No, I’m not talking about shooting your indie game up with steroids (not literally anyway). Rather, I’m discussing ‘juicing:’ a technique for giving aspects of your indie game oomph, pizazz – whatever word you want to describe to give your indie game a little more substance. It’s the feedback a player receives whenever a particular action is performed, and by juicing properly, it can mean the difference between making your indie game feel dead and alive. Without further ado, here are a few ways juicing can add new life to your indie game.
Juicing the sound
Think about what occurs whenever you jump in Super Mario Bros. for a second. Of course, you jump; and if you hold down the run button while jumping, you can jump higher and further. How do you know you’re jumping high? You can see it, but there’s something added to the mix that makes you feel as if you truly are jumping high.
It’s in the sound. A normal jump results in a normal ‘boing,’ while a higher jump results in a higher-pitched ‘boooOOOOING.’ It’s a perfect example of juicing.
Think about when Mario shoots a fireball. What happens? The fireball shoots from his hand, but you also hear the sound of the fireball shot at an enemy. How effective would the fireball be without this sound? Not very. It would lose much of its charm and most wouldn’t be excited to even get the powerup in the first place.
Here’s the thing about juicing: when it’s done correctly, the average player doesn’t even notice it. Let’s take a look at another Nintendo classic to see another example of juicing done correctly.
Juicing the animation
When you play one of the Legend of Zelda games, what happens whenever you swing your sword? Sure, you hear a nice ‘swoosh’ sound (another example of juicing), but what else? There’s another aspect that makes swinging a sword so satisfying. Answer: it’s the blur you see whenever you swing the sword.
The blur isn’t there just for effect, either. Like the higher pitched ‘boing’ in Super Mario Bros., the blur of the sword shows the trajectory of the sword in motion. Without it, it would be a little more difficult to accurately hit enemies.
That’s the beauty of juicing when it’s done correctly: it adds an element to the game that makes it feel more alive while remaining helpful.
Look at the Star Fox games. When you are going fast in the ship, you can see particle trails that give the illusion that you are indeed going fast. When you hit a wall in a Mario Kart game, the screen sometimes shakes for a brief moment to give the illusion that you hit the wall quite hard.
And the best part? You probably never realized most of these things occurred, did you? They’re subtle yet without these effects, the games would not feel as alive as they do.
Ensure it makes sense
When juicing an element of your indie game, make certain that it makes sense. For example, you wouldn’t want the screen to shake every time you shot a fireball in Super Mario Bros. Not only does this not make sense, but it would get quite annoying (not to mention it isn’t subtle). Only juice whenever it adds a new component to the indie game and just makes sense.
- Only juice when it adds to the game’s experience.
- Make sure that it’s subtle.
- Ensure it makes sense.
If your juicing technique meets all three of these requirements, then you may have a great idea on your hands. Do you have any questions or comments about juicing? Let us know in the comments below!