top of page


Time spent on Project: Two Months

My Role: Level Designer

Team Size: Nine


That Chicken got a gun, but why?

At the start we all knew we wanted to make a game that was both serious, but also a tad more on the comedic side as well that had a unique movement mechanic. After a couple of meetings lasting a couple hours each one of the team members said what if one of the main mechanics of our game is using the recoil of a shotgun to move around? This idea then got the rest of the group thinking, what could we give a shotgun that one would be able to use it as a method of movement as well as fit the terms of serious, but comedic game?

Well give it up to our gameplay programmer for finding a solution, a chicken. A chicken was small enough that if it fired a shotgun it would send it flying, which fit perfectly within our desire to make a more comedic game. For at that time a chicken armed with a shotgun flying around at Mach 3 was pretty hilarious to us. So we had 3/4 parts of the basic concept nailed down, a chicken, a shotgun, and combined together a flying chicken.

Yet, we hadn't quite figured out how to add in the serious feel to the game, how could we make a shotgun wielding chicken both comedic and serious? That's we it clicked, what was both serious as well as comedic? Old action movies where the hero is absolute overpowered to almost a comedic sense, but tries to maintain a serious feel. Thus with this in mind we started orienting our game around the chicken being one of those old action movie heroes. Even with all of this we still lacked a name. At first we came up with Chicken with a shotgun, but that was way too long. So once again the gameplay programmer came in clutch and came up with Cluckshot a perfection combination of off a play on the main character being a chicken and what they are doing in the game. 


System Design: How should a chicken move with a shotgun? 

Now that we knew what type of game we wanted to build and the overall context of its world, we still ran into a couple of different design related issues. The biggest of those issues being how on earth should a chicken move when it fires the shotgun. In the earlier iterations the when the player used the shotgun the chicken would go flying in a more set manner and velocity based on where the player aimed and the angle the gun was pointed at when the player fired. Yet, this didn't test all that well for players felt like the didn't have enough control over where they were going.

Thus taking this feedback into account we slightly altered the movement of the chicken while it was in the air.  This alteration made it possible for the player to slightly change their trajectory so they could better control where they landed. With this change we went back to the testing labs to see how the testers would react to the change.


Overall it was slightly more positive for many stated they liked having a tad bit more control, but still felt at the mercy of the game. Back to the drawing board we went and once again we slightly altered how much control the player had over the chickens trajectory while airborne. This occurred two more times before we finally found a sweet spot where players felt that they had enough control be to comfortable using the shotgun movement more often. 


Level Design: Building a level around shotgun-based movement

Since we know how a much better sense of how a chicken should move with a shotgun, how does one design a level around using such movement as well as rewarding players for using shotgun movement. Given I one of my roles was the level designer it was my job to answer this question. Although before I can build a level I needed to understand what was the general concept for where all of this crazy stuff is going down. Knowing that the story was based on a chicken freeing their fellow chickens from the farm, this question of location was answered rather quickly and easily. Yet, that was the easier part, how could I create this farm that not only represented a farm in some manner, but also allowed for the shotgun movement to work in some meaningful way?

My first step of this process was to design and build an overall layout of how the level would be structured. This entailed the locations of certain buildings as well as chickens the player needed to save. From there I began to use the fences to start structing the the lane flow and sectioning of the level.


Since the player could use their shotgun movement to go really anywhere in the level, level breaks didn't really exist, so the lane flow/sectioning was mainly there to create different locations on the map such as the pig pen, the barn, and the underground bunker entrance. Furthermore, these lanes were used to funnel the horde of melee enemies to create that sense of a angry swarm of farmers. Now with the basic structure and some unique locations the overall level was starting to shape up.

Although something was missing, a sense of purpose, that purpose being shotgun movement. Given the nature of the game, I had to build the farm in a manner that allowed for such movement as well as rewarded it. Thus I built small movement-based challenges all over the map. If the player completed these little challenges they would be rewarded with freeing more of their fellow chickens and being one step closer to winning.


Since I didn't want to make the same movement-puzzle over and over, each one is different in the sense of how the player can complete it. For a puzzle with two methods of solving them are far more interesting than those with just one. These two methods were broken down into the normal path and the skilled path. The normal path was the general path that most players would take such as climbing the pig tower via jumping on the pigs or jumping from platform to platform to scale the grain silo.


Yet, if the player had the skill they could angle and launch themselves through the top window of the pig tower enabling them to skip climbing up it. Thus the overall level design philosophy was to create a level where the player could explore, learn, and fight their way to freedom, not only for themselves, but for the rest of the feathered friends. 


Cluckshot Combat Design

Through the process of Cluckshot's creation one element of the game that was a quite a challenge was that of combat. For there were many elements of combat that we took quite of time not only to figure how they function via how the player interacts with enemy combatants as well as enemy types and how they act around the player but how should the combat feel?

At the beginning we wanted to add two main archetypes of farmer-based enemies. Those being the typical ranged and melee archetypes. Given that they were farmers they should only have weapons that the average chicken farmer would have at their disposal. For the melee-based farmers it would make sense that they would have pitchforks, shovels, knives, and farm-based tools.


Yet, given our time resource we had to spend on the game's creation we could chose one. Given how unanimous the pitchfork is with the average farmer, we chose that weapon to arm our angry melee-based farmers with. When choosing the ranged farmer's weapon, it was an easier choice for us given we already had an asset for it and its base functionality within the game, the shotgun.

Now with our two archetypes of farmer now armed, how should they interact with the player in the dance of death? Well, sadly we didn't have the time at this point to fully flush out the AI interactions and their design. Thus to deal with this lack of time we decided to make the melee enemies more horde based and instead of the player fighting them more one on one the player would use their shotgun to cut through the horde of farmers.


Continuing this sad train, the shotgun enemies bugged out and had to be removed. Through this removal our combat devolved into just the player fighting hordes of enemies, which was fun for a little while, but did get boring after a couple of sessions. If we did have more time however we planned on not only fixing the shotgun enemies, but overhauling the combat in general to make it more dynamic and interesting such as adding more unique enemies and situations with said enemies. I even remember planning out entire boss fights that much to my dismay were never used. 

First Boss Encounter General Interaction

_ Boss1Encouter_IU.png
bottom of page