PogoGirl Devlog #10: Gems and Goals

Posted January 13, 2021

It’s been a while, but I’m back in style! After spending a few frantic weeks finishing my Master’s thesis, I’m back in the pogo-saddle. So, it’s time for an update!

One of the things I’ve always struggled with is the level design of Go! Go! PogoGirl, or rather what the player is supposed to do in the levels. Having a bouncing protagonist lends itself to a fast-paced, movement-focused game, but that would result in a rather simple and short game, which I didn’t really want. However, putting too much focus on exploration would basically nullify the dynamic movement. I had to find the right balance, and all this tied into the collectibles in my game.

In an early post I talked about how the gems in Go! Go! PogoGirl would work. You had to collect a certain number of them in order to unlock the level exit, but not all of them, as that would slow the game down too much. I felt like this would give the game a good balance between action and exploration.

However, that didn’t really work out. I never quite managed to figure out how many gems players should collect to unlock the exit. And the whole idea felt half-baked anyway; it did give gems a purpose, but only until you had collected enough of them. After that, it made more sense to just rush to the exit. I wasn’t satisfied with this solution, so I sat down to come up with a new one.

And I think I did!

Hidden Gems

Gems are now entirely optional, as the level exit will be unlocked from the start; however, I’ve added a new feature to the game that should encourage exploration: hidden gems. Following platformer tradition, each level will contain three hidden gems in hard to reach places. This gives exploration a purpose, without bogging down players with having to collect 100 individual gems. A tracker at the top of the HUD will keep track of your collected hidden gems, and you will only have to collect them once; so, if you’re replaying a level, you’ll only have to collect the ones you missed the first time around.

transparentgem.png
The middle gem is transparent, as it was collected during a previous session.

Okay, so this will encourage players to explore the levels. But what about the regular gems? If anything, the hidden gems make them even more superfluous. Also, why bother collecting the hidden gems at all? What do they do?

Good question! But I think I got the answer.

Goals

Introducing: goals. Each level will feature the same set of optional goals to complete. These are:

  1. Collect all gems
  2. Find all hidden gems
  3. Finish the level without dying
  4. Finish the level in a certain amount of time

This gives both kinds of gem a purpose, and it also allows players to focus on the type of gameplay they enjoy. Want to speedrun a stage? You’ll reach a goal. Want to explore every last nook and cranny for gems? You’ll reach a goal! Don’t want to bother with any of the goals? You don’t have to, just beat the level normally! You’ll see what goals you’ve reached at the end of each level, and the progress is saved, meaning you won’t have to do it all the first time around. That would be madness.

Okay, but…what does reaching the goals do?

I’ve got a few ideas.

But I’m not telling you right now :P

And this is my new system. I’ve implemented most of the features, although I’ll still have to whip up a nice ending screen telling you about your goals. Also, I’ll need a level select so that players can replay levels whenever they want. It’s quite a lot of work, but I feel like it’s worth it. Now I can only hope that everything works out!

What do you think about this idea? Any particular goals you’ll want to crack? Let me know in the comments!

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