Making Games ‘Juicy’
It's a rare consensus that a game is satisfactory with just its core rules, minimal visuals, and no sound. Besides the fundamental rules, a game requires stimulation for the player's senses such as visual and auditory effects, and theatrics to enhance the experience.
Game developers refer to games where these elements are aptly utilized, as 'juicy' games. By making a simple block-breaking game 'juicy', it's easy to see how the same game with the same rules can become much more enjoyable. This concept is well illustrated in videos that explain how to make a game juicy by adding 'juice',1 or by showing the difference a juicy game makes through demonstrations.2
The article "Research: Making a 'juicy' game",3 includes content from the above videos and introduces methods to juice up a game. Some of the methods suggested are:
- Adding color.
- Utilizing tweening and easing for smooth animations.
- Altering or bouncing object sizes according to events.
- Incorporating sound effects and music.
- Displaying smoke, destruction, or trails with numerous particles.
- Shaking the screen to convey impact.
- Adding eyes and smiles to objects, making them react to the environment. Eyes follow objects and blink, while mouths express emotions.
- Making the environment react to the rhythm of the music.
- Adding animations like hit-stop or knock-back when attacked.
Games that effectively employ these methods are referred to as 'juicy' games. However, the term 'juicy' is somewhat ambiguous.
The article "Juicy: a useful game design term?" 4 delves into what 'juicy' denotes, but doesn't arrive at a definitive definition. It mentions casual juicy games like those by PopCap,5 notably Peggle,6 which is praised for its various theatrics that commend the player. Peggle, simply put, is a game in which players launch a ball from the top of the screen and watch it hit pegs. But with every combo, a beaver named Jimmy Lightning cheers with phrases like "Rad!" or "Innovative!" and keeps the energy high. Other theatrics include a drumroll & zoom-in before hitting the last peg, followed by Beethoven's Ninth Symphony playing upon success - a truly juicy game.
Incorporating such lively theatrics in games significantly enhances players’ enjoyment, even in simple games. While it might be challenging to add rich theatrics in a short development timeframe, there are simpler yet effective means like particle effects or responsive sound effects to add juiciness.
Although slightly different from 'juiciness', improving the 'feel' of a game,7 is also crucial. By forgiving minor player errors and making correct actions easier to perform, a more comfortable gaming experience can be provided.
By paying attention to aspects beyond the core mechanics, games can evolve into more enjoyable experiences for players.