Thursday, May 30, 2013

That Monsters Game reveal layers

I've always been fascinated at how the big guys in the industry design the reveal of gameplay elements to introduce gameplay mechanics as the player is gaining new skills during the game loops.

In my upcoming game That Monsters Game, I made several layers of reveal.

Unlocking Game Modes

There are currently 3 game modes for release:

  • Blitz where you have 1minute extended by reaching the next level. This game mode is what started the development of this game. The other modes where discovered early during development.
  • Challenger - I actually wanted to develop the challenges during Blitz, similar to Jetpack Joyride, but I started feeling it was distracting from the panic of Blitz, and decided to tune that idea into a separate mode - Challenger mode was born where the player is presented with a challenge to complete in a set amount of time. The time is extended on completing a challenge, after which another challenge is presented. This mode gets harder as more challenges are completed.
  • Strategy where a monster can jump at the screen after 5 rounds, unless you trace him in a combo. The player has 3 possible screen hits until it's game over.
I wanted the player to feel the rush when playing the game. And so decided to enable Blitz and leave Challenge and Strategy modes locked, until the player gains some experience. I thus introduced the idea of XP points. These are gained according to the score you get playing the games. This ensured that the player gained some experience before progressing to more challenging modes.

Introducing back story

I wanted the player to start playing the game as soon as possible. Initially I had done an introduction consisting of Professor Marty telling what happened. This was then deleted since it was taking too much time from the first 5min of playtime. Instead I commissioned an artist to make a poster of Professor Marty running out of the lab, with the monsters causing havoc. The intention was that the poster which is used as the first image seen by the player, would give quick glance at what happened - a nutty professor with a weird lab and monsters causing a disaster. A picture is worth a thousand words... or so they say :)

Interactive Tutorial

After the players sees the poster on launching the game, he is immediately thrown in the game. He is greeted by an animated Professor Marty and he gives simple instructions on the core mechanic of the game - tracing 3 or more monsters with the finger on the touch screen of the device. The player needs to complete simple tasks, only a couple, before he can start practicing the core mechanic. After completing the simple tasks, the professor leaves him play around and learning that he can go faster and faster. 

I've seen a lot of testers which initially were very cautious on how they are tracing. Then all of a sudden they start getting really fast at recognizing the patterns. Sweeeet!

Letting the player experiment

There are some tricks in That Monsters Game that he will most probably find by experimentation, such as
  • the horizontal zap which deletes 3 horizontal lines of monsters, 
  • circling a monster to make him an explosive one 
  • the blast mode where the player if he is tracing fast enough, can blast off surrounding monsters when tracing, etc
Once he finds them the Professor will highlight what he has done and also shows exactly how to reproduce it. I think players love to find "secrets" and discover new skills.

What if they don't discover the skills?

In the Challenger mode, the skills they should have discovered while playing Blitz, are also explained. This is for those players that just in case never created a horizontal zap or an explosive monster or never reached blast mode, etc. So besides having added a new game mode, it also serves to learn the skills required to enjoy more the game.

The ideas above combined together should hopefully help most of the players to discover and enjoy what can be done during That Monsters Game.

No comments: