Our Land is my graduation project at ENJMIN. We’re a team of 10 people : two other game designers (Darenn Keller and Paul Gaston), two programers (Damien Crechet and Thomas Giro), two 2D artists (Eugénie Goube and Romain Navazo), one UX designer (Sara Jaafar), one producer (William Désert) and one sound designer (Raphaël Marchetti).
The game is currently in development.
Vision and originality of the project
Our Land is a turn-based strategy-management game but unlike most of management games, it is not about expansion and increasing power but rather about sustainability and balance of a nomadic tribe in its ecosystem. Our Land pushes the player to be aware of their environment and understand it.
To give the player an interesting playground, we first designed a systemic ecosystem that the player could understand, predict and therefore adapt to it. We based the tribe movement on wind so we emphasize the importance of the wind in the ecosystem as well.
First, we designed a first draft of the whole ecosystem‘s system, I did the one page design to communicate it with the team.
Player – Core loop
We designed the player’s core loop around 2 main interaction : moving and harvesting resources.
The population has two primary needs : food and fuel. Food to keep the population alive. The player can harvest food around the ship but since it’s exhaustible, the player also needs to move in order to let resources renew and keep harvesting, that’s were fuel comes in.
To harvest, the player has population points, an abstraction of its population to place around the ship.
There is a important subtlety in the system : there’s an entry cost in harvesting the more the player stays at the same place, harvesting the same resource, the more actual food and fuel they’ll get. That creates a dilemma between exhausting a resource and letting it renew.
As the one page design for the Ecosystem worked well with the team, I did another one for the player, this is what was hanging on our walls.
Player – Mid loop
To let the player get away from a really survival aspect and go more into the management aspect, we needed to let them manage their population.
To do so, we created a system where the player could optimize the population they had by putting population points in jobs slot that gave the player bonuses. Once in a job slot, a point couldn’t go back to harvesting until the next turn.
Keeping a population point inside the same job slot for x turns can also upgrade to new bonuses or new interactions. Therefore, managing the population became a strategy and created tension between the need to harvest and the will to get new ways to play.
To create a rythm and variation in difficulty, we also designed seasons. Seasons had an effect on the player’s needs that could be counterbalanced with special upgrades.
Seasons also have special effects on the ecosystem with new behaviors and entities.
Player – Long term goal
We decided to create scenarios to create an end goal for the player. With a goal, the player can make the best decisions regarding their objective and we could therefore create several scenarios to diversify the challenges and the experience.
We could also have an endless mode for the player interesting in it.
Since the exercice was to show a vertical slice, we decided to showcase every mechanic we had in the game with a little « demo » scenario.
I was in charge of doing it. Since explaining a management game is not a easy task, I really tried to do it step by step with a system of main quests, making the player discover the main systems they will need and secondary quests for the player wanting to go further into optimization and getting the most of the game.
The whole vertical slice is shown in this video.
I was in charge of the the project’s defense during the whole production which made me improve a lot on my presentation’s skills.
As an exercice, we had to do a fake funding file for the project. I wrote several parts of it (except for the management and marketing parts) as well as the page layout. I believe this document is a rather concise way to present this project