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This week I’ve been very busy.
You can see I’ve added simple googly eyes to each of the X’s. It gives so much more characteristic to the game and they look adorable.There’s also many different animation effects I can create such as
The colourful ones look more childish and the classic theme you can select would suit more of the mature audience.
I’ve used a teal colour to match the GUI components that Tom made. I’m not 100% sure that its the best colour for the GUI and background but it would be short work changing it. In the next couple of weeks I’m going to need to get testing on different colour pallets because I’m still really unsure what will look good. I definitely think there needs to be some sort of artwork for the background, some kind of cartoon scenery. I’m re-evaluating the use of the cannon and have though of using a bouncy trampoline instead with all the little X characters in a line waiting for their go. I hope the team at the Mix will like it which I’m going to show to them next week.
I’ve added all the navigation elements so the player can pause the game, go the main menu, settings, the mix page etc. and I’ve fixed a lot of the bugs.
I’ve coded all the parts of the iteration I’m working which includes the new way to fire. From initial play testing its so much more easier and the flow is so much better. You can fire as quickly as you want with a tap of a finger.
There is a limit on how many shots you can fire. It was 50 but I found that it would enable just over 10 shapes so I changed it to 100 shots which seems better.
There will need to be very important play testing this week. I need to find out if
Tasks I need to focus on are:
I’ve been in real dilemma with the mechanic I’ve implemented since dev weeks 8 and 9. There is a timer where the firing rate decreases at a gradual rate putting pressure on the player to aim quicker. To begin with the gap between shots was 4 seconds, then gradually over 2 minutes it shortens to just one second for a brief moment, before going back to 4 seconds and repeating. Over a few iterations I made it take just 40 seconds instead of 2 minutes because the players weren’t noticing it happen. What they were noticing was that it was firing more often when they didn’t expect which I saw caused more frustration and confusion than joy. I introduced it because I wanted the game to increase in difficulty and for the player to be rewarded for when they overcome hard moments. I also saw a vision for what I wanted to include for my 8 core drives.
The large 4 second gap I expected to encourage players to shoot manually and in effect improve their skill at the game which didn’t really work. I still think with the bars on the side of the screen that visualise the ramp up in difficulty, when they suddenly drop and extra points fire across the side, that does give an extremely rewarding moment.
Having the cannon fire automatically and manually does create some confusion. The player tends not to fire manually and relies more on the game firing with the whole timer system which then prevents them thinking less about challenging themselves to gain multipliers, which the player will lose out on bigger rewards which also makes them think less about their strategy. So although they get the regular phase reward they don’t necessarily get the constant reward from the multipliers.
For this iteration I’m going to remove the timer system and as well as this I’m going to be dropping the whole auto shoot mechanic all together. Instead the player will only be able to shoot manually.
A lot of players where confused on the cannon movement so I’ve made the game a lot easier so instead of tapping to shoot and swiping to aim you now just tap the available square that the next X can go to and the cannon automatically snaps to the position. The player can spend more time focusing on where to put their next X rather the fiddling with the cannons position.
The main change is just the controls. Instead of now choosing where to aim the player is now just choosing where to put it.
Over the next two weeks i’m going to get lots of people play testing. The timer is gone but I need to know what players prefer. Swiping to aim or just a simple tap.
Last week I looked into getting Facebook to work with the game. I installed the Facebook unity integration package and I set up developer settings for the app on my Facebook account. It was a lot trickier than I first thought which took a lot longer. I managed to bring up a GUI element where the user can then login and for testing I used a special user credential login which worked. However it seems as though I cant test any of the other features out until I make the game public on Facebook. I’m going to push this back for a couple of months to get better understanding of how to use it and also because I think there is more important things I should get done first but its good to have this part in place.
