Monday, May 27, 2013

Iterations - you don't stop

If you are going to develop a game, just be prepared for iterating, i.e. you do something, check if it works, and improve on it. Sometimes that also means scrap it and start from scratch.

The HUD (Heads up display) has been re-designed several times (lost count but it's more than 5 times for sure). Even just thinking on how to represent blast mode, which is the mode where you get to it if you trace fast enough, and then any trace will blast off the neighboring monsters. For blast mode, initially I had thought having a fan spinning faster as you are tracing. The dust particles from the explosion would be sucked by the fan. And the faster you go, it would explode some particle system every so often changing in color intensity to give some kind of clue. Well, the players were not getting it. So I had to rethink that part. I removed the fan and settled for a kind of speedometer. I thought people can associate a gauge with how much fast you are going... especially seeing it going up when you trace, and then goes back down if you don't trace. I also kept in mind that the players will not even read the HUD in the first couple of plays. At least that is what I do when I play games - I just focus on the game, and then later I start discovering the HUD and what it's trying to tell me.

Also for those players who don't discover the power ups such as blast mode, horizontal zaps, and explosive monsters, I have tried to reveal them to the player as he is playing. But I'll talk about reveal in a separate post :)

Here are some of the mockups I had done during the development of That Monsters Game:

So initially they were eggs and you had to fill the tray at the bottom. 
For this prototype we found the first set of graphics on the web.

Started experimenting with own monster design. 
Experimented with foreground and different colors.
The HUD was industrial at this stage.

Started experimenting with shapes, but the 
different colored eyes looked awkward

Eyes are same color to the body... looks a bit better

Tweaked a bit the hues

Retro back-to-the-future kinda style

Wood HUD... naaah

Was communicating with an artist to do the monsters, 
but they were too noisy to the eye

Reverted back and done another pass on my original monsters, 
but took the shoes from the artist's pass :)

HUD at the top, and used the fan a metaphor of speed
Didn't cut it.

Hey! HUD at the bottom again!
Experimented with gauges but now there's too much gauges.
Also the Need-for-speed theme didn't cut it :)

Subtle background and UI changes

Experimenting with light backgrounds

Final layout...phew


Gerard said...

That's amazing. Nice job. Can I ask what imput system did you use? It was very very smooth.

xenon said...

Hi Gerard,
Since you also asked in this post, I'm going to paste the same answer the same here:
I used NGUI for the UI, but for the tracing monsters it is just a manual raycast and checking if I hit a monster or not.

Are you developing a game in Unity as well?

Gerard said...

Yeah I am looking to develop a match 3 in unity and was wondering what was the best performant way of detecting the "tiles" which in my case, I wanted it to be 3D objects.

Your game ran silky smooth and I was very impressed. Kudos :).

xenon said...

Hi Gerard,
I basically created a model of the board as a 2d array of some tile type. So you can know if there is a match by scanning through the 2d array.

I don't know if what I've done is most performant but it worked :)

Are you having any particular problems?