Solo Project | Spring 2020

Bumper Bank

Sole Developer:
   

- Systems Design

- Content Design

- UI Designer

- Mobile Design

- Progression Systems

- VFX & Animations

- Sound Design

Project Description

Bumper Bank is a mobile, semi-idle game where players release a ball into a chamber of pinball bumpers to earn points and money, spending what they collect to improve their bumpers to reach even higher heights.

For this project, I was given the challenge of making a upgrade / progression system, one outside my normal comfort zone. In order to accomplish this, I decided to look towards mobile games for inspiration, and focus on  making an idle style game focused on visual satisfaction, rather than interactive gameplay.

 
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Development

Early on while developing Bumper Bank, I ran into a number of problems. For one, I wanted to make a visually satisfying experience, but lacked much digital art skills. In order to counter this, I looked to other games and focused on using a neon minimalist style to allow me to focus on satisfying shapes and colors, rather than complex designs.

Another issue stemmed from my lack of experience with Unity's 2D physics engine. While I was did learn a lot through development, it required me to change my design in order to counteract the very delicate systems.

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To counteract this, I decided to switch to using isolated island bumpers, more commonly seen in pinball machines. This allowed me to both simplify my art, as well as make the game play much easier to read. 

As I continued development, testing showed that players didn't really feel much appeal in watching the game play for more than a couple minutes. This was due to an inherent lack of anticipation beyond the end result.

To solve this problem, I designed the POPing mechanics. Originally, the bumpers values wouldn't change unless you paid money. Today, they start at zero and increase with each hit. Then once they reach their maximum value, they explode, giving the ball a massive speed boost, but resetting their value to zero. 

This gave the players tons of anticipation as they watched eagerly to see if they could make a bumper POP.

 

I even tied this into the upgrading system. Players can now spend money to increase the bumpers starting value, making POPs happen sooner; as well as level bumpers up so they have bigger POPs while reaching even higher values.

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Originally, the game was designed to have all the walls be bumpers, but Unity's physics systems cause the ball to snake between the bumpers no matter what colliders I used.

On Reflection:

Developing Bumper Bank has been a rather smooth experience, but one that I learned a lot through developing. With that being said, there were some areas that I wish I had done differently, as they increased the difficulty of continuing this work any more than I already had.

- Conducting more early testing

- Messing with Unity physics and collision more before starting

- Conduct more research into coroutines

While the final product turned out far better than I anticipated, the elements that I could have done differently will stick with me as a valuable lesson for all my future digital projects.

Regarding future work, I am somewhat interest in seeing the project continue, though the way things are coded it might be a difficult task to accomplish. However, should I be able to find a work around, I would work to make it so players could buy extra bumpers and improve their ball in terms of speed, bonuses and other factors. That way, the players would feel like they have more choices with their purchases.