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Game Design Game Development Geek / Technical

Freshly Squeezed Progress Report – Making More Noise

I wrote in the last sprint report that I’ve finally added audio to Toy Factory Fixer, which made the game feel more alive.

Last week I continued making the game audible.

Sprint 20: Make publishable

Planned and Completed:

  • Create sound effects
  • Create loading screen background

Not completed:

  • Award player based on performance
  • Defect: game seems unresponsive on main menu screen (Android)

Not started:

  • Create multiple levels

I changed the music so that it now plays constantly and at different volumes rather than going silent when the conveyor belt is stopped. Starting and stopping the conveyor belt now makes a nice mechanical startup/shutdown sound.

I added sounds for workers. They now respond audibly when you ask them to do something. They even make nice swooshy swiping effects when picking up Bad Toys from the conveyor belts. You can hear them tear apart Bad Toys and put back together Good Toys. When they toss Good Toys back on the belt, there is a subtle but satisfying thump.

I started to worry about the size of the download. Adding audio definitely makes the entire game take up way more space. It’s mostly .wav files, but I have some .ogg files for the music and larger sound effects. Some of these files are on the order of 30KB to 70KB, some are over 100KB, and a few are even over 250KB.

I am not doing anything fancy with audio, but these numbers seem very large.

It’s been quite a few years since I have seen good discussion about it, but I know there are optimizations to be made.

For instance, I don’t rely on the audio being in stereo, so I used Audacity to change them all to mono, which halved the size of the files without sacrificing much in the way of audio fidelity.

And I got one suggestion this weekend to reduce the bitrate from over 700Kbps to 128Kbps, so I’ll try that this week.

The other minor change I made was to create a loading screen background. Up until now, it’s been a black screen with some text at the bottom to say what is loading, but now that other people are actually play testing it and playing it, I wanted to make it look a bit nicer.

Speaking of, I already got some really bad news from a play tester. Apparently, on his Android 11 device, the game is stuck on the main menu screen. No touches appear to be detected at all, as otherwise he should have seen some touch indicators appear on the screen in the form of a growing/shrinking gray circle.

At first I thought it was a potential compatibility issue, but another play tester reported that the game seemed fine on his Android 11 device…except instead of being in landscape mode like it should be, it was in portrait mode.

So something weird is going on, and I don’t have a recent Android device to test on. I have Android 6 on my old tablet, and Android 8 on my phone. I am due to upgrade my phone, and so now I have a reason to get one sooner.

I could try to use emulators to see if something can be reproduced there, but I never use Android emulators. It’s pretty easy to deploy to real hardware, so I just test on my devices. And setting up an Android emulator is painfully annoying, since you need to align the virtual device, the CPU/ABI, the Android version, and more just right.

But while I wait to get a newer phone, that’s what I’ve been finally investigating how to do. I’ll try to write up what I learn.

And before I started looking into that urgent defect, I started working on changing how the game ends. Currently, the game requires perfection: one Bad Toy shipped, and you failed!

Instead of being so Dark Souls about it, I wanted to let the player find ways to get better. You shipped 13 Good Toys and 4 Bad Toys? You get a C! Try to get a B next time!

This coming week is the start of my sixth month working on this one month project. I’m hoping to figure out why the game seems to be misbehaving on Android, and I haven’t even started porting it to iOS yet. I hope there are no surprises there…which probably means I should start porting now.

One of my testers suggested a Free Play option, and I like it enough that I might try to add it before the game is officially released.

I also recently watched a GDC Europe 2015 talk called “Game Feel: Why Your Death Animation Sucks” by Nicolae Berbece, and while my game is meant to be a non-violent one, it did give me some thoughts about ways to give the game more personality. Many years ago, Josh Larson of Numinous Games once gave me the advice to make my game graphics more “juicy” which was along the same lines of thought.

For instance, while there is now a sound when a toy lands on the conveyor belt, a dusty particle effect would help sell the impact more. And having the workers look at toys they are planning on picking up would be a relatively simple thing that could help with the fact that they otherwise don’t animate at the moment.

I started experimenting with what it might look like, and, uh, it could use some work:

Toy Factory Fixer - Worker Personality

Perhaps separating Bad Toys can show some toy stuffing falling on the ground, and earning money could have some pizazz to make it a bit more exciting than it is, too.

I’m not sure if there any opportunities for screen shake, but never say never.

Hmm, it sounds like I’m taking on feature creep, and, well, maybe it is. We’ll see how much ends up in the first release versus a later update.

Thanks for reading!

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