Leaving off from the last devlog, I have basic novel gameplay (link) and an overall design north star (link). This leads to developing the first part of the game. The game starts with an anti-virus program, anthropomorphized as the playable character of the game, arrives at the infected computer. After a tutorial location, the player enters the first dungeon, the Ethernet Card.

Ideally every dungeon in a game has its own unique personality. Taking a note from The Legend of Zelda, each dungeon can separate themselves by providing a unique mechanic only found in that dungeon. What is the unique mechanic within an Ethernet Card? I have no clue.

When I’m making a dungeon there are generally two design methods:
1) design the unique mechanic then create the visuals around that
2) design the visuals then shoehorn in the unique mechanic to fit in whatever space is available
The Ethernet Card went with the second option.

I started by scouring the web for pictures of Ethernet Cards, the most exciting visual inspiration for a dungeon. I settled on a generic, older, bulky Ethernet Card that goes into an open PCI slot.

Can you see the potential in this image?

Looking at the card, I see some chips, cylinders looking things and feint grey lines that connect the different components. Using your imagination you could imagine bits coming in through the port, traveling along the grey circuit lines while getting manipulated by the chips, and finally outputting through the PCI connector.

Through what little knowledge I have of networking, I know that bits need to be formatted in specific forms to adhere to protocols. With this idea of formatting bits, I imagined a stream of bits going in and out of the Ethernet Card while the cylinders and chips manipulate those bits.

Implementing this first required me to create an Ethernet Card. Using primitive shapes in Unity is enough for a first pass.

Looks just like it…

Next I needed to implement and write a bit pathing system for the bits.

Keep it simple

Now to what the player is solving. What is the goal of manipulating bits? The easy answer is to start with a bit string, be given a bit goal, and have the player manipulate the bits until they equals the goal. Naturally I need to insert a check station at the end of each direction to communicate whether they matched the goal bit string or not.

Yup, my mouse got captured in this gif

How is the player going to manipulate the bit string? The same 6 logical gates I use for everything else in the game of course. The cylinder towers can be interactive points to change the operation used on the chips.

Change which operation is being used

Finally, where are the bits being changing states? The “chips” on the Ethernet Card aren’t being used, so I redirected the bit paths to all go in and out of “chips” on the card.

This chip splits the bit string based on the operation above

Although this is a first draft without camera angles, models, textures, dignity, you can see how the rough draft of dungeon mechanics can be formed from a simple picture of an Ethernet Card. Utilizing the same kills as the main gameplay, bits and logical gates, in the dungeon is great for reinforcing the key skill set required to be successful at this game.