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.
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
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.
We’re thinking of new game names:
- Inside My Head
- Nothings Real
- Waking Up
- Same Voice
- Far Away Look Up
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”.