The initial burst of creative inspiration came about from the notion that the team's programmer was confident he could set up a system where the game could message and call a real-world phone number. From there, we immediately thought of Black Mirror, Mr. Robot and other iconic shows & media that have hacker organizations sending cryptic messages to people to communicate. The rest is history.
What it does
It's a first-person puzzle game in which you have infiltrated a database facility by hacking into one fo the maintenance droids. As the droids have various fail safes and are tracked heavily, this brings about the narrative justification for the game - phone interplay. The organization that is helping and guiding you must do so covertly - typically using text messages that complete information acquired within the game in order to complete puzzles and advance the game. We also have a meta gameplay element that didn't make it, which would be that all players around the world would be contributing towards bringing down the corporation and players could see other users doing progress both visually (server racks) and through a special terminal interface.
How we built it
It was built in Unreal Engine 4 with the use of Twilio for the phone integration, Sony Vegas Pro for the panels and custscenes/intro sequence, Maya for modeling and Photoshop for various UI, decal, logo and other work.
Challenges we ran into
The biggest challenges were making sure technically the game-phone interplay works and design-wise making sure that it all makes sense from a narrative and gameplay point of view. All puzzles and the environment had to be carefully constructed in order to create a guided sequence that would showcase all the core features of the game - like a virtual slice of sorts.
We also, unfortunately, had to drop and rework the introductory sequence (from launch to gameplay). The initial concept was carefully written so that the player has a reasonable narrative justification to submit their actual phone number (authentication code sent to the phone to ensure it is their current device) and then would continue on smoothly. Sadly, Unreal did not pay along well and the intro had to be cut and combined into a shortened, unified cinematic interlude with the phone number entry being a simple box with no justification within the game universe.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Finding a way to utilize skills that were not necessarily immediately apparent as useful for games, such as video special effects work (panels in game, video sequences etc). Figuring out how to make the game-phone communication system to work. Being able to create a highly detailed and visually stunning environment despite our inexperience with the engine and the limited time constraints. Finding good narrative justification for the gameplay and creating a deeper universe and narrative behind the corporation in the game. Polishing it up with little touches, not often associated with game jam titles.
What we learned
How to work faster, more efficiently and as a team. How to build, iterate and give constructive criticism on ideas and design. How to code for, model for and create assets in general for Unreal engine. How to rapidly block out a level based on rough level design sketches. How to assemble and properly light an impressive Unreal Engine 4 environment. How to apply video special effects work to games.
What's next for Congruence
From here on, we will have to see what the reception is from players & judges, and might potentially consider continuing it in some shape or form.