Toto Temple Deluxe: Powers Up!
3 comments since October 16, 2014
–The Making of Toto Temple Deluxe: Platforming (Part 2)
–The Making of Toto Temple Deluxe: Collisions for Platforming
–The Making of Toto Temple Deluxe: The Unique Experience
–The Making of Toto Temple Deluxe: Evolution Through Iteration
–Toto Temple Deluxe: Sacrificing fun to remove the no-fun
–Toto Temple Deluxe: Odyssey of a Bubble
One of the best improvements of Toto Temple would be powerups! Okay, it is not a super duper feature as almost every multiplayer game features powerups in one way or another, but there are reasons why so and this is the subject of today.
In multiplayer games like Toto Temple or Mario Kart, after a while, it is rather easy to predict the outcome of a match early. Did I just say Mario Kart? Indeed some racing games are pretty straightforward and the outcome can be foreseen from miles away, but not Mario Kart because of three main reasons: obstacles that move on the track, sometimes tricky to avoid them, the rubber band system (the first player is slower), and the last reason is of course the powerups. Yeah, instant, short powerups are something like a dice roll, they are random and make the game so much more exciting! Messing with the advancement of everyone by giving advantage to one, so for example the one with less points gets a powerup that makes others lose points, in an instant he becomes the best, the others have to work hard to get those points back, while the former last player now stands with a comfortable advance. Everything could happen at all time, exciting!
Now that we have the reasons why the powerups, here’s how the powerups! Every powerup must be strong enough and need minimal input from the players because the reason we need these powerups is yet again to create opportunities for the less skilled players to grab the top position. If the powerup needs much skill, it would serve the best players and leave the others behind. The feedback, goal and functionnality would be easily understood, at least the second time it is seen by the one who got the powerup. Each powerup would have its own feel and would bring satisfaction in an unique way, at least enough to make the focus switch from the goat to the powerup as soon as it appears. We came up with 10 powerups like that:
Seeker – Some kind of mask that seeks the goat for you, acts like that mask thing that wants to recuperate the key when you grab it from under his nose in Mario 2 for NES, the design is kind of a wink at this. It stays there for a while assisting you, then disappears. In its original form, the seeker mask stayed until it would capture the goat, then disappear, it is pointless when you play one against one as the mask would bother you until you are hit by it and the best strategy would be to get hit by it as soon as possible.
Bomb – Sits on your head, and after a while, it explodes, making the opponents lose a part of their points and scatter them in the arena. We like Mario games, so the detonation chime is the first few notes of Super Mario’s level 1 music, because it is funny and fits well! This is also a wink toward the Worms series.
Magnet – No more winks, sadly. Anyway, this one is one of the most interesting because it does not need any visual to be impressive: every coin in the arena is pulled toward you at a considerable speed, for a limited time. Makes mini contests to intercept coins before they reach the powerup wielder. Really satisfying to snatch a golden coin!
Frog Shield – Makes you immune to any threat, makes you a threat to the other totos, makes your attack collision bigger than you are, you don’t need to dash to get the goat. This one was an early attempt at making the Toto bigger while maintaining the physical collision the same size, its early name was “Aura”. One of the best powerups to have when playing at “professional” level, because you are immune to knockback shield with this.
Super Toto – The toto is bigger and heavier on knock back, when you have the goat, you stay small and nimble though. After a bug, we thought it would still be interesting to have a big Toto, partly because of the novelty of the moment. But turns out we could exploit size in other ways than just making the attack collision bigger, nice unexpected addition.
Curse – Makes everyone else slow, their dash attack is really slow too. Many hilarious moments were caused by this simple powerup! The curse was once confusing; it made the players lose a small amount of points over time (adding subtle visual noise) and the controls were inverted, it was not slowing down. The problem with this is that it did not handicap skilled players as they could compensate easily the inverted controls, so the advantage was much dependent of the skills of the opponents and if they were skilled, the advantage would be really minimal.
Cursed Magnet – Makes everyone else repulse the coins, not too powerful so it is usually given to best players, but its very funny to watch totos struggle to get their coins!
Cross Crystal – A little bit like the bomb, but it spawns lasers at 4 cardinal points, you will steal points from everyone you hit with them. The Cross Crystal came from the idea of a vacuum that would suck the coins from players in proximity, which came from a mechanic that makes you steal great amount of coins to the next player in which you dash. The vacuum was just not impressive enough, it was hard to visually explain the impact as there were none, the steal on dash needed much skills to be effective at all. There is still a flaw in the crystal in the form of this is not exactly clear that it steals points/coins. In fact, every coin transfer is hard to show in the midst of all the action.
Piggy Bank – You get 500 points just like that! Okay, not that exciting and all, but it also doesn’t ask any input from the players input. It is mainly there to present a wider variety of powerups, and acquiring 500 points at once is usually welcomed too!
Drill – You can dash through any collision. This one’s coming in the next update! We had thought about the concept as a ghost long ago, but could not wrap our heads around how to not make it exploitable, how to make the player unable to go through walls with the goat, or stay in walls for undefined times after the powerup vanished. The answers were easier than we thought: You gotta dash to go through walls, so you can’t do it while acquiring the goat, when you have the goat you alwasys are clear from any collision.
Grape Bunch – You have several little yous to assist you. This one too is coming in the next update! This powerup was inspired by times when we would test and put several totos under the commands of one player. Some interesting twists came from this such as switching attention from one toto to the other to maximize your performance, but it was tricky to use and did not feel like a proper powerup. With several clones though you can just dash like crazy and something will surely happen.
There are several powerups, some are more powerful than others, so they are ranked from the least effective or most skill demanding to the most effective or less skill demanding. The more the player has points compared to the average, the less likely he is to get more effective powerups. But as they are not so different in terms of effectiveness, the powerups also are more effective against players who have more points. For example, a bomb can make best players lose up to 2x as many coins as worst players.
How not to Powerup
We had several ideas for powerups, some have just been cut, for example we had a “coin fountain”: coins pour out of the wielder for some time, supplying him with easy to reach coins, the bad thing about this is that the best way to use the powerup was by standing still to wait for the coins to hatch, not very exciting… Also, the ball odyssey began (previous post) with the idea of a mine powerup and later fusioned with a powerup that made sparks that crawl along surfaces when landing a dash.
At one point, there was a points multiplier that would double the point income for the time it was effective, powerful, but it would not make much difference in the actual gameplay and would be unimpressive. Also there have been at one point something called a slash dash, when you dash, you release some kind of energy that hurts everyone around you in a mid range radius, yet again, the powerup needs much skill in order to be effective, so it have been abandoned.
So this is it, powerups are a good way to keep surprises and add depth and exploration to a game. Mastering powerups in Toto Temple is fun because you only get rare chances to train on them, but usually they are easy to use and to figure out.
That said, my personal favorite powerup in a game would be the golden mushroom in Mario Kart 64. Spamming the boost button and boosting through fields, with the camera effect that suggests you just went supersonic was rewarding on so many levels!
And I’d say that the blue spiky shell is the worst powerup ever. The fact that it is usually awarded to a player who is far away from the first player makes the blue shell not much of a good asset for the one who has it, and there is absolutely no tension as to whether or not the player will be hit, it is kind of an unsurprising surprise. And you, do you have feedback to give on a powerup in a game? It may even be Toto Temple Deluxe, we’ll be glad to know what you think of them!