Game evolution

by mediocregames

After deciding to drop the tilt idea and focus on spraying water instead, Henrik drew a red little squirt balloon that stayed with us for several months. A real challenge was how to control the thing. We knew we wanted it to move up and down and some way of adjusting the angle. I honestly think we tried every combination of touch interfaces there is to control the squirter before deciding of the current one. It took a good while for us to come up with the red sprinkle button, so for a long time you could only spray water by pointing a direction on the screen. Some people liked that, but it didn’t give you much precision as you couldn’t aim without spraying, and you couldn’t spray without covering the screen with your hand. The current control scheme isn’t ideal for everybody at first, but given a few minutes practice, most people feel right at home.

The red balloon squirter was with us for a long time. Do you recognize the level? Yes, it's an early version of 3-12! One of the oldest level designs in the game, and still one of the hardest to master...

Another pressing issue we had was the limit on how much fluid could be simulated on the screen. This is just a hardware limitation, as compute power is finite, but it did affect gameplay in a very obvious way. Either there needed to be a finite amount of fluid, or the simulation would run slower and slower. None of them seemed very appealing, and we struggled hard to create fun levels with only 600 particles. To put that in perspective – 600 particles is equivalent to spraying for about four seconds. Being that restrictive with water simply wasn’t any fun!

To work around the problem we put a lifetime on each water particle, and simply removed it when time ran out, then it could be recycled and sprayed out again. This gave the illusion of an unlimited amount of fluid, while in fact only allowing four seconds of water on screen at the same time. If you look carefully in the game you’ll see that the fluid doesn’t pool up forever, but dissolves over time as if absorbed by the ground. This was the big turning point for the game and for level design! Finally we could make interesting levels and the game mechanic was actually fun to play!

Henrik sent me this level as a christmas gift. It never made it into the game, but I still like it a lot!

After getting the core game mechanic in place, we turned to replacing the squirter. We had this idea with small characters, but we didn’t really know how to use them, and we didn’t have a backstory at all. There were many different designs for the water spraying device, including this peculiar one:

I have no idea how this thing would work, I'm just glad it died.

Evolution of a fire truck

At this point we didn’t have any animation in the levels, so everything was mechanical constructions. Many of the levels on World 2 of Sprinkle was born around this time. Level design is a really tricky task. At first, we both did some attempts, but over time Henrik took over this task completely.

The windmill is another early level design, now found in Sprinkle as level 2-4.

 

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