19 Jun How should a swipe feel?
In game design and design in general I find that starting with an emotion works best. With Sky Pets I wanted to bring the happiness and wonder one has when flying freely, the thrill when you edge along the cliff as you speed down into the darkness of caves, and the surprise as you explore through the sky to find hidden secrets. From these feelings we get a theme and an experience with our presentation but how do we express ourselves with the interaction?
In order to get the appropriate feeling we looked at Sky Cat, Sky Pets predecessor, which was first released on Xbox Live Indie Games during the Summer of 2011. It featured on our beloved mascot Rusty the Cat falling through an endless sky with an onslaught of red blocks. It was a simple idea and a simple game but it laid the foundation of what Sky Pets is and will become. The controls were simple, move left, right, and dive. Since we wanted to convey the feeling of falling through the sky we wanted to have a slightly floaty control scheme that you were still able to control easily and skillfully. To achieve this it used a velocity based control scheme to push Rusty through the sky. If you tilted the analog stick Rusty would begin to float that direction until he either hit the wall or you would move him back the other way. Although simple it conveyed what we wanted enough for this first sky adventure.
Where do you go from there? How do you make it better? In Sky Pets we are working with touch based devices which respond smoothly to the swipes both big and small that we demand from our players. To provide the feelings we wanted to convey we worked hard to fine tune the control system to be easy to use and intuitive. Just swipe to push your pet through the skies. We designed it so that the power of the swipe, whether it be small or massive, affects the pet the way you expect it to. See an obstacle right in front of you? Make a big swipe to powerfully and gracefully move out of the way to continue on. Need a bit more fine tune control? Then just do a tight and smooth swipe and your pet will follow suit.
We also wanted to bring in more control with this scheme. In Sky Cat you didn’t have anyway to slow down. In Sky Pets if you swipe up and keep your finger down your pet will flap its arms til it grows tired or you lift your finger. This is especially helpful during tricky situations. We also brought back the dive which is activated by swiping down and keeping your finger down. It’s a little harder to control but the speed boost is substantial especially during multiplayer races. To make sure that everyone can find their perfect feeling with the control scheme we also added in a sensitivity setting. This allows you to fine tune the controls so you can sink into them whether it be for a few minutes or multiple hours.
We’re finding that the touch control scheme of the mobile devices are very fun and great to use while giving us the feeling that we wanted to convey. The controls feel so great that we begun using the word “swipetastic” to describe it! We hope you’ll enjoy the feeling it provides.
If you do want to try out Sky Pets we will be demoing our latest build this upcoming weekend June 21st – 23rd at the Albuquerque Comic Expo at the ridiculously awesome Gamers Anonymous booth. If you are in the area we would like you to come create your own pet, try the game with our swipetastic controls, and talk to us about Sky Pets.