Playing other games that are similar to the one you’re working on is ESSENTIAL to game development. It helps you find things that are designed well that you may want to implement into your game. Or more importantly, you will find things that you don’t like which then gives you the ability to design something better.
For us we found the difficulty curve in VR Diner Duo starts off really easy (which is nice cause you’re just learning the game). It then gets a little bit more difficult and challenging ( which is also perfect because you don’t want the game to feel too easy or else players won’t feel engaged enough). But then…. it jumps from just a little difficult to SUPER DIFFICULT WHAT DO I EVEN DO TO KEEP UP and it just feels like you’re working and loses all the fun. It’s like if you start walking down stairs, then start jogging cause you learn’t the rhythm, and then you trip and fall all the way down into a brick wall. It’s not a good feeling..
When we started thinking about our difficulty curve and the general progression we wanted the player to experience, we initially thought of each cake order having a countdown timer. If the countdown reached 0 then the customer would be mad and leave meaning you failed the order.
Having this kind of design alongside the other systems we were designing made us think about that chaotic hopelessness feeling that we felt in VR Diner Duo*. Taking out the countdown timer means the player doesn’t really have anything driving them to bake cakes faster though. So to encourage the player to bake cakes faster we added a tip modifier to every cake order. What this meant was that the faster the player baked the cake, the bigger the tip they would receive on top of the base amount of money earned for each cake baked. This made players not feel incredibly rushed, and added a more positive experience overall.
Designs change a lot though, from when they are conceived to making their way into the game to internal testing and play tests. We are still thinking about adding a (non visible) timer for each cake, but making it so that cakes don’t fail unless the player has taken 3x the amount of time to bake it than they should have.
* Despite what was said in this post, we actually love VR Diner Duo! It was a huge inspiration in the creation of Batter Up! If you haven’t played it yet then we highly recommend you play it, especially with a friend!!!