Saturday, December 8, 2012

Finding the right "game feel"

In my mind, the core of any great game is great gameplay. Even outside of the level design, the graphics, the sound, the story, the objectives... a great game just FEELs right. I'm aiming to match that.

But it's not as easy as it might seem.

There are a lot of things to consider, especially with a 2D platformer. Do I want my character to build up momentum and then slide a little bit, like Mario, or to move at a set speed and stop on a dime? Do I want jumps to have a set height or do I want the player to be able to control it? Movement in the air doesn't really make logical sense... should I include it anyway because it feels natural to gamers and adds additional controls? How far should the camera be zoomed in? To what extent should the camera follow the player?

These are all questions I am asking myself and have been asking myself for months. As of right now I have tentative answers, but nothing is set in stone. The character does build up momentum and slide a little bit, but I want it to be more subtle than it is right now. You do control your jump height based on how long you hold down the button, and you can move in the air. The camera is something I am constantly tweaking and it's sometimes surprised just HOW different a game feels with different levels of zoom. I am also constantly touching the movement speed and jump height and how strong gravity is. It's a very delicate balance, and touching one thing often means touching everything else.

Torque 2D has a built in physics engine that is incredibly useful, but can also be a bit limiting. When I want my character to grip the floor more to prevent too much sliding, it also reduces jump height. When I increase the jump height (which is technically a vertical speed variable) it just makes the character jump faster now without actually going as high as I want. All little quirks I will be attempting to work out very soon. I have been working a lot on animation because I do believe that having a fully animated character that looks at least somewhat close to final will help with adjusting the game feel.

Game feel is incredibly important and not to be taken lightly. I have played numerous amateur/indie games where the gameplay feels just a liiiittle off, and it has a notable negative impact on the experience. Game feel is too important to not focus on. I'm also very strongly considering changing the scale of every level I've designed so far to accommodate better game feel. It's that important.

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