Starturner is a prototype of a puzzle game created during a 2-week university project. As this was the first project of my second year, I aimed to keep the core gameplay loop simple yet enjoyable to keep the scope manageable.
The player's goal is to connect all starts on the screen by rotating them and intersecting the beams coming out of them with other stars. When all stars are connected, they must form a single constellation with no breaks. To make the controlling of the stars more manageable and engaging, each star belongs to a colour group. The player controls a single group at a time, taking control of the next when all of its stars have been connected and continuing until there are no stars left to control.
First, I created the game's prototype with the core functionality: controlling and rotating sets of stars, connecting them with each other, and checking if all stars form a single constellation without any splits. Then, I produced the assets and applied visual polish to the game. The background sprites were generated in Spacescape. They are set up as two tilling textures scrolling horizontally and vertically to give them movement. To finish off the polish, I added particles and visual effects. The sound effects were created using Bandlab. I exported a range of sounds and used them procedurally to improve the feel of the game and create a unique soundscape.
Additionally, I added a function of naming constellations when they are completed. I intended to have it save screenshots to a gallery accessible in the main menu when a name is entered. However, because at the time the engine did not allow saving screenshots at runtime without the use of plugins or similar extensions, I was not able to implement it during the project.
In the second week of the project, I conducted playtesting with my peers. The feedback and bug reports were gathered and used to improve the prototype.
By the end of the project, I created a game with fully randomisable puzzle generation. Thanks to procedural generation, I was able to give the game 6 levels that increase in difficulty. Each player encounters unique puzzles every time they play, which adds to the game's replayability. It also has a unique sound design.
Thanks to this project I have gained experience in creating more advanced and technical manager systems, as procedural generation and proper tracking of fully randomised puzzles required complex systems to handle them. The project also helped me improve my skills in polishing games. Through the implementation of particle systems and other visual effects, as well as a sound system that responds to the player's actions in a predictable yet unique way, I was able to make my game feel unique and enjoyable to play.
Mechanic Insights & Highlights
While this game's sound design is a large part of what makes it enjoyable to play, its setup is quite simple. The sounds are single notes of instruments such as bells and choirs with applied echo and other special effects. I have exported a number of these notes in ascending pitch. When the player connects two stars, a note randomly picked from the exported selection plays. As the player solves the puzzle, the game tracks which note was played for each connected star. When the constellation is completed, all of these saved sounds play back in the same order they were initially randomised in, creating a melody that the player has been creating by simply playing the game. They are rewarded with a satisfying sound that is unique and recognisable for each constellation the player solves.