Eternal Bond

Platform: PC
Genre: Isometric Action
Technology: Unity, C#
Duration: 1 Week
Team Size: 1
Role: Solo Developer

Overview

Eternal Bond is a 3d isometric action game where you play a Skeleton who vowed to protect her beloved for eternity.

I have started to develop Eternal Bond with Unity as a part of a weekly challenge called “gameaweek”. The aim was to create a game under strict constraints to improve my design and programming skills.

Development

It all started with the idea of playing as a character who is usually seen as the enemy of the story. I wondered what could have motivated or bound an undeath creature to a tomb and after some concepts iterations, I chose “Love” to be the reason for the protagonist’s rise.

Having defined the themes and the inciting incident of the game story, I decided that Eternal Bond would have figured only simple mechanics within the isometric 3D action game genre:

  • Movements in all direction (isometric camera).
  • Sword Attacks which defined also the “Skeletal Knight” image of the protagonist.

The goal of the game was also clear: if Love was the cause of the birth of our “hero”, Love would have been also her objective. To support this, I put a sarcophagus with a female bust encased on it which represented someone important for the Skeleton.

“Defend your beloved’s rest from the raiders” is the players’ goal.

To achieve an uninteresting and entertaining core game loop, I started to design enemies and encounters.

I wanted to implement a variety of enemies at first: Warriors, Hunters, and Mages. Each one of them would have played a specific role in the encounters creating an interesting interplay between ranged and melee units.

However, after some playtest I figured out that the player’s skillset was too simple to face such complex challenges. I started to remove one enemy at a time to decide which one to drop from the game.

In the end, I decided to keep only the hunters because I found still interesting and dynamic playing against ranged enemies as a melee-only character, and I also wanted to keep the “supernatural” exclusively for the main protagonist to let the players feel special.

During the game, hunters spawn from the 4 cardinal points at a different and increasing rate over time. The player has to maintain a balanced strategy between keeping the enemies away from the tomb while avoiding arrows and trying getting closer to the intruders to kill them. Since the difficulty raises regularly, the player will eventually be swarmed by enemies and the game will be over. To avoid frustrations and to reward their efforts, I implemented a scoring system. This was also suitable to improve replayability, competition, and players’ attachment.

At this stage, the game had strong and simple gameplay which meant that I could have explored some more nuanced rules.

I came back thinking about the motivation of our protagonist. She was already protecting her beloved but I wanted Love to be included also in the rules of the game not only fictionally and as a trigger for the game over.

“When an enemy reaches a specific distance from the tomb, players’ health bar slowly decreases as the bust starts emitting red lights.”

In this way, the players would care more about protecting the tomb not only for fictional reasons and to avoid an instant game over, but also to reduce the stress of a depleting health bar.

Finally, I polished the AI of enemies using the A* algorithm, obstacles avoidance, and not walkable areas using Unity navmesh system and custom made scripts. I added some level elements like columns to use as a cover from the arrows, and I also introduced some lights to improve the atmosphere of the environment. The latter increased, even more, the tension since enemies spawn from a pitch-black area where players can get lost if walk there.

I used premade assets, cover art, and music for the game which are all referenced below.

You can download the game here.

Reference

Cover: https://www.deviantart.com/wittman80/art/Skeleton-Warrior-282977444 
https://assetstore.unity.com/packages/3d/characters/humanoids/fantasy-monster-skeleton-35635
https://assetstore.unity.com/packages/3d/nefertiti-56818
https://opengameart.org/content/animated-archer
https://assetstore.unity.com/packages/3d/environments/dungeons/crypt-dungeon-environment-138277
https://opengameart.org/content/bow-arrow-shot
https://opengameart.org/content/spell-sounds-starter-pack
https://opengameart.org/sites/default/files/ghostbreath.flac
https://opengameart.org/sites/default/files/shoot.ogg
https://opengameart.org/sites/default/files/male-pain-sounds.zip
https://opengameart.org/sites/default/files/melee%20sounds.zip
https://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1300030
https://www.dafont.com/ancient.font