Development Week 10 & 11

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.

Capture Capture2 Capture3 Capture4

Capture5

Capture6

Capture7

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.

Development Weeks 8 & 9

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.

  • The game goes through 2 phases. The first phase starts with the cannon firing at 4 seconds apart. Its a nice relaxed speed and people can plod along but during 2 minutes of play the game gradually speeds up so the gap is now 1 1/2 seconds apart and then quickly drops back down to 4 seconds. This is shown using a thick line on the side of screen going up and down. When it drops back down the player is heavily rewarded for getting past that phase. It is a very enjoyable anticipation and feels very nice when the tension is released.
  • I’ve changed the way the player can manually shoot, they can just do a simple tap. This enables the game to have different player skill levels and the faster the player can shoot and swipe, the more likely it is for them to get multipliers and they get rewarded. It also means the cannon doesn’t move when the player shoots.
  • I’ve created a score system with multipliers. Every X that gets removed increases the multiplier by 1. The base score is 20. My highest score is 111,000! The multiplier disappears after 10 seconds.
  • I’ve added 1 power up. The ability to swap 2 x’s and at the moment you can use it 10 times. This will be changed so the player will have to use money to buy more. Money will be exchanged for points gained on previous rounds. The ability to swap X’s is really good and enables people to think 2-3 moves ahead. This is going to require a lot of testing to get the cost right.
  • Conditions have been changed for the cannon. It stops firing when the player is swiping and when they are using a powerup. 2 seconds are added after a swipe so the player can process the new order of colours.
  • Sounds added

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.

Sounds

The other day I met with Ryan to listen to the sounds he’s made for the game using Logic. He made sounds for when the cannon shoots and when the Xs get removed.

I really like the sound of the cannon shooting. Its a ‘whooshing’ sound and doesn’t get overly annoying when played softly. The sounds for the X’s being removed I had problems with and didn’t feel right when I was playing the game listening to the sounds. We began to make them again for the next 1 hr but it sounded too sci-fi. We then had a brain storm and decided to make popping sounds. This would of been too difficult creating it from the computer so we went into the Vorpal recording studio. I practised a bit before hand to get it right. It had to be clear and be at the right pitch like a small bubble from some bubble wrap getting popped.

I went up to the mic, took a deep breathe, focused.. and began to pop. We played through them all to find the right one. We took that one and made 3 other versions of it higher in pitch. This was the going to be the swipe and each x being touched would be the pop sound. I also wanted to make a splatter sound with a different pop so we made 3 copies of another one and placed them closer together.

I’ve managed to get them working in the game and it sounds awesome. Its given me an idea for the Xs to explode with colour rather than fade in like they do now.

Player Feedback

From late November until now I’ve made many people play the game. I’ve made a bunch of people from Creative Computing Club play it which has been perfect because they are the age group I’m targeting. Over Christmas I’ve been able to get my Friends and Family’s kids to play the game so I’ve been quite fortunate to get some feedback from this age group. As well as that I’ve had feedback from much older people and also friends from University.

Everyone loves the idea of them acting upon something to match the shape. One person thought that the shape should be matched automatically without the need to swipe it but I think its more rewarding when you physically do it yourself and when you see the swipe animation and I think the player wont think that when they first go through the tutorial because it will first make you swipe a shape before showing you how to aim the cannon. When at the moment there is no tutorial but me just trying to explain what to do. Some people also wasn’t sure whether the shape has to be swiped in the same orientation so when making the tutorial I’ll need to place the X’s in different ways so the player knows that the same orientation isn’t needed to achieve a correct swipe.

In total I’ve made around 8-10 young people play the game and around the same number of older people. The older people took much longer to get the hang of it but the younger people were able to play it well after the 3rd or 4th shape being swiped. Where they start to mess up is when they are waiting for their last X to be placed and in a panic they see its the next one. They move frantically to the position but mess up because either they’ve missed or haven’t got there in time. Then what happens is they hesitate for too long on the next one at the point where they are positioned for a specific colour X and then their strategy is ruined because a different coloured X fires and locks on to a place which they didn’t want. So they’ve spent roughly about 10 – 11 cannon fires to get to that point and then everything collapses because of that one mistake and if they are over 2/3 of the way through the grid it can be a big problem unless the player has done well to have each colour sorted and has a better chance of swiping a shape with only 2-3 more cannon fires.

