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OddBall Screenshot Saturday #27

11:20 AM December 8, 2012
Today I'm showing a few images for Screenshot Saturday number twenty-seven of OddBall. I've been working on the last few levels of OddBall that encompass a final battle where you must pick a side based on the story that has developed. You see, while OddBall is mostly just a puzzle game, there is still a back story that you learn about as you play.

One of my main goals with OddBall is to make a game that is both easy to pickup for a short 5 minute play session (ideal for many iOS games), but that also has some depth and a bit of a story. Balancing these two things has been an ongoing process. Early on I decided to use an in-game console to display text to the player at the start of every level. But I've always been conscious of the potential to add too much text and bore players uninterested in the story.

Initially I designed the console to support up to 4 "pages" of text that the player can skip through before each level. However, I found that was too much and I knew most players would be annoyed by it. Even though each page could only contain enough text for a couple of sentences, skipping through 4 of these before a level proved tedious. Eventually I decided to cut that down to only 1 page per level (although a few levels still have 2 pages). So as it is now, most levels start with a quick single screen of text that is typed out by your trainer. This can also be skipped of course, with the simple click of a button.
Your trainer is a bit of a character. At first he simply helps you learn how to play the game as you progress. But soon his personality starts to show and you get hints of a deeper story behind the history of the facility (where the game takes place) and the OddBalls. While he continuously nags you to collect Energy Points (the goal of every level is to score all 3 OddBalls in the target, but also to collect as much Energy in the process), he also starts alluding to the details of what's really going on.
Eventually the whole story is uncovered, but as with most stories there are two sides. And at the end of the game you must make a choice and pick a side. Yes, this means there are (at least) two different endings to the game. And it will be easy enough to replay through the last 10 or so levels and see all the endings.

For the last few weeks I've been writing, rewriting and rewriting again all of the story text. Trying to unveil a story that is somewhat interesting, but that is also split across single pages only capable of displaying as much text as a tweet is not easy. How can you convey interesting depth in short 150 character snippets? My experience using Twitter has surely helped with this, but it is still difficult. The last few levels leading up to the final battles are especially difficult because a lot of the story is revealed at this point, and I also need to explain to the player how they must choose a side. On top of that I must explain what that means in terms of how to play the final battle levels. Cramming meaning, story and gameplay explanations into such small snippets has required a lot of tweaks.

While I continue to tweak this in the coming weeks, I will also be working on some of the final pieces of art and of course working on the sound and music engine (the final piece of the puzzle). It's going to be a fun but busy final few weeks :)

OddBall #screenshotsaturday #27

This entry posted by Graham in Velvety Couch Games
Tags: Game Development, OddBalls, ScreenshotSaturday

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