March Dev Diary: Jelly Toss!

Is it that time again? It’s the last day of the month, that means I return to my little corner of the internet for my (slightly) regular monthly dev log. As always, I’ll discuss what I’ve been up to, what’s new & what’s next. Let’s begin…

Previous goals

Last month the objective was simple, I wanted to move focus to my latest project. Personally, I think I’ve done a pretty good job. So far, I have a solid prototype, most of the games features are finalised. There’s still a long road ahead, but I can see the finish line!

I wanted to stay active on my socials, primarily YouTube (since I only recently started). Did I do that? Not quite. But we will talk about that soon. Let us begin.

Progress – Jelly Toss

Level System

The biggest change this month is the level system. My game was missing something, I had to gamify it somehow. Presenting the golden platform, dubbed “the finish line”. The goal is to get there, doesn’t matter how you do it. For example, the first level can always be done in one jump (top tip 😉). When you reach the finish line, the next level appears:

That’s good but I wanted some feedback, something to tell you how close you are to the end. Nothing we haven’t seen before in other games, so I got to work, we now have a tracker:

This works by getting the distance between the player and the gold platform, using the first platform (or last gold platform) as a starting point. But by far my favourite thing about this feature is the colour changing level icons. At first, levels were a set colour but that’s boring. Instead a random list of colours shuffles and assigns at the start. It then lerps between the colours when you finish the level. Here is that in action:

It’s always the little things that please me most.

Difficulty

Where would any game be without some kind of difficulty curve? Naturally, the game had to get harder as you progress. It starts with 4 platforms, same distance apart, this never changes. After that it introduces random distances, increasing the max distance as you progress. This was all I had at first, but it’s not enough.

I wanted more control over the distance between the platforms, I also wanted to control how many platforms spawned. Then as you get further, make things spicier by changing the height. I played around with this & damn it’s hard! Possible, but hard, it makes judging the jump a difficult task:

That’s everything, for now. It’s already near impossible seeing the height change. However, I have more ideas for what comes next. Moving platforms is an obvious choice & could be fun to design. Imagine moving and attempting to time your jump perfectly, then you miss. Sounds fun to me. Obstacles is another idea, something popping up between platforms stopping you in your tracks. This was suggested by @ShexTheSwift who replied to my tweet, credit where it’s due it’s a cool idea.

Better Platforms

Firstly, I’ve animated the platforms to rise up from the fog, this looks cooler than them randomly appearing:

Smooth right? I also wanted something similar when you end the level (clean up). At first, they all disappeared back into the fog but this seemed inefficient, why animate something that isn’t on screen? Instead, the last (closest previous) platform falls, the rest just disappear. If I explained that badly here is what’s happening off screen:

Finally, I added better feedback. Basically, if you land perfectly on the platform you get an extra point. There’s 3 more categories which are great, okay & bad landings, these include multiple phrases to keep things interesting. This makes things way better:

Bugs

Basically, I had a consistency issue with the power dial & forces. On the PC the game was playing as intended. On mobile however, it played very differently. Forces were an easy fix, not my first time solving this problem. Simply calculate the forces in FixedUpdate rather than Update and forces are now consistent across devices.

However, this did not fix the power dial UI. It seemed to go from 0-100 in very different times, on mobile it was slow, almost lagging. Moving functionality to fixed update did not help. My only option was to change how it worked. I tried many, many things.

I used coroutines, I tried lerping between values, setting the target frame rate, working out the power based on the UI, working out the UI based on the power. It was a pain in the ass to be honest, I’m still not sure I have it perfect. But I have it in a coroutine linked to a timer. Basically, it goes from 0-100% in X time. Currently its around 2 seconds. This seems to work, kinda. It may change yet, we’ll see as we go on.

More!

As usual, plenty of other stuff is going on in the background. Personal high scores are now saved (offline). I altered the graphics slightly, simplified for the most part. I realised where most of the lag was coming from (fog & sky + jelly = not good). The death sequence is improved, if you havn’t noticed the jelly now shrinks & fades to simulate falling through the fog. Much better!

Finally, most sound effects have recently been added, some are still missing but I have them ready to go! That’s a lot of tasks, do you believe I’m crew yet? (Among Us joke, sorry).

Progress – YouTube Stuff

I said I wanted to focus less on YouTube this month, but I haven’t posted as much as I’d like. There’s been one big video, sending dan to the moon which I think is pretty cool. This one:

Besides that, I’ve posted short clips, nothing special. I have an idea for my next video which could be interesting. Keep your eye out for that one. But from there, I’m not quite sure. I’ve been seriously considering posting a dev log. Don’t worry, I’ll continue with these posts. But it gives me a regular video!

My next idea is playing your indie games. I interact with plenty of indie devs across my socials, and all of you are working on some awesome stuff! We should always make time to play a variety of games, not only is it fun, it’s a learning experience. I played one indie game on my channel, but currently nothing else has been recorded. I’d love to start on this soon, at very least grab a list of indie games to play.

Goals for next month

Next month, I want Jelly Toss finished. What is left to do? A lot of work. The game itself is pretty much complete. But it’s lacking a few general features like leaderboards, ads, most of the UI is missing etc.

I would also like to play around with the visuals, specifically the jelly itself and the background. It looks nice but I’m sure there’s more I can do to improve it. Currently, I don’t know what that is, but we’ll see what I can do.

Once we get through that I’ll need a little time to get through the testing & publishing stage, that should be smooth sailing. But that may be wishful thinking. If all goes well, we will be moving on to the next game in no time! Let’s do this!

Until next time…

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