Bit Bowling - Our First Public Demo
In Bit Bowling you play as a farmer who must "lead" his flock of sheep back down the mountainside. Not every sheep will survive the perilous journey! Thick brush will slow sheep down and floating rocks can knock these woolly critters off cliffs. In your race against the sunset, you may be forced to leave a few behind to ensure at least one or two sheep make it back to the farmstead.
This is the current state of the Bit Bowling level. We showed this build to an industry meet up in Sydney last Friday and players really got into it. While there's more work to do, players were pretty happy with how intuitive the gameplay was. They were also stunned by the visuals of the level each time they moved to the next platform. Screenshots and footage don't do the scene justice in VR!
While testers enjoyed it we noticed some elements we'd like to improve. The idea of using a cue ball to knock our sheep around is leftover from our billiards days. Players seemed to struggle making too much progress with the balls and instead resorted to simply grabbing a ball and using it like a club to bat around the sheep. This got us thinking.
Instead of forcing players to use these clunky cue balls, we want to allow players to pick their tool of choice. In the next build we'll be prototyping a variety of hammers, paddles, sticks, staves, nunchucks, paddles, bowling balls, and more! We'll do some A|B testing and determine which tool(s) we should make available to players.
Many other VR games such as Zombie Training Simulator and Space Pirate Trainer allow players to select a weapon/tool at the beginning of a mission. Players are then bound to that tool for the duration of the level. This allows players to experiment with each tool and pick a personal favorite!
Due to the faux ragdoll physics on the sheep they don't roll very well. I wrote an extra script to give them a bit of extra spring when they're struck. This is an improvement on the original ragdoll physics but they don't move as predictably as people would like. The new tools may resolve this issue but I'll be rewriting some of my faux physics code to make them feel a bit better.
Ultimately the sheep should roll like pool balls, but have the ragdoll physics so their feet and tail flop around. Players really seemed to get a kick out of how goofy the sheep look!
The beginning platform, while mostly empty is surprisingly difficult for players to pass. The sheer size of it means that sheep can become too dispersed. Without obstacles and visual cues it simply becomes boring and frustrating if you're chasing sheep around while learning the controls.
A proper solution might be to allocate half the area of the platform to an introductory zone. Here players can be taught how to teleport and grab objects without distraction. This should improve onboarding and reduce the unnecessary playspace of the first platform.
I'll update things in the coming weeks when I get some dev time! I've got an upcoming trip to Sweden planned! So the next update for Bit Bowling may be towards the end of April.