Game: Hyper Syntax
Platform: Steam (PC)
Type: Action, Arcade, Multiplayer
Role: Lead Designer, Project Manager, Level Designer
Intended Experience: 10 minutes – 1 hour+ per sitting
Target Audience: Ages 12 – 24
Development Time: 7 months
Hyper Syntax is a 3D flying game which matches fast multiplayer action with tight arcade-like controls and gameplay. Players pilot one of three ships and cast a light trail behind them of a variety of colors. The light trails behind you are permanent throughout each level and become obstacles for all players–Hitting anything in the level will crash your ship. Players are all vying for control of a white ring in a CTF game mode where they must hold the ring longer than anyone else. The game was designed with a splitscreen experience focus and as a party game.
Players all have the same skills as each other and there are no pickups or powers for players to gain, keeping them all at a level field at all times. Players have access to a speed boost, brakes, an up-close EMP burst to disorient players, and a shield to protect them from the light trails, all of which are based on the same energy bar. Level variety is largely focused on pushing the players to close quarters encounters and encouraging many paths in a very open game of cat-and-mouse. Both of these push the experience to be very visceral and encourage players to interact as much as possible. Because of the nature of the light trails players must carefully make their own moves while anticipating the moves of their adversaries, and thinking of how to orient players is incredibly important to the dogfighting.
While designing Hyper Syntax the central theme was to create a fast-paced dogfighting game that would always be fun. What came out of this design process was a large focus on accessibility. Hyper Syntax features color-blind options and remappable controls to cater to this idea, and always had a focus on balancing levels and gameplay to be accessible to all skill levels. One thing we never wanted to tackle with this game was a shooting element, as we thought the game stood on its own very well with a very physical and close-quarters component, as well as the fact the gameplay of the light trails clashes with shooting. My role on Hyper Syntax was as project manager and lead designer, as well as level designer. I steered the team to meetings, design goals, deadlines, and meeting milestones, as well as creating the core gameplay and systems as well as levels.