TRANZFUSER WEEK #4

End of Week Four

This week we have been working on many things and we also got the opportunity to attend Develop down in Brighton. It was a fantastic event that all four members went to see and thanks to UK Games Talent we even got a free ticket for the Indie Dev Day sessions. The talks were really inspiring which has been really beneficial for all of us. We played some great games and spoke to some interesting people. Not only that but we managed to play test our own game with whoever we could and got some great advice from other game developers. We’ll definitely be going again next year.

 

This has been our fourth week and we’re starting to add new art assets in to the scene. One of these is the new multiplier. From where it was originally to the left, we have now centred it down the middle underneath Ruya. We’ve added rotating flower petals to spin in unison with the multiplier timer and it helps with the whole awe and wonder of the game. This along with Ruya’s arms opening when the multiplier is active creates a warm and welcoming aura about her.

multiplier

 

From internal playtesting we already can feel the difference. It’s much more centred and takes up a larger area of the screen, this is focusing the player’s attention on how to gain more points in less amount of swipes. Remember, the player’s objective is to reach the target score. Each game piece within a swiped shape gives you 10 points. If the multiplier is at x2 then this will be 20 points. The level limits the player with a certain number of swipes. So to have an increased chance of success, players need to swipe quickly. The multiplier design encourages this through different coloured flowers for higher levels of multipliers to give an increased sense of achievement.

Surrounding Ruya is her dream catchers. These are diegetic UI components designed so the player is kept immersed and are tangible to Ruya herself. These show the swipe count, target shape, score and bubble count.

A first pass on the character designs have been created. These are like Ruya’s traits/characteristics that you need to wake up.

 

gameplay Ruya

 

Characteristics

 

 

Ruya_2

Ruya

We have managed to get a new type cell implemented. This is an empty/invisible cell. It creates a different level of strategy the player needs to deal with. It restricts the player’s movement from swiping shapes across the other side of the empty cell. The logic behind shape swiping and re-positioning the game pieces below is fairly complex. One of the greatest challenges we’ve been having is implementing the logic behind these different types of cells to alter the movement of the lower game pieces.

 

Some of this weeks core tasks will be:

  • Finishing the block cell.
  • Finishing the balloon mechanic.
  • Second pass on the character and re-design for Ruya.
  • Second pass on the shape and design of each of the coloured game pieces testing different shapes for clarity.
  • Second pass on the bouncing pod.
  • Second pass on the power-up button art.
  • Sound implementation.
  • Fixing bugs.

Tranzfuser Week #3

End of Week Three

This week we have been working on level tools and focusing on our target audience.

We have added a fantastic system to build levels that will create a huge variation of game play. We are planning to implement 4 types of cells.

  • Normal cells
  • Bubble cells that needs be popped
  • Block cells that game pieces cannot pass through
  • In-active cells that allows the game pieces to jump to the next available cell.

The dynamics of the grid along with setting how large the grid is will provide fresh challenging experiences that will keep the player interested. This process needs a fast iterative development tool to make changes to the level design. This week we have been developing just that.

GridExample1

This GUI Inspector code modifies an array of integers and presents the values as a button. Clicking the button circulates the integers from 1 to 4. Clicking ‘Save LevelData’ will then write to a json file the row, columns and values of the array specific to the level. When the game initiates, the grid controller reads the json file and applies the correct size and values of the cells.

GridExample2

1’s represent bubbles and these need to be popped to complete each level. Having a visual representation of the level will make the level designing much quicker. Writing to a json file means the integer array doesn’t need to exist for each level displayed in the level select scene and will only be initialised once the game scene is loaded.

GridExample3

GridExample4

 

As we are going through the process of re-designing some of the UI and visual narrative its important that we keep centered who our target audience is so that we can make decisions based on who the game is for. We spent sometime together defining who that person is that will play our game based on research from other similar games.

target-audience-infographic1a

Its important that that target audience is at the forefront of what we do, so that we have a cohesive experience for the player.

One of our biggest inspirations has been the game TwoDots. The player swipes same coloured dots to complete levels. The game is similar however Tidal requires the player to strategise where to place game pieces for the specific shape to be swiped. Its been interesting to read some of the statistics to understand who their target audience is so we can understand ours better:

  • Audience demographics: 68% women, 32% men
  • Top countries by installs: US, UK, Japan, Russia, Canada, Brazil, and South Korea
  • Installs by platform: iOS: 22m, Android: 6.75m, Amazon: 0.25m, Facebook: 1m
  • Woman:
    • 18-24 (33%)
    • 25 – 34 (33%)
    • 35+ (33%)
  • Men:
    • 18-24 (34%)
    • 25 – 34 (38%)
    • 35+ (28%)
  • Player Types:
    • Diehard (9%)
    • Determined (13%)
    • Casual (55%)
    • Deserters (23%)

Ruya is the type of person that only plays iPhone games on the train or in boring lessons. Tidal’s game play has been specially paced and designed to appeal to the quick, pick up and play gamer. There are no timers, no way that it becomes too stressful to play. She wants to pick the game up and have small bursts of play and when she has time after a long day, to sit back and immerse herself into the levels while the telly is on in the back ground. The rounds system within levels allows Ruya to have resting points, just in case she needs to look up in class and pretend shes listening.

