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Shade Shifter

Info: Shade Shifter is a platformer made in Unity where the player takes control of a Ninja Lizard hopping roof-to-roof in a Feudal Japan setting. While jumping, the player can encounter enemies that can be destroyed if the player matches colors.
Team: 2 Members
Time Constraint: 1 month
Role: Character, Enemy, and Environment Art



During the end of my first semester of Junior year, my class was given the task of making a game with no constraints with the exception that we had about a month do develop it before the end of the semester. I ended up with one other classmate in a team of two, where I would produce all of the art assets while my partner would program the game in Unity. This however presented the first roadblock in developing this game, as this was the first time my partner was acting as the lead programmer. This meant that we would need to main game mechanics relatively simple.

With that in mind, we decided together to produce an endless runner with score system. To make things interesting, I decided to randomly make a lizard man as the protagonist, as it was not a very traditional Endless Runner character. While the choice of player character can be random, the rest of the game could not and needed to tailor to the protagonist in some way, shape or form. During my brainstorming session, I decided to have the player's special ability be changing colors like chameleons since they're a type of lizard. With a stealthy ability mixed with the endless runner theme, I realized that a feudal Japanese setting would be a perfect fit! The first stepping stones were in place, and our game would be about a Ninja Lizard using his ability to change colors to get past enemies while jumping rooftop to rooftop in feudal Japan. 

Art Development

We decided pixel art would be good for both color and animating purposes, so I produced the random lizard man via Piskel, a pixel art software.

Given that we had now began a feudal Japanese focus, I redesigned the Lizard Man to dress more like a Ninja, and created two other alternate skin colors for his main ability.

After finishing the player character, began work on the enemy characters. I took three different animals (crab, shrimp, and snake) and dressed them up in Samurai armor. Each enemy matches one of the three colors the Ninja Lizard can change into, as he can use that color to defeat enemies of the same hue.

Environment was almost, if not more important than the enemies. The building concepts were simple, as they just needed to look like imperial Japanese buildings. We didn't want to stop there, and wanted to give a more immersive sense of movement. So I created a background with silhouette versions of the buildings and a mountain range behind for a parallax effect, with a blood red sky to fit the theme.


Overall, I had a blast developing Shade Shifter. The simple gameplay allowed my creative juices to flow without having to worry too much about the mechanics interfering. While there were some hiccups along the road, such as building instantiating too far apart, my partner and I could basically find a solution to every issue. We would eventually add the limited ability for the player to throw bamboo spears that could both kill enemies from afar and act as a new platform after sticking into a building. This would help at times where the spacing between buildings seemed a bit too far. 

The one big issue however is the controls. The keyboard is currently the only way to play the game, and with how many buttons one has to use, it seemed like it would make more sense to use a controller. While this possibly true, the game is still very playable on keyboard.

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