Paving the Way

Cross-Cultural Impact Jam - Grand Prize Winner

Game & Level Designer / Project Manager

Overview

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.   

Tools

 Development - Unity + ProBuilder, DOTween

UI design - Figma, Photoshop

3D Models(tactile pavings) - MagicaVoxel, ProBuilder

Project presentation - Canva, Photoshop

Background

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.

Retrospective

Since the theme of this game jam is "amplify the voice", our team had a brainstorming on the first day of the jam, try to target whose voice we would like to amplify in this project. However, as we all agree that the mechanic has to be fun to play, it is hard to narrow down the theme without knowing the gameplay combined with it. Thus, we decide to develop some paired gameplay ideas and topics, then vote for the final direction.

As a game designer, I believe that mechanics and gameplay should also be a part of storytelling. Furthermore, it should match and boost the theme. So I started to brainstorm a mechanic that has both a manageable scope and a meaningful topic. Suddenly, news I saw before jumps into my mind: a visually impaired person died because of the false design of tactile pavings. On the other hand, many people complain that these yellow, rough tiles are ugly and make people tumble, without noticing their true design purpose. A fun mechanic that relates to this topic almost immediately pops up in my mind...with a containable scope! I wrote down all my ideas and shared them with my team, and we decided to flesh this one out. That's the story of our first two days in this jam. 

The next few days are a bit crunching and exciting, as we are participating in this jam during our school time. Still, we are super-efficient: We set up the core mechanic of putting tactile paving blocks to send the VIP home, and Brayden, the programmer of our team, perfectly implemented it in about one day -- just wow! Now we got even more time to polish and improvise on it. After a few rounds of communication, we decided to add some detailed player guidance and a new play mode - a first-person view of the VIP. A play mode that allows players to pave the way for multiple players was also suggested. Unfortunately, we had to put it aside to narrow the scope, as this is just a  one-week-long game jam. 

 
This game aims to raise public attention to visually impaired persons(VIPs). While VIPs usually rely on tactile paving to navigate, few people realize how tactile paving works. Sometimes, poor urban design for VIPs can lead to injuries or even death. To raise attention and amplify their voices, we delivered a game that allows players to experience what it is like to be a VIP by helping them navigate through town using tactile paving. Besides building tactile paving, players can also play as the VIP and experience the path they paved in the first-person view. The game became the Grand Prize Winner of this jam and received lots of positive feedback from both judges and peers.

This project is the first time I try to play the role of project manager, and I am happy to see our efforts paid out. Although with challenges from time-zone, physical distances and languages, we worked closely and delivered terrific results. As the game designer, I provided the core idea and gameplay of this project, and helped with the tutorial UI design. I also designed and made the most challenging level in this game - Level 3. If you are interested in trying, click the button below to play it with WebGL :)