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[DevLog] Re:Hit - Fast-paced reaction speed score chaser by Eat the Moon

01-08-2018, 09:30 PM
#1
Joined: Jul 2017
Location: Washington, USA
Posts: 99
[DevLog] Re:Hit - Fast-paced reaction speed score chaser by Eat the Moon

Hi TouchArcade!

I'm the developer for Eat the Moon, the studio that created the strategic idler with map exploration, Idle Realm (iOS, TouchArcade Thread)! I'm back with another game that I've started working on and I can't wait to share with you!

Re:Hit!
(name is a WIP)

Over the next few weeks, I'll be updating this thread with new information about the game, images of the production process and more. So please be patient while I get this all started! Re:Hit has gone through most of the prototype and pre-production phase, so we'll be rolling into production soon with lots of hot new stuff! So, I welcome you all to tag along for the ride!

Game Info:

Re:Hit is a fast-paced reaction speed score chaser, with a focus on online leaderboards and pushing yourself to tap quickly and accurately! You'll be presented with a randomized grid of buttons that will have different functions, such as increasing your score, your multiplier, or starting special modes. There is also a type of button that you should never touch or else your game ends! To help push you to make your decision quickly, you'll have a specific amount of time to hit a button before the game automatically ends. Try to last as long as you can and secure a huge score!

My goal is to ship Re:Hit for iOS and for Android!

Project History:

While waiting for some buttons to enable and light-up in another idle game I was playing, I noticed myself trying to tap any button that was lit up, moving my fingers around the screen to tap multiple buttons. Of course, as one button was tapped, another button might no longer be lit up due to not having enough currency to purchase it anymore, but I still tapped the disabled button. This became a simple mini-game to me and I thought it was a fun little mechanic.

A quick prototype was created with 3 types of buttons (increase score, increase multiplier, and the game over button) and shared with friends and family, with the response being very positive. Players were sharing their scores with each other to see who had the best score, then trying again to beat the highest score. All this without an actual leaderboard, just text messages or chatting in person.

With every game that we release, I do my best to add new features that I haven't included in our previous games. These games become testbeds for those features, with the results being added to our other games as needed. This game felt like the perfect opportunity to work on online leaderboards, so here we are!

For Re:Hit, I chose to tackle the online leaderboards as well as online/offline game modes, game replay validation on our server, 3D models for the game and our first non-consumable IAP. Also, I am planning to also launch Re:Hit for Android, which will be a first for my studio. My hope is that the leaderboard functionality can be incorporated into Idle Realm in the future and be a strong foundation for some of the community features I want to add. The Android work will also help with the inevitable Android version of Idle Realm!

Dev Logs:
Dev Log #1 - Basic Prototype
Dev Log #2 - Buttons ad Modes!
More coming soon!

Media:
Coming soon!

Beta Signups:
Coming soon!

Visit us!
Eat the Moon Games

Follow us!
Twitter: @EatTheMoonGames
Facebook: Eat the Moon

Last edited by Eat the Moon; 01-16-2018 at 05:39 PM. Reason: Updated Dev Log list!
01-10-2018, 08:29 PM
#2
Joined: Jul 2017
Location: Washington, USA
Posts: 99
Dev Log #1 - Basic Prototype

Dev Log #1 - Basic Prototype!

The purpose of these Dev Logs will be to share with everyone the creation process for Re:Hit. A way to look behind the curtain, so to say. Some of these Dev Logs will be simple, others will give plenty of in-depth explanation for how things work or why things were done the way they were. I will do my best to provide a summary of the post at the top, with more detailed text afterwards.

Summary of Dev Log

Re:Hit is a fairly simple game to play. Players are presented with a group of buttons and a timer. If the timer expires, the game ends. Every button that is tapped will perform an action, providing points and resetting the timer. Players need to quickly decide the best button to press in this limited amount of time. For the first prototype, the types of buttons available were:

1) Normal (Orange, provides points for current hit)
2) Multiplier (Purple, increases the multiplier for future hits)
3) Lose (Dark Red, forces the game to end)

Full Dev Log

Today, I'll be hitting upon the first prototype and the first few screens made in order to operate the game. The goal of this first prototype was to determine if the gameplay was fun and provide, essentially, a small game loop that is the title screen, mode select, game screen and the results screen. I used simple pixelated button art and started building up the screens.

