EMPATH is an experimental Virtual Reality action game I am currently working on as my senior capstone project at the University of Southern California. Its core concept is casting spells through martial-arts inspired movements in the manner of Dragonball Z or Avatar: The Last Airbender. The idea behind the game is that martial-arts style movements are simpler and easier for a player to perform in combat situations, and also feel more natural than the more complex movements often used by gesture-based games. Thus we are offering an improvement upon the genre while also fulfilling a common power fantasy.
As the director of the project, I formulated the initial idea and created a proof-of-concept prototype. In the year since formalizing the team, I have been leading a approximately 30 designers, engineers, and artists to create a more polished demo. Much of my time has been spent in designing the player abilities to feel rewarding and natural, while also balancing the mechanics of their effects with those of the enemy characters. In particular, I have been focused on making sure that each power fulfills a different role, and that enemies reward different combinations of power use, in order to allow the player a breadth of gameplay options, while also encouraging them to vary their strategy.
In addition, I work with our level design design team to lay out the space of the level in such a way that it supports the desired effect of the individual combat encounters, such as balancing multiple types of enemies, encouraging the player to try out a new ability, and exploring the use of verticality in virtual reality. The game is currently in pre-alpha as we wrap up the final rounds of polish and layer in the final pieces of content, but you can view a video of it in its current state below.