Plankerobics Now! is a 3D platformer in which the player guides a team of avid plankers through a series of jazzercise-themed puzzles. Its gameplay is similar to Portal and the 2D platformer Thomas was Alone; the player must use each of her plankers’ special abilities to get her team to the VHS tape at the end of each level. The game’s aesthetic draws from 80s Jazzercise and aerobics videos. To this end, the game’s menus are designed as if the player was making their way through a set of glitchy VHS tapes on an old TV. Our team centered the game around planking because we were tasked with creating a game inspired by a meme. After looking at many memes, we decided that planking would be the best starting point for a 3D game because it was easy to understand and lent itself well to 3D physics puzzles. If nothing else, remember: Studies* have shown that planking is the number one key to happiness, longevity, and a better body.
Designing Plankerobics Now! was a very long, and (occasionally) very difficult process. Although some things, like our 80’s visual style, were relatively easy to settle on, towards the beginning of the project, our team had trouble visualizing a strong central mechanic upon which our game could be constructed. Even once we settled on planking as our core mechanic, however, it would still be a while until our game began to resemble what Plankerobics Now! is in its current form. This is because Plankerobics Now! relies very heavily on Unity’s physics engine (which is non-deterministic). With the first playtest of our game players could launch themselves across pits, cling to walls, and soar high above what was intended by exploiting the weaknesses of the Unity physics engine. Fixing each of these bugs was often time consuming and far more complex, coding-wise, than we were used to, but after a few weeks of grinding it out (and a few other design tweaks here and there) Plankerobics Now! became the masterwork it is today.
*Personal anecdotes, hearsay, and advice from my personal planking coach Kevin.
A game by Noah Perloff, Brett Moody, Julia Del Matto, and Agustin Azulay.