[1GAM-Apr] Black Holes iOS Log

May be I should have gone with “Black Holes iLog” instead?
Black HolesWelcome to the progress log for my OneGameAMonth entry for April! As usual, it’s late, but at least it’s only late by 7 days.

You may have noticed that there’s no numbering in the post title, unlike the previous logs where I numbered my post with Log #1, Log #2, and so on. Don’t worry, that just means this log is going to cover everything I did in April, so there’s no need for a second or third log.

Wait, a single post for an entire month of work? How could that be?

Well, my entry for April is a bit unusual, you see. Instead of working on a brand new game, I simply ported one of my Android game, Black Holes, to the iOS platform. But that doesn’t mean I have it easy. In fact, I think this April entry is the one that requires the most work so far (not the most difficult work, mind you).

And since I’m just porting stuff, there isn’t a lot of design process happened. I don’t really like writing a lengthy, technical stuff either, so there isn’t really much I could write in the progress log. And with that in mind, I decided that a single log would be enough to cover the entire month.

To be honest, I’ve always wanted to have a game for Apple devices. Not because people said that’s where the money is, but because I want to know more about the iOS market, about the behavior of iOS users, about stuff that would affect my download count. And what would be a better way to learn about it other than to actually release a game on the App Store?

And since I did Black Holes purely using Android SDK, it is only fitting (or stupid?) to do Black Holes for iOS purely using iOS SDK and Objective-C as well.

Title screen on iPhone

So, how did the porting go?

Basically, I worked on it using a bottom-up approach. I started with porting a lot of the game base components, like images, file loading, and touches detection before moving to the more abstract stuff like game loop and resource management. Not surprisingly, the abstract stuff can be ported quite easily while the low-end stuff requires a bit more work (AKA googling).

Fortunately, despite the differences in both platform, I didn’t encounter anything too difficult. Two things surprise me though, one is the fact that iOS doesn’t seem to have a definite place to store game save data (whereas Android has SharedPreference). Another one is the fact that iOS has a really complete suite of audio processing. I mean, it has like 6 different classes just for handling audio.

Oh, and another thing that surprises me is the fact that file management on an Xcode project is a total nightmare. I keep having to create and recreate the project since moving stuff around often leads to things breaking down.

With all said and done, I finally managed to port the game and have it running on my iPod. I was fortunate since Black Holes is on the simple side and doesn’t utilize all the components my game framework has. Yeah, you guessed it, there are actually still tons of stuff not ported yet to iOS, most notably accelerometer input and scrollable item list.

Another major omission from the game’s (and framework’s) current state is the support for iPad. My game framework has been doing pretty well in handling multiple resolutions, but having two base resolutions is a whole different beast. And I’m not prepared for that.

Yet iOS developers have been dealing with that problem for years now. So yeah, I still need to research how other people are doing it before actually adding iPad support. Not to mention that I would need an actual iPad to test it, since the iPad simulator on Mac doesn’t seem to work for me.

Black Holes on iPhone

While I did say that the game has been successfully ported, it has not been released on the App Store yet.

As this post is written, I’m still struggling to finish up some administration stuff since I want to sell the game. I suppose I can just publish the game for free, but I kinda want to see how a paid game would fare and how the market would react when the game becomes free. After all, I did this for the sake of learning more about the market.

All in all, I’m quite satisfied with how the port turns out. Haven’t test it thoroughly yet, but so far I haven’t see any lag or memory leaks. That said, there are some rough edges since the size isn’t exactly optimized for iPhone’s resolution. But eh, I can live with that.

Oh, and speaking of which, my game and the framework it used is totally open sourced on GitHub (except for the music, that is). The plan is to have Black Holes as an example of how the framework can be used since its quite complex but still pretty simple. And since the game is also available on Android, it would easily shows how the framework can be used for multiple platforms. So yeah, feel free to check it out.

Phew, and with this, I’ve paid off all my progress log writing debt. We’re going back to our regular schedule, people!

