Heidi Erwin
back to portfolio
Elevator Operator
Puzzle Game
WHEN:  August 2018
WHAT:  Game Design, C#, Unity, Art

A puzzle game for Ludum Dare 42, a 72-hour game jam (Theme: “Running Out of Space”). Made by Evan Charfauros and Heidi Erwin (me). You play as the bellhop of a strange hotel challenged with efficiently arranging and delivering guests.

Play the game online here! Or view the Ludum Dare page for this game here.
Elevator Operator Title Screen
Elevator Operator Trunk Joke Screenshot

My Role



As half of a two-person team, I played the part of programmer, designer, and artist on this project.

As a gameplay programmer (C#, Unity), I implemented the core mechanics of the game, including the matrix rotation and spawn system with difficulty scaling.

As a designer, I worked with Evan to design the entire structure of the game. To add a challenging element of management and planning to gameplay, we added a mechanic in which elevator guests are stubbon, refusing to move from their assigned spots once the elevator doors close until they reach their destination. As the primary artist for the project, I built the game UI, and illustrated all of the character art assets. Evan Charfauros created the background and floor art assets for the game. Development took place over the course of 72 hours in August of 2018.

Big thanks to Denny's for being open 24 hours and refilling our waters!

Humor



Ultimately, this is mechanically a fairly simple puzzle game. It doesn't claim to revolutionize any genres or redefine standards of planning in games. However, I believe it is strong (and Ludum Dare voters agreed) for its mood and humor. Created over the course of 72 hours by a two-person team, we didn't have the resources to create something technically revolutionary. For this reason I see this project as an exercise in creating mood in games: in this case, an aura of quirky humor.

One of my favorites is a description of the eel character: "this one's acoustic."

Well-received for its quirky humor, this project really emphasized to me the power of humor to add interest and fun to even a game with a simply mechanic!

"...one of those games that clicks with me super well - low pressure, good jokes... well done!" —Autumnotopia

Elevator Operator Starfish Joke Screenshot
Elevator Operator Sea Cucumber Joke Screenshot

Reflections



The most valuable thing I gained from this project was acknowledging my passions and confronting tough realities about the intersection of work and health.

Over the course of four nights, I slept sixteen hours. There have been very rarely any other moments in my life where I've felt as much of a flow state as I did on this project, and this was perhaps the first time in my life that I've averaged four hours of sleep a night.

I understand that the video games industry especially has a reputation for unhealthy crunch work schedules, and I still firmly feel that people need to be rested, healthy, and happy to not only live life to the fullest but also to make good games.

After this project, I understand first-hand the feeling of loving a game so dearly (whether because of the vision or the people involved) and working unhealthy hours without thinking twice because your passions have blinded you.

With this in mind, in future game jams I will scale down the scope of the project or work with a larger team. I will certainly carry this experience forward with me as I continue to make games: compassion, for others and yourself, is just as important as the care you put into a project.

Play the game online here!
Gay Snake
Frog