‘Squidiverse’ - Web Based Platformer
Teenagers – Whilst the game has a friendly and fun design and atmosphere that
could appeal to anyone, the difficulty and frustration of the game probably
pushes the target audience into Teenagers; so they can still appreciate the wacky
fun, but will have more patience and endurance to harder sections of the game.
Target Rating: PEGI 7
Squid’s father has been kidnapped by the villainous
King Crab, leaving the young Squid helpless and
alone. In order to rescue his father he must leave his
home planet of Squidtopia for the first time and
travel the universe.
Squid must find clues scattered through the
universe in secret by his father, to reveal the
location of the next world in the quest, and,
eventually the location of Squid’s father.
King Crab has minions and hired goons all across the planets, all trying to halt
Squid’s journey. Can Squid overcome the obstacles, monsters, and increasingly
deadly environments, to save his lost father?
In order to complete a level and move on to the next, the player must locate all
the clues in the current level. These clues are hidden or obscured, with the
players’ path to them blocked by some puzzle or obstacle that they must
On the first world he must obtain a clue by throwing a rock at a button which
activates a moving platform which he must use to get the clue.
As well as environmental obstacles and puzzles there are enemies in the game. In
order to destroy enemies he must throw rocks at them. Squid can also jump over
the foes rather than take them on but they won’t get any points for this, and if
Squid touches an enemy then he’ll lose a life.
Once Squid has all his clues he may proceed to a spaceship at the end of the level
which will take him to the next world.
Across the levels Squid does not change, no power-ups or items, however the
environment will develop with each new world, each level becoming more and
more hostile. This enforces the narrative journey of Squid, as his quest becomes
more and more deadly the closer he gets to King Crab.
The reward for the player is discovery, and mastery:
discovering the new world and the new rules, and then
mastering them. We want to make a game you need to play
over and over, dieing a few times and experimenting, to be
able to learn the ins and outs of a level, and fully master it.
The reward the player gets is that feeling of achievement
from collecting all the clues conquering a world… before
being moved on to the next world, a new challenge to
overcome. This also helps the player connect with Squid
Squid has 3 lives in the level, and whilst Squid has lives left then when he dies he
will re-spawn on the last checkpoint he crossed, with all the progress is saved,
crabs destroyed and clues collected. However if the player dies without any lives,
then the whole level resets.
The lives and checkpoints are about just making the
game a bit less difficult, whilst not loosing that
addictive frustration quality that we want. There’s
still enough negative reinforcement around the death
to make players angry when it occurs and want to
avoid it, and the life system only gives three chances
before restarting the level.
The first world is the water planet; in this
planet Squid must avoid environmental
hazards such as the water on planet, as
Squid is allergic to water. On the second
planet which is the chalk planet, there are
“Crushers” which Squid must avoid so he
does not get flattened. In the third world
(not really a world, Squid’s spaceship
explodes in space) he most avoid asteroids
and broken pieces of his ship. In the final
world he most avoid lava and fire at all costs.
The cephalopodic main character, half hoodie wearing boy, and half tentacle
creature: Squid is childish, energetic, and fun. He’s never had responsibility
before so being faced with the challenge of rescuing his father from King Crab is
quite daunting for him, though with so much to lose if he fails he overcomes his
fears to rescue his Father.
Squid is an offbeat and distorted character, which is expressed in his design, but
will also show in his animation. He shouldn’t walk like normal characters; he
should be doing something between a skip and a lurch. His jump should be
strange, limbs bending and tentacles flailing. This oddball animation will bring
across Squids character and make him endearing to the player.
Squid has classic platformer movement, walking left and right, and jumping, and
in addition to that he has the ability to throw rocks.
The controls are mapped this way for comfort, and ease of use. The right hand
can sit comfortably on the keyboard with the first two fingers over O and P, and
the thumb over the space bar, whilst the left hand first finger sits on Q.
This way the right hand controls the movement of the character, while the left
controls the extra action of throwing projectiles.
So the player can comfortable rest their hands over the keyboard, without having
to shift around finger position, or look for other keys mid-game.
We did experiment with other keyboard mapping, and this configuration came
out as the best. It may be initially confusing to players used to the WASD control
system, they’ll eventually settle into due to its comfort and easy use.
Although the game does require some mouse interaction; this is only when
navigating menus, so there’s never a need to use the mouse whilst also using the
keys, which would be awkward given that the key positioning requires both
hands be used. This set up of using the keys for gameplay and the mouse for
menus is needed for simple menu navigation, but also helps separate the two
states of the game.
At its core the game is a basic platformer, with Squid having to jump between
platforms, avoid obstacles and enemies, and reach the levels end. There’s also a
puzzle element, with Squid using his throwing rocks to manipulate the
environment in order to reveal hidden clues, access different areas, or destroy
enemies. Play is broken up into levels, represented as different planets in-game,
with Squid only able to progress after completing the current level.