Screens

Note: These are prototype screens. The layout, look, feel, features ... basically everything is going to change. These are just to get the basic prototype done and are not meant to be pretty.

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The title screen is simple, it takes you to the mode select screen or the options menu. For this prototype, options are meaningless and this button does nothing

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The mode select screen allows the player to select a difficulty. For the purpose of the prototype, there is only a "Normal" mode, so all buttons take you to that mode. Having this screen show a few extra modes is a teaser for my play testers, to let them know that there will be faster modes and ways to earn even more points. The weekly and lifetime scores don't work, but are another tease to show where I want the game to go.

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The game screen is made of your current score, possible points to earn on this hit (with a multiplier shown next to it), a group of four boxes, and a timer bar. This is all that I needed in order to get the basic gameplay in front of a player and see if the game was fun. This is an image of what the game looks like when you start a new game. All buttons are valid buttons to be hit and the timer is not active for this first group of buttons. I wanted the player to not feel stressed when the game starts, until they start interacting with the buttons. The "9 x 1" is the score that you will earn for tapping a button, which is based upon the timer.

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With the game in progress, the timer bar goes down and decisions must be made. The score in this shot is "6 x 1" because it started at 9, but since the timer has started, the score granted also drops. Since the timer bar is near 2/3 time remaining, you can get 2/3 of the base score of 9 (hence, the 6 that you see). I've hit the boxes a few times already and have 50 points, as I wanted to get to a group of buttons that showed all three prototype button types.

Since this is just normal mode, your base points are set to 9. In theory, hard mode will have base points set at 99, and expert mode will have 999. For a score chaser, you are constantly trying to beat your high score or the score of someone else on a leaderboard, so you will want to pick expert eventually. Although not in the game yet, the idea is to have a different starting and final speed for each game mode, with expert being the most difficult.

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Lastly, the game result screen. Doesn't do much other than let you know your final score, which is all that is needed for this prototype. The games start and end pretty quickly, with little to no friction to start a new game.

Iteration

With all of these screens in place, I was able to play the game all the way through and make adjustments to base points, speed, and timer length until I found something that was fun, hectic over time and fairly rewarding when you hit a stretch of quick perfect hits. I ramped the the points and speed to get an idea of what hard mode and expert mode could be like, then settled on what I wanted normal mode to feel like.

The game was placed in front of family and friends and the score chasing began. Gamers and non-gamers found it easy to play, which was a good sign. The first couple games were always fascinating to watch, as the player had no idea what to expect and the timer ended this game fairly quickly. After playing these first few games, the player would last longer and definitely score higher. I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down names and scores, with players telling me their updated scores and I would reorganize the list and tell them their new rank. A hand-made paper leaderboard, essentially. Some rivalries started and after an hour or so, we decided that this was a good project to continue working on.

Lessons Learned

Base score matters. When it is too low (1-5 points), watching your score slowly climb is a pain. Setting normal mode's base score to 9 felt good, and when I tested the 99 and 999 point range for hard and expert mode, it was really satisfying. I originally tried (5, 15, 25), (9, 19, 29), and (9,29,49), but adding more digits just makes it feel better. So, I expect players to hit billions of points if they're really good.

Also, for the first prototype, there isn't any animation or polish anywhere. Tapping a button simply changes all the buttons immediately and resets the timer. When you tap the buttons and are presented with a new button group that is identical to the previous one, not having the buttons have any response really feels like the hit wasn't registered. I will need to add some kind of hit effect so the player knows they touched something.

Also, for a reaction speed game like this, the buttons need register the hit when it is touched, not when you release your finger from the button (like a click). Waiting to release the finger adds milliseconds to the input time, which could end a game early. I changed it to register on touch before the play test at the last minute and the game felt way better for it.

