Games consist of interactions, and lots of them. Each interaction might seem simple, especially since they often happen over a time span of half a second or less. But getting an interaction to feel natural and satisfying, at the same time conveying what is happening while never feeling slow or cumbersome, is an art in itself.
Recently we have added a hook upgrade to Sling Ming and I thought that this might be a perfect example for showing the details that go into a seemingly simple interaction.
Above is a video which shows Ming using the hook to open a hatch door, first at normal speed and then in slow motion. Please keep in mind that this is work in progress and will look better in the finished game.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s really happening, step by step.
Step 1: Aim
When the player taps the handle, Ming might be facing any direction. To fix this, Ming stops in mid-air and rotates so that her feet are facing the handle. At the same time an animation is triggered which brings her arm into the shooting position.
Stopping in mid-air isn’t physically correct, but it creates a feeling of charging power, which will be released during the next steps.
Step 2: Shoot
Oh look, there’s a tentacle growing from Ming’s arm.
Step 3: Pull
Now Ming is pulled towards the handle. At the same time she rotates so that she is aligned correctly.
Notice how the hook keeps being attached to both Ming’s arm and the handle. It also wraps around the handle to get a tight and powerful grip.
Step 4: Land
Bam! To make the interaction look powerful, an extreme animation with shining light is triggered as Ming slams into the ground.
Step 5: Hold
The interaction ends with Ming hanging on to the handle while the rope is pulling her harness. To convey that she’s struggling to hold on, different sprite frames are used depending on the force exerted by the rope.
That’s all, folks
I hope you gained some insight from this, even though I kept the discussion very brief. The most important thing, I believe, is that the end result is what matters, not all the details. And never ever make an interaction longer than necessary just to show all the details you slaved over!