The Curse of Mannequin Island
PC & Mac / Unity / 2015
Position | Level designer
Welcome to the mysterious Mannequin Island! According to legend, travelers staying in the Chateau Tussaud resort during the Moonequin are transformed into living mannequins by a demon. Only those with a strong spirit (and a good camera) have a chance of survival – gathering the souls of all previous victims will break the curse!
In this online multiplayer thriller, you play as one of the lucky few who can reverse the transformation. Explore the resort and photograph mannequin-ized tourists to collect their souls. But beware! One of you will embody the demon and hunt down everyone else.
This is your last resort!
Multiplayer Level Design
I was mainly responsible for the level design from ideation to implementation. Starting with room shape brainstorming, the map went through tons of iterations serving various mechanics. Please see Prototyping the Level in our dev blog.
To evaluate each choke point, I created a doc to keep track of every room’s potential player activities. By making the following chart, we were able to adjust each room’s neutral mannequin amount in order to make sure that players have enough incentive to go to every room. However, this is just the beginning of the map iteration. A lot more changes are based on direct player feedback. We had countless level iterations during the whiteboxing phase to improve both the navigation and choke point experience.
Choke Point Everywhere
Different from the mindset of FPS map where players are encouraged to traverse from A to C as quickly as possible, we want player to BACKTRACK as much as they can. By providing mostly one way in and one way out rooms, players are highly encouraged to hide and blend into the environment instead of running away. The level’s goal is to make players constantly run into each other so the drama rarely stops. The best drama always comes from the situation where all players are probably in the same room but no one can be trusted. That’s also where the demon can become so powerful in trapping and confusing each other.
Gameplay Oriented Environmental Storytelling
I added a lot of trigger events that can either change the environment or trigger a sound. They’ve become so essential in environmental storytelling as well as allowing players to tell if someone is currently in the same room or someone has been in the same room. Some of them are easy to be avoided by careful movement while some are not.
For instance, standing in front of the toilet will make a flushing sound, passing by the PC will stop monitor’s screensaver then a 30 second resort welcome video will start to play. Furthermore, they’ve also become some interesting map skills that both sides can master.
A Secret Chamber
There’s a room that can only appear after triggering a particular mechanism.
The Curse of Mannequin Island is an exploration into player-to-player relationships in online games. We set out to create an experience where players could grow to trust and be betrayed by people they can’t even see. It’s a game that requires a fearful collaboration between characters who look the same but can have very different motives. On Mannequin Island, the curse is not the biggest obstacle to overcome, but merely a catalyst for distrustful inter-player interactions.One important mechanic for imbuing distrust is the process to destroy another player. The demon can freeze people in place temporarily, and freezing everyone will end in victory for the demon. Frozen players can be removed from the game, however, if someone else comes up and snaps a photo of them. The demon doesn’t kill directly, it creates situations where players kill each other.Every aspect of The Curse of Mannequin Island exists to sow distrust in its players, from its online platform to the asymmetric roles to the changing environment to the conflicting information between photographs and the world. It all proves that deadliest creature on Earth is Mannequins.