Lab Rat An immersive Maze Scenario

Start of the maze

I wanted to create a labyrinth for a player to navigate through, and while progressing, visual and spatial perceptions would be altered to produce a psychedelic/hallucinatory effect. A sense of anxiety is cultivated by a time limit and a ticking clock that is visible to the user at all times. The maze is constructed with identical walls to exacerbate a player's confusion and that perceptual effects, which increase in intensity as the timer counts down, overwhelm the player as as the timer counts down. This scenario seems similar to something a lab rat in an experiment might experience while under the effects of some drug, so I built the gameplay around the idea of a rat escaping a maze. Collectible cheese objects were added as a bonus objective and ultimately are meant to influence a player's total score. This encourages a player to explore as much of the maze as possible while under the constraints of the timer. To help the player keep track of where they've been, I added "footsteps" that are created along the player's footpath. This was somewhat inspired by the golden thread the mythical Greek hero Theseus used to navigate the Labyrinth of King Minos.

Footprints follow the player as they move through the maze; when time runs out, the player loses; the player's avatar is a rat

A start screen gives the player instructions about their predicament as Lab Rat #8592357, and lets them know of the the 60 seconds they have to complete the maze. A player can collect cheese objects by running into them, whereupon the cheese gameobject is destroyed and the player's cheese count is incremented. The player wins the game by reaching the end of the maze, which is indicated by a large piece of cheese.

The player wins by reaching the big cheese at the exit of the maze

I made the rat, cheese, footprint, and maze models using Blender and Unity's standard shader. I also made 2 materials with Substance Designer, but was unable to implement them (the materials and textures were blurry beyond the point of recognition). I altered the default footsteps files using Audacity to create a lighter sounding noise a mouse might make on a plastic surface. I also wrote scripts for cheese objects' pickup and rotation, image overlay and directional light manipulation, a state machine for the game's different stages and information like the timer and a player's cheese count, and used portions of a camera shake script written by Michael Jasper to incorporate a shaking effect on the maze during the final stage of the game.

I downloaded a free clip of a chewing sound which is played every time a player collects a piece of cheese. I also used an image file found on Google of a mouse's paw print for the footstep trail. The skybox was generated using an HDR cubemap file of the interior of a brewery (it was the closest thing I could find to the inside of a laboratory). Finally, I used the standard FPS character scripts from Unity's standard assets.

State machine structure

One of the things I found most interesting while developing this application was the potential of a state machine to manage different parts of an event/game. It took a while to get working, but once the basic structure was in place I was able to add a variety of functions that were called in different stages of the game relatively easily. I also was happy with the way my player rat avatar turned out, because I have very little modeling experience and anything that resembles a rodent is a win for me. I was however frustrated by my inability to implement the Substance Designer materials, especially since I tested them in other projects and they worked fine.

Substances were to be implemented as crazy flashing textures on the floor, walls, and screen overlay

Credits:

Mouse Paw Print: http://www.clipartqueen.com/image-files/paw-prints-clipart-dog-paw-prints.png

Chewing Sound File by Caroline Ford: http://soundbible.com/976-Eating.html

Skybox HDR file by Bob Groothuis: http://www.dutch360hdr.com/shop/product/df360-008/

Camera shake code (adapted for maze shake at Stage 4) by Mike Jasper, ported for C# by georgeegonut: http://www.mikedoesweb.com/2012/camera-shake-in-unity/

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