LOC: Surgical Strike
War and peace has been around for as long as human beings have walked the face of this planet. Many people have faced war and many more have seen the consequences of it in generations to come. The team of developers in Solaris Studios wanted to create a game that grasps certain elements of war; shedding light on certain aspects of warfare that usually go unheard. It was this very idea that gave birth to an original game created to entertain the user while also shedding light on the unseen perspectives of war. This is how the game ‘LOC: Surgical Strike’ was created.
In the pursuit to create a unique, compelling, and completely original game, the game director, developers and designers worked on an idea that embodies concepts of war in a more thought provoking method. After months of endless hours, research, and testing new ideas, ‘LOC: Surgical Strike’ came to life. The tower defense game is based in the bone chilling mountains of Siachen where a never ending war consumes more men then imaginable.
The game takes the players on a journey in the mountains of Siachen with an army Lieutenant. The game explores how the Lieutenant and his platoon mates are challenged with enemy intrusions, personal life concerns, and bloodshed; depicting what these officers must do to take charge of the situation as they fight their battles.
Unlike most war games that take place in plain, flat terrains or urban cities, the developers wanted to do something different. The environment of the game needed to be something unique, however, close to reality. To cater to these very specific needs, the game environment was situated in the snow-covered peaks of Siachen. The overall landscape is quite different from the games that are generally available for the users to play.
The selected environment serves as an ideal space for the storyline of the game. It truly enraptures the concept of being away from the normal routine and everyday lifestyle. The environment is hostile, a challenge for everyone with unlivable conditions. This also plays in the story of the enemies walking over a certain path as seen in tower defense games. Since there is heavy snow and low visibility, traveling through pre-cleared paths is exactly how armed forces move in this area.
It was important for the team members to create a story that was very close to reality and that completely depicts the different aspects of war. The story of the game covers many different aspects of a soldier’s life. It takes a peak into the friendships and bonds that are created between army officers as they live together in these harsh areas, away from their families, for days, weeks and even months. It sheds light on the relationships of these officers with their family members; the issues that they face and day to day problems that they have to solve.
The game development unit at Solaris Studios understands that war is not all glory and action as perceived in most games. The regular sight of dead bodies and the memories of friends being shot next to oneself change the survivors of war as they walk back to their post with blood stained uniforms. There is a certain element of uncertainty that was covered in the story line of the game. People serving on the line of control or taking part in an active surgical strike face many unimaginable things on a daily basis. These surgical strikes may come to an end however, the imprints of war stay alive in the minds of the officers and soldiers for days, months, years and sometimes, for a lifetime.
The story of the game revolves around the main character; Lieutenant, who is a serving lieutenant of the army. He is leading a large platoon of 4 squads. His platoon is situated in the brutally cold area called Siachen. There is some unease at the line of control between the two countries that share this undefined border. Being at the post for so long, Lieutenant wishes to visit home for his son’s birthday. The story shows how the war affects the personal life of the soldier and the sacrifices that are being made, not only by the army officers but also by their families.
The tug between serving the country and being with one’s family takes a toll on the army officers as they spend days and nights in duty. Lieutenant is no exception of this constant tug of war however, even when he is missing his family, he takes his duty seriously and does not let the platoon or himself get their morale down.
The story also covers another aspect of war which is friendship. The story of the game shows how in these tough times, it is this brotherhood between army officers that keeps them going every day. They are always finding little things to laugh about together, keep each other company and also shoulder each other’s burdens in times was distress. As most things in life, there are certain elements of war that can be applauded while there are others that make one wonder whether war is even worth it. The story shows both sides of war. While there is valiancy and brotherhood on one side, which can be viewed with pride, there is bloodshed on the war ground and separation from the families on the other side which make the entire idea of war and peace sound confusing.
The developers of the story wanted people to see what is usually concealed about warfare in our average game storylines and make the user place themselves in the shoes of the Lieutenant and understand the hardships that come with the war.
