The Making of Google Play’s Best Games of 2020 – Part 1

Jan 8, 2021

This is the first part of the 3 parts series.

  • The Making of Google Play’s Best Games of 2020 – Part 2 (coming soon)
  • The Making of Google Play’s Best Games of 2020 – Part 3 (coming soon)

On the 1st December 2020, Joyseed Gametribe have been blessed with with a very good news: Rocky Rampage has won the Best Casual Games 2020 award from Google Play. You can see the full list of winners here.

In this very competitive landscape of mobile gaming, this kind of recognition is what we needed to persevere. The assurance that the blood, sweat, and tears we spill to deliver a joyful experience is not in vain.

This achievement doesn’t come overnight though. While we don’t spill blood literally and performing a dark ritual to make this game, Rocky Rampage has a long journey to become the game people know and love today.

The search for our next hit

By the end of 2018, Joyseed decided to do one of the hardest thing for us, pull out the plug of our first published game, Hollywhoot. The game is still available for download but we will stop any further development for the game. There are many reasons for this. One of the biggest reason is the poor architecture of the game which make it very difficult to make any update or changes.

And so our quest to find the next hit begins. Starting a new game project is always the most exciting thing in game development but also the scariest at the same time. There are so many things to consider, endless possibilities and endless threats and risks. How do we make a game that live up to our quality standard, have manageable scope for our small team of 7 people at the time, and also able to make enough revenue to enable growth?

After a long researches and discussions, we aim at a segment of game that we believe we can thrive on. Which is to relive the old arcade games from flash golden era and bring it to mobile. It is proven, has big enough fans, and can be made small enough for our team.

Prototype 1
Prototype 2

We made several prototypes with different gameplay idea until we found one promising enough, the classic launching game!

In the beginning was the circles & squares

The earliest idea for Rocky Rampage is very far from the game you can play today. It’s about throwing a giant bowling ball to destroy cities. The prototype is not the best looking game either as you can see below.

Only circles & squares

While some of us instantly fell in love with the game, it needs a lot of modification to make it work. The next goal for this prototype is to address any issue of the core gameplay while preserving the good stuff. That ecstatic feeling of controlling an unstoppable ball of destruction! Some of the core issues we found are:

  • Lack of decisions post launch
    In the very first iterations of Rocky Rampage, player has no interaction beyond the first launch. This makes the game get boring fast since player can only wait the ball to stop. We then add the ability to boost the ball during rolling. It helps a bit but it still doesn’t add any decision making during gameplay. Why not just spam the boost button? After a long discussion we then conclude that the key decision in this game is when to interact at the right moment. To achieve this, it is essential to add variety of effect of hitting the buildings in the game, some have to be positive and some have to be negative. We also change the interaction from boosting to jumping and adding airborne object to encourage jumping more.
  • Objects are hard to hit / avoid at high speed
    Because we put more emphasis on decision making during gameplay, it is very important to enable player to do so. For this reason we decide to change the objects from static objects like buildings to living things. The main reason is to enable us make the creatures to move along with the ball and thus increasing visibility at high speed.
  • Unnecessary realism
    When we create the first prototype of Rocky Rampage, we use a fully simulated 2d physics. Everything looks fantastic at first. But soon we found that it is very hard to tweak the parameters to have a fun gameplay with a right amount of difficulty. We immediately decided to use a fake physics, the important things are to make it fun and believable! Who needs realism!?

After a long list of tweaks and iterations, we are satisfied with the core gameplay and ready to bring this game to the next stage. In the next part of this series we’ll explore how we turn this very rough idea into a playable game with a working core loop and beautiful looks.