Our body is a cosmos. Millions of parts form a functioning universe, full of chemical reactions, compounds and unique bacterias, mixed together to what we call a human beeing – fascinating. The mystery and uncertainty emanating from this Unvierse that lies within each and everyone of us, was the starting point of our game idea. The view through a microscope, a gigantic Ballet smaller particles, hard to imagine, but the basis of all life surrounding us.
In Antibody the player controls a formation of antibodies which he must navigate safely through the smallest cell structures and Membranes. On the way to their goal, the antibodies encounter obstacles and different ways to overcome them. Only when the antibodies form a unit, follow their leader, and adapt to their environment, they will survive and fulfill their mission.
Creating a World
This somehow abstract environment gave us plenty of scope for individual character and level designs, and also didnt restrict us in the realization of original game mechanics. Scene of our game should be a membrane or vein through which our heroes, the antibodies, should be navigated. We started parallel to the design of our level with the development of design studies to substantiate the face of our heroes and their antagonists. Because in addition to the swarm antibodies the player controls, the game contains additional protagonists who affect the gameplay.
First of all, the level itself. It limits the range of action of the antibodies, and guides you through the membrane to the finish. The level itself does not establish a direct danger for the antibodies. But the bright red Spikelors do. In case of contact with these spines our heroes initially lose some life points, and on a prolonged contact even complete companions. The Spikelors occur not only at the level edge, they also occur as a floating version in the level, even here the swarm suffers damage on contact, with the difference that also the Spikelor gets destroyed on contact.
However, not all parts of the Level harm our antibodies. Other components of the level who prompt players to interact are the wheel and knob. Both cause no harm to the antibodies themselves, but shall there be no action by the player, companions get lost outside of the Level. Antibody also contains 3 items that can be absorbed by the antibodies on contact, causing a change of state.
First, There is the M3D1C, a glucose compound that restores a companion during collection by our hero. So if you collect a M3D1C after the loss-making contact with a Spikelor, you get back a handful of lost antiboies.
The other two items in Antibody, D.W.A.R.F and G.O.L.I.A.T.H give our Antibodies the possibility of transformation! in contact with one of the items all antibodies are either reduced (DWARF) or increased (Goliath) in size, to adapt to the condition of the current living environment.
Tools of the Trade
After we came up with initial results of planning and designing the game elements, the next step was to start with the technical design of the app, because our goal with Antibody was to deliver a playable version for mobile devices. For the Construction of the game we chose „stencyl“, an ActionScript 3-based Game development tool. Stencyl works with a module-based plug-caste system instead of hand-written lines of code, that enables the creation and linking of individual created elements and actions. This principle simplifies the programming of complex events within the game compared to traditional programming considerably, and its experimental character offers creative approaches to implement ideas.
All components of the game are handmade, animated pixel graphics .The integration of graphics into stencyl was established using sequenced .PNG files. After each import into stencyl, a bounding box to all the ingredients must be assigned, which defines the framework for collisions and other interactions of the antibodies, their enemys, and the level.
Adapted to mobile devices, we opted for a touch control for Antibody. By a finger touch on the screen surface to the desired position, the swarm starts moving towards the last position of the finger, so no wipes across the screen. To mark the finger and its last position we integrated a small sonar that remains a few seconds after the finger gets lifted from its actual position. The control is not only self-explanatory but makes the integration of a graphical user interface unnecessary. Arrow keys or similar navigational elements are eliminated, and thus created space lets players enjoy more of the game world.
Speaking of enjoying a Game World…
Go grab the tablet and play Antibody yourself!
Software Engineering & Gameplay Design: Benjamin Broschinski
Art Direction & Sound Design: Simon Fichtner
Animation & Concept Art: Ulrike Otto
Advisors: Prof. Hermann Wolfram Klöckner, Mathias Jüsche
Anhalt University of Applied Science