Coming Up

This score chaser needs more buttons and more choice! It also needs those difficulty modes working properly, so I'll be adding those features next. I'll also need to let players submit their scores to a leaderboard, so I need to decide how I want to validate scores. How many leaderboards? Should they reset? Monetization is also something I will need to think about, so I'll be brainstorming on various ways to tackle that area. What should the theme of the game be? Should it be retro pixel art buttons and minimalistic in appearance? Should I push for crisp hi-rez images? These questions and more will be addressed and tested over the next couple Dev Logs!
01-16-2018, 05:38 PM
#3
Joined: Jul 2017
Location: Washington, USA
Posts: 99
Dev Log #2 - Buttons and Modes!

The purpose of these Dev Logs will be to share with everyone the creation process for Re:Hit. A way to look behind the curtain, so to say. Some of these Dev Logs will be simple, others will give plenty of in-depth explanation for how things work or why things were done the way they were. I will do my best to provide a summary of the post at the top, with more detailed text afterwards.

Summary of Dev Log

The types of colored buttons that the player can tap has been updated to include new types:

1) Combo (Teal, provides a temp bonus to the multiplier, as the combo continues)
2) Flex Multiplier (Pink, time-based multiplier increaser)
3) Slow (Blue, slows down the game timer for the next X seconds)
4) Fever Mode (Green, for the next X seconds, no "Game Over" buttons spawn, so you can tap quickly)

Game modes for Easy, Normal, and Hard have been added. Difficulty affects your base points (10, 100, or 1000) for tapping the button and the min and max game speed.

Full Dev Log

Today, there won't be any images, as I haven't added any new parts to the temp UI. Along with the original button types that you can tap (Normal, Multiplier, and Lose), I also added new types to provide more variety when looking at the game grid. Since these buttons are just colored buttons, there isn't anything new to see.

Combo Button

The combo button, when hit, will start a combo! While a combo is active, every new set of buttons that appears will always have a combo button to be pressed, allowing you to continue the combo chain. Currently, the combo count is added to your current multiplier, allowing for a temp multiplier boost while you continue the combo. For example, if your multiplier is x5 and you start the combo, the next hit will provide the base points x (5 + 1) to your score. Hit the combo button again, and it goes up to (5 + 2), then (5 + 3), etc.

Since hitting the combo button makes it very easy to boost your multiplier quickly, there needed to be risk to this reward. So, while a combo is active, the game speed actually increases more quickly with each hit, allowing the game to go faster than the max speed the more provides. The player will need to decide when to force an end to their combo, otherwise they will get to a state where it could be impossible to hit a button in time and end the game. When the combo is ended, the multiplier bonus disappears, the game slows down to the speed it should be at, and the player can continue.

Flex Multiplier Button

Next, we have the Flex Multiplier button type. This button is a special type of Multiplier button that, instead of increasing the multiplier by +1 when it, it could increase it by +0 up to +4 instead, based upon the time it takes to hit the button. So, when the button appears, it behooves the player to hit it as quickly as possible to boost their multiplier quickly. However, if the player doesn't react fast enough, they might only increase the multiplier by +1 or even +0 (no increase).

This is another button that feels like it should have a risk/reward associated with it, but I haven't decided what to do with it. The first thought is to allow the multiplier provided from the button to not only count down to +0, but go further, possibly to -1 or -4. By doing this, the player would need to make a quick decision to hit the button, but also move away from the button to another button if the multiplier drops to a negative amount. I'll be iterating on this idea in the future...

Slow / Freeze Button

This button appeared out of a desire to provide a bonus mode for the game. When this button is pressed, the game timer freezes for a small amount of time (currently 10 seconds). This provides a break if the game has been going a while, allowing the player to take a break or simply take their time to hit a few buttons, before picking back up to whatever speed the game should be at.

I currently have the button freezing the timer, but I also want to try just slowing the timer so it decreases 3-5 times slower. That will happen during some testing I perform to see which feels better.

