Roundtable Review: Bouncy! Trampoline
Insights & Best Practices
October 18, 2013
Roundtable Review: In this post, I'll explore the different types of player feedback and reward systems that can be used to engage users and increase the fun of your game.
Bouncy! Trampoline by Marcel Blanco
"Bouncy!" may be a simple trampoline game, but don't be fooled! A lot of love and care has gone into every aspect of the gaming experience.
In Bouncy!, you play as bunny who jumps up and down on a trampoline. The game appears incredibly cute and happy until your character dies a bloody death, Happy Tree Friends style. Bouncy?s controls are broken into three sections: left, center, and middle. Press and hold the center of the screen to bounce higher on the trampoline; press and hold either the left or right side of the screen to do a backflip or frontflip respectively. Combos can be executed by doing flips consecutively or by repeating the previous tricks.
I personally love these types of games because of the entertaining nuances. The last game that I felt similarly about was Punch Quest by Rocketcat Games. At the surface, the game appears a shallow trampoline game featuring a bunny. However, through playing Bouncy!, all of the intricate details become more apparent. The trampoline can only withstand so many jumps (unless you get a perfect landing), the wind changes as frequently as per jump executed, and the differences between flipping with or against the wind dictates the bunny?s flip speed.
Player Feedback Loop
Player feedback is extremely important to the success of a game. Feedback can be as simple as revealing new art, sound, killing monsters, earning currency, skills, or items. The longer a player plays a game, the more feedback a player will need to stay engaged in both the short and long term. In every game that I have wholeheartedly enjoyed, the concept below has always been exercised well in different forms.
For every decision or series of decisions, the player receives some kind of reward. Every time a player receives a reward, the player has fun. There are approximately six types of rewards that users can acknowledge to receive:
- Physical Objects - Permanent items, consumable items, or currency.
- In Game Advancement - Character or environment improvement to skills or metrics.
- Player Knowledge - Increasing skills and knowledge about game mechanics and logic within a game.
- Recognition - Community acknowledgement (social leaderboards).
- Entitlement - Completing achievements or objectives only few accomplish.
- Pride - Emotional satisfaction, successfully getting revenge, passing a hard section of a level, getting a new high score, etc.
Bouncy! Trampoline uses ?In Game Advancement? and ?Player Knowledge? throughout the game, as I can continually jump higher and unlock various items like the slow motion timer. The ?Physical Objects? used are Stars, which are accumulated by performing objectives. However, it's not initially clear what the achievements are or how you are accumulating them during game play. Lets take a look.
In Game Currency and Cost of Rewards
The in-game currency for this game are Stars. It took me quite a few moments to understand how I could earn more stars without having to like Facebook or Twitter pages. After playing several games, I noticed my trampoline was upgrading and I was accumulating stars, however I was completely unaware of how I had actually earned them. I started the game with zero stars. Then, seemingly randomly, had two hundred stars. I believe that I had received stars for completing game objectives. This star confusion could be avoided if the game had more clear feedback indicators. For example: flashing a stars animation when stars are earned for the player to see while playing.
Eventually, my trampoline got to a stage where I could earn stars for getting perfect landings. Below are some of the star payouts for perfect landings:
Number of Flips with a Perfect LandingStars Rewarded1 Flips32 Flips53 Flips84 Flips115 Flips13
As we can see, the star accumulation does not necessarily grow in relation to the difficulty curve; there does not seem to be a parallel increase between difficulty and reward. Provided that the items in the ?Workshop? (in-game store) cost upwards of 500 stars and only exponentially grow towards 20,000, I found it difficult to set myself up with a goal.
In a single game I could achieve anywhere between 20-50 stars per session. This means that if I want to buy a really cool mustache for 1,200, I would have to play anywhere between 25-60 games. This seems a bit steep of a time investment simply to get cool skins, attire, and powerups.
In addition to modifying how Stars are earned, it would be helpful to give the player more visibility into the objectives they need to complete for Stars. During game play, I can only see one objective at a time, making it difficult for me to attempt specific achievements and feel the reward of completing them along the way. As a player, I?d like to see what objectives are available, so that I can go out and complete them.
Multiple Game Modes
Bouncy! boasts three game modes, all of which have slightly different premises:
Regular Mode: The player is presented with one objective to complete. After the objective is accomplished, a new objective appears. The player?s game ends if the trampoline breaks or the player lands incorrectly.
Time Trial: The player is presented with scoring as many points as possible within 30, 60, or 120 seconds. The player?s game ends if the time elapses or the player lands incorrectly.
Stressy Tricks: This game mode is similar to Regular Mode, with the exception that the Regular Mode does not repeat objectives. In comparison, the Stressy Tricks mode always repeats the same objectives in order. The player?s game ends if the player lands incorrectly.
While having multiple game modes is great fun, this begs the question of Bouncy! Trampoline: Why have multiple modes?
There are three game modes and all have the exact same player reward (the player must land a perfect flip to get stars). The developer put in work to build these new modes, but could end up with players using only one game mode since they are all rather similar. A way to resolve this problem could be to implement social leaderboards for players to openly compete against their friends. If the developer wants to get fancy, they could organize weekly global competitions for each mode with star rewards for the top players.
Workshop (Store) Layout
After working hard to earn stars, I finally reached a point where I could buy something in Bouncy!?s store. Bouncy!?s store does a great job of letting the players know that there is something available to purchase. An indicator on the menu will appear with the number of items that I can purchase. In screenshot below, the store shows that I can afford two items with 1,258 stars.
There was however, confusion when I actually entered the Workshop. In the Workshop there are three tabs of items and two rows. Only by accident did I notice that each tab has a scrollbar that shows more items. The store should either be full page to really advertise what items are available, or display an animation to show that the rows are scrollable.
With a couple tweaks to their reward system, I?ll have even more reason to polish up my trampoline skills in this very enjoyable game.
About Me: Lifetime gamer? combining passion with work @ Lionside, DeNA & now Chartboost? Always looking to have fun, analyze, and learn about games? Sharing my thoughts for our new blog series: Roundtable Review.