Pathogen

Pathogen

  • Role: Designer, Engineer, Artist
  • Team size: 1IMG_0336
  • Date: February 2013 – Ongoing
  • Engine: Flash Builder
  • Available: October 29th 2013
  • Website: http://pathogen.co/

Awards:

  • Best Online Game – MassDigi
  • 2nd Place finisher in the independent category – MassDigi
  • Strasbourg Fantastic Film Festival – Best Work in Progress

Released on Nov: 7th 2014

Overview

Pathogen is all at once, many things – a board game in disguise, a strategy game that has a casual games accessibility, and a tablet game that encourages the use of a dining room table. It is a unique hybrid of both traditional gaming’s past and modern tablet development.

  • Endless strategy
  • Extensive single player Campaign
  • Many play modes and map styles
  • Map Editor
  • Challenge friends in person or online

How to play

Pathogen is a turn based game, where players take turns placing cells upon the board. The game is over when all spaces on the board have been filled. When two cells of the same type are stacked they evolve and split themselves in all adjacent directions. If the adjacent space is empty, a new cell is created. If the adjacent has a cells of a similar type than it will evolve as well. In this way a single move can cascade creating huge map wise changes where land is claimed in wide swaths or utterly destroyed in an instant.

  • Dot – The simplest cell type. Available at any time, this cell does not have a recharge time when used. When stacked this cell evolves into a Circle.
  • Circle – When used this cell takes 4 turns to recharge. A total 2 Circle cells may be saved up. When stacked this cell evolves into a Square.
  • Square – When used this cell takes 8 turns to recharge. A total 2 Square cells may be saved up. When stacked this cell evolves into the final cell evolution.
  • Full – This cell can only be created by stacking Square cells. Its creation will infect adjacent cells of a similar type both friend or foe and transform them into Full cells as well. The Full cell is permanent and cannot be destroyed by the virus.
  • Virus – The virus can destroy any cell type. It will infect adjacent cells of a similar type both friend or foe and destroy them as well. When used this cell takes 8 turns to recharge. Only one virus may be available at a time.

Level Design

Pathogen level design primarily consisted of the various boards players could choose to play on in either Local Multiplayer | Online Multiplayer or throughout the Single Player Campaign. All levels were constructed in the level editor packaged with the game so that any player may try their hand in level creation. In approaching how I designed a level I needed to decide on a few particulars.

1. Does this level serve a particular mechanic? i.e. the Infection Game Mode requires large open spaces to be played correctly.

2. Is this level for the campaign play? Which in general is limited to  only 1v1.

After knowing these answers I would begin to create a level. In general all levels are pattern based, whether it is  a small set repeated or reflected in either horizontal or vertical fashion. The reason for this is simply for balance. Such maps can house anywhere between 1 & 4 players. By doing this, no player has a real advantage by going first.

What the Press are Saying

IMG_0668“Pathogen’s simple-yet-addictive gameplay is augmented by a terrific presentation, with visuals that make it feel like you’re playing on a computer from a 1980s sci-fi film.”
theVerge.com

“A portable game of elegant strategy.”
IndieGames.com

“I’d definitely say Pathogen is an absolute steal at $2.99 in the app store…A damn fine reason to share your iPad.”
EnemySlime.com

“There’s no way to know yet whether (Pathogen) has anything like the durable interest of the classics, but I haven’t found any sign of a bottom to its depths.”
Pocket Tactics

“A novel abstract strategy game that checks all the boxes for a fantastic digital experience…Success requires both thinking and feeling your way across the space, a delightfully snug balancing act that’s much more fun than the haughty logic of other abstracts.”
Pocket Gamer

“It feels like a classic game updated, but it’s a whole new animal. There’s an extensive single-player mode, multiplayer, and a level editor to make your own boards — much more than $2.99 should get you.”
Kotaku

Development History

Pathogen began as nothing more than a simple paper prototype and an illustrator document of ideas. Encouraged by the fun it generated even at such a early stage development began immediately.

Two Weeks

My engine of choice was Flash and the code was written in Flash Develop all art I created in Flash. I gave myself a deadline of two weeks to create as much as I could.

Featured:
– 2 players
– 4 Maps
– 3 Cell types
– Map Editor

Two Months – Overflow

Development continued and a new deadline of two months was set. The game would be freely available on iOS tablet.

Challenges

Symbology

One of the early UI challenges faced was how to easily distinguish the tile types used. Orginally that was only done through shades of the players color, however this was far too sutble, especially on large board sizes. A symbol system was developed to indicate a tiles rank.

Leading Player

During the game it was difficult to determine who was winning at any given time, or by how much. A percent bar was created at the top of the board which indicated how much of the board each player owned. The bar gave a gave player valuable information while still mananging to stay ambiguitious. This created competition when the score was very close and could have been decided by a single move.

Featured:
– 4 players FFA/Team
– 16 Maps on 3 unique
sizes
– 4 Cell types
– Map Editor
– Tutorial
– Undo system
– Replay System
– Top percent bar.

screen06screen08

Two Months – Pathogen

Overflow was being well recieved by testers, however the game looked unpolished due to its art style. The choice to go into a microscopic inspired art direction was primarily driven to reinforce the nature of the main mechanic. The action of having the player’s pieces split and replicate in a mitosis/meiosis biological aesthetic was a great way to show how the cascade would ripple out.

Challenges

Cell Recharge

The UI underwent an overhaul in order to increase readability of its purpose. The  change from numbers to visual indicators helped greatly.

Campaign

The introduction of a single player campaign brought about additional innovation. New game modes were added to challenge the player in a variety of different ways that all layered onto the core game.

Featured:
– 4 players FFA/Team
– 16 Maps on 3 unique
sizes
– 4 Cell types
– Virus
– Map Editor
– Tutorial
– Undo system
– Replay System
– Top percent bar.
– Single Player
campaign
– Post game report

screenshot1screenshot2

Categories:

Flash, Shipped Titles