TRANZFUSER WEEK #7

In this week, we focused on the aesthetic of the game and punched through a list of miscellaneous tasks that needed to be completed.

As part of the feedback we received. People like to plan 2 moves ahead. We’ve changed the seeds that are displayed on the launchers so that the game shows the next two colors instead of one, to provide more information. Along with this, we’ve iterated the style of the launcher which animates the first part to bounce the seed in to the grid, and then catches the next one. This will be iterated further in the coming days so that it feels nicer and more fluid.

 

Launch

 

We’ve added 3 power ups…

The Bomb:

 

Bomb

 

The Switch:

 

Switch

 

The Color Bomb:

 

CBomb

 

On difficult levels, these tools will be used to complete the level. This is where level designing will be very important to find the right balance between difficulty and skill and which encourages the use of these items that will be in-app purchases and rewards. We want the player to feel happy and clever for using them, as they foresee the sequence of events that will happen, to enable them to swipe that very last shape they need to complete the level.

More work is needed on the flowers that represent the individual power-ups. More clarity on which power up is which, the on/off states and an animation of it, as one is used.

 

This is an example of the different moods we’re trying to create for the different chapters of the game. We now have the ability to choose 3 layers for each level. A background that will splash the colour pallet of the level, a mid-ground for the arrangement of stars & weather effects and a foreground where it shows flowers and rocks. We can set a combination of these to create a larger amount of content and will tie in with the narrative and Ruya’s journey.

 

ContentAndMoodVariation

 

Taking into account the direction of the game design that has been made in the last couple of weeks, we realised that the up-tempo, bouncy themes already written for the game weren’t really fitting the new mood. The new Ruya wants to communicate a sense of peace to the player, the gameplay has a more relaxing pace as we got rid of any time restrictions. This needed to be reflected by the background music which has been stripped down to fewer layers and dropped in bpm, from the bouncy 120, down to a more chill out 90.

Long sustained chords replaced the short staccatos of the original theme but still keeping the same catchy melody that received good feedback from our testers.

We’re also experimenting with matching some ambience sound to the music to enhance immersion. Sounds like rain, fire, wind, crickets and waves are commonly known for their calming effects on the listener. So after gathering some recordings of these elements, we played them during gameplay together with the music, and we’re now looking to implement matching visuals.

 

TRANZFUSER WEEK #6

End of Week Six

During this week we had the pleasure of speaking to Ian Turnball from Square Enix. It was interesting listening about his career in the games industry and afterwards he played Ruya which he enjoyed and said that it was very well scoped.  He gave some excellent constructive feedback.

At first he didn’t understand what to do. He didn’t understand the two parts to the game, the first part on how the player taps the coloured seeds to place them and the second part in trying to swipe them. When we come to create the tutorial we are going to split these two parts up. So on level one they will learn how to swipe, then on another level they will learn how to tap and place the seeds.

Once he understood how to play, he wanted to jump to some more challenging levels so that he could understand how the game will progress. A large amount of testing in level design will need to be made to find the perfect balance in difficulty for new players, but still challenging enough as the player’s skill increases so that they stay in the gameflow.

He questioned the direction of gravity. He found it unintuitive that when a shape is swiped all the ones below move up, instead of the other way around. It also didn’t make sense that gravity was the right way up when the seeds bounce on the pod, but not when snapped to the grid. This leads me on to our first major change. We have re-ordered the cells so that gravity acts normally. Interestingly, once we had this in, I gave it to people who’d already played it and they had to be told of the change before they realised what’s different. It’s now much more intuitive for first time players, they learn how to stategise faster. It’s also been made in a way so that we can easily reverse gravity which could potentially lead us down even more game play routes.

 

gravity

 

During the develop conference we got some really good advice from Leanne Bayley. Part of the feedback she gave, was how we could show the player that there is a shape available to be swiped. Similar to candy crush flashing candy when a match 3 is possible. We’ve now got a system which checks if there is shape available and flashes to let players know.

 

Hint

 

An issue that we’ve been having is what happens when the player runs out of spaces. Before, it was a lose condition but this felt unfair. Sometimes the player could be playing the best they could but be unlucky with colours on the last few cells. Running out of cells and failing was not a perceivable consequence. Instead, we’ve used the same system but to check where a potential shape can be swiped. It moves the seeds to that position and shuffles the rest then shows a quick hint.