Each level will be different then the last, and add a new feature that develops the
gameplay. The main level set up is that
of searching the area for a certain
amount of items, but what your looking
for, how many there is, and how you
navigate the level changes with each
level. Squid doesn’t change through the
game, it’s the levels that change, with
the play having to us the same core
skills to work out new gameplay
The idea with world two is to introduce
a lot more puzzle and interaction with
the environment; with Chalk Pitari
being an active construction site. The
player will be able to throw rocks at
scaffolding, collapsing it onto passing
enemies, or creating pathways over
The space wreck level changes even more, with the player controlling a Squid
floating in space, no platforms to walk on. The environmental destruction from
world 2 carries over, so the player can continue to use the skills they learned in
past levels. World 3 also changes with the inclusion of a level long boss, and
having to find parts to re-build the rocket, rather then clues.
The game takes place in a strange universe which blends aquatic and sci-fi
design. Game play takes the player across 3 planets in this universe, as well as a
level set in space, as Squid is ship wrecked. Squid uses a simplistic rocket to
travel from world to world. Each planet represents a different element, First
Water, then Rock, and finally Fire. The game world will be represented through a
map, which is also a level select screen. Locked levels will be blacked out and
mysterious, meaning the player doesn’t know what’s coming up: they have to
discover the universe.
Squids’ home planet: As the first level, this is designed
to be the most simple, and also the introduction to the
mechanics and workings of the game. Every skill the
player needs to beat the game is taught in this first
world: jumping, moving, and throwing rocks.
Chalk Pitari (Rock)
This planet is basically a giant chalk pit, and an
active construction site. There will be cranes and
diggers, and construction equipment out, that Squid
will have to both avoid and use to solve puzzles.
Ship Wreck (Space)
On his way to the final planet Squids rocket
explodes, stranding him in the middle of space.
Squid must navigate space, avoiding debris and
asteroids in order to re-assemble his ship. The boss
in the level is Astro-Shark, who appears periodically
throughout the level, stalking Squid in a ‘Jaws’-like
As the final level, this world has to be very
dangerous and hostile: everything here wants to
kill you. It’s a world of active volcanoes and lava
streams, so any enemies here will be extremely
tough, as they’ve evolved to survive this
The visuals and audio work hand in hand to create the perfect feel when
navigating the game.
The interface is themed around the most prominent and memorable
attribute of Squid; his head. So, many of the buttons have been made
to be Squids head to further incorporate a connection between you
and Squid. This can also help build up a brand image around the game,
using Squids head as a symbol/logo
Each screen has music playing to give it life; a lot of them carry on the same
music from screen to screen, to create a feel of continuity.
On the level select screen a view of each planet is seen and it’s easy to see what
planet is which, for example the water planet is blue and looks like a ball of
water, they’re also in chronological order from left to right (so the first world is
on the far left, the last being on the far right). Some 8bit styled music plays at the
level select scene, it has a space feel to it and suits the game well.
While in game there is a button at the bottom right which once clicked will take
you to the pause menu, where some slow tempo music plays, which also helps
the player chill out before getting back into the game.
The HUD is designed to help the player chart their progress through the level, as
well as give the player hints at what they’re supposed to do. The Clue Bar is on
the left, prominent and first in the row, so upon a quick scan across the HUD row
it’s the first thing you see.
This is because it’s the most important part, and the one the player will want to
glance at more often. It tells the player how many clues they need to find, and
how many they have found. The dotted outlines show that it’s something empty,
something that needs to be filled. By looking at this the player can easily see that
there are three things that need to be found. The rectangle shape is also an
indicator, as it matches the shape of in-game clue graphic. The player can see the
connection between the clue, and this HUD element, and see that it’s the clues
that must be collected.
The score is tinted gold-ish yellow, which links it with the colorful stars that
make the score go up. It also makes it seem worthy and important.
The lives use the graphic of Squids head, re-enforcing that design which runs
throughout the game, and also linking it to the Squid character. This link helps
the player identify them as the Squids lives.
To collect a clue the player simply has to make Squid run over it; there’s no
button to press or animation to play.
We decided not to have any collecting animation for a few reasons, firstly that it
fits with the old-school game style and keeps the simple nature of the design, but
also because we feel it would hold up the game to play an animation of Squid
picking up the clue, disrupting the flow and energy of the game.
The reason the player has no control over
collecting the clue is because there’s no
reason they wouldn’t want it, they need it to
complete the game. The game isn’t about
managing and inventory, being strategic
about what you pick up or discard. You just
need to collect 3 clues and get to the end.
The simple collection system also makes it easy for the player to see the games
goal, as when they touch a Clue it immediately disappears, and the clue bar up in
the HUD changes, with the collected clue filling up a space.
There’s also a high and twinkly sound that plays
upon clue collection, something pleasant and up
beat. This communicates to the play that they’ve
done something right.
If the Player dies, Squid goes into a thrashing and collapsed
position, and a nasty and grinding sound effect plays. Squid
then re-spawns a split second later, either at the start of the
level with everything reset, or at a checkpoint with their
progress saved, depending on weather or not they crossed the
checkpoint before dieing.
