Game Design Game Development Geek / Technical

Freshly Squeezed Progress Report – Toy Juiciness and Player Grading

In last week’s sprint report for Toy Factory Fixer, I focused on making the audio less tedious and making the toys feel better when they land.

It was a very small start to adding to the game’s feel, and I found myself continuing with it.

Sprint 30: Polish and end game

Planned and Completed:

  • Award grades to player performance
  • Add juiciness to toys landing on conveyor belt

Unplanned yet Completed:

  • Add juiciness to toys moving on conveyor belt
  • Interpolate money changes
  • Change value of small vs large toys

Unplanned and Uncompleted:

  • Create different types of workers

Like the previous sprint, I didn’t get started on putting any effort into game development early on due to the July 4th weekend and spending time with family.

That said, somehow this last week was still one of the most productive I’ve had all year. After multiple sprints in which I didn’t finish my original planned work, pulling in multiple pieces of unplanned work AND getting them done feels good.

And the game itself feels a LOT better.

If you recall from last week’s report, I created a dinky dust cloud animation. It’s not great, but the idea was that it made it clear that a toy landed on a conveyor belt.

Here’s the animated GIF I created to illustrate it, which looks ridiculously simple to me now:

Toy Factory Fixer - Impact dust cloud animated

It’s better than no effect, but just barely.

So I made the toys squash and stretch to sell it more. I spent a little bit of time learning about squash and stretch as an animation technique, and then I made two simple changes.

One, I created a new DISPENSING state for the toys. Each turn in the game moves the toys along the conveyor belts if they aren’t being actively crafted by a worker, and so now I can animate the toys differently if they are being dispensed in a given turn.

Two, I did what I said I was imagining last week, and I made the toys arc up into the air before landing. Basically, I used a sine wave and interpolated a vertical offset (stay in school, kids!). Then, I changed the scale of the toys using that same sine wave technique so that as the toy launches up into the air it would squash, then stretch, and as it came to the top of the arc it would squash, and then stretch as it came back down.

And it was so delightfully playful! I was a bit giddy, in fact. It’s my new favorite thing about the game.

I mean, look at it compared to the animation above:

Toy Factory Fixer - Toy movement juiciness

You’ll note that I also made the toys lean back as they are moved along the conveyor belt (a rotation based on a sine wave and the direction of movement), and it might not be obvious but I made the value of money interpolate instead of instantly changing values.

Again, I love the effects of these simple changes. The toys were the focus of the game before, but now the toys FEEL like they should be the focus of the game.

I now have to rework the dispenser art again, as I want it to look like a cannon shooting the toys out. And the lack of animation from the workers is now very obvious and should be addressed.

But I returned my attention to the end of level grade report. The original ending let you know if you won or lost based on whether or not you shipped a Bad Toy.

Here’s a screenshot from February which doesn’t look much different from last week:

Toy Factory Fixer - Game Over screen

And here’s what it looks like today:

Toy Factory Fixer - Level end grade report

In wanting to be more forgiving and give the player a self-directed challenge, I wanted to grade the player in three categories: the quality of toys shipped, the number of turns taken to finish the level, and how much the player earned versus spent.

Now I need to work on calculating these values more. For instance, grading the number of turns taken requires judging how many turns the player should have taken. I would need to figure out what “par for the course” is versus what would be amazing, and there are still a number of variables related to the time it takes toys to traverse the conveyor belts, the time it takes workers to work on separating them and crafting them, whether or not the player started production runs early, etc.

But overall, I like this screen, and I really like the joke that “MEETS EXPECTATIONS.” is always there no matter how well or badly the player did. It replaced the “GAME OVER” text before, and I originally wanted to have different text based on how the grades worked out, but I might keep it this way because it amuses me as a commentary about how many companies handle performance reviews.

Finally, I decided to start adding new worker types to the game. I didn’t get too far in terms of actually implementing it, but I did change the health of the toys so that they take longer to work on with the “normal” worker.

I’m thinking of adding two new worker types, one that crafts toys more effectively, and one that separates toys more effectively. These workers cost more.

I’m also considering some changes. Perhaps instead of tediously assigning a crafting task to each worker, you tell the worker to focus on crafting or separating. So a worker will not pick up toys if they are in a crafting mode, but they also won’t craft if they don’t have the inventory to work on the toy in question.

Also, what if you can’t hire the specialists unless you spend money to put out a call for workers, who show up within X turns? What if there are unlimited normal workers but a limited supply of specialists? Or limited supplies of all workers? Can you hire workers faster if you offer to pay more for them? Will they take longer to show up if you offer to pay less?

These are just thoughts, and I do need to worry about feature creep, but maybe they can be in a future deluxe version of this game if enough players want it.

Thanks for reading!

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