PogoGirl Devlog #2: Bouncing Science
When you have a player character that should always bounce, a couple of obvious questions present themselves: How should they bounce? How high should they bounce? How quickly should they bounce? Questions like that form the basis of the entire gameplay concept, so it’s very important to tackle them as early as possible…even if you’ll often end up tackling them a few more times before the game ships. Here are the answers I’ve worked out for now.
How should they bounce? The main point here is whether players should be able to perform or influence the bouncing themselves. For example, they could be required to regularly press A when PogoGirl touches the ground in order to keep her bouncing. This would of course make the game more challenging, but in my eyes also a lot more tedious. Since Go! Go! PogoGirl is meant to be a platformer that just so happens to have constant bouncing in it, I decided against putting too much focus on the act of bouncing as such. Therefore, PogoGirl will always keep bouncing without input from the player.
How high should they bounce? This is something that can have huge effects on the level design, so it’s important to at least have a basic idea. If PogoGirl could only bounce about 1 tile high that would make the pogo mechanic almost pointless, as it wouldn’t feel that much different than a regular platformer. Plus, you’d be severely restricted in designing levels because she can’t cover distances and doesn’t get high enough to bounce over a lot of things. However, if you make her bounce too high, the levels end up being too open and the gameplay too lose. So finding a good middle ground is important, and that’s what I think I found. PogoGirl’s current bounce height lets her navigate platforms and jump over gaps, while keeping the level elements close enough together so that players (hopefully) won’t get lost. And enemies can be avoided or attacked while still providing a challenge.
How quickly should they bounce? This is tied to the bounce force and the gravity. If you crank up both, you’ll end up with very energetic and fast bouncing, which would make gameplay hectic and difficult to control. Make gravity too low and the game becomes floaty and boring. In platformers, your movement mechanics decide how you play the game, so they have to feel good. And the best way to achieve that usually ends up being trial and error. I tied the movement variables to HaxeFlixel’s debug console so that I could adjust them on the fly during gameplay. Then I’d just bounce around, fiddle with the values, then bounce some more…until I found values that worked for me. Keep in mind that I might actually end up slightly changing these values later on, as that’s the nature of gamedev. But for now I feel like I struck a good balance between maneuverability and a satisfying boing. If you know what I mean.
Bad movement can instantly kill a platformer or at least drag it down very, very far. Think of games like Bubsy: The movement controls in that seem to have been made for an entirely different game. Bubsy’s movement is very momentum-based and his top speed is waaaay too high for the level design and obstacles you have to avoid. If the movement mechanics had been different (i.e. sensible), I’m pretty sure the game would be remembered much more fondly.
So I guess what I’m saying is PogoGirl will be better than Bubsy.
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In the previous two devlogs I’ve talked about the changes I’ve implemented in Go! Go! PogoGirl based on player feedback. And now there’s another one…a big one. I’ve already mentioned how the positive player reaction to the demo has motivated me to take this game further than I had originally intended. And now I can tell you what I meant by that: Go! Go! PogoGirl is coming to Steam! Yes, shocker, a PC game is coming to Steam.
A new version of the Go! Go! PogoGirl demo has now been uploaded! I originally didn’t intend to update the demo, but I have changed a few major mechanics in the game that made the old version a bit too outdated for my liking. Changelog You can now twirl (almost) anytime. You can now stomp (almost) anytime. Stomping at the very peak of your jump will result in a super stomp.