We didn’t want to have a death or game over screen, or make
the player go back to the menu, as this would break up the
gameplay. Much of the fun and frustration of the game comes
from being able to instantly try again. The fact that the game
instantly drops the player game into the game helps make the game addictive;
you’re right back in the game, ready to try again and defeat the level. If the player
had to go through some menus and chose to play again, their enthusiasm could
There’s enough negative reinforcement from the sound effect, the animation, and
the fact that you loose your progress, to make the player hate Squids death and
want to avoid it.
When the player reaches the rocket with all clues collected
they have won the game. Squid gets in the rocket, which
takes off, going up and off-screen whilst a victory tune
replaces the level music. Rather then having a victory
screen or simple going back to the Level Select screen, we
want to create a satisfying ending within the level. The
player is pleased to be able to finally move on and leave the
level, so by creating a visual representation of that, seeing
Squid actually taking off from the world, we can make
something that’s very satisfying to the player.
The colour red will symbolize rock interaction, meaning this object
can be destroyed or affected by a rock. It’s basically a simple visual
short hand that the player will learn, and so be able to identify
interactive objects. The buttons are red, and the scaffolding in world
2 will have painted red stripes etc. Red was chosen because it stands
out, and is different from our main colour scheme, so that nothing
else in the game will have this colour. Red also has connotations of
danger and urgency, so it urges the player notice the object and try and work out
how to use it.
The main mechanic is the basic jump that the players will use to navigate the
various platforms and surface in the levels. This is put to use through classic
platformer obstacles courses, involving moving platforms and
The second big mechanic is Squids’ ability to throw rocks. The rock isn’t only
used as a weapon to destroy enemies but also used to affect the environment
around the player; there are buttons that can only be activated by having a rock
thrown at it, or breakable walls, broken by a rock being thrown at them.
A breakdown of the first, very basic puzzle in the game, which introduces players
to this mechanic:
With these two mechanics we can use both fast paced platformer elements, like
obstacle courses, and timing and judging jumps, as well as more puzzle based
ones, activating buttons in the right sequence etc. By varying between these two
mechanics throughout each level, we create more variety
We decided to keep power ups out of the game as we wanted to keep this aspect
simple, we didn’t want to distort the character of Squid by giving him things like
swords, or fire breath. By keeping power ups out of the game it really tests the
players’ skill with the two core mechanics.
This also feeds into the story, as the game is about a small helpless Squid
traveling through a dangerous universe, he doesn’t change or get more powerful,
but the world develops.
The big bad of the game: Squids nemesis. The King
won’t appear until the final level, when the player
reaches his lair on ‘Crabatoa’. Defeating King Crab is
a matter of using the volcanic environment to boil
him in water, creating the perfect well-cooked crab
The Astro-Shark appears throughout the ship wreck level, stalking the Squid
through space, and appearing every so often until a final confrontation at the
levels end, making the whole level sort of an extended boss battle. The enemies’
presence is felt through the whole level, as menacing music builds up, and a fin
glides past in the corner of the screen. All this builds an atmosphere of tension
for the player.
Due to its size and strength, the Astro-Shark cannot be killed with Squids
standard attack; instead the player must use the rock projectiles to detonate or
collapse ship wreckage around the creature, or guide it into the path of a flying
Created by King Crab, to be the ultimate foe for our hero, this is a
dark, vampiric version of Squid. He has all the same moves as
Squid, and has a pattern of every so often mirroring the players’
actions e.g. throwing a rock at the same time Squid does. The
secret to defeating him is to use this pattern against him, whilst
he’s mirroring you guiding him into a trap within the environment.
The slandered enemy in the game, the Crabs are patrolling
minions that pace one spot of a level. They’re easily
defeated with rocks.
The heat seeking missiles of the game, these jelly fish-like
creatures float down and head straight for the player.
Introduced in the second world, Sand Sharks are tougher
than Crabs, requiring to hits of the rock. These creatures
bury themselves in the platforms, leaping out as the player
Cutscenes are used simply and sparingly, really just a few
lines of text to set the player up with the story.
The opening cutscene is simple, setting up the basic story
and the aim of the game. Text on a stark white
background creates a menacing effect, getting players
excited and ready for the game
The opening cutscene appears explaining the storyline to
the player, this uses existing assets within the game and
text along with it to narrate the storyline to the player, it
explains how Squids father has been kidnapped and how
you must find King Crab to save him, also it explains the
concept of having to find clues throughout the worlds.
We will have a scene at the end of each level which shows
Squid blasting off in his rocket, then a scene is shown telling the player they have
succeeded in defeating the world with an animation of Squid in a victory stance.
We’re planning on releasing extra levels for the game over time, between the
first and last world, this will also brings new challenges and new game modes.
With new game modes we plan on eventually incorporating the feature to play as
Astro-Shark and fight the Squid.
Features planned to be brought out for download:
-A store to change Squid’s appearance
-New playable characters
-Cooperative and multiplayer modes