Solo Project | Unity Engine | May 2022 - July 2022
Space Rails is a real-time economic strategy game. You are in charge of a company at the forefront of Space Rail technology! Connect planets with railroads and they will automatically start shipping goods between them. Deliver the right goods to the right planets and you'll fulfill their needs, giving you money or increasing the resource production rates. However, every 90 seconds, the Loan Shark comes to collect on the loan you took out - if you can't pay him back, he'll take your whole company!
As the sole developer for this game, I was responsible for:
Prototyping and implementing all of the game's UX, game feel, and systems
Creating wireframes for menus to communicate and iterate upon UX plans
Designing and balancing an original economic system
Polishing gamefeel to a high degree to aid gameplay and increase user engagement
Running playtests to answer balance and user experience questions
Space Rails started life as a project in my college game feel class, where we were assigned to create a game with an engaging main menu and no actual gameplay. After I had made a menu and HUD for this fictional "Space Rails" game, many of my testers said that they would play the full game I had described if it existed. When it came time to make my senior project, that feedback inspired me to actually add some gameplay to the shell I had created. The game is nearly finished, I am hoping to find time to add some additional content before I publish the game online.
Creating a Futuristic User Experience
One strange element of this game's production was that the main menu and game HUD were finished and polished before any work on the actual gameplay began, so the menus had to be very strong. I aimed to create a futuristic feel through the use of "glowy" effects, which took a long time to set up in the Unity Engine. It ended up being worth it, as the glow created a fantastic feel, which were made even better by dynamically animating the glow based on user actions (such as creating a flickering effect when the user pressed a button).
I ran into a problem when it came time to implement the gameplay - UX features that felt good did not always work well with the fast-paced real-time gameplay. To fix this, I paid close attention to where players were getting slowed down during testing, and I found that trying to get info on a planet took too much time. To fix this, I eliminated a notebook HUD element that displayed the planet with a transition in and out, and replaced it with a rollover element that is displayed the moment the player hovers over the planet with their mouse. This solved the issue, but I pushed it even further by adding buildings to the top of each planet that signify which resources that planet desired, further increasing the readability of the game.
Wireframe of the main menu with Golden Path in red.
Final main menu in game.
Balancing an Economy
I am still finishing up work on this element of the game - more details here soon!