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Game Design Game Development Geek / Technical

Freshly Squeezed Progress Report – Almost Done?

Last week’s sprint report for Toy Factory Fixer focused on the work of allowing toys to occupy the same conveyor belt tile without overlapping and making the dispenser put out more than one toy at a time, which opens up ways to change the flow of the toys in the game.

Next up was letting the player start production runs of toys earlier.

Sprint 15: create an economy

Completed:

  • Allow player to start production run early
  • UNPLANNED: Create Android app icons

Not completed:

  • Create way to choose if game has deadline or not

Stretch if above got done:

  • Create sound effects

I originally wanted to release this game within one month, but it didn’t happen. Between working very, very part-time on it and it still taking longer than expected, I haven’t been doing all of the other things I anticipated doing after this project was released.

As such, I realized it has been a few months since I last put something out in the Google Play or Apple App Stores, and it is entirely possible that they changed something on their end that might require me to update my own build and release process to be compatible.

Up until this past week, all development and testing has occurred on my main Ubuntu desktop system. At the very least I can put the game on my Android phone and ensure it works there.

So I created some basic app icons, which feature the toy bear. It’s not the typical angry man yelling face that you see in almost every other game’s app icons, but I am sure it will pass review.

The game seems to work fine on my phone, although I noticed some issues with the ways buttons look when you use the touch press instead of a mouse cursor. Basically, the mouse cursor is invisible, and so buttons look like you are pressing them even when you are not. I think I remember fixing this issue in a previous game, so I will see if I can steal my own fix for it.

Otherwise, the other major piece of work allows the player to start a production run earlier. Before, the details about the next production run would appear when you have less than 10 moves left before it starts. Now, you get a simple button that tells you the number of turns, and if you click it, it opens up the detailed view.

Toy Factory Fixer - Start Production Run Early bonus

You are now presented with the option to start the run immediately, with a note that explains that you get a money bonus if you do so.

So now you have the choice of starting the production run early and getting rewarded for it, or waiting it out, which you might choose if your workers are currently overwhelmed with the existing toys.

As you can see, I also rearranged the UI and changed the level layout slightly so that everything is visible. It feels a lot better, and I spent way too long with the old look that covered up parts of the game.

I started work on adding a screen to let you configure the game. The only option at the moment is to let you play with or without a shipping deadline. I like the deadline since it provides pressure on the player to get your workers crafting Good Toys earlier even as Bad Toys still need to be handled, as I’ve described in previous reports. But I also recognize that some players might prefer not having that pressure.

But once this option is available, I think there’s only one other thing I want in the game before I would say it is finished enough to release.

Well, a few things. I let my wife and my son play on my phone, and I got some feedback about UI and what is hard to understand or what looks strange. So I want address some things.

I also want to add a cost to having a lot of workers. My son successfully finished the game level by hiring lots and lots of workers. Which is fine, but it shouldn’t be so easy, and I’m sure even if I spend time balancing the numbers it won’t be much more challenging.

So I want to add something to the game that discourages hiring too many workers. My current thinking is an end of level wage that needs to be paid, so you can pay to hire a lot of workers, but then you have to pay them at the end of the level based on the current shift’s wages. If you can’t afford the wages, you lose.

I like it since it gives the player another victory/loss condition to worry about, but I worry that the feedback for the player is too late. I don’t want people to get frustrated when they feel like they did well only to lose in the end because it wasn’t clear how to pay attention to the wages. And I’m not sure I like the message it sends about labor and pay.

So perhaps there needs to be some kind of arbitrary limit to hiring that you can impact in-game, such as needing to pay to upgrade the factory’s worker capacity. “Expand Restroom Size” and “Create Larger Breakroom” and things like that? Maybe it will be more intuitive and immediate for the player.

It merits some exploration. And maybe I’ll do both.

I should also spend time creating levels for the player to advance through. Right now there is only the one level. I’d prefer to have it generate levels, but maybe that’s a future feature. For now, I want to have at least a few levels that increase in challenge and variety as you play through them. And level design isn’t something I can just churn out in mere minutes.

And of course, it would be good if there were some sound effects.

And I keep thinking about how the game needs more juiciness, some character. The general art direction is lacking in any kind of personality or consistency. In my head there were named workers, people to relate to, but that’s not implemented. It feels like extra, but maybe that’s the kind of extra a game needs to avoid feeling lifeless.

So maybe I’m not almost done after all. It feels like I have at least another month of work on it. But the game is definitely playable already, and I look forward to sharing it with play testers.

Thanks for reading!

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