The game’s background would be based on the twine game I designed for earlier. Deer is still the inspiration for this project. Forest become the overall location setting for the game. The main character is the new divine creature of the Foriland, is on a new quest to fight the burning monsters. Those monsters weren’t real monsters, they were the citizen of Foriland at one point, yet a wildfire burned them down and they become the monster they are right now looking for revenge. Our divine deer need to find the golden apple let by the previous gods. On the way, he will be stopped by the monsters, yet he will use his leaf bullet to paralyze them until he finds the apple to turn them all back to normal.
The pixelated games in early game development always impress me. It’s surprising to see that even with the simplest graphic, you still get playing experience that is as good as lifelike graphics games today. Ever since the first video game, OXO, was published in 1952, game development is rapid. And today, we get games that run on small mobile devices that have amazing graphics. However, the graphics and complex game systems seem to distract players from core mechanics. A game can have a relatively weak graphics performance and still creates a substantial gameplay experience. Our goal, due to the limitations on game design skills, is to create a game with simple graphics and interesting mechanics to engage with. The gameplay is fairly easy. You control a Christmas-styled reindeer, the left-right up-down buttons allow you to maneuver the direction which reindeer is going. You are able to jump on the decks and encounter mounters that can get in your way. Your goal is to reach the golden apple on the left top corner of the room.
The concepts that we learned from class brought us some new perspective during the game development. Tom Waits’ Principle about experience states that people like what they like. For example, some players enjoy the achievement of eliminating barriers that get in their way, while others enjoying going around the barriers and eventually get to the trophy. In order to fit this design concept, we gave our players choices in their gameplay. When a monster is spawned, the player can choose to press space key to fire a bullet and eliminate the monster. The player is able to choose another route to go around the monster as well. By designing this path, we hope to give players the game they want to play instead of giving them the game we want them to play. We also make sure that the core mechanic, which is a jump, fits the theme of our game. The background is a pixelated forest art when the player is controlling the character to jump up, it feels like the character is climbing the tree. Also, the double jump mechanic gives a more playable option to players.
Our game has a lot in common with the famous Doodle Jump. Doodle Jump is a popular game on a mobile device, which has the same core mechanic, controlling the character to reach a higher score (jump higher). Doodle Jump also has monsters that get in your way when playing. In Doodle Jump, the position of the mounters you encounter is presented and will present to you. So you will be able to see the monsters ahead of time and it gives you time to adjust your maneuvers. In comparison, in our game, the monster does not spawn until you reach a certain height. And the spawn trigger points are pretty close to the positions of monsters that it gives you a surprising feeling. Although it is a minor difference, the gameplay feels distinctive. The pop-out monsters give a relatively intensive atmosphere to the game, plus the difficulty using the direction buttons on the keyboard, those give a proper difficulty level to this game.
During the playtest sessions, we got some helpful suggestions for improving the game. One of our players thought the alpha version was too easy that the gameplay time was short. In order to fix this problem, we added the spawn trigger points for monsters and shortened the floating decks’ length. Those changes add more intensity to gameplay, thus prolongs the overall gameplay time. Our playtesters thought the original black background seemed a little boring for the game. Thus, we added a pixelated background art to match the theme of the game. First of all, the pixelated art fits our theme of a retro game, and the forests match our core mechanic which is precise jumping.
The first game to be displayed on a digital screen, OXO, in 1952, started the video game development history. Well-known and classic video games such as Pac Man, Super Mario represent a great success in the early video game development history. Modern games are much more complicated than the early ones, and the graphics are lifelike. Although modern games are able to provide us an immerse gaming experience, the graphics and complex rewards/gameplay systems are distracting us from the pure enjoyment of games. In our opinion, a game can be “empty” graphically but still have a substantial gameplay. For example, snake and pac man are the games that are very easy to maneuver and still gain tons of positive feedbacks. Due to the limitations of our knowledge on game design, we agreed that graphically simple game with easy gameplay is our goal. The gameplay is fairly easy. You control a Christmas-styled reindeer, the left right up down buttons allow you to maneuver the direction which reindeer is going. You are able to jump on the decks and encounter mounters that can get in your way. Your goal is to reach the golden apple on the left top corner of the room.
We engaged some of the class concepts in our game design. Tom Waits’ Principle about experience states that people like what they like; you can’t force someone to like something. Some players enjoy clearing the barriers that get in their way, some players like to go around the barriers. In our game, players are allowed to choose whether to engage with the monsters that get in their way or not. When a monster is spawned, player can press space key to fire a bullet which will eliminate the monster that get in the way. Play can also choose to go around the monster, and eventually, get to the top. By adding two play styles, we want to give players the experience they want, not ask players to adjust to the preset we are giving them. Also, we want to follow the core mechanics for platformer gamesplay. The jumping mechanic follows our logical order, and the double jump mechanic brings more possibility to the game.
After playing the game several times, you may notice that the game is similar to Doodle Jump, which was fairly popular on mobile devices. Doodle Jump also features a gameplay which your goal is to control your character to get as high as possible. Doodle Jump has monsters as well. However, one major difference between Doodle Jump and our game is the spawn timing for the monsters. In Doodle Jump, the mounters you encounter are there no matter where your character is located. So you will be able to see the monsters ahead of time and it gives you time to adjust your maneuvers. In comparison, in our game, the monster does not spawn until you reach a certain height. And the spawn trigger points are pretty close to the positions of monsters that it gives you a surprise feeling. Although it is a minor difference, but the gameplay feels distinctive. The pop out monsters give a relatively intensive atmosphere to the game, plus the difficulty using the direction buttons on the keyboard, those give a proper difficulty level to this game.
During the play tests, we received some useful suggestions on possible improvements. One of the classmates mentioned that our background, which was black, seemed boring for a game that is supposed to be fun. We later adjusted the background with a pixel art of a forest. The pixelated art fits the overall design of the game, and the trees in the background art indicate the play style of the game: you are climbing something. After adding the background art, the game looks more professional for us. Another useful suggestion we got was about the difficulty level. Playtesters thought that the alpha version was too easy to pass, it was not challenging enough thus caused an insufficient gameplay time. In response to that, we first shortened the length of floating decks to increase difficulty level. And we added the specific spawn trigger points for the monsters as I mentioned earlier. Those changes give more playability and increase the playtime.