So, what’s coming up this May? Well, you’ll have to see for yourself in the May progress log, which hopefully doesn’t take too long to be posted. Suffice to say, it would be totally different from my previous OneGameAMonth entries. This time we’re going to focus our effort on a rather unusual aspect of a game.

Wait, did I just say “we”? Indeed, for my May entry I’ll be teaming up with a friend to help me finish this massive undertaking. And when I asked for help from other people, you know it’s going to be something exciting or something big, or may be even both!

[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 ~.~

Games I’ve Been Playin: Slayin

Almost couldn’t resist naming this post “They See Me Playin, They Slayin” XD
Playing game
Get Slayin for iOS here.
Play Slayin on your browser here.

Whew, seems like it’s been forever since I wrote anything here. Granted, it’s only 3 weeks, but it still feels like a long, long time to me. So let’s open up with something light, a Games I’ve Been Playing post!

Our guest of honor for this post is Slayin, an endless arcade game for iOS with retro looks. Some days ago I promised that I’ll have the game as the topic of my next Games I’ve Been Playing series, and so, here we are.

My first encounter with Slayin is on a preview article, and I immediately knew that I have to give it a try when I saw the screenshot (pictured below). I mean, come on, it has a pixelated retro look, a fire-breathing dragon, an armored knight, and a freaking NES controller for controlling the knight. If that doesn’t scream awesomeness, I don’t know what does.

Anyway, the game finally arrived on the App store and I was really pleased to discover that it actually has a solid gameplay to pair up with the fantastic theme. Later on I found out that I can buy equipment upgrades for my knight at a shop, giving the game a hint of RPG feelings. At that point, I just fell in love with the game.

I didn’t know that I could love the game even more, but I actually did when I figured out that I can purchase a new look for the controller (just check out the controller in the last picture of this post, it seriously looks bad-ass). And when I discovered that I could turn on scanlines effect for an even more retro look, I was simply ecstatic.

Slayin screenshot dragon

The screenshot that captured my heart

Wait, let’s roll back a bit. What is Slayin? How does it play out?

Well, Slayin is some sort of an arena game where you keep fighting monsters in a closed area to increase your level and collect coins. In a way, it really is similar to Spellsword, another really nice arena game. The difference is that Slayin is an endless game, which means that as your level increases, so does the amount of more monsters thrown at you.

Their difference doesn’t stop at that, while Spellsword is a hardcore game where you have to jump around quickly and accurately, Slayin is a really simple game where your hero will automatically move and kill any enemy he hits. So it’s just a matter of changing direction and deciding when to jump. This simple control surprisingly works very well for what seemed to be a hardcore game (I mean, slaying monsters and all that sound pretty hardcore, aren’t they?).

Slayin tries to add some depth to its simple gameplay by having a shop where the players could get upgrades for their hero. I really like their implementation of this shop since it lets the players choose how they want to play the game. You want to play a tank with tons of health? Upgrade your armor so you can endure more attacks! Or may be you want to kill enemies easily? Buy a longer sword. Coupled with the medieval setting, there’s a really strong hint of RPG oozing out from this game.

And have I mentioned anything about the bosses? Once in a while, a boss will spawn in the arena which can only be killed after a few hits. And I’ve gotta say, I’m really, really impressed with the variety of bosses shown in the game. At first I thought they will be as simple as “dodge twice, then attack the opening”, but instead the game got a teleporting insect, a bouncing-and-splitting giant slime, and other crazy stuff as the bosses. Simply put, boss encounters in the game never seem to bore me.

Slayin screenshot controller

That said, the game could really use more contents. While the game features 2 more heroes that can be unlocked, the second unlockable hero plays almost the same as the default one. It would be really awesome if the player has three ways to play the game instead of two, since each hero gives the game a unique feeling.

And the lack of noticeable progress is disturbing too. Sure, we have unlockables like the heroes and a few custom controllers, but these unlockables don’t make me any better at playing. I suppose the developer wish to have a pure-skill based game, which is totally understandable, but that doesn’t mean a skill-based upgrade can’t be incorporated into the game.

