Game Design Series II : Game Juice

Feeling is a concept that is difficult to explain and does not have a definite definition. Everyone’s reaction to situations can be different. While some laugh a lot, some can laugh less, or some get very excited and some less. Therefore, it would not make sense to give a precise definition for feeling. If we talk…

Feeling is a concept that is difficult to explain and does not have a definite definition. Everyone’s reaction to situations can be different. While some laugh a lot, some can laugh less, or some get very excited and some less. Therefore, it would not make sense to give a precise definition for feeling. If we talk about this concept through games, we encounter the same situation again. You can read the definition or philosophical explanations of the game in academic articles, but we will approach this subject a little more as players. It would not be correct to give a precise definition for “Game Feel” or “Game Juice”. But there will be some tricks and polish stuff to tell you how juicy the game will be. I will try to convey some of them to you. As I said above, I do not give a definite formula, these features may vary from game to game and according to the experience and needs of the player.

What Does “Juice ” Mean ?

Let’s suppose you are walking on the road and suddenly you see two cars crashing into each other. What would you think if there was no sound when the cars collided or if there was no damage to the cars? You probably think you are dreaming. Because you are faced with a situation that is far from reality. Well, let’s assume this situation for a game. If we removed the music, effects, sounds or animations from a game, how would you feel while playing that game? You will probably think that it is boring and unrealistic. For example, let’s think for Battlefield V. Imagine how it will affect your gaming experience if we remove elements like recoil, fire sounds, muzzle flash, camera shake. We can say that the necessity of all these elements is to bring the player’s game experience closer to the maximum level. When a player presses the fire button, bringing the feedback to the maximum level will allow the player to play a more “juicy” game. If we want to summarize the inference we can make from here with a single sentence, it is “Game Juice is about getting maximum output by minimum input.”

Some Basic Elements

Easing

First of all, I want to talk about the movements. In the real world, movements are mostly non-linear. Many factors such as gravity, friction, flexibility come into play and movements draw decreasing or increasing or more complicated graphs. For example, it will take a certain time for a car to reach maximum speed and we will see an increasing speed graph, or we will see a decreasing speed graph again for it to stop from maximum speed. Another example is when an object bounces again as a result of free fall, but stops after it bounces less each time and drawing a more complicated graph. We call “Easing” for these behaviors. You can review the “ease” charts below and also you can experience movements of these easing moves here.

Easing is also an important tool to give the player feedback on animations or changes in the form of objects. You can view it at this link.

Camera

The most important feedback of games is how display the game to you and what you see on the screen. Suppose you have jumped from a very high place, the first moment you fall to the ground, there will be shaking and it will be difficult for you to see for a moment. Do we see the surroundings easily while you are jogging in the morning or is it wavy and active? Let’s exaggerate, let’s say you are shooting with a machine gun, will it be easy to see around because of the concussion when you shoot with the strong recoil of the gun. Let’s look at it from another frame, while you were driving, a pedestrian appeared in front of you and you hit the brakes hard. What kind of changes will there be for you in your vision with the shaking of the car? As I mentioned above, movements are not linear in the real world and this is also true for the camera.There are many camera tricks to give feedback to the player, I will mention a few of them, but I recommend you to refer to the resources I have mentioned below for more detailed information.

Camera Shake

You can explode areas or shoot to enemy or jump from height. If you feel the shake when those happens, then, the shake make interaction between the game and you. It is satisfying and amazing feedback about you touch and feel the world.

Dynamic Camera

The camera can be animated different way to make satisfy the player and feel more dynamic game. You can move the camera away from the character and have the player view from the larger frame, or you can zoom in and increase the player’s focus. You can zoom in to get impactful feeling when the player use special moves or you can zoom out in giant boss fight to see the boss and again zoom in to your character. Keeping the camera dynamic and constantly zooming in and out in games like Street Fighter will add to the excitement by creating fluctuations in the sense of focus on the screen. In racing games, when we turn right or left, the dynamic movement of the camera and tilting in the direction you turn will increase the feeling of riding.

Stop Motion

The game is paused for a while when you hit or shoot or knock back the enemy. This technique provide you to feel give damage to enemy. Espacially in figthing games like Street Fighter V, you can feel kick and smash effect impactfuly. Also we can see stop motion in shooting games like Sniper Elite when you shoot a headshot with slow motion.

Effect

At the beginning of my article, I talked about two cars colliding. If we did not see the smoke, sparks, flying parts, flame and light during the impact, it would be hard to believe that it was an accident. This reality applies to games, of course. What effects do we expect to see when we shoot in a game? Muzzle flash, recoil, explosions, dynamic lights, blood etc. In a drag race, we expect to see effects such as tire track, exhaust smoke, ligts, fire on nozzle etc. Each of these will increase the player’s experience and the player will be more engaged in the game.

Sound & Music

What do you expect when hit the drum with stick or slap someone ? Hearing a sound. If you wouldn’t hear any sounds , I think you suspected your reality. Sound is one of the important feedbacks like display, to feel the world which we live or we are playing in. Of course, sounds can be evaluated in many ways, but I want to approach sounds from 3 different aspects.

Sound based games

We can say Guitar Hero or Just Dance can’t exist without music. They clearly provide a gameplay with music power.

Sounds that used strategic

We can see in shooting games that sounds are used to identify enemy’s location. Also in horror games, they are used to confuse the monster to run away.

Sounds to feel game

Actually, the first two things I mentioned are included in this title. When we shoot in a game, we expect stunning, loud and bassy fire sounds. When a bomb explodes in the game, we expect to hear a loud echoing sound. If we look at it from another perspective, when we die in the game, the existing sounds are reduced and we hear more muffled and quieter sounds, so we feel that something is not right in the game. Hearing more sticky noises while walking on a muddy or sticky road will allow us to be more involved in the game environment. Also you can use randomised sounds effect to avoid repetation.

Summary

I have told you some basic effects to make your game more juicy. However, of course, I should state that it is not limited to the elements I mentioned. It’s up to you to make your game your own way and how juicy it will be. Finally, I have to say that all of these have only one purpose, and that is to provide more and enjoyable experiences to the player and to engage them in the game. We must convey the reality of each game to the player, otherwise the player will get bored and leave the game. As I said above, “minimum input for maximum output”

References

Secrets of Game Feel and Juice — YouTube

Juice it or lose it — a talk by Martin Jonasson & Petri Purho — YouTube

Jan Willem Nijman — Vlambeer — “The art of screenshake” at INDIGO Classes 2013 — YouTube

Squeezing more juice out of your game design! — GameAnalytics

Best Practices for fast game design in Unity — Unite LA — YouTube

Video Game Camera Design: Creating a Better Camera for Your Game — YouTube

Video Game Camera Design: Creating a Better Camera for Your Game — YouTube

The Challenge of Cameras — YouTube

Game feel — Wikipedia

Game Feel: A Game Designer’s Guide to Virtual Sensation (Morgan Kaufmann Game Design Books): Swink, Steve: Amazon.com.tr