Everyone’s always avoided the eerie, abandoned house up on the hill. The other kids are all too scared to even look, but you know there’s no such thing as haunted houses. You’re going to spend a whole night in there to prove there’s nothing special about it. Once you get inside, you don’t see any ghosts – or a way out. Twistwyck Manor warps the laws of reality as it throws puzzle after puzzle between you and escape.
A Night in Twistwyck Manor was made in Unity, and you can play it in your browser if you get their plugin!
You can also watch the teaser trailer we put together a couple of weeks before the game was finished.
A Night in Twistwyck Manor was my team’s entry into RPI’s GameFest in the spring of 2011. We were awarded Honorable Mention in the main competition, which is judged by Vicarious Visions, a local Activision studio. We also were the unofficial second place in the Audience Choice competition.
What was I told to make?
The assignment was simply to make as awesome a game as possible. We were allowed total creative freedom, and our professor was there for advice and critique. (Game Development II, main project.)
When did I make it?
The spring semester of my junior year (2011).
How long did it take to make?
The full semester, from concept to finished product.
What parts did I make?
All of the team members collaborated on the game’s core concepts and the puzzles. If I had to briefly describe my role, I’d say I was in charge of user experience, polish, and all of the little details. I was responsible for all the user interface implementation and most of its design. I built a physics-based inventory screen and put together a system for animated text overlays, which we used for everything from action prompts to the game’s logo. I found, edited, or created all the sound effects and implemented most of them. I did most of the lighting design, designed particle effects, and built the physics-based swinging chandelier in the ballroom.
Who else helped make it?
Myself and four friends: two other programmers, one artist, and one designer.
A Night in Twistwyck Manor was first conceived because we wanted an excuse to build a world in which the laws of physics were more like suggestions. We treated the world like our personal non-euclidean sandbox and tried to fit as many weird things into it as we could. However, the whole time our real goal was really to create two kinds of moment for the player: “WHAT is going on here?” and “Oh my gosh I’VE GOT IT!” In the end, the constant alternation between bewilderment and triumph kept players fascinated.
We weren’t aiming for this, but we were happily surprised to find that a lot of people who don’t really play video games had a lot of fun with Twistwyck Manor. It’s a game you can take at your own pace, and there’s nothing trying to kill you – you just take as long as you like to explore and solve the puzzles you encounter. Without actually setting out to do so, we’d created a “safe” space for people to try gaming, and it worked out quite well. It may have been a happy accident, but it really drove home the point for me that unconventional gameplay can sometimes encourage more people to try out a hobby I love to share.
At the time, this was the largest project I’d worked on from start to finish, and I learned so much about how important planning and systems design is. We spent the majority of the semester working on systems, and most of the actual game content was produced within the last couple of weeks. I always knew that good developer tools allows for much faster development, but I’d never seen it so vividly before. After months of development, we suddenly went from a mansion with five rooms to one with twelve within a week. As a result, this project started my love affair with tool building.