With all that said though, I still loved the game. I think it manages to nail a lot of stuff perfectly even though it lacks that addictive, one more time feeling.

A little trivia, I actually came to the same conclusion ages ago when I tweeted my initial impression on Slayin XD

A Thought About DreadOut

I really should be doing that final log, but alas…
DreadOut
Let’s start with a simple question, what is Dreadout? DreadOut is an indie horror game that takes place in an Asian-Indonesian setting. In the game you will take control of Linda, the protagonist, exploring a haunted town where she will encounter tons of ghost and other supernatural stuff. Fortunately she’s equipped with a phone that could take photo of a ghost to banish it so it’s all good, right?

Currently there’s a demo of the game that’s available here so you can give it a try.

A little disclaimer before we go further, I’m not in any way an expert or even a fan of the horror genre. I’m just someone who’s highly opinionated and enjoy writing.

Anyway, yesterday I gave the demo of DreadOut a try. Well, “gave a try” may be an exaggeration since I only played the first five minutes and then spent another 15 minutes watching a friend played it. And it’s not like he forcibly took control of the game from me either, the game actually feels so scary that I can’t play it anymore. And since DreadOut is a horror game, I think being able to scare someone (well, me) like this is a pretty awesome feat.

Is it that scary? Well, DreadOut used a combination of darkness and eery sound to create an unbelievably scary atmosphere. And being only able to see the ghosts from your camera actually intensifies this atmosphere even further. That said, having an audience who watch me play the game probably also plays a role in me getting scared.

And by the way, that other person who continued my game also gave up playing. In the end we all decided to just watch Die Hard for the rest of the night XD

Linda

She’s probably the cutest thing in the game

While I did say it’s an awesome feat to be able to scare someone, I suppose making a player quit the game isn’t actually a good thing. Granted, I’m not someone who loves horror games that much, but I still enjoy a good scare and some tensions. I mean, the first part of Bioshock is crazy scary, but it is the best part of the game and I totally enjoyed every second of it.

It’s interesting to see that Dreadout and Bioshock (again, first part) have a really similar scary experience . Both games make you feel scared of turning around a corner because of what’s possibly lurking behind it. But the main difference is, Bioshock manages to make me endure all those scary stuff while Dreadout just makes me give up.

My problem is that there’s just no compelling reason for me to go forward in the game. So when I got to enter a dark, scary alley, all I could think of is why the hell I should go that way when I see no treasure or safe haven or anything beyond that alley. Not to mention the game doesn’t reward me for exploring places. No collectibles or anything that would motivate me to try entering an unexplored room brimming with possible ghosts.

One thing that bugged me the most is that there’s also no reward in any form when a ghost is successfully captured. No visual indicator that you’ve succeeded, no nice sound effect, no nothing. I guess you could say that the relief afterward is some sort of reward, but seriously, that feeling is so short-lived that I highly doubt it could be called a reward.

And that’s my other problem with the game. The entire game feels so intense and there’s barely any place where you could feel safe. Even after you checked out a room and found it to be clear, you still have this feeling that something may jump at you at any given time. There’s just no ground rule set up about when you should be scared and when you shouldn’t.

Sigh, I don’t know, may be I just missed the point of a horror game? At this point, the game feels more like a gauntlet run full of scary things to test your courage and frankly, that’s just not my thing. I mean, even horror movies has something compelling like a plot or a mystery that makes me want to endure it to the end.

That said, DreadOut definitely has potential. It’s not easy to create a scary experience but DreadOut has actually nailed that part. I hope they succeed in their crowdfunding, because there are still tons of stuff could be fixed in the game.

If you’re interested, give it a try yourself from here.

Games I’ve Been Playing: Nimble Quest

Yep, it’s only one game this time around.
Playing gameGet Nimble Quest for iOS here.
Get Nimble Quest for Mac here.
Get Nimble Quest for Android here.
Or just watch the trailer here.

