Tappy Lander Dev Diary #4: Control

I love the mechanics of lander games and the fun, to me, is maneuvering your rocket through a series of subtle movements into a good position and a soft landing. It’s difficult but rewarding.

Traditionally these types of games had a variety of buttons: rotate, left, rotate right, thrust, etc.

Image

However, on the target devices I have one button, the touch screen; and I refuse to clutter the screen with complex controls just so it plays exactly like the originals (see my last post about UI.)

In order to simplify, I ask my favorite question: “What makes it fun?” and my cat looks at me like “Who are you talking to?!”

What I came up with…

  • Gravity – yes, still fun after all these years!
  • Rotating – a little frustrating to manage and even time consuming
  • Thrusting – absolutely, compensating for a force like gravity or your last thrust, in order to change direction, is fun.
  • Managing fuel – no way, maybe its just me, but I don’t like time limits. I don’t want to tell a player “You know this fun little playground I made?, well you can only play here for THIS long.”
  • Avoiding an obstacle or flying to collect an object – yes! an opportunity to test your flying skill.
  • Landing – yes, slow down and center yourself over the target for a soft, safe landing.

The Redesign

I immediately wanted to remove the fuel consumption issue. This is in essence, a time limit. It makes sense for quarter munching coin-ops, but doesn’t in a free mobile game. The gameplay is not made more fun by adding a time limit and removing it allows you to focus on manuvering even if you need to take your time.

Most classic gravity and lander games allow you to rotate your ship so that you can thrust in any direction. Again, this is something that I felt I could remove. With a simple up, left or right control scheme, I can move in any direction by timing my taps (except down, and gravity takes care of that.)

A Prototype

The prototype allowed me full control over my ship and maintained the fun of using your skill and instinct to manage the physics of flying through space. It was fun but simple; easier for general audiences to pick up and play but very challenging at the same time.

…and so I moved ahead with development! The next post will be about game physics.

Thanks for reading and be sure to like and follow Tappy Lander on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates.

 

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Tappy Lander Dev Diary #1: The Name

After deciding to try something new, I have named our new game Tappy Lander!

Tappy Lander!

Tappy Lander!

I went with Tappy Lander! because it sounds fun to me and it’s descriptive of the game’s content without being boring. In the game you will tap the controls to land your rocket on the target (trying not to explode in the process.) The name is actually informative in that tapping is a better strategy than holding the buttons because of the precision of the physics-but I’ll talk about that in another post.

Other factors that went into naming the game:

  • We are targeting phones as the primary game platform. I’m very particular about little details and it bugs me when the words under the icon on my phone have a “…” appended to the text. Best case scenario, the title in its entirety is completely visible and “Tappy Lander” as well as “Tappy Lander!”  fits.
  • This game falls under the “lander” genre of games, the first of which is Lunar Lander (1979 Atari coin-op)
  • If I’m being completely honest, “Tappy” was inspired by “Flappy”. It was Flappy Bird that inspired us to try quick, simple projects and  I’m having so much fun developing this game. No apologies!

The next post will probably be about influences.

Thanks for reading and be sure to like and follow Tappy Lander on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates.

 

 

Trying Something New

Mike and I have been making kids apps as Eggroll Games since November of 2011. But this year, inspired by the success of a certain Flappy game, we both decided to make a quick, simple project.

I told Mike the day we made this decision that I had always wanted to make a lander game, so…

This is the first sketch I drew of the lander game.

Concept Sketch

This is the first sketch I drew of the lander game. It shows the control panel (which hasn’t changed much) and a rocket landing on an elevated platform with jagged, outer-space mountains in the background.

Thanks for reading and be sure to like and follow Tappy Lander on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates.