The Burger Game - Dev Blog #001 : The Spatula
When designing the player interactions for The Burger Game, I knew from the beginning that I wanted the movement and interactions to feel exceptionally smooth and satisfying. The spatula, being the first and most important interactable object in the game, needed to be especially satisfying to interact with.
In the first prototype, the spatula was moved to the exact position of where the player dragged their finger (or cursor) when pressed. While this accomplished the goal of movement, it felt very rigid, choppy, and not quite as satisfying as I would expect from a mobile game. To resolve this, I instead coded the spatula to move towards the player's finger position, creating a slight delay that felt as if the spatula had weight and thus felt more responsive to quick movements.
I knew that I wanted the spatula to rotate between horizontal and vertical orientations, but came to realize that it caused consistent user errors due to the lack of control in a game that requires precise movement. For example, when trying to place one patty on a bun, the player may accidentally place both patties on two separate buns because the spatula did not accommodate for these actions. For this reason, I decided to specify positions in which the spatula can rotate dynamically. There are three onscreen areas in which the spatula has unique orientations: The lower basin area, the main grill area, and the right-side bun area. In the lower basin area, the spatula is in it's default horizontal rotation- but as the spatula is raised into the main grill area, it begins to rotate into its vertical rotation, which can be considered the active-play orientation. As for the bun area, this is where the dynamic rotation is necessary to prevent user error. As can be seen in the gif above, the spatula will rotate dynamically based on it's position to assist in the precise placement of patties. Not only did this resolve the issue of accidental errors, it also enhanced the smoothness and feel of the game's overall interactability. Though subtle, I feel that the spatula's dynamic rotations play a major part in the game's overall success.
Another subtle yet effective design choice was to make the spatula have a snappy feel when returning to it's resting position. Initially, the spatula would smoothly move back to the bottom of the screen when dropped, but when the player needed to act quickly, this began to hinder their performance. Because the game requires a degree of precision and speed, I felt it necessary to give the player a strong feeling of control over their skills and actions in a way that the game can keep up. For this reason, I took out the transition all together and instead replaced with with a 'slap' sound effect to reinforce the idea of moving quickly and precisely.