Da Vinci’s Workshop

A collaboration project between my university and Ubisoft meant for in-house experimentation of VR.

About the game

As part of the education program, Da Vinci’s Workshop is a collaboration project between NHTV University of Applied Sciences and Ubisoft for in-house experimentation with Virtual Reality, in the form of an escape room using the Assassin’s Creed IP. The players are tasked to cooperatively solve numerous puzzles inside Leonardo’s workshop to recover a piece of Eden. There is no plan for a commercial release, this a student only project.


My contribution

I was the lead designer and one of the gameplay programmers for the game. My main role was programming the player interactions, the puzzles, game systems and other elements for both single player and networked experiences.

My secondary role is supervising the design of the game within the puzzle design and UI/UX teams.


Prototypes

Myself and another technical designer spent 6 weeks creating several prototypes of escape rooms during pre-production.

We would create a prototype playable in VR every 2/3 days and the last one, Da Vinci’s workshop, was picked to be the final concept.


Gameplay scripting

I worked a lot on the creation of the puzzles and making these work in multiplayer. One of the features I worked on was that puzzles would change depending on the number of players, so the escape room could also be completed in single-player.

I also worked most, if not all interactions in the game. Alongside another technical designer I created the hidden blade, crossbow, pickups, levers, drawers, and other interactable objects.


Systems

I created several systems for the game. I created the settings system, player customization (functional in multiplayer), dynamic narration system and various hint systems.

Some of the more behind-the-scenes systems include item respawn, preventing the players from walking out of bounds in the room-space, wall fades, and material effects.


Multiplayer

As the game is a co-operative experience I spent a lot of time designing and implementing this. I set up creating servers and joining these via Steam. I also implemented voice chat.

In addition to core multiplayer features a lot of my time was dedicated to multiplayer functionality of puzzles and “fluff” elements. Each puzzle in the game needed to be synchronized between all players.


Design lead

Throughout the entire duration of the project I was the design lead. My work, besides managing the design team, was to maintain feature teams, low-level planning, and serve as quality control.

I delivered both written and verbal guides on required features to help the design team finish their tasks on time and to of a high-enough quality. I also lead regular talks to discuss changes and solutions to problems in the game.

Later in the project I concentrated on helping less-skilled team members with their tasks and providing extensive feedback on their work.