Cute eyes on each of the characters are irresistible to her and her motivation stems from wanting to see more across the unexplored level select screen as well finding out why the small creatures all seem to be asleep and cannot wake up. She’s desperate to beat the level she’s stuck on but might give up if its too difficult. She wants to feel clever again with each tricky level that has a small grid size, and swipes shapes quickly when shes in the flow, gaining high multipliers and variable rewards.

We have a busy week this week. We are working on:

  • Finishing the balloon mechanic.
  • Adding the logic behind different grid types.
  • Adding the characterised game pieces.
  • Adding new in-game UI elements and animations.

We’re also working hard to get a stable build for Wednesday and Thursday for the Develop Conference in Brighton that we are looking forward to!

Tranzfuser Week #2

End of Week Two

This week has been busy and we’re coming up with new ideas each and every day, showing just how dynamic and changing, game design is. The core game tasks have mostly been complete such as the level system, level unlock process, transitions from the level select to the game and back again once achieved/failed. As well as the bubble mechanic.

The bubble mechanic is where a shape needs to be swiped on specific cells/bubbles for the bubble to pop. This creates a whole new experience, one that is more challenging and much more strategic. Instead of swiping a shape as soon as you see one. The bubbles at the lower end of the grid require the player to build up the game pieces and in turn create more risk of running out of spaces. The optimal way is to group the game pieces via colour and then be able to swipe shapes in an emergency. But this risks running out of swipes on the swipe count per level. It’s going to be a great balance, with immense amount of tuning but I think will create a real fun and challenging experience, different every level.

We’ve also designed the star system that grades the player on each level. The first star is measured on the lowest requirements to complete the level – achieving the score, removing bubbles etc. Then it measures on how many swipes are left and swiping shapes in quick succession gaining higher multipliers.

The Week starting today is focused on

  • Adding the second game mode, rising balloons. – Every so often a (helium)balloon will be placed at the bottom of the grid and will rise to the next closest creature who will grab it. Each time a shape is swiped the creature lets go and it will be grabbed by the next creature until it can reach the top and float away.
  • Menu to level select transition and music.
  • Implementing different grid sizes.
  • Adding new music to get a sense of feel to the new game modes and level transition.

 

This will give us a great foundation to start building new and varied levels.

Progress Update

In my last blog post I spoke briefly about the challenges we’ve been having with player motivation. The key way we are trying to overcome this is with levels so the player can visualise, where they’ve come from, where they are going and that each level is given a grade so they can see how well they have done throughout the game.

What we have also been working on in the background and coming up with ideas for, is sparking an emotion on the player. From feedback we’ve had we know the game is enjoyable. The previous mechanics kept some players going for 30+ minutes and holding a 20% 7-day retention. This however isn’t enough, we know the game has serious and hard fun elements but we’re only working with non-emotive mechanics. This past week we’ve been working hard to come up with something that will make us stand out, that will separate us from other simple casual games such as the match 3.

This idea we’re pushing with the level select with planet-like characters is good but only provides a small narrative edge. We need to go further and create a more meaningful experience, we need to create more emotion. We’ve had many ideas, but the one we’re settling on, and this week started to iterate upon, is based around a small girl in a deep sleep.

We are in the process of testing the idea that the player is experiencing the dream of a girl that is in a coma. It will mostly all be centred around the level select screen and will only provide a subtle push towards an emotion not heavily forced on the player. The menu screen will show the girl sleeping in her bed, with small clues of her condition. The player taps dream and there is a transition from the bed room to the level select screen and her imagination lighting up the sky with playful characters and cheerful upbeat sounds. It’s also heavily influenced on Alan Watts and ‘the real you’ and questioning yourself if you’re ready to wake up. In terms of making the game stand out, it’s really important to try and take things not too literally. The world is a pallet of influences and we can literally pull from anything, the challenge comes from knowing what components to bring in to appeal to our target audience.

 

Notes1

 

Last Thursday we had the chance to present the game to the UCS Game Design lecturers and people from the Eastern Enterprise Hub. This provided us with valuable feedback which we noted such as:

  • Reducing the pink. Although our target audience is mainly female we don’t want to alienate other potential players.
  • Keep it cute. The game pieces look very playful. The X shaped characters with eyes are very likable.
  • Don’t limit the game with one X shaped character. Becomes derivative.
  • The bounce sound effects are cheeky and enjoyably child-like.
  • Arranging the X shape game pieces to swipe shapes feels highly addictive.
  • The game name ‘Shape The Mix’ is not very catchy

 

Notes2

 

This has made us think about where the game can go and to push ourselves to do more.

The original X character will be among other cute alien like creatures and planets in her imagination who will help guide the player along their journey of awakening or enlightenment. When playing the actual game, it will also help to clarify what shapes can be swiped if each creature is its own colour and shape-design.

Here is one of the mock-up ideas we’ve had.

GameplayMock_02

 

We’re thinking of new game names:

  • Within
  • Inside My Head
  • Nothings Real
  • Waking Up
  • Nothing
  • Same Voice
  • Beyond
  • Tilde
  • Cathersis
  • Far Away Look Up
  • Tidal

Tidal is a favourite like a wave passing over her mind and covering her conscious self.

Trapped in a coma, Ruya explores her dream on a journey of self-realisation. Tidal is a game where waking up is everything.

The names for things can change. But the meaning of Ruya means “vision, sight”.