Made in 2020 (9 month project)
Group of 8 team members
Created with Unreal Engine 4
Themes: Sailing | Solitude | Journey
Pitch: A few months ago, a storm tore Elea from her ship, the Höfn. Miraculously, she escaped drowning and now survives in wrecks where the sea left her.
One morning, as she is finishing the last repairs on a sailboat she is refurbishing, a bottle is washed up ashore on the beach. A message left by her father, the captain of the Höfn.
Will Elea retrieve her family ?
Haul away takes place in an 18th-century setting, on a nordic ocean speckled with forsaken islands.
The player embodies Elea, a teenage woman who navigates a small sailboat alone, searching for the Höfn, the lost ship of her relatives.
As the sea is hostile and ruthless, Elea must constantly improve her skills, her boat and learn to master it.
Currently in progress, Haul Away is my graduation project. I'm very enthusiastic to work on Haul away, as it feels like fighting "the final boss" of my school. I use every bit I learned during my schooling, in order to deliver an awesome game at the end of the year and finally obtain my diploma!
Working mostly as a producer, but also as a level designer, this project has for purpose to challenge the skills I'd like to put in practice, but also learn from :
Since October 2019, we've taken the time to confirm our design and artistic choices.
As of April 2020, we're entering the end of our production phase.
The project is planned to be released at the end of June 2020.
For more details on our project, please check our pre-production document right below.
(only available in french.)
Living an unforgettable poetic saga
Storytelling has a strong value in the universe of Haul away. Therefore, it is important to create a meaningful universe, supported by a deep scenario and environmental storytelling. Elea struggles sailing alone on the dangerous seas of the Aegisey archipelago, and the faint hope of retrieving her family in this mysterious and abandoned environment is what motivates her to keep moving forward. As the feeling of solitude is one strong intention, it needs to be felt by the player through Elea's journey.
Creating a realistic sea
Our "metroidvania" level design limits the movements of the player in this semi-open world game while still giving him/her a sense of exploration and freedom.
The challenges imposed by the sea (wind, ocean currents, ice floe...) need to force the player to learn how to stay on course, to not run aground. As a consequence, the level design also pushes the player to strive to master his boat in order to be able to reach new horizons. Luckily, some upgrades for the Skref (Elea's sailing boat) that the player can find on small islands will ease the player's navigation, as well as some landmarks that will help the player to better get his bearings.
As the player makes progress, more gigantic natural structures appear to reinforce the feeling of solitude. Contrasts between the diversity of sounds heard on islands and the monotonous ones out at sea reinforces this feeling, as well as the short visit of seagulls landing on the Skref's mast or the passing by of a whale.
Our game is divided in 3 main clusters. Each one of them challenges the players on diverse aspects. Currently, I'm responsible of the last cluster, which includes the tempest, the "boss" of our demo. The tempest consists of being a mix of all the sea's challenges to defy the player on his full mastery of his sailboat. Besides that, I also worked on the wind points placement in our world (thanks to the great tool made by our programmers) and try to place them in a manner so the player would need to always orientate correctly his main sail to be able to move forward at a correct speed.
Some concept arts and mockups (walking and sailing)
Managing a team
In a 9 month production, things can't flow at ease without good management. This is why my role mostly consists of making the work go as smoothly as possible. Therefore, I check if the documentation is clear and understandable for all the team members and use compelling management tools, such as Jira or even Confluence, tools widely used in the game industry. I also plan meetings (stand-ups, daily reviews...) to check their progress with the leads and team members, so as to measure the risks of the upcoming tasks. We apply the Agile methodology and SCRUM/Kanban frameworks which give us more flexibility and adaptation to the current situation. My job is also to adapt the production with the leads, as we can face some unexpected events, such as the COVID-19 quarantine. When this happens, we try to re-examine our objectives, our task priorities and try to come with solutions to face these problems.
Cloudy skies, raging seas, high winds and black sand create the landscapes of the Aegisey archipelago. Feared by sailors, cabin boys and captains alike, it served as a very dangerous shortcut through some commercial routes. Wild waves crash on the shores as tempests rise. Nothing remains of the people who used to live there, only scattered ruins and shipwrecks. And yet, cries of whales in the distance tell us that somewhere, even now, there is still life, there is still hope.
Despite her frail appearance, Elea is a brave, determined and resourceful person. She looks like a doll with thin arms and legs to portray her weakness compared to the surrounding dominant environment. Her face expression is also very demonstrative.
Technical game designer