Anthropomorphic environment?

I’ve been wondering whether I should make the game’s environment more anthropomorphic, i.e. add faces (and possibly some capability for action) to ‘alive’ parts of the environment.  This might act as an extra nudge towards the game’s conservationist message and provides a more immediate feedback loop for the environmental message.

As an example, all trees would have a face.   Maybe they’re always asleep to start with?  Nearby noises wake them and they then look at activity.  Innocuous things mean they eventually go back to sleep.  Worrying things like fires get them worried.  Catching on fire causes them to make terrified faces (and maybe little blowing motions)?  Having the fire put out causes them to make a relieved (re-leaved? 😛 ) face.

A non-obvious ‘live’ thing could also be fire!  An evil cheeky face on each one — with the fire graphic switched from the semi-real it is now to a cartoon style?  Even less sure about this part.  Guess I’ll have to see (a) whether can come up with a suitable look and (b) how it feels?  I’ve mostly finished the fire’s code now so don’t really want to change it from spreading in the natural-sort of way it does.

Anyway, I haven’t fully decided yet.  As always, all thoughts welcome!

p.s. Attached picture was while looking after kids.  Whaddya think?  Trees might be a bit ‘red neck’ with their big foliage-like moustaches? :-{D

Idea: Analogue trigger pull rate could affect shot scale?

I just had an idea for my weapon charging control:

Make the controller’s analogue trigger more viscerally control the shot scale (e.g. the snowball size)!

As background, I should explain a few things.

In Snowman Scuffle one can fire different sized shots which do different amounts of damage.  Some, like the snowball, act slightly differently — it rolls when above 70% of maximum size and, when rolling on snow, will get larger just like a snowman.

At the moment that’s controlled by how long the player holds the trigger down for.  Tuning that “time to fully charge” was a pain but I think it’s about right now — around 1 second to fully charge.

The 2 failings of this approach are:

  1. Few players notice this facility until it is pointed out.
    By pointed-out, I mean during the game — it’s mentioned in the start-of-setup overlay GUI showing the controller but that isn’t enough.  That GUI probably shouldn’t be dismissed until all players have pressed a button to do so… but regardless, I still doubt many players will remember it later if it is only mentioned there.
    At the moment, the game doesn’t have any of the important 3 teachers:

    1. a solo campaign (where controls and skills could be mastered).
    2. an in-game reminder system (which could pop-up a little bubble if a players isn’t sufficiently using a certain feature of the game).
    3. a control-teaching multi-player arena (where the match doesn’t start until all players have used each important feature at least once).
  2. It lacks visceral appeal.  By this I mean that holding a button doesn’t physically relate to rolling a snowball.
    If the control for a game feature can somehow ‘feel’ more like that feature, it ought to add to the ease of use and engagement.  Some obvious examples are digital and analogue joysticks mapping to digital and analogue movement, the track-ball for Missile Command, the quick swiping for Fruit Ninja and the swinging for Wii Sports Tennis.

(It has also been questioned why keep the shot/snowball charging — whether anyone uses it.  I highlight that this is part of the Mastery fun for the game — a master player doesn’t button mash but charges a shot and unleashes it when the aim is right.  I use this a lot and find it much more satisfying.  I worried I was mistaken until, at one play-testing event, I saw a 13 year old boy wipe the floor with all players including myself — this was one of his techniques.)

So, on to the idea!

On controllers that have an analogue trigger (most of them do), use it!

The triggers aren’t a boolean on/off — instead they’re a continuous value (e.g. 0.0 -> 0.2 -> 0.65 -> 1.0).  If it could be done, I wonder how it would feel to have the rate that one pulls the trigger be inversely proportional to snowball size?  I.e. quick pull = small snowball, slow pull = large snowball.
An extra part which probably wouldn’t help the ‘fun’ could be how the release curve affects the throw (e.g. elevation is inversely proportional to release rate, i.e. quick release = straight throw, slow release = lob).  As I said, probably overly complicated.  The reason I consider it is because previously some players have complained that up-and-down aren’t controllable.  The flip side is that most ignore up-and-down and expect Doom-like aiming — if a target is in-front of you, your shot should connect.  It was to satisfy this wish that I implemented the aim-assist facility.  See [THIS OTHER POST I HAVEN’T FINISHED YET] regarding the feedback on that.  Anyway, back to analogue triggers…

The risk of this idea is that it’s ‘too much’ — all this might be fun in something like a Wii game but, in the middle of a quick-fire fight, remembering to slowly pull the trigger is hard and judging how quickly to release it is impossible.

What do you think?