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.

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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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Development Week 7

This week I’ve been working on a few improvements. The main one being improving the swipe recognition. How I was doing it before was I was being too strict on certain conditions, mainly to do with preventing it from ray casting so often, so I’ve reduced the number of checks and instead worked out the correct conditions after I’ve done a raycast.

Here is what I’ve worked on this week:

  • Added a background behind each X and changed its colour
  • Increased the Cannons move speed
  • Commented code
  • Added elastic easing to the X snapping to a Cell
  • Added bounce easing to the X’s which get moved up
  • Started experimenting with the line renderer.

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On Monday I’m presenting the game to the Mix and will be discussing new ideas and the next steps involved with development.

Meeting with Rob and Dave

This week I had a chat with Rob and Dave to give them an update on the game and to get some feedback from them before leaving for Christmas.

I have many ideas with how the game will play after a certain amount of time playing but one thing Dave suggested was not to be concerned about that just yet but focus on how the game plays now to capture the players attention for them to want to play more. I’m at a good position where I’ve got the core mechanics working, its now the case of improving what I’ve got. Some comments were

  • Speed up the cannon – Its too slow and everyone keeps using it wrong, they forget that it snaps to your finger and instead they keep swiping it, which has little effect that way.
  • Remove the negative space, add a background around the X’s
  • The player should be able to choose what X’s get removed with the bomb.
  • The next shape should be clearer.
  • Swiping X’s should be intuitive and provide feedback.

This is what I’m going to be working on next week and then I’ll evaluate how I’ve got on and then begin another round of improvements.

I spoke to Rob about how I’m finding it difficult to bring in a higher purpose, some player motivation through visual narrative because of the type of game and what it’s being made for. He said it needs a bit of personality, it looks really static on the screen, there’s not much going on and told me I should play the game Snood to get some ideas.

Snood is a game where you need to match 3 or more faces by firing a face through a cannon. Its Unique because of the different faces and their expressions that they make. If a face is fired next to one which isn’t the same then it usually frowns, or if it is the same then it will smile. It just makes it that more enjoyable to play and there’s more things moving on the screen because you can see them twitch and blink.

Its made me think how I can put something like this in the game by making the Xs become more human by moving them using the X as arms and legs. It all comes down to how well they can be animated but I can imagine them fidgeting and making noises when they get fired out of the cannon. This is something I will be experimenting with after Christmas.

 

 

Development Week 6

This week I’ve been improving player controls, adding the necessary limitations and the bomb to help clear the board. Here is a list of what I’ve done.

  • Moved the next shape and next X to the top of the screen
  • Prevented the cannon being moved so far horizontally
  • Player can touch anywhere on the bottom 3rd of the screen and 30 pixels high and the cannon will move to their finger instead of having to hold the cannon to move it.
  • Applied the Cannon and X artwork
  • Coded the bomb
  • Fixed bugs relating to X’s orientation (wasn’t noticed before because I was using a square X)

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The bomb can be activated every 60 seconds. It fires out and can remove a maximum of 8 X’s, Think of a grid of 9 spaces, if it touches an X in the centre one it removes them all. This needs a good amount of play testing and feedback so that it can be balanced correctly.

I haven’t been able to complete my balancing tasks this week so they’ll be completed next week which works out well because I need to keep testing the bomb functionality and how it effects the need for the number of columns.

Over the week I’ve thought of some ideas which I’m noting down. Instead of spending points to upgrade your cannon, it will upgrade automatically as a reward. The points you can accumulate can be spent on power ups.

Power Up Ideas

  • Swipe 2 Xs to swap them
  • Fire a special X and when used in a swipe, all X’s of that colour get removed and the player is rewarded with more points.
  • Fire a special X which can be used with any colour

I played a game the other day and I only had a few spaces left, I was firing the X at all the best available spaces but the colour was just not the one I needed. I think it would be good if when the available spaces are less than 10 the colours stopped shooting out randomly but had a higher probability that it would shoot the colour you wanted.

Next week is going to be a big push to get unfinished tasks complete and to get ready for the presentation of the MVP on Thursday.

Meeting with Ryan

I met with Ryan on Thursday so we can start thinking about sounds. I had a few ideas for certain sound effects from other games I’ve played.

I thought a good starting point is to come up with sounds for the swiping shapes, cannon firing, theme music and buttons.

I like the way the Dots game plays different tones when you swipe the dots and I can imagine it working well for this. The number of Xs you swipe is between 4-5 and I remember there being a nice theme tune that was made for the mix a while back and as we know how how many Xs will be swiped something along side that could be made.

I also mentioned how a lot of games use a hit and release tone. I showed him Clash of Clans, when you touch something to highlight it, like a button, its got a double sound that acts like a hit and release to enhance the feedback that its been pressed, so something like this would work well with buttons.

We’re going to be meeting again after the 5th of January to see what he’s come up with.