Paving the Way

Cross-Cultural Impact Jam - Grand Prize Winner

Game & Level Designer / Project Manager

Responsibilities
Overview
  • Designed core game mechanic

  • Co-designed the first-person play mode

  • Designed the level 3 and co-designed tutorial levels

  • Build tactile paving models

  • Designed UI for tutorial and instruction

  • Worked as project manager, be responsible for presentations and arranging workflow, etc.

Paving the way is a 3D isometric casual game intended to raise public awareness of visually impaired persons(VIPs). Players will play as the urban designer in the third-person view, build tactile pavings for our VIP to navigate him back home safely. After passing a level, a first-person mode will put the player in the shoes of VIP, and re-experience the path they built in a different view.   

Background
Tools
  • Development - Unity + ProBuilder, DOTween

  • Management and communication - Discord

  • UI design - Figma, Photoshop

  • 3D Models (tactile pavings) - MagicaVoxel, ProBuilder

  • Project presentation - Canva, Photoshop

Paving the way is a casual game and Grand Prize winner that incubated during the Cross-Cultural Impact Jam. (Click here for press release)

Cross-Cultural Impact Jam is a week-long virtual event with support from Unity and the Cultural Services of the French Embassies in the U.S. and Canada. The event brought together approximately 70 student developers from Canada, France, Senegal, and the United States to participate in activities that explore how to design for social impact and workshops on the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion within the games industry. Students worked in groups of four to develop a prototype experience in Unity around Amplifying Voices.

Given the theme of this jam, "Amplifying Voices", our very first challenge is to come out with an idea of the core mechanic. As we all agree that the mechanic has to be fun to play, it is hard to narrow down the theme without knowing the matched gameplay. As a game designer, I always believe that mechanics should never be detached from the theme. Thus, I decided to first figure out whose voice we are going to amplify.

Paving the Way was born from a simple idea: I read some reports about how lousy transportation designs can cause severe injuries or even death to visually impaired persons(VIPs). VIPs usually require extra supports when traveling around. Many cities applied a special-designed block, tactile paving, to assist VIPs in navigating on the street. This suddenly inspired me to make a game about building a reliable and safe path for them. This idea makes the team thrilled when raised, and we decided to follow the real-world tactile paving standard in the game.

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Once the core mechanic was established, I started brainstorming how to flesh out more details and features. I thought about having multiple VIPs walking on the street and let players transfer them to the correct destination. We still keep it as one of the potentials, but we chose a more impactful solution in the end which provides a first-person mode for players. This mode lets players experience the road they just paved, and puts them in VIP's shoes.

As a game designer, I feel lucky to get a chance to work on a topic like this and bring impact to society. But as the project manager, the experience is arduous: A global team from different countries with language barriers; Remote collaboration in time zones from PDT to EDT; Squeezing time out of ongoing classes and assignments; Disappeared teammates...It is impossible to imagine how we can deliver such great work with all these challenges. But we made it!

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project-management.png

We conducted an asynchronous way to work and communicate. I use Discord to coordinate everyone's job, maintain the to-do list with priorities and update the team every day. Finding time for a virtual meeting is tough(just look at this team's available timesheet), and waiting for replies is torturing. I have to prepare lots of backup plans to avoid stuck workflow. But all these works turn out to be worthy, and I am super proud of what I made.  

At the end of this tiring but hair-raising 7-days, the team delivered our final product. Credits to our efficiency, we finished the core gameplay on day 6, a day before the deadline. But I still spent some time polishing details and levels:  adding corresponding UI design and braille symbols, designing a big enough city environment and obstacles for hardcore players in Level 3, etc.  And we are happy with what we achieved: Paving the Way became the Grand Prize Winner of the jam and received lots of positive feedback from both judges and peers.

(And this photo here is a screenshot of Twitch stream video from Unity - check it here!)

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The Cross-Cultural Impact Jam has been a terrific experience for me, and I am grateful for this opportunity. I met fantastic teammates here, polished my skills, and more significantly, produced a game that has the potential to impact the world. I sincerely hope Paving the Way can pave the way for a safer environment to live in, especially for visually impaired persons.

Interested to play? Click the button below to play it with WebGL :)