PogoGirl Devlog #3: Shiny Shiny Gems

Posted July 6, 2020

Collectibles are as much a part of platformers as actual platforms. Whether it’s Sonic’s rings, Mario’s coins or Banjo’s notes, it seems like platformer worlds don’t have littering laws because these things are everywhere. And that’s good, because it’s really fun to collect them and sometimes they even help you out. Extra life, anyone?

So of course Go! Go! PogoGirl will also have collectibles. After some thinking I settled on gems, because…I dunno, they look pretty and sparkly and coins are pretty overdone. Here you can see them being all pretty:

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Don’t you just wanna collect them and sell them on the black market?

These things will be scattered all over the levels of the game, just waiting for you to pick them up. But they’re not just there to look shiny, they actually serve an important purpose: You’ll have to collect a certain amount of them to unlock the level exit.

When I say “a certain amount” I mean maybe around two thirds of the total number of gems in a level. I don’t want to force anyone to collect them all, because that would go against the game’s point, which is the bouncy and dynamic movement. Having to bounce backwards through a level just to check every nook and cranny for that one gem you missed would just be tedious, I feel. But then, why lock the exit behind the gems in the first place?

First of all, like I said, I wanted to have collectibles because it’s just fun to collect them. However, items like this can also play an important role in level design, because you can use them to guide players. Place them in a course throughout the level and it will always be clear where to go. Place them somewhere on a ledge or in the sky and players will realize that they can get up there somehow. Because why would there be collectibles if you couldn’t collect them?

And that’s the second reason I wanted to have collectibles. The game is focused on fluid and bouncy movement, so it’s important to know where to go so that the flow doesn’t stop. The gems will help players keep the flow up.

However, I did want the gems to have an actual, tangible purpose in the game, so I decided to lock the exit until players have found a certain amount of them. This amount will be high enough so players are encouraged to get the gems they see, but low enough so that missing a few won’t force them to backtrack. This will hopefully strike a nice balance between exploring the levels and enjoying the game’s flow. And if you’re into speedrunning, feel free to route out the most efficient way through levels that’ll get you the bare minimum of gems!

I now have gems in all the levels I’ve designed so far, and I implemented the system that keeps the exit locked until you’ve collected enough. The HUD will count down how many more gems you need, and notify you when you’ve got them. Although the placeholder HUD seems a bit passive-aggressive right now…

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