Homo Machina

Homo Machina is a puzzle game inspired by the work of avant-garde scientist Fritz Kahn. Set off on a crazy journey to solve the surreal puzzles of Homo Machina and learn about the internal working of the human body, represented as a gigantic 1920s factory.

In this narrative puzzle, players are plunged into an ingenious system of nerves, vessels and valves. The aim is to help the body function correctly in about thirty steps or so throughout the entire day. Each scene breaks down daily acts, such as opening your eyes, chewing a toast or listening to music, through seamless navigation and intuitive gameplay.

Game / Level Designer

As a Game Designer, my job was to :
  • Design and improve the core system through documentation (3C, design pillars, mechanics, ...)
  • Prototype and tweak the game mechanics
  • Research and document the themes covered by the game
  • Improve the game ergonomics and usability
As a Level Designer, my job was to :
  • Design and integrate game levels working with the narrative and technical constraints
  • Working with a comic strip author to convey story elements into gameplay
  • Iterate and monitor levels to completion
  • Prototype and balance the mechanics specific to the levels
  • Coordinate with the artistic team for the decoration and the visual consistency of the levels
  • Here is the exemple of a level I worked on from the first concept to its final version.


Constraints :

  • Narrative constraint : the protagonist is late for a date and is running.
  • Goal of the level : The level had to show what was happenning to the lungs of someone doing a physical effort.
  • Following level : the following level is the Heart, this level must end in a logical progression to it.

Design answer :

  • Research result : When doing a physical effort, the quantity of oxygen needed increase. The lungs then inhale more air to put more O² in the blood through alveoli.
  • Player objective : Manage oxygen distribution in alveoli with increasing need of oxygen.
  • Level progression : The bloodstream will require more and more oxygen, the player will have to manage oxygen in an increasing number of alveoli.
  • Level completion : Upon completion of the level, the bloodstream will have sufficient oxygen and the player will move to the Heart level to pump that oxygen to the organs.

Alveolus gameplay (3 slides) :

Level Gameplay :

  • The player will have to manage up to 3 alveoli at the same time, starting with 1 at the beginning of the level
  • Whenever the player succeeds at maintaining the current alveoli, an additionnal alveolus is unlocked
  • When the player succeeds at maintaining all 3 alveoli, he will move to the next level (the Heart)

Gamefeel :

  • The idea behind this puzzle is that the quantity of oxygen required to power all rooms increases with the physical effort of the protagonist.
  • Also, to make the player feel the tension of the protagonist’s situation (being late for an important date and running), the oxygen comes in short bursts in which the player has a limited opportunity window to direct it to the different alveoli.
  • This, in one hand, add to the realism of the level (as a human body inhales by waves), and in another hand, increases the tension during these bursts, where the player has to decide where the oxygen should go and switch between rooms in a short period of time.

Final aspect of the level :

All credits for visual art to Nicolas Terlon