Leap, blast and bob your way through over a hundred levels of cute platforming action in BUBBLES THE CAT!
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Q1 2019
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Available: Q1 2019

 

Recent updates View all (6)

March 13

Devlog #6 - Super Slick Platforming

Howdy y’all! This time I’m going to show you the little tweaks I made to the game’s platforming logic to make it feel ‘just right’.

Pre-emptive Inputs
After I decided to go with the approach of making the game a single button platformer, a lot of elements from previous prototyping seemed to fit into place. But the game was still frustrating to control in specific circumstances.

As a very quick reminder, you can spawn and jump off a bubble up to six times before needing to land on a solid surface to replenish them instantly. Wall jumping doesn’t consume one of your six bubbles and thus, judicious use of wall jumps is required in later levels to help ration your extra bounces.

Therefore, when something like this happened…



...or maybe you just pressed jump JUST as you were landing…



...needless to say, this was massively frustrating. You’ve used up a bubble and have been punished for something that's more of a technicality than a fun gameplay mechanic. Ugh.

This actually isn’t particularly difficult to fix and simply involves looking ahead a few pixels at the time the jump button is pressed and treating the input as a ‘normal’ jump rather than a bubble jump if a solid surface is ahead of the player. This is something worth considering if you have a double jump system in your own game!

Here's how it looks afterwards:


Much better, quicker, smoother-feeling wall jumping!


There's only 12 pixels in it, but that makes a huge difference to the game considering a jump as 'landed' and means no frustrating KOs!

Mantling
This one is more common in platform games these days, but it’s well worth considering if you’re also developing one. In very early prototypes, if Bubbles jumped towards a ledge but was juuust short of reaching the top, Bubbles would wall grab it instead, which a) looks ridiculous and b) is infuriating.



This was resolved by having Bubbles mantle the ledge if you’re close enough to the top of a ledge, making this waaaaay more fluid.



...but there’s a little more logic in place to prevent you from doing this if mantling would lead you into spikes as this would also be a big cause of frustration.


The player gently gets pushed down onto the block - looks a little silly if you're paying attention, but is so much better than climbing head-first into some spikes uncontrollably.

Keepin’ the Flow
What these all hopefully contribute to is a much smoother, less frustrating platformer - the idea should be if you miss the jump, you definitely missed it.

It’s also worth noting that some of these techniques also have minor speedrunning implications as if you nail your timing, you can leap away from walls fractionally earlier or climb up when you "shouldn’t" be able to. I’m really looking forward to seeing how speedrunners will break my levels!

Thanks for reading! These articles are a pretty regular feature that I'm running up to the game’s launch. You can keep up to date on when I do these devlogs by wishlisting the game. You can also follow the game's development on Twitter, where I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have about the game or game development in general.

Until next time!

Johnny
Team Cats & Bears
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February 27

Devlog #5 - Why Did You Make a One-Button Platformer? (or: SpecialEffect are the Bestest)

Hi gang! Today I’m going to talk about my motivations for making the game a one-button platformer. I’ve certainly been asked this question a few times and hopefully this devlog will give you a good insight as to why I’ve gone with this control scheme.

First things first; this has been the design goal for the game from the very beginning when I was first prototyping it and isn’t something that came about by accident. Although the game changed form somewhat during that prototyping phase, having only a single button input was always a core tenet of the game’s design.

Design Challenge
I kind of wanted to flex my design muscles a little with this project and work out how I could make a game that still had lots of fun platforming mechanics with just a single button. As I’ve hopefully demonstrated with previous blog entries, it turns out there’s a lot of gameplay to be had with this setup!

Each mechanic I designed had to work with this in mind. The vast majority of bubble powerups act as augments to Bubbles’ jump ability - whether it’s additional jump power, infinite vertical travel or switching dimensions. The hardest bubble powerup in this respect was the Launcher bubble - this is the one that lets you launch Bubbles at high speed in a specified direction.

Let's take a look at how this evolved over time:


Earliest designs for this actually had the Launcher make use of arrow keys / left stick, but I changed this because it felt so awkward having just one mechanic make use of directional input, especially one that appears relatively late in the game.



I then had this operate on a eight-directional carousel, which seemed to fix the problem - but if you missed a direction, the wait for the carousel to get back to where you wanted it to be would be interminable. Speeding it up to try and resolve the issue just meant it was easy to make input errors and go flying off in the wrong direction - very frustrating! How do you fix that?



Well, the solution turned out to be preserving the carousel system, slowing down the direction changes slightly, but only having them work in three directions. This didn’t actually change any of the gameplay I wanted to achieve from it such as using your momentum and re-entering a bubble to weave through hazards and it also simplified level design as I had much more control over where the player would likely go.

Accessibility
As a little bit of a preface/plug (hey, it’s relevant), I do a charity gaming marathon stream with some friends over the Easter holidays at GamingForOthers for the utterly brilliant SpecialEffect. Collaborating with them has been fantastic and I’ve learned a lot from them.

As a brief summary to the work SpecialEffect do, they are a charity that provides support for gamers with disabilities that prevent them from being able to use standard game controllers effectively - usually by creating bespoke controllers and setups that are tuned for each person’s needs.

However, SpecialEffect also work with the games industry to promote the inclusion of more accessibility options and controls as part of the game’s design. In addition to the single button controls, I have additional accessibility options in the form of Boosts that I’ll be covering in more detail in a future devlog.

This also has the upside of younger players or people who are normally intimidated by platform games being able to more easily enjoy the game! (For any hardcore players who might be worrying about the game being too easy, don’t worry - I very much have you covered too; that's also coming in a future devlog!).

I will be looking for Team Cats & Bears to support several SpecialEffect initiatives such as One Special Day and GameBlast.

Buttoned-Up
I wanted to make sure that the reaction I got from people playing the game was ‘Huh, I didn’t even realise I was missing extra buttons’. The one area I couldn’t really do with a single button was the menus - whilst I could technically have had something like a carousel that you stop with the input button, I think this would have been utterly nauseating to use in practice, so I did make an exception for that! Can you think of any ways to make a functioning UI with a diverse set of options and a single button only?

As ever, thank you for reading. If you enjoy these insights into the game’s development, please consider following and wishlisting the game to see more of them. You can also follow the game's development on Twitter, where I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have about the game or game development in general.

Until next time!

Johnny
Team Cats & Bears
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Reviews

“It's challenging in all the right ways, with clear signposting on how to get a better score if you repeat the level, and really creative use of power-ups.”
Kotaku UK

About This Game

  • 125 levels set across six different worlds - from coastal caves and brass factories to neon cities and magic castles!
  • Multiple objectives in each level provide extra replay value and rewards for smooth, speedy runs.
  • Tight, responsive single-button controls that support joypad, keyboard or mouse!
  • Collect bubble powerups that mix up the gameplay and turn Bubbles into a destructive wrecking ball, a ghostly spirit or even a dimension hopper!
  • Customise Bubbles the Cat with dozens of hats, different colours and even trails - all without any microtransaction shenanigans!
  • Boost features allow players to freely modify the game's difficulty so you can play how you want!
  • Bonus secret levels that will challenge even the most hardcore of platform gamers.
  • Unlockable game modes and secrets!
  • An absolutely bangin' electronic, jazz-inspired soundtrack, bubbling with busy beats and meowtastic melodies.

If you like cats, hats and platforming, you're going to like this game.

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows 7
    • Processor: 2Ghz processor or higher
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Minimum 512Mb VRAM
    • Storage: 200 MB available space
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