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njorbs

Njorbs (Pronounced “Nyorbs”) is a 4-player, online, physics-based, 3D, third-person racing game, where players take control of a robotic pill-bug called a Njorb. They must utilize their ball form, leg form, and grapple hook to conserve momentum and seize victory.

My responsibilities on the project were:

  • Character Artist

  • Rigger

  • Animator

  • UI Designer

  • UI Artist

  • UI Programmer

Overview

This game was made to be my group’s final project of the VFS’s Game Design Course. Pre-production lasted just under 2 months, and production lasted around 4 months. I worked with a core team of 4 other game designers, and collaborated with 4 sound designers and an actor.

The Character

When designing the player character, I quickly realized that the form needs to match the function. During the conceptualizing phase of pre-production, I was trying for a design that involved different animal-styled robots that could transform into a ball. However, this created an extra layer of confusion when trying to teach the player about the character’s abilities, because it didn’t really make sense. By switching the characters to be a pill-bug, or “roly-poly”, the player had a much easier time understanding the abilities of the character.

As I set out modeling the character, I still wasn’t 100% sure on whether the character in “ball form” would use the same mesh as the character in “legged form”. I did know that I wanted to try to make both forms use the same mesh, because the animation transitions could have the potential be much smoother. It was a fun challenge to design the mesh so that it could curl up into a ball, while still maintaining it’s visual integrity and overall personality.

The INterface

During pre-produciton, we assumed that the UI for Njorbs would be quite barebones, but as the project entered development, we quickly realized that wouldn’t be the case. This wasn’t a problem, though, because I really like creating interfaces.

The HUD for Njorbs needed to be simple to read at a glance, and unobstructive of the fast-paced gameplay. For this reason, all major UI elements are placed in the bottom corners, off to the sides. They use white text on saturated, transluscent backgrounds in order to stand out and be easily identifiable.

There’s also a few fun cosmetic things, like how your HUD will match the color of your Njorb, or how the things on the side of the screen tilt further outwards the faster you go.

The main menu is something I’m very proud of. Going into this project, I was okay at C#, but felt I still had room to improve. That’s why I challenged myself to code the entire main menu myself, all while making it completely decoupled and stackable.

I’m very happy with how it turned out. It’s a nice amount of polish, and a great way to start a user’s experience.

Conclusion

In the end, the work I did here is definitely something that I’m proud of. I learned an incredible amount in both hard skills and soft skills. It was the result of 4 months of hard work, with a dedicated team that loved what they were doing. I’m extremely grateful for the experience, and all the hours put in by my team. Great job, everyone.