The game has been in production for one year and one month now, and we’re (kind of) at Beta. It turns out that my estimation of the scope of the game was out by 50%, which is not too bad.
Without further ado, here’s the latest trailer:
There’s way too much to write about since the last post, so I’m going to try and summarize it in not too many words. Time spent typing this is time I could be making levels.
The major changes to the game are:
a) The game Name:
First: “PumP”, short for Puzzle Jump
Second: “Jump Like A Girl”
Fourth: “Super Veg Girl”.
Fifth: "Bird of Light"
NOPE. Don't even ask.
b) Implementation of the Map system:
This has been among the most challenging features to design and implement. The game world, due to the frequent 90 degree turns and the uniform of the tiles, is easy to get lost and disoriented in. We needed to implement a way for the player to figure out where she/he is in the level and where to go next.
It would be impractical to try and use a mini-map in a corner like many RPGs / FPSs because of how small it would be on a mobile screen, so we decided to use the level setup screen as the map. The player would, by tapping the ‘Map button’ while running, be able to bring up the map as a 30-40% opaque overlay, showing the current position as well as the positions of all the eggs and other pickups (see the picture below)
The problem with this was that the player was running AND trying to look at the map at the same time; it was difficult to change the focus of one’s eyes so rapidly and ended up in the player dying most of the time.
We changed this so that now, the game pauses while the map overlay shows up, like this screenshot below. Whenever the player is ready, she/he can press the ‘resume’ button and start running again after a three-second countdown.
This feature took a big bite off the difficulty of the game, and that’s a good thing. By tapping the Pause button, players can take a breather and assess the situation without losing out on time (Where am I/where do I need to go/where are those eggs-key-feather)?
c) This map system also happens to be our primary mode of monetization.
Information is provided to the player about the location of the various pickups with labels that can be activated by the map panel.
There are maps that indicate the location of the Key, Eggs, Feather and also the solutions to the SpeedRun and BossRun.
To unlock, the player must spend tokens; the blue and white ones. There are tokens to be collected in every level, and the player can also get tokens by watching videos, sharing achievements and rating the game/liking the FB page.
d) Removal of the timer during the puzzle phase: Initially, the timer started as soon as the puzzle/level setup screen showed up. The idea was to start putting pressure on the player to solve the puzzle as soon as possible. We removed this based on feedback from early user testing. The game was hard enough as it was, and we decided to allow the player to take their time over the puzzle.
e) Controls: This is the big one. This is a twitch action game, after all- and we need to get the controls right. We’ve iterated and iterated and brainstormed and tried lots of control schemes before coming up with the final one.
Initially, the jump was performed by a (Tap) on the screen and the leap was a (Swipe Up). After user tests, we changed the jump to (Swipe Up), as this was the most intuitive jump, established by conventional runners on mobile devices such as Temple Run and Subway Surfers. The leap was much more tricky to map. Here are the options we tried out:
We have finally settled upon the double (rapid) tap for activating the leap. While it’s not as intuitive as the long swipe, the error rate is way lesser. There’s nothing more irritating than error-prone controls in an action game, so this is a very important decision. After stage 2, the leap is all-important and the player has to activate it very frequently.