While our focus was primarily on honing the combat, we budgeted additional time to add other features such as throwing physical objects, super-sprinting (or bull-rushing), and climbing walls, an exercise the children playtesters seemed to really love.
Who would've thought we could tell a kid to rapidly mimic climbing in place and have them happily oblige as their character bounded up a 100 foot wall?
Regarding sprinting, we were unsure if the children would want to physically run in place. After all, any child who is ordered to sprint in place by their sports coach isn't a happy camper.
Because we did include traditional analog movement, what if they simply relied on that non-active control scheme to travel and explore, without moving their actual body at all? Through strong visual feedback and cleverly designed segments, we found that the testers would run given the opportunity.
As soon as they saw their cat-like avatar go from an upright jog to an outright sprint on all fours that could break through walls, the visual payoff encouraged them to choose the running option over the analog walk.
Choosing is the critical choice here; if we instructed the player to jog everywhere and took away conventional control, we would have risked alienating our target market by forcing them to do something they wouldn't inherently choose or get tired from quickly.
But by giving them an option, we accomplished a few things: the game seems more user-friendly by maintaining a time-honored control scheme, and it empowers the child to make creative decisions at their discretion.
Once our mechanics were in place, we knew it would be important to provide some responsive feedback to encourage the kids to play continuously. For example, when the child punches a block out of their path, the physics allow the block to forcefully fly away.
In addition, vibrant visual effects and exciting sound feedback assist in making the child feel powerful when they swing their actual arm with the hero.
We've heard some concern from advisors that this idea may dissuade children from going outside at all. As with mature-themed games, it is ultimately up to the parents to monitor the gaming habits of their children.
We do know that adults and parents who have seen our demo have communicated how excited they would be to see their children playing games like Orbis, as opposed to playing inactively all the time.
With this said, our goal is not to supplant traditional outdoor exercise, play, and sports activities. Rather, we are aiming to replace the sedentary 30 to 60 minutes a day that the average child spends using their thumb while sitting on the couch with an experience that will encourage them to stand up, move, and sweat while playing the type of game they love with a smile on their face.
To affect this meaningful change in a game, and hopefully within the industry as well, we believe the key is giving kids what they love... adventures that empower them to be active.