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Struggling to find a point to my game

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by commodore, Jan 13, 2017.

  1. commodore


    May 30, 2012
    You can test it out here:

    Arrow keys to control the UFO and space to beam up cows.

    I'm happy with the mechanics of my game. It's just that it gets boring after a few seconds. Right now, the point of the game is to beam up cows to use as "fuel" for moving and using the beam. The fuel also goes down even when idle. But there's nothing to make the game more challenging as time goes on. Most games either speed up, or things get more difficult. Any ideas for a difficulty curve for my game?
    image28 and GarBenjamin like this.
  2. GarBenjamin


    Dec 26, 2013
    You're at one of the best parts of the game dev process I think: you have a simple solid game. So now you have a lot of options to build on this and even take it in a different direction.

    Maybe after one level of letting the player get used to controls the next level introduces a farmer that occasionally shoots at the saucer. These next few levels could have the single farmer firing more accurately or firing more often. Next levels could have National Guard called in. Maybe 1 tank arrives at some point.

    NOTE: I wasn't able to play the game or even see it at all because Unity web games don't work on cell phones at least not on mine with Firefox browser.

    A screenshot or video of gameplay would likely be helpful.
  3. Kiwasi


    Dec 5, 2013
    First step is to set up the conditions for flow. Provide players with:
    • A clear goal. This can be pick up the most cows. Pick up the cows fastest. Pick up the cows precisely ect
    • Feedback. Tell players exactly how they are doing towards the goal. Score is the simplest way to achieve this.
    • Balanced difficulty. Provide the players with a 'just right' challenge. This might be a timer, fuel usage, or an angry farmer with a shot gun.
    Once you have flow down, you can take the game a long way with some appropriate juice. Screen shakes, particle effects, leader boards ect.
    theANMATOR2b likes this.
  4. TonyLi


    Apr 10, 2012
    I actually played the game, and the core mechanic is fun! The controls feel natural. The graphics are really good, too, although as mentioned above they would benefit from more juice (audio-visual feedback) such as when the ship successfully takes a cow on board, when you drop a cow and it falls back onto the ground, when you engage thrusters, etc. Speaking of feedback, the shadow is a perfect, subtle way of providing feedback on where the beam will hit; players will immediately and intuitively understand it.

    Side note: As a suggestion, you could fairly easily add variety by shrinking down some cows into calves, and scaling up others into fat cows. Calves could be easier to beam up but worth less, and fat cows could be harder to beam up.

    While I'm certainly not arguing for a "story" game, what's the backstory? Who/what is the enemy? How can the player lose? How can the player win? In the movie E.T., for example, the grownups (e.g., government agents) are the enemy, and the goal is to phone home before the enemies capture E.T. The story implies win/lose conditions.
    theANMATOR2b likes this.
  5. ImpLoader


    Nov 23, 2016
    That's a fun start. I agree with TonyLi's suggestion, and would like to offer a few options on a silly bent that might flesh this out:

    Why are you abducting cows? Feeding your people? Alien Frat prank ("Stuff Administrator Zernox-6's office full of milk dispensary organisms! LoL!")? you don't need a lot of backstory (or any, really) but it might be good for setting the tone for visual or audio gags to work into game play.

    Points? Scores are good for arcade games, not only increasing the score, but working in hazards that decrease your score. What about Goats that run up and TRY to get abducted? Bulls that, if abducted, cause several cows to escape, and the causes the UFO to wheel about like it just got KO'd in the second round of a heavyweight match.

    What is the pressure to perform? Timers are pretty common here. So is the growing enemy threat. Maybe every few minutes, a competitor shows up intent on stealing cows too...or maybe trying to steal you? This is where the bit of background story can help. Maybe you are trying to cull the rapidly increasing bovine population so yet another small world isn't destroyed by the Milkpocalypse. You can maintain for so long, but after a certain tipping point, the game becomes a frantic race.

    Just a couple of things that came to mind looking at it. It's very cute, and there are a lot of things you could do to have fun with it.
  6. LMan


    Jun 1, 2013
    I think it's begging for a physics based destruction mechanic. But then I only got to play destroy all humans for 15 min in a walmart in '05.

    Seriously though, it feels good. I like how the saucer wobbles as you change direction, and I like the shadow feedback. I just have the urge to go dropping ragdoll cows on farm things.
    theANMATOR2b and TonyLi like this.
  7. Aiursrage2k


    Nov 1, 2009
    really depends on where you want to take it but some ideas

    Suck up 5 cows. Now the farmers come out and start throwing pitch forks at you. Suck up 10 cows and nwo tanks come out. 20 cows and we got helicopters.

    Maybe you could suck other materials to create bombs, and something else to create missels (for air enemies). Then as you get more cows your "crew" gets bigger which will require you having more cows or your crew "starves" (using a meter). Now you can suck up objects 2x as fast etc.

    Then you got other aliens trying to steal your cows
  8. commodore


    May 30, 2012
    I liked the idea of adding a farmer. It makes the game a lot more exciting when there's a guy constantly chasing after you. I was thinking of sticking with my "cows as fuel" idea, but the ufo will leak fuel the more damage it takes, thus ending the game eventually. I've added a farmer to the game at the link I posted. All he does is point a gun at you while chasing you, so you have to pretend he shoots and doesn't run through obstacles.

    I started adding some audio-visual feedback. There's a sort of zapping sound with a particle effect when you take a cow. And thanks, the shadow thing wasn't intentional but I realized it made for a perfect target!

    Thanks a lot for the suggestions everyone. They've been extremely helpful!
    Kiwasi, TonyLi and GarBenjamin like this.