There are many factors that come into play when juicing up your game or in other words polishing. Blindly adding particle effects and sounds don’t mean polishing. If not done correctly, that can even harm the experience of the game and not allow players to enjoy it. What exactly is polish? Polish can be thought of as an extra layer to the core game that does not change the core mechanics of the game. If we remove polish, the core game should be there and the rules should be intact. The polish should be there to only improve the feel of the interactions within the game. If the polish doesn’t add to the feel, it means it’s taking away from it.
Here I will specify 3 different ways in which we can add polish in no particular order
1. Particle clues:
Clues that make the user understand the game world are very important for game design. It gives the user some information intuitively, which the user processes without thinking
Focus on the obstacle on the right. Other than the obvious red color, there is a particle effect of the slam. By seeing this slam effect, we can understand that the hit is very heavy and we don’t want our cups anywhere near that. Of course, the biggest clue is the color. But as designers, we need to provide as many clues as possible to show the behavior of an object.
In this one, to show the user clearly where to aim, instead of using some signs, we use splash particle of liquid pouring to notify the exact point of impact and where to aim.
Here, we can see two gates where green particle systems are showing that both are positive options to use. The sell gate has dollar signs rising up in its particle effect identifying that you can earn money
2. Feedback nods:
One important factor of a better game feel is for the game to feel very responsive. When the user is playing the game, there’s usually a two-way conversation going on between the user and the game. Like all conversations, it makes us feel good when the other side is making us feel heard, even using head nods.
Similarly, in games when the user does an action we need to reply back to the user in some way that the game heard you.
Here. whenever the cups go through the gate, the cup that goes through scales up and metaphorically nods ‘yes’ to the user. That’s enough to feel that the game is alive and talking to you. There are different ways to give feedback nods. In the above example, we see how scaling can be used to do so.
In the next example, we will see how changing the color of an object can be used to give the nod
We can see that the vegetables are chopped off, and to further enhance the chopped-off parts we change the color of the chopped object to white for a split second. Let’s slow it down to see
This way, the chopping is further enhanced as the 2 chopped parts are for a split second of different colors. It also signifies a hit or an impact.
3. Animation cues:
Animation is a big part of game development and design as showing is better than speaking. Image, a character moving forward fast without a run animation. That says it all. The player animations are very important to make the game feel good. But we can also use animations to communicate with the player. Let’s start with player animations.
The player starts by walking head down, which clearly signifies that the player is not doing well and needs to up their game. As the player collects more and more money the walk animation becomes more and more cheerful and confident.
Whenever the character reaches a certain score a character visual change occurs. It’s been used in many hypercasual games. If you notice it correctly, you can see that when a character visual change occurs, the character rolls around on the spot. Although it’s very hard to notice. It would perhaps be better if they slowed it down a bit so that the players can check out the front side of the character as it satisfies a curios mind and motivates the player more to see how the next character would look.
The roll-reveal is presented well in this one
Animations can be very important in NPCs. It can signify if an NPC is good or bad. Apart from the visual look of the NPC being evil, the animation can go long way.
The first enemy here stands and taunts the player that says ‘I’ll kill you!’. That’s enough cue for the player to shoot a disc at the enemy and kill them first. As the enemy is standing without any weapon, it also says that it’s just empty taunts.
On the second platform, there’s one other taunting enemy, but we also have an enemy with a baseball bat. As he has a bat in his hand before even he starts to move as a player you can expect him to move towards you to hit with that.
Similarly, an enemy with a gun aiming animation at you would definitely tell you that he will shoot from far away.
And of course, raised waving hands is a clear signifier of someone asking for help.
There are a lot more ways to polish. But I will end this article here as it’s been long enough. I will definitely write more articles on this topic. So stay tuned!