Well, it’s time for another helping of the Games I’ve Been Playing series!

As you’ve seen from the title, we’re only going to talk about one single game this time. And it’s not because I haven’t played any other mobile games, it’s just that this is the game that I’m most excited about right now. Not to mention that this game is rather unique so doing a thorough examination of it would be fun.

To tell you the truth, I could have talked about a recent super popular indie game called Ridiculous Fishing. Unlike most people though, I hated that game. So I don’t know if I’m qualified to write about it since I haven’t played much of the game. May be I should just write a short rant about it some time later.

Anyway, yes, I’ve been playing a lot of Nimble Quest lately. In case you don’t know, Nimble Quest is a game from NimbleBit, the creator of Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes. Seeing their track record of producing awesome games, could Nimble Quest be another hit? What is it about anyway?

Nimble Quest

In Nimble Quest you take control of a group of heroes fighting monsters in various places. This group of heroes will keep moving forward so you have to control their movement direction with a swipe of your finger to avoid hitting walls or monsters. As those monsters are defeated they may drop a power up or an additional hero that can be added to your group.

It’s funny how most article about this game likened it to Snake (yeah, that classic game on your old Nokia phone) while it actually reminds me of those old JRPGs character train. You know, it’s that silly system where the main characters are lined up and moves around the map in a single row. Not to mention that Nimble Quest takes place in a medieval setting, which is one of the most common settings of JRPG.

Actually, that’s what gets me so excited about the game. If you use a bit of your imagination, you could see Nimble Quest as some sort of Action RPG where the heroes roam around the map battling monsters. And if the mechanism in this game is actually good, then other developers could use the same control scheme to build a new breed of mobile RPGs (because let’s admit it, those virtual joypads suck).

Party train

Well, since I’m kinda pumped for this game, I quickly give it a try when NimbleBit provides a web version of the game as a preview. Unfortunately, my initial reaction after playing it for a while is just “okay”. The game isn’t bad, but it doesn’t make me go “Holy crap, this is the best thing on Earth!” like when I first played Punch Quest or Temple Run.

However my opinion slowly changed once I got the the game on my iPod. Somehow I still feel that the game is “meh”, but then I realized that I’m actually playing it whenever I have time to waste (waiting for a download to finish, int the toilet, etc). So is it actually a good game?

Well, part of if why I play it every time is because it has such a perfect session length for a mobile game. Games like Jetpack Joyride also has a short play session, but each time you finish a session you actually still want to play more. Nimble Quest doesn’t have that feeling, so once I died I feel it’s okay to just close the game.

Now that I think about it, may be that’s why I’m not really into the game in the beginning. Because it doesn’t leave me wanting for more.

Heroes

Another factor that makes me keep playing the game is progress. Not “progress” in the sense of advancing to the next level or unlocking new stuff or revealing another part of the story. While that kind of progress would help, I would stop playing once I got stuck at something.

What I mean by progress is to have every game I played to be meaningful. To have every game session contributes to me getting stronger. And Nimble Quest does pretty well in this area since every time I play I will get some crystals (the in-game currency) and the hero will get some experience points.

I especially like how the heroes can be be leveled up. The heroes can be leveled up by both filling up their experience bar as well as by using crystals to unlock the next level. And they’re not exclusive, filling up their experience will make their leveling up cost to be cheaper. And that further reinforces the feeling of progress since anything I do in the game, whether it’s defeating enemies or collecting crystals, will make my heroes get stronger.

That said, I’m not really a fan of the game upgrading system. The game only have upgrades for those powerups that are randomly dropped by the enemy. And since they’re random, upgrading those powerups doesn’t make me feel stronger. After all, those power ups are not a reliable source of power since I some time get a powerup that I don’t need (such as an attack-increase when there’s no enemy).

