close call gameplay

I made a game for TriJam 129 where the player would search a pile of items for a specific item specified to them via a reference image on the edge of the screen. The theme was "You have to look for it". Sometimes it is necessary to move other items out of the way in order to uncover the one you are looking for. There are a handful of objects using the same color schemes, shapes, designs, and object types/categories. As the player moves through the levels, they become more difficult by increasing the number of items populating the screen as well as the possible item lists. Early on in the game, you would likely have a handful of items that are easy to differentiate and as time goes on the items become more dense in volume and start to look more and more similar. It was a fun game to make, and one of my first implementations, in a personal project, of Scriptable Objects to hold game data.

As mentioned above, earlier on in the game it is supposed to be easier to distinguish items from one another. I built a few different item table scriptable objects for the possibilities of what would spawn in each difficulty. The scriptable object would control the number of items that would spawn in as well as contain the list of possible items to spawn. This allowed me to be able to have control over not only how densely the screen would be covered in items, but having control over what items could spawn I was open to create levels in which were only populated by yellow items, or blue items, or circular items, etc. Having this level of control allowed me to build, what I believed to be, an interesting and smooth progression in difficulty over the course of the game.

close call gameplay
close call gameplay

As the game gets more difficult, the screen is aptly busied up quite a bit! The possibility of using a single color on the more populated levels is thrown right out the window due to not having enough items of the same color. But I believe that the game can be just as hard if not harder when the items are so plentiful that they begin overlapping one another. This is where the ability to move items around comes in handy! By clicking and dragging an item you can move it around and therefore, out of your way.

What I Would Change: A Post Mortem

Looking back at this project, I would have liked to have implemented a post-round screen or popup. Something that shows the user the correct item with some fun particle effects glowing around it, a duration in which it took them to complete, give the user a "proceed" button to click for when they are ready to move on, etc. It would also have been nice to have included user-facing difficulty "modes". As I mentioned above, the difficulty is built into the progression of the game, but it would be nice for returning players to be able to jump right in at the hardest difficulty if they desired. Or even, for younger players, set it to repeat the easier or mid-tier difficulty levels.

I learned that the shader I was using for object detection (rather than using physics colliders) wouldn't work in a WebGL build after I built the game for WebGL mere hours before submission time. I wanted to use this shader so that I could take advantage of as tight of a collision as possible! Without being able to detect objects, no you wouldn't be able to select the target item, drag items around, etc. So I had to submit my game as a Windows build if I wanted anyone to be able to play it. You live and you learn!