Getting the water flowing

by mediocregames

Determined to make the fluid labyrinth, I implemented a 2D fluid simulator based on work I had previously done for 3D simulation and high-end machines. Here’s a short clip from the 3D version of the fluid simluation:

Adapting the code to run on iPad required starting over from scratch. Even though the iPad is a powerful machine, it doesn’t compare to a quad-core desktop PC (yet!). So performance was an issue, not only in the beginning but throughout the entire project. This is partly because we’re really old-school when it comes to frame rate and wouldn’t release anything that runs at less than 60 frames per second. Especially for a game based on liquid it’s particularly important that the game is flowing.

Henrik created a couple of concept images for the fluid labyrinth based on photographic realism. Beautiful, but pretty far from today’s Sprinkle right?

For level design, we made a PC version so that we could draw polygons with the mouse and using keyboard shortcuts for input. This is a video of a very early version of the fluid labyrinth that I saved on my iPad. I remember showing it to a couple of friends at a restaurant and the initial comment was “What’s that? The water looks really ugly!”. In retrospect I think they were right, but the fluid simulation is actually very close to what is being used in Sprinkle today, just with lots of added shaders and eye candy:

The fluid labyrinth had two fundamental problems:

A) It was really hard to design challenging puzzles.
B) It wasn’t fun!

The main problem with A was that we allowed tilt in all directions. To circumvent this we disabled upwards tilt, but then it felt unnatural that the fluid didn’t fully respond to the device motion. B was of course an even bigger problem. We tried this on a lot of people and got an occasional eyebrow, but never that Wow!┬áresponse we were looking for.

We tried some variations of the labyrinth with a gold fish named Lipsy, swimming around in the water. Your goal was to slosh Lipsy around by tilting the device and get her back to the fish bowl while at the same time keeping her in the water. Do I need to mention this was a terrible idea? Here is Lipsy:

Lipsy

Lipsy

This is where we gave up on the labyrinth and the idea of spraying water entered our minds. Next post will be on the early versions of Sprinkle as we know it!