In the first two parts of this series journaling the production of Ollie and Flip we covered the concept and prototyping phase and into user testing and production. In this article we’ll cover how we refined the look and feel of the game and what features we cut along the way to improve the quality of the game and meet our self-imposed release deadlines.
Updates to Character Designs
Not surprisingly, the characters were one of the bits of art design we worked on the most. There was a lot of iterations to nail down not only their proportions/design but also their color palette and fur patterns.
Part of the design process was to make sure both Ollie and Flip looked correct as 2D cartoons and 3D characters.
I ended up creating over 25 individual animation clips for the character movements.
Although we knew Flip was our second title character, it wasn't until late in the process that we finally implemented him in-game.
Flip shares Ollie's rig and animations but is mirror flipped (get it?) horizontally. We didn’t plan on the mirror flip from the beginning, it was just one of those things when laying with Unity that I realized we could get some nice variety with something as simple as scaling the parent object of the avatar to -1 on the X axis. We also had to set certain animations differently to look correct.
Better Image Tiling
At some point during development I had to make a big pass on texture reduction after using Unity’s profiler to analyze our memory usage. I finally started to get better at using image tiling and began to share the same images across a lot of game assets. I was also able to import the tiling textures at large resolutions then use Unity’s asset import settings to shrink the images down and play around with compression settings until we had a good ratio of file size to image quality.
Here's an example of various prefabs sharing the same rock/snow repeating pattern.
Glenn spent a lot of time trying to create a good system for resetting the game world after the player dying. Eventually he created a checkpoint system that would save the state of the world and that would be clear to the user.
A test I did with the physics engine ended up being a great object for easy and tutorial levels. These fences could be used in places where we wanted to teach a player how to avoid hazards without fear of losing a life or restarting from a checkpoint.
Trails was a feature we wanted from the very beginning but I finally got around to implementing it late into the dev cycle.
Polishing the Art Style
The look of the world finally started to come together. Those spooky trees added some nice variety to the world but they eventually had to be cut for performance issues on mobile devices.
Snow powder FX
We did various tests but ultimately used the built-in particle system in Unity with enough tweaks to look good and still run well on mobile devices.
Glenn implemented this feature fairly early in the process and improved it over time. It gives sections and levels of the game a good bit of gameplay variety.
Some features also didn't make the final game. I had created these moving snail enemies but we ultimately cut them since their implementation needed more work and we weren't sure if snails made sense for the world we were creating.
Although I ended up creating a lot of placeable object assets certain ones didn't make the final cut. They are likely to show up in future level packs.
To Be Continued
Stay tuned for part 4 where we’ll cover studio identity and release!