Birfia is a strategy action game designed around the concept of Yomi. It features engaging mind-reading melee combat and weapons, strategic moves induced by level design, and a high level of polish.
In the team, I was in charge of:
• Designing the main combat system
• Designing 5 distinctive weapon mechanics
• Creating all characters' animations
• Full Implementation
Core Design Principles:
Birfia's gameplay design goes by three core principles defined very early in the project:
• Fewer Controls: party games are more frequently played in a scenario where players have very little time to learn controls, so the first design restriction would be using fewer controls as possible.
• WOW(WTF) moments: game mechanic induced unexpected moments are crucial in non-co-op party games, so second design restriction would be creating gameplay that has space to produce WOW moments.
• Viewer Friendly: multiplayer games have a higher chance to become tournaments in communities/groups, visual language must be clear and actions must be intuitive.
Based on the principles, core action is designed to be a powerful yet risky charged punch that would thrust yourself forward and hit back enemies in front of you. This mechanic requires the player to be aware of his/her surrondings when doing the offsensive actions, creating meaning decisions instead of mindless button pushing.
The punch itself creates only half of the wow moments as the opponent would have no way to react. The other half is completed by giving the player a block ability that would return twice the force to the enforcer.
To create the Yomi mechanic, the player's punch is designed to have a reactionable duration of anticipation and an infinite holding on the charge on the punch state to counter the block. The player's block is designed to have an energy bar that would drain automatically.
A very delicate Yomi mechanic is then setup. Player's punch counters charge holding/standing still by being able to attack quicker; charge holding/standing still counters blocking by block energy is automatically drained; block counters punch directly. Now players need to be very careful about their own state as well as that of the enemy, by making tactical decisions to enter the more advantageous state and counter the enemy's state.
After fixated on the core mechanic, weapons are designed by analyzing what constitutes as engaging in the melee combat. The analysis results in 4 aspects that guide all weapon design: powerful effects, risky side-effects, can be counter-played, and have special usage. Everything in the game is powerful and risky, so are the best weapons in the game.
Take the most iconic weapon, fist gun, for example. Fist gun, once fired, fires one high-speed fist towards the front of the player, knocking off the first enemy that comes into contact, also applies a backfire force on the user, knocking themselves back a little bit. If the fist is blocked by the enemy, it will redirect itself to fly towards the front of the blocker. The weapon can be fired again with a short cool down between each shot.
Fist gun is designed to have the simplest yet very powerful effect, a ranged knock-off ability. The risk of using the fist gun is also very strong, for one it has a small backfire effect that could possibly send the firer to their own death, and it also can be reflected, converting its own bullet into the enemy's hand. The design adds lots of variety to the Yomi gameplay, players are now not only reading when the enemy is attacking but also calculating the distance in-between to best counter the attack.
Fist gun also has its special usage, if jumped right before firing the weapon, the player will be send off backward for a long distance. All special usages are creative at its core, the fist gun's special usage is designed to escape sticky situations to gain a better positioning using the fist gun. But playtests suggest players are using it in all kinds of creative ways and combinations.
Four more weapons are designed under the same principles and they add a lot of creativity and varieties to the core gameplay.
Please checkout the full gameplay video at the top!