Feeling Punchy

As a game developer, where do you start when you want it to feel really good to punch things in the face?

Without the right visual effects, a strong impact in a videogame is as satisfying as hitting a wall with a sock when it should feel like smashing a window with a waffle iron. Without the right audio effects, a strong impact is like slapping a fish when it should sound like a car accident crossed with a herd of lions.

Fortunately, it turns out the topic of punching stuff shows up fairly frequently in games, giving us a lot of good case studies. For Time Tangle, I decided to use Street Fighter 4 as a starting point, and after digging in a bit I got a better sense of all the subtle effects they layer on top of each other to get things to feel awesome. Some of the effects we ended up adding:

  • Action briefly pauses on the moment of impact, bringing attention to it. Stronger impacts have slightly longer pauses.
  • During the pause, a splash effect is played at the point of collision.
  • During the pause, the screen shakes. Its magnitude is based on the power of the impact. Gotta love screenshake.
  • A good crunchy punch sound gets overlayed with the sound of the object breaking apart violently.
  • As the action resumes, obstacle chunks finish flying outward and explode.

In this game you can either throw quick jabs, or charge up your punch and unleash a charge move that breaks through walls and sheer rock. The idea was to make it feel good to run around punching stuff, but to feel particularly good to wind up a powerful attack and destroy whatever you want. It’s like an all-you-can-punch buffet!

Here’s what it feels like to break through a brittle teacup with a jab:

punchteacuptrim (2)



And here’s what it’s like to bust up a series of obstacles with a power punch:

punchwall (1)



I hope you’ll look forward to punching all your worries away when Time Tangle comes out this summer.

In the meantime, what’s a game you’ve played where hitting stuff felt super satisfying? Leave a comment below!

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I’m Tim Winsky; designing wacky & unique games is how I roll. Game development is always a lot of work, but it’s worth it as long as you can have fun during the process.