From this critical evaluation I need to make things slightly easier for the player to recover. Dave mentioned how the cannon should stop firing when you start swiping a shape but I disagreed because the player could cheat and hold his finger on an X and begin to chill out. But now I’m thinking that as long as the cannon cant move this should be okay. This is one thing that will help, giving the player more time to swipe and reduce panic on them moments of swiping a shape. If they get it wrong the first time then they’ll still have the time to try again. I am including 3 power ups which will cost a certain amount of currency that has been rewarded by previous rounds the player has played. One power up is the ability to swipe two Xs to swap them over. This is the one power up which I think will dramatically improve the game in 3 ways.

  1. Will help the player recover from mistakes.
  2. Will enhance the amount of strategic moves ahead.
  3. Will allow the player to swipe more shapes with a small time gap between each shape therefore allowing multipliers and basically feel more rewarding.

The last thing the game needs is to allow the player to recover from a mistake, is by increasing the probability that the colour you want comes out when you’ve got 10 or less spaces available. A number of times I watched people play and the colour they want doesn’t come out. The game will need to know what colour X the last one on the column is and then choose a random colour from those colours.

Currently the rate of fire is too fast for some people but can be too slow for others. Most however have said it is too fast, but as I see them play they get more enjoyment out of being frantic than waiting.  The gap is 2 seconds. I am going to begin the game at 5 seconds and gradually increase it to 3. I want to find a good way to signify what is happening and a reason behind it. I then want to begin with phases so the base rate would be 4 seconds but it decreases to 2 seconds for a short amount of time. The way I’m thinking about showing this is to have thick lines on both sides of the screen which increase in height as the rate of fire increases. When it reaches the top it then drops down swiftly and the player receives a reward.

The beginning of the game is too slow so 2 rows of ordered coloured X’s will spawn and the player will begin from there.

More Feedback

People already find enjoyment out of swiping shapes, which will get much more enhanced when we get sound effects working and scores being shown.

Positive comments on all of the animations.

Game works and currently there is only one known bug which is excellent

Clear goals apart from the next shape image

Unclear when the Cannon fires out

Here is a list of tasks which I need to get complete within the next 2-3 weeks.

Iteration 1 breakdown

  • Cannon firing times need to stop at certain moments in the game.
  • Cannon must not be able to move when swiping a shape.
  • Implement the first power up.
  • The game spawns 2 rows of Xs at the start.
  • Fire rate starts at 5 seconds and decreases to 3 seconds over the course of 2 minutes of play.

Normal Tasks

  • Score multipliers
  • Add sounds
  • Next shape transition

Backlog

  • Tutorial
  • Showing when the cannon will fire (needs new cannon design).
  • GUI
  • 2 x power ups
  • Probability of next colour X when reduced to 10 spaces available.

MVP Presentation

Just before Christmas I presented the game to Ryan and Tom. The presentation was fairly relaxed and informal which was nice because we could start discussing things during certain parts of the project. I began with the management side of things and what work has been completed so far which totals around 120 hours from the beginning of development. I then went on to show other peoples work that they’ve done and got some opinions on that and also what I’m going to be focusing on for the next 2 months.

They are really happy with the game so far. Because the presentation had to be postponed by a couple of days, I was able to experiment with drawing lines from each swiped X which improved the feedback of the swipe when they played it which was fortunate and I also was able to add a few animations.

Afterwards we discussed the plans for the new year and what I want them to start thinking about when I meet with them again week commencing the 5th and 12th of Jan. This involves re-designing the cannon, designing UI layouts and the content that will be used on The Mix page.

What I’m going to be focusing on is the First user experience together with the tutorial, score multipliers, power-ups, Facebook integration and refining the controls from feedback that I’ve received.

 

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