Thursday, February 27, 2014

Gumball Fall Needs a Facelift... STAT!

Version 0.10.0 Released:

GumBall Fall v0.10.0: Web Player | AndroidGoogle Play BETA | Google+

Functional is great. Pretty and functional is even better...

Major Changes since v0.9:

  • Complete visual overhaul (except for Tutorial Screens. They’ll be revamped in a future revision)
  • Player and Leaderboard stats reset
  • Scoring scheme tweaks:
    • 4 Chain = Omni Ball. Omni ball can be added to any chain
    • 5 Chain = Bomb Ball drop. Select a Bomb Ball to collect all gumballs around it
    • 6 Chain = All gumballs of selected color removed from board
  • Bomb Ball
    • Blast radius reduced
    • Model updated to actually look like a bomb (thanks Bryan!)
  • Number of gumballs in game reduced from 63 to 56

I've openly admitted on more than one occasion that art is not my calling. Whenever I set out on a new game creating adventure, one of the things that I know will always be lacking is the artwork in my game. With that said, I find joy in attempting to push my artistic boundaries to make the best art I'm capable of making. Part of the fun of development is to see what I'm capable of creating with the talents that I have.

The Facelift:

Phase One of my art upgrade happened several releases ago. My art moved from a stale all-black motif to a gumball-pink motif complete with Frank, the (lovable? annoying?) gumball-corralling bunny. If nothing else, the game took on a bit more personality and was a (small?) step in the right direction.

Needless to say, the art was far from perfect. The pink drew many comments along the lines of "that color hurts my eyes!" The font was deemed difficult to read, in part, due to the various font sizes I was using as well as the fact that some words were (accidentally) using the incorrect font face. And, the background (in all of its pink glory) was "too bland."  To make things worse, folks were still having difficulty navigating through the GUI.

As a result, I've gutted and revamped the entire GUI. While the jury is still out on a few aspects, early feedback is positive. The presentation is nicer. The font is consistent in both size and face across the game. And, most importantly, folks are having a much easier time navigating through the GUI.

They say a picture's worth a 1,000 words. So, here's 5000 words worth of before-and-after screenshots:
The Main Menu

The Summary Screen seen after you've wrapped up a round

The Scores and Stats screen where you can check out the leaderboards

The revamped Moves Chaos game in action

The revamped Timed Order game in action

Scoring (v0.4):

Release v0.9 introduced version v0.3 of my scoring system. Instead of a potentially difficult to understand rolling bonus, I introduced the idea of receiving Bonus Balls for creating long chains. After just a few days in the wild, and thanks to a great set of testers, I quickly discovered that the scoring system was woefully unbalanced. Under the correct set of conditions, folks were getting scores in the 200,000+ range while others were stuck in the 1,000 range. Needless to say, this situation couldn't stand. While it was great to see high-score strategies emerge, the system let to comments along the lines of "there's too much thinking involved now," and feelings of never being able to compete with the top players.

As Gumball Fall is geared toward being a casual game, "thinking too hard" isn't something I want to hear. With that said, I still like the concept of the more tangible Bonus Ball rewards vs the old rolling bonus system. As a result, the reward system has been tweaked in an attempt to add more 'casual fun' back into the game as well as reduce the unbalanced nature of the previous scoring system.  Only time will tell what more tweaks will need to be done to the system... or if the system will have to be scrapped and stated anew.

Shout Out:

After several hours of attempting to learn the basics of the 3D modeling program Blender, I had all but given up hope of ever being able to create even the most basic 3D models for my game. I barely succeeded in UV unwrapping a simple sphere and had several failed attempts at creating a simple 'cartoon bomb' to add to my game.

What took me hours of work to attempt, my friend Bryan was able to whip together in 10 minutes. Thanks to him, I now have a proper looking 'cartoon bomb' in my game. Maybe one day I'll master (or at least become competent in) using Blender. Until then, I'll just have to keep bugging Bryan for my simple 3D modeling needs.

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