[1GAM-Mar] Grid Chaser: Final Log

This post is way overdue ~.~
One Game A MonthAnd in a crazy turn of event, I’ll be talking about my MARCH project on MAY. Yes, I know this would be totally awkward, but please bear with me.

So, Grid Chaser has been released on Google Play for quite a while now, go check it out here or just watch the gameplay video at the end of this post! As a reminder, Grid Chaser is my April entry for #OneGameAMonth where I pledge to tcreate a game every month this year. Check this page for my previous entries, or read the previous logs for Grid Chaser: #1, #2, #3.

BTW, I really liked the icon for the game =3

And as I have mentioned before, I’m sort of done with the general gameplay and have to start thinking about all the supporting elements. Elements such as tutorial, multiple level support, more levels, and such. While the weekend is still early, I decided to start working on the most crucial part, the tutorial.

Originally I intended to have some sort of interactive, step-by-step tutorial to explain how the game works. For example, when the player is about to reach the first intersection in the maze, the game will be paused until the player made a swipe to change direction. So, each time the player is about to encounter a new feature of the game, the game will be paused and a tutorial overlay will be shown.

While I was writing down the sentences for the tutorial, I noticed that the amount of sentences needed to properly explain the game is way over of my expectation. At this point I realized that this approach is a no go since the tutorial is becoming too complex for the players. Besides, I think the players wouldn’t like it when the game control is suddenly wrestled from their hands.

Wondering what to do for the tutorial, I remembered that Black Holes manages to only uses 2 sentences to explain the whole game despite being actually complex. Taking a page from that book, I understand that I need to create a safe playground where the player can do no wrong and be able to progress at their own pace. And so a plan to integrate the tutorial with the level was forming up.

Grid Chaser tutorial level

To reduce the amount of information the players need to process, I decided to have two separate tutorials levels. The first tutorial level (pictured above) is all about the basic of the game while the second one is about the chasing. On the first tutorial, I simply made the player keep going around in circle until a valid input is made. Then I applied a basic principle of “show, don’t tell” by showing that the level will be completed once all crystals are collected.

At the end of the day, I’m pretty satisfied with how I handled the tutorial for this game.

Anyway, this led us to the next problem, which is level selection. Initially I wished to have a horizontally-scrolling level selection, but since I don’t really have much time, I ended up resorting to a simple left-right arrow button to browser through the level gallery. And that’s just the user interaction, I still need to actually build the system for multiple levels, level-unlocking, and other things =/

Building the level itself is quite exhausting. While I knew what kind of stuff affects the difficulty of the level, tweaking them to have the desired experience is surprisingly difficult since I can’t quickly test the level. Not to mention that I don’t have any tile-based map system so the maze visual and the grid data is separated @.@ In the end I only came up with three levels, including the tutorials.

Title screen

The deadline is fast approaching and I suddenly realized that I didn’t have any background music for the game. Uh-oh. I browsed NoSoapRadio a bit, but I couldn’t find any music fitting for the game. So in my desperation, I turned to Google and somehow landed on this page.

A page which turns out to have a ridiculously awesome album filled with 8-bit music soundtracks. A ridiculously awesome album that cost me nothing to use.

Seriously, I’m willing to pay to listen to those musics and this guy is actually giving them for free 0.o And so I listened to all 16 soundtracks (while enjoying them in the process) and finally picked one that I find quite fitting for the game.

And with that, my game is finally complete (well, sort of). You can check out the game and the music I used from the gameplay video below.

So now the game is finished and all that, what do I think about it? While I’m not really satisfied with the game, I still think that the gameplay mechanic has some potential. I really wish that I have more time to refine the fun factor in the game, but unfortunately, there are more stuff to work on in a level-based game like building the levels and the level selection.

I suppose it’s a lesson for me that doing a level-based game is harder than it looks.

Now my entry for March has been concluded, what’s next? Usually I can’t say about what I’m going to do with 100% confidence, but this time I can say for sure about what I’m doing in April since I have actually done it. What I don’t know is whether to talk about it in the past tense or future tense =/ I suppose I’ll go with the future tense since it’s more fun that way.

Well, my April entry for #OneGameAMonth will be both new and old. I’m going to port Black Holes, my old January game, to iOS, a platform that’s totally new for me. I actually have checked out Xcode and Objective-C stuff before, but never seriously putting my effort into it. Besides, I think it’s about time that I have a taste of the iOS market, so you could say the stars are aligned for me to finally have a game for iOS =)

Anyway, let’s hope that I can get back to my regular blog posting schedule so there’s no more super late post like this ~.~

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