Last weekend we went ahead and worked on our final update of our first game Snavi. Snavi has been out for beta testing on iOS and Android for about 7 months now, and since then dozens of people have played the game (ranging from hardcore gamers to super casual peeps that never play a single game). We've gotten some awesome feedback!
The final update of Snavi addresses the following:
There was no music in the original release, and the feedback was clear. People have stated it would be nice to have music in this game! I didn't expect this, due to the nature of the game. Most of the times when I play casual puzzle games on my phone, I usually do so without sound on. Perhaps this was a personal preference, but apparently there are more people in the world than just myself and I need to account for them :-) We will be adding some chill music to this release. I've gone around looking for royalty and royalty-free music on the web. I could compose my own, but at this point we are prioritizing getting a production-ready game out the door as soon as possible, and my composition skills are a bit rusty.
The original Snavi beta release (actually called "Snavity") had a linear progression of levels. For each major world/region in the game, we introduce 1-2 new puzzle elements. Initially we tried to have the difficulty ramp like this:
The game is composed of 7 "worlds" of 15 levels each. Each world adds a new puzzle element/mechanism. In each world, the first 5 levels introduce new mechanic. The next 5 levels introduce another new mechanic. The last next 5 levels of a world are combination of those mechanics and all mechanics that came before, and get progressively harder in difficulty. This repeats for each world.
This had a few downsides. The first was that players must proceed through all 15 levels linearly to get to the next world. Since the levels get harder in each world, the player may not even get to see the next world's game mechanic which adds spice/variety to the game and should motivate them to keep going. Instead they just decide to quite right there. The other downside is there isn't really a way to make levels "optional".
So the requirements we wanted were:
1) Each world gets progressively harder.
2) The hardest levels in each world are optional.
3) A visual way to show the player the levels are optional.
4) Some mechanism to "force" the player to play at least some of the optional/hard levels before they are able to finish the game.
There wasn't really a visual way to show this feature to the player, so we originally punted and just left the linear mechanic in there.
Well.... apparently the game is harder than we thought, and players weren't even getting to some of the cooler mechanics because they were stuck on really early worlds and gave up the game.
So we decided to solve it with a ... *drum roll* ... world map!
The first version world map looked like this:
Not very exciting, just a linear selection of cards/levels (although I put in a lot of work to get that card swipe to feel "good", and I was proud of it considering the version of Unity I was using had a known bug where scroll rects on mobile were super slow and I had to some crazy hacks for optimization on mobile). To show optional levels, we would have to force the player to exit the levels when they completed the "basic" levels, then scroll to next world. Or if the game placed them on the next world automatically, they wouldn't think to swipe to see the "optional" levels that came before it.
With a world map, the player can visually see that they have choices - once they get to branch spot, they can continue to new region with new mechanics, or continue to harder levels of the same variety in the same region.
The new version looks like this:
Which allows us to mark all our check boxes for requirements for what we wanted to show the player, and I think will look much better over all!
To encourage players to play at least some of the harder levels in the game, we added a gate to the final levels. Performing a full completion of a single world will give you a key. To beat the game and get to the last world of the game, you will need at least a few keys. This way players can't simply coast to the end without playing some of the harder levels of the game, if they want to beat it.
A few players reported that the spikes were confusing since they visually protruded from the walls a bit further than cell borders. While you only die if you fall on a spike or walk over it, some players found that initially they were nervous to "graze" when they walked by as they weren't sure what would happen.
To address this, we will be moving the spikes a bit inward and the points will be flush with the cell boundaries.
This is one of those details I wouldn't have realized without player feedback. In general, it seems more casual games or non-gamers gave this feedback more than hardcore gamers. Other games have the same kind of "protruding" spike, and the more of these games I play I just got "used" to it. So it probably has become second nature to expect this type of thing.
This is how spikes looked before:
After pulling them in a bit, and adding some border around them, this is what they look like now:
This more accurately shows that the spikes are in the ground, and will only hurt if you step on them.
That's it for the major changes. We look forward to presenting more details soon when we release the final Snavity Game :-D
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