One of the big things on my mind right now is how I give personality to each of these Xs. I’ve experimented with trying to animate it as arms and legs which didn’t work so well, and overlaid a few facial expressions on top as a pattern in Photoshop which also looked a bit weird. I used Flash to try to animate it. The problem I was getting was pulling at the edges of the X manipulated it too much. I’ve found a new way which include using the anchor points and moving whole sections of the object, the problem is the fact it limits me on how it can move, and might look a bit stiff. The animations will play when another X has landed on a space next to it. The kind of animations I’m think of are happy jumps, spins, tall stretches, foot stamps and bounces. I think this along with some funny high pitched character sound effects would feel really good.
I’ve re-jigged my timeline and in 1 week I’m going to be making a few of these animations and getting them working with the game.
I’ve also been working on re-implementing the power ups with the new GUI along with the scores showing. I’ve also created an animation of the X bursting. This looks really good. I used Adobe after effects and mainly used the bulge, bevel alpha, pattern and turbulent displace to get the effect I wanted. I then rendered it into a sequence of .png’s and used texture packer which fits all the images into a sprite sheet the best way to utilise the space and also tells unity how to pick them out.
I feel the game is slowly starting to pick up pace and I’m more confident with how to animate as well as getting Unity to play different animation states when I want it to. Although I’m slightly lacking in blog posts, I’m hoping the next 3-4 weeks will give me time to do the research I need to do on Game-feel and game balancing. Meanwhile I have the team at the mix working on other aspects of the game such as Buttons, sounds, menus and other designs so hopefully things will all get put together in around 4-5 weeks which will be a vast improvement to what the game is looking like now.
Today I went down to Stowmarket to see Ryan, Lucy and Tom. There were some key things I wanted to discuss. I showed them two versions of the game. One was using The Mix’s colours and the other was more colourful. It also had a bevel effect with the X’s which made them stand out a bit and created a shine to them.
Unfortunately the team wern’t too keen on the brightly colored Xs or the bevel and said it was out dated. They also mentioned the GUI element that uses the Mix’s colours clashed with the new colours. Its a problem because I feel the colors need to be more exciting. We had a debate on whether it was possible for the user to change the theme of the game which should be fairly easy to do. I was thinking of 2 themes, the classic mix theme and a jelly theme. What we’re going to do now is go back to the original colors and improve the background and change the bevel so it is less curved.
We spoke about UI elements and I showed them some examples of other Games. Tom is going to create around five buttons with the same style experimenting with colors and shapes.
Ryan is going to be making sounds for the buttons with a hit & release effect and the sound of the X’s swapping which we’ve decided will be a short airy whistle. He’s going to be starting to experiment with theme sounds by making a little jingle that lasts for over 30 seconds that will loop and wont be irritating.
I’ve also asked for promotional material so we can start putting together The Mix page. One of the ideas we had was instead of having lots of text we would instead have one of their moodboard of words that has been used on a sign and as you scroll down the page the words and images appear from different directions. At the bottom they’ll be links to the website and the Facebook page.
Tom will also be looking at the Main Menu and working from Sam’s game title logo to produce something which is more clearer on the game title name. The main menu will include the mix’s logo, game title and Play button. At the bottom of the screen there will be small button icons which would lead to Highscores, The Mix page and settings.
I also got into contact with Tommy Human who was part of the Brix team and is still involved with The Mix to see if he could help me re-design the cannon for the game, something which looks quite unique. He replied to say he would be happy to which is awesome. I gave him more information and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it turns out.
Lastly we spoke how we could make the game more rewarding. I mentioned some feedback I received, a way to do this could be to show feel-good words that would pop out of where the player swipes a shape. They really liked the idea and they will be helping me to come up with different words to use.
For the next couple of weeks i will be integrating facebook, creating X explode/pop animation, the mix page, rewarding words, applying UI elements and re-styling the game components.
I’ve taken some time to think about where the game is headed, what mechanics I’m introducing and whether the colours I’m using work well.
At the start, the cannon fires an X every 4 seconds and then slowly decreases to 1 second which makes it more difficult. After reaching the limit it goes back to four seconds and begins again. I like it because obviously its a way of increasing difficulty but also because when you understand the cycle it can create a very powerful anticipation and tension when the pace speeds up especially when the player has been going for a while. As well as this when the player overcomes it there can be a huge sigh of relief and the player can be massively rewarded. I’ve had mixed views on the mechanic, some like it, some don’t believe its suitable and some don’t even realise its happening.
