#7: Midterm Complete

Finally finished my midterm project! woo

The game is called Heel, Dog! and it's somewhat of an autobiographical game about my struggle with walking my disobedient dog who only goes where she wants to and forces me to drag her around if she doesn't want to go where I want to. In the game, you are on an island with a dog house and a bunch of palm trees, and your goal is to get your dog into the dog house without falling off the island. However, the disobedient dog moves around randomly, pulling you left and right, so your job is to pull back and use the forces of physics to somehow get your erratically moving dog right where you want it.

My main struggle with the game mechanic was tuning physics and getting it just right. Early in development I would have the physics be so strong that it was nearly impossible to control what was going on, since at a certain point you'd just end up spinning in circles as a counterweight to your dog. While that was certainly entertaining, it made the game nearly unplayable, even with the huge enlargement of the island to give the player more space. But in response, I overcompensated by making the physics so weak, the game was almost too easy (a very young child who had literally never used keyboard controls in his life managed to win the game within a few minutes). For the final iteration of the game, I retuned the physics to make them a tad bit stronger so that the gameplay fell somewhere in the middle, and also made the island significantly smaller so there is actually a chance of ending up in the lose state. Additionally, I made the dog house significantly smaller so that the player could no longer enter the dog house and pull the dog in, and so that the entrance into the dog house is just big enough that actually trying to pinhole the dog into it is somewhat of a challenge. Finally, the last biggest change I made was adding physics materials onto everything. Now both the player and the dog can bounce off the dog house and all of the palm trees, which were originally only added to give the player an idea of where they were in the play space relative to the edge of the island and the dog house (yes, the island used to be that big).

If I had more time, I'd probably add more gameplay mechanics and different levels for the game. Currently it's really only composed of one simple mechanic, which leaves a lot to be desired. One additional idea I had for mechanics include a treat/toy mechanic that would use raycasting to lure the dog toward them, but possibly make the dog pull harder once they are used. Meanwhile, an additional level idea I had was to make a city so that you'd have to navigate a maze full of dangers (like cars and toxic litter) and get to a certain location.

But for now, please enjoy my dinky little island dog game.

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