The hero leveling system actually suffers a bit of this problem too. Each hero has a specific set of upgrades, like an armor increase for the first level up and an attack range for the second one. So a lot of times I found my hero level up to be kinda useless, because who needs armor when you died instantly if you run into an enemy.

Pre level

By the way, while the early part of the game (like, the first four levels) kinda resembles Snake or even a simple Action RPG, the late-game part actually feels like you’re controlling this train of doom that shoots fireball to all direction. It’s a giant bundle of chaotic fun, too bad at that point the game becomes really hard.

Anyway, right now I’m kinda stuck at the Depth level (a hell/volcano-themed area) and the third hero level up requirement is kinda crazy. So yeah, I don’t know if I’ll ever finish the game at this rate.

Well, that’s all for now. Besides, this post has gotten longer than I originally planned for. Let’s hope I found another game that I’m excited to talk about!

[1GAM-Mar] Grid Chaser: Progress Log #3

Who would’ve guessed that just talking about some screens could get this long XD
One Game A Month
Before we go further, let me just tell you that Project Chaser (or Grid Chaser as the correct title) has finally been released on Google Play! Give it a try from here, and if you don’t have any Android device, feel free to check out the gameplay video here.

Wait, what is Project Chaser? Project Chaser is an Android game where you move around in a maze using swipe control while trying to chase down an enemy. Project Chaser is also my March entry for #OneGameAMonth, and you can read the first progress log here and the second log here. So what have I been doing with project Chaser so far?

Well, it’s the last week of March and all I’ve been working on so far is the gameplay mechanics (after all, that’s where most of the fun is). Problem is, there’s also a lot of stuff on a game other than the gameplay, like the title screen or the pause menu. So I fired up Photoshop and started exploring how those screens would look like.

Pause screen

Since pause menu is the simplest one, I started working on that one first. All a pause menu needs is a text telling that it’s paused and a button for resuming the game. This time I tried to do things a little bit different by having the player tapping anywhere on the screen to resume the game. After all, I feel that its implementation in Super Hexagon result screen is really nice and make navigating the game feels faster, so I wanna see how it does here.

I also added an extra button to return to the title screen in case the player doesn’t want to play anymore. The original look I’m going for is a simple flat button, however most part of the game has been pretty flat, so how should I make the button stands out more? Well, my answer to that is by actually making the button literally stand out, so I added a simple pseudo-3D effect on the button in hope that the player would realized that this particular rectangle can be pushed down.

I really like how the pseudo-3D effect looks that I decided to also makes the pause text has the same effect (previously its just a flat, simple text). I like this new look so much that I ended up changing the entire art direction of the game from a simple flat, retro look to a pseudo-3D one XD

Check out the title screen below for more pseudo-3D madness.
Title screenIt only shows static image here, but the little rectangles on the background is actually moving from the center to the edge of the screen. The idea is to have some sort of speeding-up-in-a-tunnel look without having to actually do it in a 3D scene. To be honest, I should have used a better speed calculation so it looks more realistic, but eh, it’s good enough this way.

This time I decided to also have the level selection menu right on the title screen to make things simple. To tell you the truth, originally I wanted to have the level selections slides horizontally when changed, unfortunately due to the limited amount of time that I had, I had to cut it from the feature list.

One of the reasons I didn’t have enough time is because I spent so much time working on the “Grid Chaser” title text. I tried to make the text a little bit more fancy by adding a more complicated 3D look which surprisingly took a lot of time to get right. I also iterated over several versions of the text since I just can’t seem to get the look that I want.

Here’s one of those alternate versions of the title text that didn’t make it to the game:
Alternate title textWhile this text looks okay on a plain black background, it doesn’t look really good on the actual title screen so I ended up scrapping it =/

So with the pause and title menu done, what’s coming next? Well, the tutorial is one thing I really need to do since it’s crucial to make players understand what the game is about. Other than tutorial, there are still tons of little stuff that need works such as a working level selection, progress saving, and even finding a suitable background music.

But don’t worry, I managed to do all those stuff in the end, so stay tuned for the final progress log of project Chaser!
(and check out the game here!)

