Indigestible is a 2D platformer about a corn kernel named Cornelius trying to make their way through different digestive systems. The idea for the game came from a game jam where the theme was “passage”, and I thought that it would be fun to make a fast-paced game about trying not to get digested.
Type: Game Design, UX Design
Tools: Adobe XD, Affinity Designer, GameMaker, Unity
Team Size: 2
Platform: Web game
The first build of the project was made by myself over a weekend using GameMaker Studio 2. The image here shows what the game looked like when I submitted it to the game jam. All assets, animations and code were done in GameMaker.
Once the first playable prototype was completed and the game jam was over, I thought more about what I wanted this game to be and how I might be able to improve it. While GameMaker was a great way to get my first build out the door, I felt that using Unity and it’s tools would be a better fit for where I wanted to take this project. Additionally, my brother Jonathan joined the project to assist me with game/sound design, so I could devote more time to exploring the UI/UX design.
Explore the UI/UX Design for a corn themed game
As with all of my projects, I really enjoy trying to figure out how different concepts interconnect with one another. Trying discover innovative ways to display information to the player seemed like an interesting challenge to tackle.
I started off by sketching some ideas for what the UI in the game would look like. I knew that I wanted to incorporate different characteristics of corn into my designs, so I started off experimenting with that.
The first menu I worked on was a title screen menu. I thought that it would be fun to have a person eating corn on a cob, and having the options rotate with the corn. Next, I made a pause menuwhere the player character turns into a piece of popcorn, and then use their expanded body as the container for the menu! I made the prototypes for these menus using Adobe XD and Unity.
Below are a couple of videos showing these menu designs.
Title Screen Menu – options rotating with corn
Pause Menu – Playable character turns into container for menu
Something I thought would make the experience a bit more memorable was if I created a custom controller to go along with it! I purchased a DIY arcade joystick set and started out by testing the components to see how they mapped over to my PC. I then put the components into a shoebox until I could get my hands on a better enclosure.
I then worked with an artist friend of mine named Colleen Jennings to create The Corn-troller! Since Indigestible is basic 2D platformer, we designed a controller with only a few inputs in order to make the experience more approachable to players who are not avid gamers. I had a opportunity to showcase the project at a community event where quite a few people (specially kids) were drawn to the Corn-troller and were really excited to play the game with it!
Below are some images showing the process for building the final iteration of the Corn-troller!
It’s really fun to explore design that relates back to a specific theme
When I first started working on this project, I thought that I would only be able to come up with a few good corny puns (I’m so sorry). However, the more time I spent researching and learning about corn, the easier it became to visualize how different ideas could intersect. By creating a mindmap of these intersections, I was able to come up with ideas like the pop-up menu inside a popcorn shaped container, as well as the Corn-troller!
Game jams are a great way to learn and get outside of your comfort zone
While I don’t participate in game jams as often as I would like, every time I get a chance to join one I feel that I learn something new! For Indigestible, it was one of the first projects that I developed solo. I definitely got advice and feedback from my peers as I worked on it, but it was great to start with a prompt like “passage” and see how the seed of that idea became the prototype I ended up with. I believe that being able to perform all of the tasks in the game dev pipeline (art, design, coding, etc), even if it’s at a very small scale, is extremely valuable. I feel that by exposing myself to the disciplines that aren’t necessarily my forte, I get to learn a bit more about these different worlds, and in turn become a better communicator when speaking with fellow artists and programmers.