One of the last stages of game development is putting the finishing touched on a game. Usually known as “polish,” it is when the core functionality of the game is complete but isn’t at the place where it can be called totally finished. After all the pieces were put in place with Squishy’s Revenge, we played through the game again, and again, and again. We then identified spots that could be further improved and modified.
The first area that we wanted to improve were the buildings. Whereas Squishy is full of life and cute, the buildings, made by the Evil City, had to be the opposite. They were dark and looming, but they weren’t on par with the personality Squishy oozes. We went back and added some literal personality to the buildings. As you contemplate Squishy’s next move, the Evil Buildings will sprout eyes and teeth. The second part to that equation was the interaction between Squishy and the Evil Buildings.
The original version has Squishy moving on a building where it would immediately burst into flames from his cuteness. We all loved the idea of something evil being conquered by cuteness, but the encounter wasn’t as dramatic as it could be. We’re all fans of classic cartoons and remembered when characters would get in fights, there would be a huge cloud that obscured the melee. We added one to Squishy’s Revenge when Squishy would move on an Evil Buildings. It still accomplished the same effect, but it left more to the imagination to exactly what was happening. It was more comedic this way as each person who saw it had a different interpretation of what Squishy was doing to conquer the buildings.
Comparing the two versions, it was clear giving the Evil Buildings recognizable features and a more dramatic encounter fit better in Squishy’s World.
Another area was charting progress for players. We initially anticipated the levels being rewarding themselves since Squishy’s Revenge is a difficult game. However, we needed some way to allow for levels to be replayable since there is more than one way of solving some of the boards. We added star ratings that are related to how many moves it takes to complete a level and it fueled an studio testing battle to see who could perfect the levels the quickest. It is amazing how the smallest features can make such a large impact.
While many of the things were planned, there was one thing included in Squishy’s Revenge that wouldn’t have made it if it weren’t for a chance thunderstorm that “stranded” the programmer at the studio who forgot their umbrella. In World 2, there are little bubbles in the background and you can pop them if you tap them. It’s a small little feature, but it is a great way to pass some time while you try and figure out how to solve the puzzle.
These are just a few examples of the different areas we polished Squishy’s Revenge. There are a lot of other plans we have to improve on the game, but those will have to remain a surprise, for now.