Rabbits&Rubble App



This started life as a bouncing rocks demo for class. "Physics" games were getting popular back then -- Angry Birds and Cut-the-Rope would grow out of the craze -- so a random rock flinger sounded fun. Then a simple character trying to climb the hill got tacked on. After playing around testing various ways things could fall, I realized dropping stuff was more fun. The working title became Ghoul Hill because all I had was a zombie. It was my first attempt at animating a human, which was so jerky it felt more zombie-like. But another mini-zombie craze was happening -- the one before The Walking Dead aired - and everyone was sick of them. So I changed to mutant rabbits.

You can't see it, but this is an example of how computer programs are like art. Whenever you make something, there's a point where you hate certain parts. You want to call it a learning experience and start over with the real version. The pro skill is forcing yourself to finish the damn thing as is. People will tell you it looks good, and you'll silently carry the shame of knowing it could have been so much better. Not in ways anyone else would notice, but you would. This project is a major piece of junk inside. The hacks to fix up the last few problems made it even worse. But it's fine (fun hack: sometimes an item would insta-drop at the start of a level. I think it's a problem with the input system but couldn't trace it. I just added a tenth of a second delay until items were droppable.)


The motion of the rubble is carefully managed. The rocks are tweaked to hug the ground. The initial "wild" rocks bounced so much, and were so small that they rarely hit anything. The logs are heavily code-tweaked to bounce higher but to stay relatively flat (the original logs looked super-cool when they twisted 90 degrees and bounced end-over-end, but hitting anything that way was pure, infrequent luck.) Even the little course-changing bump when a rock smashed a rabbit is heavily code-tweaked.

I hate racing games - I always oversteer. But in this the steering controls, while riding, are purposely loose and sluggish. The thing is, I can drive a car, but I can't drive a rock. The wretched steering feels about right.


Unlocking a level is odd. Beating a level then going to the next is pretty basic; but these levels also take some luck so it felt right to have to beat each three times. My original plan was to mix them. You start from stage one, going to the next when you win. If you quit and come back you restart at stage one. That's where beating 3 times come in - you get to restart at any level you've beaten 3 times. That was before I knew mobile apps came back exactly as you left them, and people expected that. So now you can play right through, but you can't replay old levels until 3 wins.

The 3-wins idea came about from testing. Sometimes I suspiciously beat a level on the first try, but it was a complete fluke. The bounces and rabbit motion are random so I could do the exact same thing and never come close. After tweaking things and figuring out a strategy I'd work a little and beat it again. Next try would lose, the one after that wins ... . I was doing that just to make sure the level worked. But it was still fun - I didn't feel like I really beat it until I could do it a few times.

If you've ever played the old cabinet side-scrolling bullet-hell games it's similar. You'd naturally memorize the enemy's patterns and get further and further each time.

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Q: Why don't the rabbits have eyes?

A: I can barely unwrap a texture. There's no way I could figure out how to get anything on the correct spot on the model.

Q: The ground looks purposely more pixelated than it should, but nothing else does?

A: I made the terrain long enough ago that slightly pixelated was normal.

Q: Is this in the "pointlessly, annoyingly difficult" style of game?

A: Not on purpose. It was just smashing things with rocks at first, and then gradually turned into this.


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