THE MAIN CHARACTER:
In the story, the main character is the Lieutenant of the army. The game developers wanted to make the character someone that they can share empathy with. To make matters more interesting, the main character of the game is editable. In this manner the user is probed to name the character and play the part so that the story can be seen from a first person point of view.
This makes matters interesting as every victory and loss is felt more greatly and the user feels more indulged in the game play. This character can also be seen inside the game play as a hero who stands in the way of the approaching enemies and fires back at all the invaders. The hero serves as a revivable power in LOC; Surgical Strike who helps the players clear the level more efficiently.
To best represent the story line of the game, the team of developers decided that a tower defense style would be the most suitable gameplay according to the requirements. A tower defense game adds to the event based story line that was developed. It helps to make the user differentiate between the systematic environment changes that take place within the story line.
This strategy game makes it more interesting as the user has to carefully decide the placement for their towers as they have limited number of coins and the only way to earn more is by killing the enemies. This keeps the player attentive towards the game throughout; making the game more entertaining for them.
The game is divided in multiple levels according to different map sites that coordinate with the game’s story line. Each map is uniquely designed with progressive difficulty levels. In this manner the player starts the game with the easiest map. The Solaris Studio team wanted to opt for this mode of development as it allows the player to completely learn about the game before they can move on to levels of a higher difficulty. The first level of the game also provides the players with a tutorial so that they can fully understand how the game works along with the use and properties of each and every perk and benefit that the player can utilize.
The levels are all situated in the cold location of Siachen, where the players can place their defensive structures. Each of the tower has different properties which can be utilized to kill and defeat the different waves that arrive in the game. These different properties of the tower range from shooting bullets to flame throwing. The player has to meticulously plan the defense and figure out the best method to be victorious
To make matters more interesting, the enemy troops are also divided into multiple categories. These different categories have different properties, different health and different speeds as well. This allows the player to fight against an array of enemies and keeps bringing new challenges into the game.
To win the game, the player has to complete all levels, tactfully utilize the additional benefits provided throughout the game and complete the story of the Lieutenant who is out with his platoon, defending the line of control.
USER INTERFACE & USER EXPERIENCE:
The visuals play an important role in how the player feels about a certain game. A good UI & UX makes a game more narrative and easy for players to come back and play again. Solaris Studios believes that well planned game development processes must include UI and UX designing as it creates its own glory.
Although it is a requirement for a game to have some game design, the team wanted to give UI/UX its due importance. UI/UX was integrated as part and parcel of the game development process to ensure a good quality end product. For LOC; Surgical Strike well-organized and clear gaming scenes were designed to create a better interaction between the player and the game play.
There are certain aspects that were worked on in detail to make sure that the user interaction and experience is top notch.
The visual experience was designed in a manner that the games provides a sense of pleasure to the players. The design leans towards realism. The characters along with the environment is close to reality so that the player can better align with the storyline being presented. This allows for a better understanding of the story of the game as players are given a sense that these situations are not as foreign and out of the world as we may like to believe.
The game has a very clean look to make it easy for the players to understand the game and get accustomed to the game play. The game is designed to be user friendly. Hints and suggestive probes are also provided in the game so that the user is directed towards actions that they can take to victoriously complete the game.
ADAPTABILITY TO NEW TECHNOLOGY
Solaris Studios recognizes the use for adaptability of a game to new technology. As the players of the games have different devices and wish to enjoy the game to the fullest, it is important that the game and its design is supported on the multiple different devices that are being used around the world. A conscious effort is made to ensure that the game play is not effected when the game is played on different devices.
A common issues faced by players is that when they download an older game, certain buttons become more difficult to use due to the notch design of their front camera that is seen in more recent devices. Such issues have been catered to so that all the different players can have the great user experience that Solaris Studios wishes to provide.
SMOOTH FOR THE USERS
Imagine being in the middle of a level and the situation being completely tense when your game stops responding to your commands! There is nothing more frustrating to see yourself lose a winning battle just because the game started to lag. The most annoying thing for a player is an irresponsive game that keeps getting stuck or stops responding to the command. The team made sure that LOC; Surgical Strike does not have any such issues in the game play so that it can fulfill the gaming aims.
