Since the setting and presentation of Rise of Colonies: Uprising definitely fell out of casual presentation (yeah, no candies and color balls), so it became quite a challenge to add enough variety to this title. This article focuses only on technical mechanics in the game without touching visuals and sounds, though these assets are also a part of what is called the gameplay experience. We’ll discuss them in dedicated articles. By the way, don’t forget to read the previous article about making a casual game Rise of Colonies: Uprising.
Gameplay Challenges While Making a Mobile Game
Basically, our mobile game Uprising has a single level concept, so it means that users play in the same location over and over again, increasing stats in between. Such an approach can be called somewhat standard for the genre, but can quickly become annoying, so the task was to introduce a number of secondary mechanics to the process to make it more variable.
Gameplay challenges, that we had to solve, mainly included:
- Rewarding process for experienced players
- Sense of freedom – not to force players through the game in only possible way.
- Consistent gameplay experience
One of the main drivers of interest for the players is not only a game progression, but also a skill progression. Nothing motivates players that much as the sense of excelling in the game. So, we ended up with the creating following:
Primary gameplay mechanics:
- Tapping to shoot enemies
- Using special abilities
- Upgrading between levels
Secondary gameplay mechanics:
- Using different weapons
- Managing bullets in the clip
- Using Hot Reloads
- Using Mesh Glasses
- Perks that are combined well with abilities
- Different upgrade paths
Rewarding Process in a Mobile Game
Well, the strategy of simple tapping to shoot enemies will make hardcore players get boring quite soon, so we introduced hardcore mechanics, which are aimed towards getting a skill over time:
These are not just the weapons that have different icons and parameters – they ARE different to the point that even controls for them are not the same. To use a gun, players have to tap to shoot each bullet. To use a rifle, players can tap and just move finger over the gameplay area to unleash bulletstorm on enemies. Rockets are fired one by one and have long reloading time. Additionally, only the gun has infinite ammo, while other weapons should be used strategically.
Managing bullets in the clip
This one is related to the approach that Weapon Clips have a finite amount of bullets and reloading takes time. When the enemies are at the barrier, spending precious seconds to reload might prove to be fatal. So, in between waves players have to monitor remaining bullets – a part of the additional strategy.
This is the extension of bullets management mechanic that came from console/PC games. If weapon reloading is paused at certain moments in time during reloading, players receive temporary damage boost for a few seconds. Now, those, who want to get the advantage of hot reloading, might reload after several bullets have been shot, to get constant Damage Boost. Of course, an opposite is also an option – if reloading is stopped at the wrong time, players get a penalty, which doesn’t allow them to shoot.
Using Mesh Glasses
This is an additional game helper, which enables a special color mode, where match-3 rules apply. In short, if an enemy of a certain color is killed, others on the field of the same color die as well. Sounds like a Win Button? Well, not actually, because this mode is only operational for a really small amount of time and you’ll probably won’t kill a single enemy, while it is on. So some preparation is required, i.e. players have to half-kill enemy, activate the color mode and then, finish it off.
Perks that are combined well with abilities
Perks are consumables that allow players to boost certain values in the game. There are total 24 perks of which only 3 can be taken on a level. This gives players additional strategy possibilities, depending on their style of playing. For example, if players like to use only a gun on a level and invest into its upgrades such three perks as Critical Damage Boost + No Fail Reload + Infinite Gun Clip make it a really dangerous weapon.
Different upgrade paths
Upgrades in games of such genre usually fall into one of following categories: Damage, Defence, Support and the challenge here was to give players different upgrade paths without giving them a single recommended one. The game is balanced that way, so you’ll have a hard trying to buy high-level upgrades for each item – you’ll be grinding a lot, so it all comes down not to upgrading whatever you can, but choosing the items you want to upgrade and following that path. There are total 54 items that can be upgraded with most of them having 150 upgrades levels, making more than 6000 upgrades in total. So if you like playing with the gun – upgrade Clip Size, Critical Damage, Regular Damage and you can skip using abilities a lot. However, if someone likes to play less actively, he can skip weapons upgrade and invest points into abilities and defense. The weapons can then be used just for enemies who occasionally passed through.
I like to reference Uprising as a strategy game that lets players master “The Art of Exterminating Enemies”. By 400-500 levels, players need to be really inventive and plan actions quickly and accurately. Basic mechanics will let players complete only about 20 levels without much hassle, but further actions will require at least elementary planning.