ZuZuZu started with a joke. One day just for fun Gennady Ovcharenko and I started to search various situations which could become a background for a game. However, the more serious each new background was – the more comic game appeared. Shooting flies with shoes and destroying everything around became the most laconic and cheerful option. Back then it was not supposed that it could turn into a full-scale game, we simply decided to create mechanics and make a draft logo – just to “share our smile” with everyone (like it’s sung in one old cartoon).
Mechanics inspired by the fly flying around the pot just a split second before the shoe hit.
Then I met Egor Gavrilov. He did academic drawing in our workshop while preparing to enter the institute. Egor got interested in generation of flies’ trajectories and I was very glad to discover him as a like-minded and interesting person. We went together throughout the whole development process. There were no troubles with the game engine selection as Unity had already shown itself to good advantage when Your Station – our first game – had been developed.
From the very beginning it was clear that ZuZuZu could not be a “crusher” where the user just taps directly on the fly to shoot it. We needed a shoe flight, dramatic, with curve and spin. That was the only way to deliver the required sense of “hunt”. The code of flies’ movement along smooth random trajectory is not difficult, but on the other hand it’s completely unpredictable which doesn’t allow aiming and makes the player rely solely on a chance. And that’s not so exciting. The player should feel the dependence between his or her actions and the result. It was necessary to create mechanics which could be predicted by the user with a definite percent of probability. And this percent would control the difficulty level.
Switch from 3D flight to a “flat” flight excluded the necessity of target distance calculation (that was too difficult especially at the small-screen devices) as well as allowed avoiding the complicated algorithms of interaction between flies and objects. Change of a random curve to the one comprised of circular sections gave the opportunity to predict the fly’s position in a few moments and aim there exactly.
This is a list with our first calculation of the generator of fly’s trajectory by circular sections.
Despite these changes the process was still unclear from the very beginning – the testers instinctively tapped right on the flies and they evaded while the shoe flew. Everything became clear when Aunt Avgustina’s briefing appeared before the game start.
Couple of words about the process of destroying everything around. Unity has a good physical engine which solved the most part of the tasks for us, but we still added something by ourselves. The objects hit by the shoe become physically active for a few seconds and then harden again. Thus, there are spare resources for increase of shoe shooting frequency and simultaneous destruction in several places. Objects that shouldn’t be destroyed with a single hit has several animations of trembling and staggering. Combination of physics and animation allowed highlighting the special features of the objects and saving the individuality of each gameplay.
After the first prototype has been published, it has become clear that the idea is really funny and is capable of becoming a full-scale game. We started to work hard.
How the N town appeared.
We needed to come up with the rooms to destroy and with their looks. The list was compiled rather quickly:
- First, let’s crush the kitchen, then the living room, then something else.
- Let’s have a picture gallery and a paleontological museum as well!
- Okay and we also need to monumentalize our art workshop…
And so on… We let loose to our fantasy. Later we managed to connect all of this into a simple storyline, which brought us an understanding of which characters and locations we would need. An idea of using the workshop we all knew was caught fancy by many students and that inspired us to search “classic” recognizable characters for the other rooms as well. Here we utilized the legacy of “equality and brotherhood” of the Soviet era. Interiors of 70s and 80s were quite alike and familiar to many people; besides, some of these still remain somewhere.
At this stage an intensive 3D modelling and texturing started. Initially all rooms and characters were sketched by Gennady Ovcharenko. The images of old apartments can often bring only depression, but Gennady Ovcharenko succeeded to add humor and fun which integrated ideally into the overall emotional background of the game. Only Innokentii had been created earlier and had been moved to ZuZuZu from Your Station. He only had to get the third dimension for that.
We created room by room trying to expose the character and beauty of each object. In the result, we got quite a huge 3D library: eight sculptures, three skeletons (two humans and one mammoth), 14 bras, 10 pictures, 56 closets, chairs, tables, sofas, armchairs, shelves, 67 types of bottles and cans, 5 dinosaurs (one of them is alive) and plenty of other stuff. Part of these things were later used as tasks for our students at 3D modeling lessons. Only one texture was drawn for each room which resulted in decrease of Draw Calls. Alexander Karuzov, 2D and 3D designer, came to help us out in game graphic design. Our team grew and things got faster. Need to mention that working in a team united with common goal – is an unforgettable experience and I wish everyone had it.
Studying how to work with Unity Editor helped us to make the rooms “alive” by adding physical characteristics and animation to each object separately. For a good while we needed to tell each book and each pencil how to behave. “Hey you, can! You are fragile and relatively light so when you’re hit – fall at once and after flying more than half of a meter just break with a 90% probability. Low-polygon cukes and yellow-green brine should fall out from the inside. And you, table, are quite heavy so stay in the corner, tremble, rise dust and stand against the shoe hail”. Such telling would take weeks unless we wrote a script in editor and created the buttons of automatic assignment of given features.
To beat or not to beat…
The menu of ZuZuZu should unite all the rooms together. First, we considered making houses in section but then we decided that flying over the city and getting in the rooms through windows would be more “fly-like”. Shelves in lower and upper parts of the screen are full of options and interesting stuff. Different game modes, flies collection, selection of shoes, medals and so on – all of this allow the gamer to set different goals and to stay involved till the 30th level. Finished the storyline? – collect all flies. Collected all flies and unlocked all shoes? – become a grandmaster and get bonus shoes. Grandmaster already? – Have you won the daily competition? Have you got ahead of the Local Policeman in the results table? ... And the algorithm of the Local Policeman won’t allow you to get the honorable first place easily. Each resident of N shoots flies from time to time and strives to overcome the champion.
Generally, the functional of the game became very extensive for something which started as a joke. It has Game Center, iCloud, built-in purchases, recommended games downloadable from the server. We just couldn’t stop. We wanted to try more and more new functions, solve complex tasks and get the game into the best shape. Maybe that was our perfectionism instilled by the Moscow Architectural Institute – by the way all our team studied or still studying there.
At the moment of this article, ZuZuZu is completed and has been available in App Store and Google Play for several days. Now people all over the world will judge if we were right or not – and this judgement will be fair. I look back to all the work we’ve done with joy and deep emotional satisfaction. Game development is such a complex and sometimes unpredictable process that it can make each day unlike the others and fill one’s life with colors. And I love it