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Archive for March, 2012

In the last couple of weeks or so, the improvements made behind the scenes have taken a while longer than I had anticipated to get working properly and be fully integrated, so the schedule has been pushed back a bit.

However, I’m still making progress, so it shouldn’t be too long now…

Oh, and with Apple increasing the OTA limit from 20MB to 50MB, I’ve also been able to upgrade the iPhone graphics to retina resolution.

Here’s the gang, all ready and waiting to get the tracking competition under way…

 

Animal Trackers - ready and waiting

 

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Easy mode

I’ve now added a number of ‘easy’ mode versions to the later levels of Animal Trackers. Hopefully, this will enable those players who have become stuck on a level in medium mode to complete the level and move on to the next one.

For the most part, the easy mode levels have the same layout as the medium / hard mode levels with a few tweaks here and there to reduce the distance between broken trails, to simplify the puzzles, and to increase the time limit in which to complete the level.

However, in order to not make things too easy when going back up to medium and hard mode, I’ve often subtly rearranged the levels in some way so that all the medium and hard mode’s secrets aren’t revealed when playing in easy mode.

As a result, I ended up doing more work creating these easy levels than I had originally anticipated, but in the end, all these tweaks should make Animal Trackers a more rounded game.

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Animal Trackers used to have just one difficulty mode, where each level had to be given a long time limit to cater for slower players, such as young children. The score (and number of stars) achieved was based on how much time was left once the quarry was caught.

One problem with this was that for casual and hard-core gamers, completing most levels provided little challenge and allowed the player to breeze through the levels without too much thought, whilst on more complex levels, young children would not be able to finish the levels at all, no matter how much time (within reason) they were given.

To counter these problems, I split the game into three difficulty modes, each having its own time limit, and later added the facility to have special ‘easy mode’ versions of the more complex levels, which had the harder parts ‘softened’.

I also changed the scoring system so that rather than having the range 0 ~ 799 for easy mode, 0 ~ 999 for medium, and 0 ~ 1000+ for hard, they now have the ranges 0 ~ 400+ for easy, 400 ~ 700+ for medium, and 700 ~ 1000+ for hard.

As a result, though, this meant that I had to change the way that stars are awarded, so that it’s no longer based on the score achieved, but rather which difficulty mode is being played.

So, if the player finishes the level in easy mode, one star is awarded, no matter how much time is left. Similarly, finishing the level in medium mode awards two stars, and in hard mode, three stars.

Also, I’ve made collecting the egg exclusive to hard mode. (Well, the achievement is called ‘eggspert’ after all… ;o)

Collecting it used to replace the countdown timer with just enough time for the tracker to make a beeline to the quarry, which meant that as much of the trail as possible had to be discovered before the egg was picked up.

But in practice, with the long time limits, this mostly ended up with the tracker finding 99% of the trail, running straight to the egg and running straight back to the quarry to complete the level. As an experience, it fell kinda flat.

So, I’ve now replaced that with ‘inline’ collecting, so that picking up the egg adds just enough time to make up for the time lost due to diverging from the trail. It also awards the player with 100 points, so as well as enticing players who want to increase their ‘eggspert’ tally, it will now also entice those players who want a higher score.

Naturally, all these changes mean another round of tweaking and playtesting all the levels (and the extra delay that incurs), but if the gameplay will be improved as a result (which I think it will), it’ll be worth it.

 

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