Fever Mode Button

Again, I wanted another special mode, so I thought it might be fun to add a "Fever Mode" type of button. When active, every button on the screen will be a valid button to tap, with no "Game Over" buttons appearing. The mode lasts for 5 seconds, allowing the player to spam all the buttons as quickly as they want.

To combat an instant-lose situation that appears when the mode ends, I opted to specify a certain number of button hits after the mode ends where no "Game Over" buttons appear, so if the player is mashing buttons when the mode ends, they can slow down and start playing normally after a couple hits go through.

This button feels really good when hit, and the buffer I added at the end for the button hits helped to make this mode perform even better.

Difficulty Modes

Currently, there is an Easy, Normal and Hard mode for the game. The difficulty dictates what the base score should be, with Easy providing a max of 10 points, Normal a max of 100 points, and Hard a max of 1000 points when a button is hit. Of course, these points will be based upon how much time is left in the timer for the current hit. If you hit the button quickly, you'll earn most of the base score. If you hit it really late, when the timer is almost empty, you'll get a small amount of the base points. This rewards quick reaction speed.

The difficulty will also dictate the start speed of the game and what the max speed the game can reach normally. For example, Easy mode might start with a 2 second timer, providing plenty of time for new players to hit buttons. As they hit the buttons, the speed increases up to the max speed of 1 second per hit over time.

The idea is that as a player plays the Easy mode and gets used to the game, they will graduate to the Normal mode, earning an even higher score, but playing a faster game. Once they are good with Normal, the Hard mode will be where all players will eventually aim for, as this mode provides the highest score as well as requires quick reaction speed skills.

Iteration

When the difficulty modes were created, I needed to find good speeds for the game. A special debug mode was added to the game in order to allow me to increase or decrease the starting and ending speeds for a mode, as well as dictate how fast the game speeds up per hit. The main goal is to try and allow the player to play the game comfortably for at least the first 50 hits. I didn't want the game to end after a couple of hits due to the timer, nor did I want the player to not feel challenged by the timer until hit 300.

After a few hours of testing, I settled on some good speeds for these modes and put it in front of some players to test out. Sure enough, most of the players were able to get at least to hit #50 in easy mode, then the hit number decreased for the other modes, which makes sense since the players are not prepared or skilled enough for the faster speeds. After playing some of the easier modes first, these players retried the harder modes and made more progress. This is the type of progression I expect for the game, so that worked out well.

The bonus modes (Slow/Freeze and Fever) were welcome additions and, when triggered, the players definitely felt more powerful and just went to town. Some who had a large multiplier and hit the fever mode watched their score explode, and when their game ended they felt very accomplished!

Lessons Learned

The Easy mode is where most players will want to start, but some players will go straight to Normal mode for their first game. So, I needed to make the Easy mode speed good enough to not scare away new players (to the game, to the genre, or to games in general) and ramp up nicely so that the player felt like they were getting better and improving their reaction speed. The Normal mode also needed to provide a slight challenge for someone new to the game or the genre, but is not really where a player new to mobile games should touch.

If I want to add more button types to the game, I won't be able to rely on simply colored buttons. There will need to be a textured appearance to the button, or some kind of extra treatment on the button to separate it from the other buttons. For example, the Multiplier and Flex Multiplier button types are essentially the game, so they could be the same button color but the Flex Multiplier could have some kind of "time" or "clock" art treatment added to it to inform the player that it is the timed version of the button. Likewise, I need to make sure each button stands out as the type of button it is, without confusion. This is important for color and display purposes, as well as for colorblind players. Relying on just color is a bad idea.

Coming Up

A few extra button types should probably exist, along with a way for me to pick how often these buttons should appear, or how many hits should happen before a button type can start appearing in the game. With the differences in scores from the modes, I definitely need to let players submit their scores to a leaderboard for the mode itself, instead of a single leaderboard for all modes. This will let players compete against players in the same score range. Of course, I also need to validate this score to prevent cheating. I'm still thinking about monetization for the game as well. These questions and more will be addressed and tested over the next couple Dev Logs!