Thursday, 21 August 2014

Double dilemma! Realism or fun? More details or simpler graphics?

As the title says. Double dilemma. What should I do? Make a game which is closer to realistic in term of physics or make it simpler but easier to play. Also what about the graphics? I tried out different approaches for making it nice and cartoonish, but which method is the best? Let's find it out!

Today was another good day for testing. I made some physics test and I way playing with the graphics too. I made some tests on my tablet and wow... it was horrible! I mean the car was so uncontrollable that's indescribable. I just needed to tweak the steering sensitivity curve and the wheel collider parameters. What I called steering curve is basically an animation curve like this:

 Animation Curve to control steering. Very versatile solution.
Animation curve to control the steering sensitivity. It allows to set up non-linear steering and also good for adding dead-zone.

After some tweaking, the game was way playable and enjoyable. This made me think. If you develop a game for mobile where controls are limited somewhat, do you need to sacrifice realism for fun? Well, I think yes. If the game was very realistic, how could you control it? I mean just think about my favourite simulator, rFactor. Is it playable with using two buttons (Accelerator, Brake) and tilt controls? Well, yes, somewhat playable but with enabling some assists. I just know it, I was playing rFactor using my tablet through a software called DroidPad. Check it out, it's awesome, I don't even get why it got only 3 and a half star. It's a 5 for me.

But let's go back to my dilemma. So I think sacrificing realism is not really a bad thing. The aim is that more people could play the game. The aim is making a fun game! Not simulator level realism. Well it's a very hard thing to do anyway. The aim is to make it believable and fun at the same time. Racing is not just about completing laps without any reason. Reason must be being the best. So AI is also needed to compete against the computer and in case of realistic physics, even AI programming can be more difficult. And take in count the we are talking about a mobile device which is not as powerful as a desktop computer or a laptop. Balance is the key, between performance and realism and fun. But fun is the most important aspect in overall. So I start to like the physics of the game, it's still challenging yes, but fun at the same time. Currently there is only one thing to do is completing laps to achieve the best time. But if it's playable it's already fun. Fun to find the fastest way to complete the lap, fun the learn the track and fun to learn the handling of the car. So yes, I think I am on the right track (no pun intended).

Screenshot from the current state. More detailed trees and bushes on the left. Also a small sized tribune makes the overall look better. The shadow details are very low, because the track itself is one mesh and whole mesh uses one 1k light map texture. When the track will be separated into parts, more 1k textures will be used for lightmapping and it'll give more detail.
Other topic: graphics
What I want to make? A racing game with cartoonish / anime style graphics. Why do I want to make it? Well why not? It's rare and if it's done well, it can be artistic. I don't say it's unique and it has the risk that some people won't like it because they like realistic graphics. But I give it a try and I'll do my best. There are some racing games with cel-shaded graphics. Auto Modellista on PS2, or Drift City on PC for example. They are very stylish games, but also completely arcade style in term of physics (I never played them, just this is what I saw from gameplay videos). What I want is more believable physics and this cel-shaded cartoonish graphics style. So what is my dilemma? Let's see...

I kinda like the current style, it's not bad, but looking back to the older pictures... well I don't know. For some reason I like the more for some reason.

An old screenshot with 2D trees and bushes. It looks simple and nice (also it's unfinished), the bushes somewhat blends into the ground. The trees have nice and simple colour. It makes me think...
So checking all the screenshots it's clear I tried out different styles, some of the were really ugly and bad, some of the were pretty good. Not only the way I painted the textured changed, but the colour schemes too. Also the complexity changed a lot. Newer textures are way more detailed, older ones were smoother, less detailed but more cartoonish. I need to think about which will be the best to choose from. But it needs even more testing, to figure out which looks better. Also I need to think about performance too.
So what will I choose? Time will tell...