Tether is a two-player battle for coin-collecting supremacy. Tied together by a elastic cord, control one of four characters to collect coins and power-ups on your way to victory!
Tether was developed within the specifications of a client's brief. The brief required a two-player game where the actions and behaviours of the players are co-dependent. The aim of the game was to have some form of competitiveness, where the players competed to out-score each other in some form. The main purpose of the game was to serve as a promotional tool for the art style and design thinking of the client, a graphic designer.
The client's flexibility over the brief specifications allowed for further constraints to be placed on the game. The design philosophy of the game centred on the idea of connecting people in the physical environment as a requirement to play. This reflected the co-dependency of the game's design and served as a solution to expected limitations in hardware: the game required only one device for two players to play. It also served as an ode to "local" multiplayer games that many of the development team had as their first experience of games when they were children.
The device is divided horizontally (landscape) and players hold one end each. Each player controls their character using a joystick positioned on their side of the screen: the 360-degree, fast-paced movement makes for a frantic experience along the vein of "easy to learn, hard to master" design. Players select from one of four characters: Bubba (created by the development team), Inferno, Red Dog, and Sophie (designed by members of the public during Dare Protoplay 2014). The game takes place within a single-screen arena. The aim of the game is to collect the most coins within a chosen time limit of 30-, 60-, or 120-seconds. Players can push, drag, bounce off, and swing each other using the momentum and force generated by the tether. Players can also collect power-ups to momentarily influence play: a snowflake, to freeze the opponent; a shield, to protect a player from losing their coins; a strength boost, to pull the opponent more easily; a speed boost, to move around the arena more quickly; and a coin boost, to double the value of collected coins. Should players collide with the spiked traps in the corner, they lose all of their collected coins.
The development team focused on the notion of "fun frustration": this was perceived as a behaviour in which adversity caused by the opposing player was used as motivation to seek payback, as a result sustaining the play experience. Instances of fun frustration included: using power-ups to gain an attributional advantage (speed, strength, doubled-up coin collection) or to limit the opposing player's actions (freeze movement, protection); losing all collected points by hitting traps, leading to a higher risk-reward the more players collected; and being limited by the movements of the opposing player as a result of being tethered together.