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29 Jan 2015

Indie Devs: Tips To Make Your Platformer Fun

Everyone loves a good platformer. Whether you are developing your indie game for mobile, Steam, a microconsole, or a mixture of all three, platformers kill it on every platform. Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly secret news: tons of indie developers already know that if you want to appeal to the masses, a platformer is one of the best ways to do it. So how can you ensure that your indie game stands out above the rest? Thanks to Dev Mag, we’re going to find out exactly how to do this – and guarantee that your platformer is fun.

Simple interface

Make sure players can jump over obstacles, gaps, onto platforms, etc. easily. This isn’t to be confused with making the game easy. Rather, ensure that the game is easy to control, the player knows exactly what they need to be doing at all times, and above all, make certain that if they die or mess up, it’s their fault: not the games. This is easily accomplished via a simple control layout. Make certain there is a button for jump, run, performing a power-up, etc. If you want a game to reference to help you do this, reference the old platformer stand-by Super Mario Bros., as it’s the blueprint for how to craft a platformer that does so much with just a few buttons.

Collision boundaries

Want to know why so many NES platformers were infuriating? Because their collision boundaries were all over the place. Sometimes, barely coming into the same area as an enemy would result in getting hurt. This isn’t fun! Ensure that your collision boundaries make sense. Dev Mag mentions that the collision boundary of friendly objects and allies must be bigger than the actual object. When seconds count and you need to snatch up that extra life in a hurry, this will make it simple for you to barely come into contact with the object and obtain it instantly.

For enemies, Dev Mag suggests that the collision boundaries are smaller than the objects and enemies. This will make it easier to avoid enemies/dangerous objects; but you still need to keep the game challenging (i.e. don’t make the collision boundaries too small). Find a happy medium between ally and enemy collision boundaries, and keep your game fun.

Keep them on their toes

It is crucial that every level of your platformer feels new and interesting. Looking at Super Mario Bros. as an example again, many levels look identical, but the placement of platforms, enemies, dangerous objects, etc. ensures that every level feels different than the last. Moreover, you are gradually presented with new challenges (e.g. the introduction of Lakitus, water levels, etc.) as the game progresses. Do the same with your platformer, and make certain that players have no idea what is coming next. Once they experience what is coming next, make certain it’s something they haven’t experienced yet in your platformer.

Do you have any questions or comments about ensuring your platformer is fun? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Dev Mag

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