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  • Results From Game Design Challenge: Throw It Out!

    - Danny Cowan

  • Cole Hopkins, Unaffiliated, Thrown Away DNA

    Thrown Away DNA is a sidescrolling, single player puzzle platformer which casts the player as a failed genetics experiment discarded by its creators and left to fend for itself in the wild. In order to survive and progress, it must shed useless limbs and body parts, modifying its body to adapt to the task at hand. Each level tosses the player into a unique environment with varied hazards, forcing the player to think strategically about which parts of their body they'll keep and which parts they'll leave behind. 

    Each level is a self contained vignette with its own setting, player character, and mechanics variations. It begins with a brief cutscene introducing the failed experiment the player will embody as it gets unceremoniously thrown out of a lab and left to fend for itself. From there, the player takes control of the creature as it gets its bearings. They are able to survey the entire level ahead, so that they can see the obstacles they will face and plan accordingly. Obstacles vary from gaps that need to be crossed to small spaces that need to be squeezed through to rocks that need to be climbed. The player may even come across hungry predators that need to be avoided or sated with a discarded body part. Body parts themselves have various uses and drawbacks. For example, an air bladder could be used to float in the water, but would take up dead weight otherwise. Large claws may aid in climbing, but become cumbersome in tight spaces. Choosing what limbs to keep and what limbs to discard is a key component of the core gameplay loop.

    The other key component is movement itself, where the game turns into a sort of physics based platformer. The player can click and drag each limb to move it in a given direction, or use the WASD keys to roll. Body parts may also have a unique action (such as flapping wings or shutting a claw) which can be toggled by double clicking. Though not exactly clumsy, player movement isn't incredibly precise; you are playing as a genetic mistake that can barely locomote, after all. Environmental obstacles are for the most of the part meant to be puzzles more than challenges of timing or precision.

    Those environments vary considerably as well, and effect the player's choices in interesting ways. For example, a level set in a cold region may require the player to use shorter appendages drawn close to the body to conserve warmth. A level set near a large lake may involve underwater movement using a crude combination of flaps and air bladders. The introduction of new hazards and mechanics as the game progresses keeps the core gameplay from getting stale.

    At the end of each level, the player character's organism finds a sanctuary deep in the wild where they can live in peace. Though there is no overarching narrative, each of the vignettes are similar enough in structure to establish a connection.


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