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  • DunkRatz Design Blog: Path To The Cheese Cannon

    - Ozzie Smith

  • Iteration 7: The arcs

    The forcefield spawns were neat, but we realized that the real problem was just not knowing where the cheese ball would spawn. It also made the bumpers completely useless (we even took them out for a bit), as what's the point of hitting a bumper that will spawn something totally randomly with no benefit to being the one who spawned it? We went back to 2 bumpers and showing where the ball would spawn, but now they move in arcs.

    Final iteration: The cheese cannons

    We went back and forth for a bit between keeping the forcefields or not, but eventually decided that they broke the flow a little too much. Our design philosophy that we inevitably went back to again and again was "let them dunk." The final iteration uses the arcs, but the ball lands with a big explosion that pushes everything back. This lets players still try to catch the ball right when it lands but punishes them for missing their timing. An added benefit of the explosion is that it acts like a big hit in a game of billiards and sorta "breaks up the board" so to speak, and it's just really fun to see.

    Other final adjustments include adding a "cheese timer" that automatically picks one of the 2 cannons at random to fire after 8 seconds if neither cannon is activated by the players. And once we decided to replace the "bumpers" with refrigerators we had a new set of art readability problems as players didn't understand that they were supposed to hit them. Many art passes gave us the final version where the refrigerator light up and glow just like the special item cabinets in the game. We even added in big GUI pop-ups that say "touch for cheese" with an arrow pointing to the fridges. Admittedly it's sort of lazy and messy, but nonetheless it's pretty effective and doesn't get in the way of the play-area.


    Give yourself time to design around unknown unknowns. DunkRatz was made as a part-time side project. We had no deadline, so we had plenty of time to iterate on solutions. But I had no idea we would end up spending â..." of the development time still testing out solutions for such a simple problem. The simple mechanic of having moveable goals completely changed the way that a staple mechanic of the genre worked for the game.

    It's fun to experiment, but new solutions can give you new problems that can distract you from the original problem. Part of what took us so long to figure it out is that we kept trying to fix new problems caused by previous solutions. The forcefields were cool, but we only invented them to try to fix a problem of an imperfect solution. We wanted to use bumpers to keep the pace of the game up and keep the flow going, but instead of focusing on that we kept slowing the game down because we were worried about it being too random or unfair. Once we embraced the "let them dunk" mentality, it became obvious which solutions worked best.

    DunkRatz is available on Steam now! Watch our trailer here. Thanks for reading!


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