This smooth game play was ensured by the team of quality assurance specialists who conducted vigorous testing on the game. Stress tests and load tests were conducted to make sure that these games can take the pressure of fast incoming commands and continue to perform at its best, no matter the load on the game.
APPROPRIATE SOUNDS FOR THE USERS
The sounds and music used in the game were carefully chosen and placed in certain moments in the game so that they enhance the players experience and helps the user become more involved with what is happening in the game. Researches have shown that music has a great impact on the player’s retention rate. With the use of appropriate music, the players become more immersed in the game play and tend to spend more time playing the game.
The team of Solaris Studios wanted that the game being developed should excite multiple senses of the player to create a more wholesome experience. To create this rounded experience, it was important for the team to pay deed to the sounds that are being used in the game.
A small team of members was set up to ensure that the sounds and music that was being used in the game was in line with the mood and environment of the game. We wanted the music to act as a motivation in the game play and complete the environment of war by adding to the energy that is present in the moment of an attack. The team added sound effects to the shots fired by the different towers and tanks. This was an interesting idea as this allowed the music to intensify as the game started to get more difficult and the waves of enemies became larger.
Sound designers at Solaris Studios did not wish to overlook the importance of auditory sensors in the game. Studies has shown that background music in a game plays a vital role for creating emotional responses. A player can better connect with the story line of a game if appropriate music is used in the background that provides the appropriate feel of the game.
MAKING USE OF PLAYERS IMAGINATION:
Playing a game where you feel like you are personally involved gives a sense of a more connected game play to the players. The game engages multiple sensors of the players, in this manner the experience becomes more realistic and the player becomes more drawn inside the story that is being presented.
A key factor about LOC: Surgical Strike is how it makes use of the player’s imagination. Right in the very start of the game, the player is asked to name the main character and write their own name. This allows the player to assume the role of the hero and everything that now happens to the hero is happening to the player.
This slight use of the players imagination makes the user want to play better and be victorious as they get to play out their own fantasies through the main character of the story line.
The story also unfolds in parts. As the game progresses, new information is added to the story line and another part of the story is revealed to the user. In this manner the user keeps wanting to progress forward in the game.
These piece meals of the story allows the users imagination to run free and think of all the possible outcomes that might take place in the game. This in turn reinforces the players to complete the game till the very end, in an attempt to get to the end of the story and see how it is concluded.
The game was researched for a healthy amount of time to make sure that the end result is exactly how the team had envisioned it. There were multiple tries and failures. The team took their time to create an original game that has the potential to keep the players entertained.
A complete tower defense game that is built around a story reflecting on all sides of war. The story revolving around a lieutenant of the army depicts the multiple emotions that an officer goes through during his time at an unstable post. As most people who aren’t directly affected by war have a very black or white image of what it is like to be in such a situation. Some people view war in all its glory and the galore surrounded around the ideation of victory while others view war as wasteful and a havoc in itself.
With a missing parent, there is a huge impact on the children of these officers. These children may face problems that they feel unequipped to resolve and they may feel abandoned by the missing parent due to a lack of understanding of the situation. The game also explains the difficulties and emotions of the family members who patiently wait at home for these officers to return; constantly trying to go about the day to day life without any hurdles.
The game designed and developed by Solaris Studios builds emotions that the players can relate to. The feelings hit home as they are so close to the reality. The game story shows a situation that is relatable for the everyday person. With the use of a tower defense game genre, the entire story and game comes into place. It allows the players to feel involved and get an adrenaline rush from the intense fight between both the armies that are present in the battle field.
Every aspect of the game was developed thoughtfully, keeping the interests and the requirements of the end user in mind. The different maps in the game allow the game play to remain interesting as the missions pass by and the level progresses. The sound for these levels also changes as you move from one mission to another, creating a more wholesome experience for the user.