 

Shuffle

 

Feedback has shown that this is feeling great. The game no longer takes you out of your immersion state and its one less constraint for the player to feel pressured on. It makes the swipe count that more meaningful. One problem its caused is that people can spam the grid and keep using the shuffle to complete the level. We’ve found an elegant solution to remove the multiplier every time the shuffle is activated so the player can never get to the higher scores that will win the game.

We are separating levels into chapters with each one expressing a different emotion. Our artist is in the process of creating different styled backgrounds to conjure different moods. We want the player to experience different states in the game where things may look sadder or less bright than before and vice versa to change their emotional response. This will be reinforced by weather particles and ambient sounds.

 

ContentVariation

 

We have the first 10 levels designed. These are currently being tested by a handful of players so we have the insight we need to scaffold our mechanics and refine everything.

 

Levels

 

We can control what colour seeds there are, what shapes to make, size & style of the grid, the swipe count, the score objective and placement of bubbles. Not to mention the block cell which completely reshapes the players strategy. Difficulty gets layered on to the game by increasing the colours and reducing the number of columns by restricting the sorting areas. Bubbles being located high in the grid and forcing the player to complete the level in a certain number of moves, allows us to create so much content, and so many dynamics with just a few simple rules.

We are extremely busy. We have a massive list of tasks that we need to get complete and ideally we’re aiming to get these tasks done by Sunday 14th August. We can then spend the second from last week on play testing, balancing and refining the tutorial. Next week is going to be a real push!

TRANZFUSER WEEK #5

End of Week Five

During our 5th week we focused on refining some of the core elements that we’ve been working on.

Two of these critical elements have been Ruya and her coloured companions. We are now beginning to feel happy about Ruya’s character design. As we carry out tests and show her to people, we start to get the emotional response from our target audience we are looking for. We are beginning to observe their body language and first impression to tell us how they truly feel about what they’re looking at.

 

ruya_01

 

Since beginning this process Ruya has changed a lot. It has ultimately led to a game tailored for a specific audience, that we believe will generate a special kind of trust between us as designers and our players.
We’re exploring the idea of anthropomorphisation and non-verbal communication to establish a bond between the player and Ruya. We want players to feel a sense of empathy towards her and this has influenced how she is constructed. She is built to animate in a way that allows us to make simple gestures during gameplay in order conjure up different emotions.

 

seeds

 

When testing different game pieces, the negative space around the shape has been very important to us, so that it is very clear to the player what can be connected to what as the player swipes. Not just through colour.

We’ve been honing in on our mechanics and exploring how they can be dressed to imply an overall metaphor for the game. We believe it’s important for our games to have meaning. From this we have developed the idea that the coloured game pieces are the seeds of her character, which when awakens, blossoms into a flower. The score is represented by the flower which snap to her horn.

 

flowers

 

This presented us with a problem, the multiplier was now meaningless because there is no number. So we thought of an idea that instead of a number being multiplied, the flower would become more elaborate, larger and more beautiful to imply the player was doing very well! This would be displayed on her horns so that they can see how well they have done throughout the level.

 

Along with these tasks we have been refining our UI, removing the points and the bubble information as these can now be communicated in the game world.

 

points

 

We’ve reviewed where we want to be in 5 weeks and we’ve concluded that removing the balloon mechanic would be a sensible option and instead work and refine the mechanics we already have. We are aiming to create 30 refined and engaging levels. It allows us to keep the UI clean and more readable. The 3 cell types that have been added are providing an enormous amount of variation and strategy to each level, making it less priority to add new mechanics.

 

From lots of art changes comes animation tweaks and this has been very important to keep right as we introduce new things, the game-feel must not be forgotten about. So this has been an ongoing process as everything gets iterated.

The image below is an example of how our artist creates an info-graphic of how the animation states should be hooked up so that everyone understands exactly what to do.

 

Comunnication

 

We are continually pushing for more immersion something which other casual games lack. We are trying to create a space that is multi-sensory. We’ve experimented with a handful of weather effects and sounds in order to achieve a sense of awe and wonder in players.

 

immersion

 

In the coming weeks we will be working on:

  • Refining the power ups
  • Refining the bouncing pod.
  • Level designing.
  • Tutorialising the mechanics.
  • Game world backgrounds.
  • Level selection art assets.
  • Game menu and banner UI.