Team Size: 8
Enter a world of cats and dogs who can both take human and animal form. Play as a newly recruited cat spy, assigned with a mission to investigate suspicious activities from a dog scientist. It has been rumored that the scientist has become completely mad and wants the dogs to take back power. The cat has to stop this before it is too late.
Sneaky Kitten is a narrative driven third- person action-adventure game. The core gameplay is stealth, with some elements of platforming.
Narrative Design: Worldbuilding and writing the story. I worked closely with the artist directing the cutscenes and deciding where to play them in the game.
Gameplay Design: I designed, documented, prototyped and implemented gameplay.
Level Design: I created one level from beginning to finished and I was a part of the design process for the rest of the levels. I also created a metric library.
Lead Designer: I was responsible for the GDD and communicating the vision of the game to the rest of the team. We used Scrum and I was responsible for the designers sprints.
This game started as a school project back when I studied at Stockholm University. Back then I had the role as Level designer and Scripter. After graduating we started the company Eight Lives with the goal of releasing the game on Steam. I then took other design roles and a lot of the original game was changed. I worked on this in my spare time while doing other jobs and studying at Future Games.
Growing up I was a huge fan of stories about spies, so when designing the world and writing the story I drew inspiration from franchises like James Bond, Alex Rider and Cherub. It was important for me that the main character was a spy that is a part of an secret agency. Everything else was built from that.
Back when this was a school project the antagonist was humans. But in that version the humans did not really have any clear motivation of why they wanted to attack the cat. So, when I took over the narrative design I decided to explore the idea of building the world with only cats and dogs, where the dogs wanted to overpower the cats. However, we learned from experience during the school project that it is relatiavley harder to implement a four-legged animal than a humanoid. So, when building the new world I decided to let the dogs take on a humanoid form.
Initially there was no way to take out the enemy which made the gameplay very one-dimensional. So I had to design a way for the player to take out the enemy. One our core pillar is that the game should be non-violent because we want it to be suitable for kids, so I had to keep that in mind. This led me to think of making the enemies into robots that could be shutdown. Building on that idea I made the main protagonist a mad scientist that is building an army full of robot dogs that is designed to overpower the cats.
Writing the story
After the worldbuilding was finished I started writing the story for the game. As I was completly new to this I did some research on tools I could use to tell a story. I used Heroes Journey to map out the story for the main character. This was used as a foundation for the cutscenes and level design.
Coming up with the core pillars for the game
The design process started with deciding the pillars for our game, which we could then use to guide us when designing the mechanics. The pillars:
One thing we really wanted to push on was having no violence. This was something we learned while playtesting the first version of this game in university, where kids really liked the game and parents appreciated that it was no violence. So this became one of our strongest selling points and a really important thing I had to keep in mind when designing the mechanics.
Prototyping and balancing the game in my test scene.
I created a test scene where I put in all the mechanics in the game. This was used to prototype and test new mechanics, balance the game and find good metrics for the level design.
Designing and implementing the enemies
When designing the enemy I began doing research, reading articles and watching videos how enemies are designed in stealth games and common mistakes people do. I then wrote down pillars based on the research and the overall pillars for the game, so I could use it to better guide me through the design process. The pillars:
I then made a flow chart over the enemy statemachine which I could use as a base when imlemented it in Unity using C#.
Taking out enemies
Initially there was no way to take out the enemies, but during playtesting we found that it was needed. When designing this mechanic I had to consider that one of the games core pillars is "non-violence". This gave me the idea that the main enemies are robots that can be shutdown, where the player can sneak up behind and turn it off by pulling down the tail that is a lever.
To get more variety in the gameplay I added some hazards like surveillance camera and laser security, which suited well with the spy theme. It could both be used in combinations with the AI and used separately in a room to get a break from the AI.
What I did:
Planned all levels, which included layouts, flow, narrative.
I created one level from beginning to end, both level design and environmental set dressing, and I was involved in the process for the rest of the levels.
I did blockout using the tools ProBuilder in Unity.
Leading the team
As the lead designer I was responsible for the documentation for all design in the game and communication that to rest of the team. Besides writing the GDD I setup a requirements document in Google Sheets that the programmers could use as a checklist to follow for every mechanic.
We also used Scrum as a method, and I was responsible for leading the sprints for the designers.
Setting up sprints using Trello
I was responsible for creating the backlog for the designers and what tasks we should be working on for each sprint.
We had a lot of struggles during this project. I think we underestimated the amount of time and energy starting an indie company takes away from development. This was also developed during covid which I think affected our communication and motivation, and it was harder to setup playtesting. Due to people leaving in middle of the development it was hard to finish the game, but a few of us kept on working and managed to finally release it.
Even though we had a lot struggles i was very happy too work on this and proud. Seeing random play and enjoy the game felt rewarding. I learned a lot.