used to showcase plenty of different themes.
Level obstacles were created with distinct shapes to guide player movement towards certain parts of the level.
The white orb in each level represents the flag each player is aiming for, which can easily be seen from anywhere on any map.
As levels progress the negative space gets lessened, making late gameplay much more hectic and filled with danger.