Mega Cat Developer Juice Guide v1.0 (08/23/17)

One of the most important elements of implementing a feature or mechanic is ensuring it looks and feels good for a player to interact with. In this way, as a developer, programming a game to work and meet the functional requirements laid out for you is only part of your responsibility.Improving the look and feel of a game through added programming efforts represents the idea of "juice" to a developer. Developers can " juice" things up by exaggerating, emphasizing, or otherwise drawing extra attention to certain events in the game through various means such as:

  • Spawning added graphical elements
  • Modifying existing graphical elements
  • Implementing Camera/screen effects
  • Adding/modifying sound effects

Impactfulness / Feel

Developers often want a certain element in gameplay element to feel more "’impactful". This refers to adding "weight" and "feel" behind something taking place, such as an enemy or player receiving damage, the player character landing after a long fall, or a missile exploding. To juice something up to feel more impactful, exaggeration and emphasis are your tools to get the job done. For example, when an enemy receives damage, you could do the following to make it feel more impactful to the player:

  • Apply a shake or jitter to the enemy sprite’s position for a brief moment
  • Make the enemy's sprite frame flicker on and off every few frames
  • Knockback to enemy, even if only slightly
  • Particles spawning at the hit location (e.g. blood for a human, nuts & bolts for a robot, etc.)

Simply playing a damage animation for the damaged enemy or player alone is not enough to emphasize the damage.

Where should we focus on impactfulness?

Generally, the activities that the player performs the most should be made to feel the most impactful. For example, in a side-scroller beat-em' -up, the player’s primary focus is on hitting enemies. Therefore, hitting enemies should be the top priority on the list of game elements to juice up, and to make impactful. Here are some general rules for things that a developer should focus on juicing up to feel more impactful:

  • Enemy receiving damage
    • Enemy knockback
    • Enemy position jitter/shake
    • Make the enemy's sprite frame flicker on and off every few frames
    • Particle spawn at hit location
    • Screen shake that is stronger than if the player attacked but missed

Example of enemy position knockback, blood/impact particles at hit location, enemy sprite frame flickering

 

  • Player receiving damage

    • Knockback
      • Be careful, can negatively affect balance or feel depending on context
    • Make the player's sprite frame flicker on and off every few frames
    • Particle spawn
    • Camera shake


Example of player knockback, sprite frame flicker, blood particle spawn

 

  • Enemy attacking
    • Shockwave on impact
    • Quick Sprite shake on impact
    • Dust cloud poof on impact
    • Screen shake if the attack hits the grounds/walls
  • Player attacking

    • Shockwave on impact
    • Quick Sprite shake on impact
    • Dust cloud poof on impact
    • Screen shake
  • Enemy defeat (especially bosses)

    • Explosions if appropriate
      • Make sure to include smoke if so
    • Extra particle spawning similar to receiving e damage
    • Screen shake
      • If it’s a big enemy falling over/exploding

Example of extra particles on Overlord hit, screen shake and chromatic abberration on hit/defeat, and tractor beam movement on enemy death

 

Obtain a powerup or item

 

 

Examples of juices upon powerup pickup

 

  • Obtaining a reward

  • Gaining score

  • Moving a menu selector / confirming menu selection

    • Play sound effect
    • Apply transform/scale/shader animation to selected menu element
    • Change highlighted item's sprite to an alternative one

  • Changing to a new menu screen

    • Have old menu elements fade out or /move off of the screen
    • Have new menu elements fade in or transition in from off screen

Example of menu fadeout and elements moving

 

  • Beginning/exiting a level/stage

    • Transition fade in/out
    • Sound effect
    • Particle effect local to camera
    • Player character animation

Example of transitions, player animation effects

 

Shoot em' up/Run n' gunner juices:

  • Explosion

    • Screen shake

      • Base the amount based on explosion size

    • Smoke clouds which linger and slowly dissipate after the explosion

    • An extremely satisfying explosion sound effect

    • Spawn/despawn lightsource to imitate a flash of light light

      • Quickly doing this creates a flash of light

      • Good for short-lived explosions

  • Projectile/Bullet impact

    • Particles on impact

      • Sparks

      • Broken projectile

      • Etc.

    • Sound effect based upon the surface hit, examples

      • Different sounds for hitting stone

      • Different sounds for hitting dirt

      • Etc.

  • Gunfire

    • Muzzle flash

    • Lightsource spawn for a brief moment on each shot to simulate muzzle flash emitting light

    • Smoke particles drifting up from muzzle during firing

    • Bullet casings or shells falling from the gun on shooting or reloading, appropriately

    • Character knockback while shooting

      • Should be subtle if present at all

      • Could be significant for very slow and powerful weapons

 

 

 

 

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