Battle pong #9 – Game design considerations and orientation

This post will not be very technical but we will talk more about the feedbacks I got from the people around me and the conclusions of their tests. There are many things I wouldn’t have guessed myself so it is a very rewarding experience. Let’s go !

A gameplay out of hand….

Okay I totally didn’t think about this one but according to wikipedia, almost 90% of the world is right handed. How did I realize that it was an issue in the game ? Simply when I noticed many people were holding the phone with their left hand and playing with the right one. I expected players to hold the phone horizontally and use the left thumb but I didn’t realize that this was easy only for left handed guys (like me)…

In this case I have three solutions :

  • Give a Left/Right option in the game but it can be frustrating since it will require an action from the user…
  • Detect in which landscape direction the phone is held and adapt the controls and the displays depending on this.
  • Ignore left handed and right handed guys and directly go for a vertical gameplay so the hand problem is immediately solved.

 

Since I would like to make it as smooth as possible I did some research on the subject and found some interesting materials here and there. So I should have asked myself the question… Where do I want people to play the game ? At home ? At work (come on don’t pretend it never happened) ? In the subway ?

Well since I try to make my game easy to play for LEFT and RIGHT handed people I’d go for a Subway Thumb ! Vertical orientation and easy grab of the phone ! It’s interesting to notice that another game (and probably more others) had the same interrogation about screen orientation.

 

Vertical
Battle Pong, now vertical ! (Yes it feels like you just tilted your head on the side…)

Playing the game vertically changed the perception of people and suddenly made it a little bit harder. You noticed that the game graphically changed again, this is because I wanted to give it a cleaner look ! Let’s overview the graphic changes !

Graphic updates

Since the graphics lacked…consistency, I decided to rework on it. Basically I wanted the core to be more visible for the player . Also one of the main feedback I got from the tests was that it would be better if I had plain elements than outlined one (I was obviously inspired by Geometry Wars galaxies maybe it was not a right choice). In the same order of ideas, all the bonuses have been reworked to be filled with (I hope) better icons.

FastInvisibleTeleport

The hardest one to make was obviously the teleportation bonus since I didn’t know how to express the idea of teleportation… So I got inspiration from Naruto where people dissapear in a smoke cloud. I also added a question mark to make sure it express the idea of surprise ! Concerning the invisible Icon I made an eye with a cross above and for the speed a logo of the ball going faster. Of course the color system is still here !

You also notice that the background changed in order to give a better idea of the player boundaries. You may wonder what is this weird shape in the middle of the field ? Well Pausesince I changed the gameplay to vertical if I put the Pause button on the top with a slight offset of the field, we will loose a significant amount of game area. What I choosed to do is to use the middle of the field to have the pause button (hence the pause logo). Pressing that button will open the pause menu. Oh yeah there is a pause menu now.

Pause Menu and other elements

Now that I will have some testers, I wanted to make sure they could configure/restart/navigate the game easily. It’s also a good exercise for me to play with UI elements. Nothing really crazy to explain here to be honest. The Unity tutorials are always good ressources. Finally since each game takes 2 rounds I also added a text with an animation ! I guess it’s better to wee all of this working together so… Here you go !

Menu Demo.gif
Round disclaimer and pause menu (only options work now)

Of course the pause menu will have to go with a Main menu later AND I need to make it consistent with the rest of the graphics but that’s a topic for another day !

To sum it up

What I learned :

  • ALWAYS consider RIGHT handed people when game designing for mobile
  • Ask myself the question “Where do I want people to play my game ?” during the design phase
  • A little bit more of GIMP

What are the next steps :

  • Creating a splash screen (I’m on a free version of unity so… It’s mandatory) and a main menu
  • Update the menu graphics so they are more consistent
  • Finalize the new bonus activation

Thanks for reading !

Battle pong #9 – Game design considerations and orientation

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