[1GAM-Mar] Grid Chaser: Progress Log #2

Oooh, two logs in a row? =3
One Game A Month
Welcome to the second progress log for project Chaser. In case you don’t know, project Chaser is my March entry for OneGameAMonth. As I have detailed in the first log, on project Chaser player will control the movement of a blue triangle by swiping and will have to chase a moving target in a maze.

Despite that description, the design for the game is definitely not done yet, there’s still a lot of improvement that can be added. One such improvement is for the movement control. At one point a friend of mine complained that it’s not clear where the character (err, triangle) would go next, and I have to agree, it’s not clear whether the player input has been correctly received or not. To try solving this problem, I decided to add a set of arrows in front of the triangle that would give a preview of where it will go next to the future.

I quite liked the arrow addition since it makes the movement much clearer and it fits pretty well with the overall look of the game. That said, another friend of mine claimed that this arrow-preview-thingy is actually confusing, so… -.-a

Movement arrows

Anyway, I didn’t spend the whole weekend just adding arrows, I also remade the prototype to be much more object-oriented and the movement system to be smoother. Now it feels more like a proper game. However I’m starting to feel that the chasing mechanism is kinda boring since I spent so much time doing it and the novelty already wears off.

So I was wondering, how could I make the game more fun and feels less like a chore? Previously I’ve mentioned that Nimble Quest kinda inspires me, so it is very fitting that the answer came while I was playing the preview of Nimble Quest too. And the answer to my question is reward, I need to somehow reward the player for successfully chasing the target.

While playing Nimble Quest, I realized that what keeps me playing is the fact that I’m going to unlock a new character each time I cleared a new level. In short, new character becomes the reward for playing the game. So what would be the reward for playing project Chaser? I don’t want to deal with the hassle of coins, upgrades, or other unlockable items at this point, so it has gotta be something else.

With that in mind, I created Crystal Farming as the reward for playing the game.
(pardon me for the stupid name)

Crystal farming

So, what the hell is crystal farming? Basically, after the player managed to reach the target, the whole map will be filled with crystals and player just need to direct the triangle around to attract and obtain those crystals. It’s fast-paced, easy to do (doesn’t need full concentration) and quite fun. I feel that having an easy but satisfying activity to do is a proper reward after the hassle of chasing down the target.

It’s also worth mentioning that this crystal collecting mechanism is much more scalable than the chasing one. It’s easier to create an upgrade system for collecting those crystals, like having upgrades that can attract more crystals or doubling the value of each crystal.

Well, all of this comes only from my perspective though, how’s people actual responses to it? Fortunately, when I showed the game to a bunch of friends, the crystal farming part seems to get a universal positive response. So I think I actually managed to nail this crystal farming section.

That said, the response to the chasing mechanism is much more mixed. Even though there actually is this sense of escalating intensity, some people find the chasing part to be a bit too hard or takes too much time. And I tend to agree with those observations, I definitely still need to tweak the chasing sessions. The movement control seems to also needs a bit more tweak since apparently each person has a different way of swiping.

And to be honest though, I don’t think that the crystal farming stuff is the best mechanism for reward that I can do for this game, but it definitely is a step in the right direction. And for a game that must be done before April, I think that is enough.

Anyway, check out this video below to see the game in full action.

My emulator keeps crashing whenever I ran the game on it and I don’t want to deal with it right now, so I just recorded myself playing it instead =)

So, what’s next for project Chaser? Well, for starter, I need to start building other levels and additional obstacles for them. I think having 3 mazes is a good target for now. And there’s also that matter of creating a nice tutorial that can make people feel comfortable with the game control.

One other thing that kinda bothers me is how the chasing part and the crystal collecting part seems too separate. I really think that some sort of integration between the two is necessary here. One scenario that comes to mind is to have some random crystals pop out during the chase so the player has to choose whether to go after the crystal or chase the target.

Anyway, that’s all for now, see you on the next progress log!