There are a couple of issues, one is that when players get good, they don’t worry about the gap between the auto shot because they’ve already fired. Another is some players are not very good and find it slightly too difficult, its not that they lose quickly, its that sometimes it fires when they weren’t ready and it makes them frown. I could completely remove it and only allow the player to shoot when they want to, like candy crush, but I feel like that is less exciting and that I haven’t tested and iterated it out enough to really know how it could enhance the game. The lose condition would still be the same, but again it would be less exciting and the player would blame the game because it would get to a point where the player would be doing the best moves but be unfortunate to not to get the colour they wanted so it would be a slow death. Unless, I made levels, which I have been considering. In that universe the player is trying to pass the score to get to the next level and then are introduced to new and exciting things and ways to overcome new obstacles, like cracking a box by swiping a shape in it, again a lot like candy crush. What’s stopping me is time, I simply don’t have much left. What I need to focus on is making this game exciting to play by enhancing the current experience by keeping it challenging as well as very rewarding. With this mechanic, I’m going to play test it for a couple more weeks and the first iteration I’m applying is shortening the time it takes to get to the one second mark. Currently it takes two minutes and when people play they sometimes don’t realise its happening. Changing the time between 40 seconds and 1 minute will improve things.
While taking time to think about the game I’ve managed to go through the code and remove unwanted parts. I’ve converted a lot of the GUI components into the new UI that Unity has introduced which has been quite a lot of trial and error and trying to understand how it works. I’ve made the next shape animation and created a sparkle effect when it changes.
Another issue I’ve been having is in regards to the colours. They are bland and are not very exciting. This causes a problem because they are a part of The Mix branding which I need to push forward. Instead I have decided on an idea to have more colourful colours for the X and design some GUI stuff with the Mix’s branding colours which i think would work well. Here are some tests I carried out.
The last one I started to develop from previous colours. They were bright enough and seem to work well. In all honesty I am a bit unsure what colours to pick. I’m going to be setting up meetings with my lectures to get some more opinions.
I have a meeting next week with The Mix. I haven’t been able to see them in around 2 weeks as everyone has been really busy so this is going to be really important. What I want to discuss and finalise on are colours, the new cannon design, the mix page, UI and sounds.
I’ve updated my timeline as some things felt out of scope and I want to focus myself on things I think are really important to do now and to encourage me to have full commitment for February.
On week 8 I coded a line that would be drawn from the last hit X to the players finger. This was very tricky because the line render within unity was difficult to use. Firstly the line kept bending in 3D space when I added another point and also the colour wasn’t showing very well. A lot of the online forums say to use a different shader but when I did, playing it on a mobile heavily effected the frame rate. Alot of people where suggesting Vectrocity plugin so I downloaded that and it made the line drawing so simple to use and is good for mobile devices. You can draw them using Vector2 screen coordinates or Vector3 world coordinates. Creating lines now tells the player when they have swiped and if they have swiped it correctly or not. I also had the job of removing the line when the player wants to go back. This was also very tricky and had to use a method of finding the previous X and removing the current X out of the list of swiped X’s. There was also a lot of play testing to iron out the bugs.
I also created an animation where the background square morphs into and X using Flash’s shape tween.
On week 9 I gathered all the feedback that I received, put my head down and got on with it. There is a lot going on now.
Overall the game plays very well and nearly concludes my first round of iterations. The task now is to get people to play it again and see how it does now. I’ve got to now think about GUI and the tutorial aswell has new cannon designs, the next x jumping into the cannon, and animating the next shape when it changes. I’ve had some feedback from this weeks Creative Computing Club who have said its really addictive which is what I’m going for.
I’m fairly behind on my planned blog posts. However some I think maybe irrelevant now so I’m going to be re-evaluating my timeline to prevent it from getting me down and according to what I think is important and will benefit me in decision making for the progress of the game.