PogoGirl Devlog #7: Pogo Splash & Swim

Posted October 19, 2020

Remember in the last post when I announced that each season would have its own unique stage gimmick? Well…here’s one!

Summer can be a beautiful time of year, but it can also beat you down with dizzying heat and a relentless sun. And what’s the best way to avoid being burned to a cinder? Jump butt-first into a pool of cool, nice water! With your pogo stick. Okay that last one might not be a good idea, but PogoGirl doesn’t care.

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Yes, the unique stage gimmick for Summer will be water! PogoGirl will keep bouncing across the ground as usual, but movement will be slower and the bounces will be higher. That makes for a pleasantly floaty feeling, as long as you don’t have to dodge things, which you might have to.

Water levels sure are a bit contentious, aren’t they? The first one I ever experienced was Labyrinth Zone in the original Sonic the Hedgehog and I’ve had a love/hate relationship with that place ever since. On the one hand I love the visual design of the zone and the feeling of jumping into the water with a satisfying splash, but on the other hand it slows down the gameplay quite a lot. Plus the stage is so very rectangular and full of spikes, which doesn’t help matters. Slowing the game down is something that water levels in platformers are accused of constantly—and often for good reason. Yet it’s one of those tropes that just keeps appearing, because you can’t really have a platformer without a water level.

Well, Go! Go! PogoGirl won’t really have water levels, but I just couldn’t escape the allure of mixing up the gameplay and physics that bodies of water bring. So when brainstorming ideas for the different seasons, pools of water were pretty much the first idea I had for summer, and it stuck.

But I felt that having water just slow you down would be too boring and not really enrich the gameplay. So I implemented swimming.

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Yep, PogoGirl can swim using her PogoStick. I’ve asked several physicists whether this would be feasible and realistic but they didn’t return my calls, so I just assumed that it was.

“Bouncing, but slower” didn’t strike me as a particularly interesting gameplay concept but “swimming around” did. So by tapping the stomp button (which I guess will have to be renamed now), PogoGirl can swim to explore, find gems and dodge around spikes and hazards. You’ll find pools of varying sizes scattered around the summer levels, but I’m trying not to overdo it. After all, even swimming does slow down the gameplay somewhat and Go! Go! PogoGirl is a game about bouncing around. But mixing up the gameplay every now and then can be pretty fun, and I hope it will be fun.

Implementing water can be tricky (like everything else in game design) but I think I managed to create a pretty solid system. I took special care to make it easy to jump out of the water when you’re near the surface, because I hate getting stuck there and just flopping around in games. It only took a few lines of code and some experimenting, but it makes everything so much easier on the player.

Anyway, that’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed this look at the first seasonal gimmick and how I’m tackling it. Let me know what you think in the comments and follow me on Twitter for more updates, sneak peeks and more!

Be excellent to each other and party on!

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