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Budget Cuts out September 25 on PS VR, first look at new Panopticon level

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Budget Cuts is an action-adventure stealth game full of sneaking, stabbing, and robots(!) which was built for virtual reality from the ground up. We’ve had to delay our launch of Budget Cuts on PlayStation to September 25, but we couldn’t be more excited to see how all of you PS VR players take on the evil efficiency robots of TransCorp!

We’ve had a blast packing in a ton of content in this game for you all – There are hours of gameplay in the main story that will take you through offices, factories and oh-so-many mail-rooms. Combine this with puzzles, stealth-or-stab moments, virtual cookies, shiny collectibles, as well as a boss fight (just for good measure), and you are up for a mixture of tension, action and laughs. We’ve also built an Arcade Mode that you access using the uh… *checks notes*… fully modeled and intractable arcade machine (because just a regular old menu would have been too easy) which brings a bunch of new levels and a competitive game mode to the mix. We can’t wait to see what you think!

So while a lot of the work we’ve put into the game so far has been in moving all the offices, factories, and mail-rooms of TransCorp over to PlayStation, we couldn’t resist building a whole new level in this wacky universe, designed specifically with PSVR in mind. We got a lot of inspiration and ideas from our NeatCorp discord community, and from folks on twitter, about what type of gameplay spaces they want to see more of in Budget Cuts – that’s how we ended up building Panopticon!

With Panopticon we wanted to put the players journey and the importance of choice at the core of the levels design. We do this by providing them with a clear and central goal that is easy to locate, but hard to access(that green room in the middle of the level). We wanted to encourage the player to pave their own path forward, either through brute force and action or through stealth and sneaking their way around in order to reach the center of the level. Honing in on the idea that the player is the one who chooses between fast-paced stabbing or tactical sneaking through their traversal of the level was key to the theme of this level. 

In order to make sure that Panopticon had a goal that was easy to see (but was also often just out of reach) we decided on a radial layout of the level. This design approach lent itself very nicely to the circular shape you see on the level. This has the added effect of both challenging the player’s navigational skills – you might just find yourself going “in circles” if you don’t pay attention. This layout also helps make the center of the level visible from several points, which supports the player in making informed decisions on how to traverse towards their goal.

We also wanted to play with space and form in this level, focusing more on round shapes and verticality inside office spaces, while relying very heavily on our iconic color blocking art style to make each “slice” of the level feel bold and memorable. Using colors to help distinguish areas of gameplay also has the added benefit of making the level more navigable for the player, thus reinforcing the players personal choices. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed this little “level design ramble” from us over here at Neat Corporation, and we look forward to seeing you all approach Panopticon with your own individual style once Budget Cuts releases for PlayStation on September 25!

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