Print Story Attention to Detail
By codemonkey uk (Wed Apr 28, 2010 at 09:23:03 AM EST) (all tags)
A couple of days ago I tweeted:

Attention to detail, ladies and gentlemen, attention to detail. Thats what makes the difference. To improve you must notice what is bad.[link]

An hour and a bit later I tweeted:

Spent the evening putting together the options screen for my iPhone game:[link]

These two posts were not, of course, unrelated.  I'd like to take a moment, if it pleases the reader, to go over the details to which I was paying attention.

In the video linked in the intro above, you can see a short (less than 1 minute) video of a UI screen I have created for my "indie" iPhone game.  I feel the game is pretty close to ready for release, so when I get time to work on it, a lot of my time is spent on details. 

I really believe that getting the details right is what makes the package feel good.  Having spent 15 years developing games for a living, according to other peoples designs, one thing that stands out to me, the difference between mediocre games and amazing games, is an unrelenting attention to detail.  Seeing what is good and what is bad, and cutting what is bad.

That attention to detail takes time, and focus.

I'd like to share with you, the details that you might not spot yourself just from watching the video.

In this post I am only going to talk about that one simple options screen. 

All it does is let the user turn music and sound on and off.  Two things.  Two very simple things.  How much detail can that involve?  Let me show you.

  • Transition Out:  The main menu and the options screen use the same background.  The main menu buttons exit in the generic way, but the background does not fade out as it would when going into the game or the tutorial.
  • Transition In: The UI has 3 elements.  2 checkboxes + text controls, and one "back" button control.  The buttons are created off screen, and moved onto the screen.  The movement is interpolated on a curve, so that they decelerate into position.  All elements are in place and working in under 1 second.  The check box elements comes in from a direction that matches the exit location of the buttons from the previous screen.  The exit button moves up into place unobtrusively from below.
  • Elements respond visually and audibly.  The exit button 'lifts' when pressed, and the checkboxes react instantly.  When the music is turned off it fades out, and when it is turned on, it fades up.  Button presses (while the sound option is on) trigger a subtle ping sound.
  • Layout: The text and buttons line up and are positioned and sized to fit the background.  The exit button is out of the way.  Control element text is rendered with a small drop shadow to bring it "out" of the screen slightly and improve contrast against the background.
  • Instant Persistence: All changes made are immediately stored to the device, if I change a setting and exit the game, it stays changed when I come back.
  • Transition Out: When the user is done, and presses the back button, the control elements all move back offscreen quickly and smoothly before control is returned to the main menu.

Each of these details is a deliberately considered element purposefully designed, checked, and double checked, to create a smooth flow and a polished pleasant experience for the player, and I hope contributes towards making every moment a player spends with my game a joy.

I hope you enjoyed this explanation, and I hope you'll enjoy the game when it is finished!


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Anyone else having issues by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #1 Wed Apr 28, 2010 at 04:21:18 PM EST
connecting to youtube today?

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

i think they did an update by codemonkey uk (4.00 / 1) #2 Thu Apr 29, 2010 at 09:55:36 AM EST
video control widgets look different now

--- Thad ---
Almost as Smart As you.
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What I find the most interesting by muchagecko (2.00 / 0) #3 Thu Apr 29, 2010 at 01:01:43 PM EST
is how hard simple animation used in a game is to create. Walk cycles drive me nuts, because it takes a lot of time to make them good.

Thanks for sharing this. I think your game is swell.

A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
My Name is Earl

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