The Burger Game - Dev Blog #003 : The Environment
While developing The Burger Game, there was an intended atmosphere that had yet to be unveiled. Though the gameplay mechanics and systems were in place, there was a somewhat lonely emptiness to the gameplay experience. I thought, "Sure, you may be the grill master, but who were you trying to impress?"
Thinking back to my experiences as a grill chef, I remembered being complimented by customers for my hardwork; and that making it worth the effort. I took this experience and converted it into customer dialogue windows within the game, making the overall experience feel more alive and worth the effort. Of course I didn't want to overly praise the player, so I crafted personalities within the game's context.
Taking from my real-life experiences, I wanted to create a semi-realistic perception of the player. The player's only means of communication is through their randomly generated responses to customer dialogue. Instead of choosing the standard "Yes, sir!" and "Sorry, sir!", I decided to give the player a more sarcastic, relatable persona. I felt that this was a more expressive approach and communicates a feeling of being too busy to socialize.
In the beginning, the customers only existed to complain about their orders- but I felt this lacked immersion and would be perceived entirely as a nuisance. Instead, I decided to create bizarre personas for the customers that would shape the game's environment. After completing the first shift, there was a percentage-based chance that a randomly chosen conversation would be triggered.
Mechanic-wise, these were intended to distract and hinder the player, but by adding bizarre personas, they instead became exciting, as each conversation felt like fresh content to be unlocked. The conversations would be based on scenarios such as a customer's car being stolen, the store being robbed, or even customers wanting to record you for social media. These playful personalities combined with the player's sarcastic demeanor created a non-serious environment in which the player feels as if they are in fact important and that their actions have purpose- or at least more purpose than those around them.
It took little thought when designing the audio, as I knew exactly what experience I wanted to convey through the music and sound effects. When composing the soundtrack, I used friendly, upbeat melodies combined with steady, easy-to-follow rhythms and percussion. The melodies are meant to make the player feel at home, as if they were returning to a day job they're comfortable and familiar with. The percussion on the other hand, is meant to have an almost marching feeling, lulling the player into a sense of rhythmic muscle memory and repeated processes- similar to the sound of workers repeating their processes in unison.
As for the sound effects, I designed a specific balance between hard-hitting and soft and simmering. When smashing patties and sending out orders, I used louder, bass-heavy sounds to convey responsiveness to the player actions. Most other sounds in the game, such as the sizzling and spatula sounds are much more soft and relaxing, but are still appropriately responsive. Overall I chose very musical and percussive sounds that, if played to a rhythm, could be mistaken for a pleasant beat.