Floorcraft UI Paintjob, Saying Hi To BOB | State Of Matterless #40
Floorcraft: Arena is out in the App Store, and here is an update on how we’re making it better in November. Also, introducing BOB!!!
With the release of Floorcraft: Arena, we’re diving headfirst into bringing our beta-level experience up to consumer-level standards by giving the app a visual makeover and improving several UX pain points.
First, we took our original design elements from the prototype and distilled them down to essential functionality, breaking down what makes racing and crashing fun.
We will infuse the application UX with the Floorcraft: Arena branding, bringing in those sharp and energetic racing vibes and giving the experience a solidified feel.
After plenty of hands-on experience, it was clear to us that screen real estate is king.
A lot of luxury screen space was cluttered with unnecessary buttons in our first release. These are difficult to press while driving and obstruct your view of the game world, so we decided to remove them in the next update.
The decluttering includes removing the ‘brake’ functionality which doesn’t add to the fun factor and tactic-driving impact we originally anticipated. Part of finding the fun is a lot of trial and error (we call it boost and brake :D).
We added a slim sidebar menu instead, that can be toggled on and off for navigation and session control.
We’re also experimenting with a storefront design that will allow users to unlock new vehicle bodies in the future in order to improve vehicle curation with customizability.
Another thing we wanted to improve upon is how easy it is to join a shared AR session with your friends. So, we made the invite functionality simpler and show a strong contrasting background. This helps the legibility of the text, and the overall hop-on hop-off flow we want all Matterless apps to have.
For gameplay, we wanted to really telegraph to players they can ZOOM by using the ‘Boost’ button. After some playtesting, we realized cooldown timers and hard-to-press buttons weren’t really working.
We’ve decided to update this functionality with a simple ‘Charge Bar’ that can be activated by tapping wherever your thumb happens to be when you’re in the thick of things.
We believe this should help all of you Floorcraft: Arena warrior-demolitionists charge at their opponents with more precision and responsiveness.
This same functionality is implemented to respawn after being destroyed. After a short wait, you’ll be able to get straight back into the action just by tapping on the screen and spawning at the location you’re pointing towards.
Our current release doesn’t give much love to those who hold their phone in landscape or those who play on an iPad, and that’s something we’re looking to remedy with our upcoming developments. We will be designing the improved UI to fit these needs and improve the overall racing/smashing experience.
Finally, we are currently exploring systems on how we can allow unique customization through a vehicle garage, giving players the ability to change their vehicle body, and colors and apply decals such as racing stripes (for more speed of course) which will be shared in the future. Stay tuned to our socials for news on these developments as they happen.
In the meantime, you can play Floorcraft: Arena right now by downloading it from the App Store. Give it a whirl and tell us what you think at our Discord.
Hello, I am BOB, and I Have Been Evolving
Something we have kept secret except for a few well-hidden social media posts, in recent weeks we have been developing a range of rapid prototypes for a new form factor Inco.
Through this exploration, we intend to find new workaround solutions for a handful of technical and theoretical pitfalls our current experience faces. The focus for many of the primary challenges we’re facing led us to explore lower fidelity creatures we are internally calling BOB.
Compared to our realistic Shiba Inco, we think with BOB the user will have fewer expectations of how it’s supposed to act. There is no escaping that the current Shiba should always act like a dog at all times, eliminating this expectation associated with a real animal and presenting a creature of our imagination.
BOB allows us to avoid any uncanny valley pitfalls and write our own rule book of what is the user’s expectation for movement and and the gameplay mechanics.
Puppers are cute, but BOB allows us to try something out of the box. Check out these renderings by Merlin!
We have experimented extensively with a few overarching material pathways, the heights of which can be seen above.
Although we have since scaled back the scope of this direction, here you can see some exploration into a mixed-media approach. Presenting a combination of digital/traditional textures makes for a glorious playground of possibility.
We especially loved the stop-motion paper elements and how they furthermore reinforced the bridge between the visceral and authentic to the digital realm.
These stop-motion assets work in unison with a staggered animation style of dropping the frame rate to work on 2s or 4s.
BOB the Blob
From what started as a singular blob-type creature, we found ourselves separating all the regions of interest to give us more opportunities for animation and customization. We wanted to try something more voluminous.
We tested different approaches to movement, developing many unique rigs to suit different needs for demonstration purposes.
But we needed more control over the body shape and limbs.
We added inverse kinematics systems to the limbs once we had achieved the desired level of flexibility. This gave us the opportunity to experiment with procedural animation in the engine and create a new, more versatile form factor for the Inco.
And here is the new and improved BOB, with custom skins by Batu:
We plan to flesh this out more in the weeks ahead and develop an extensive layering system, with detailed predetermined animations triggered when a specific procedural call to action is deployed. In plain English, your Incos will be way more responsive to your behavior and its environment.
They remain continuously engaged with the user or the environment without any resetting/downtime transition moments that break the experience.
The Eyes are the Window to the Soul
We really wanted to give more expressiveness to your digital companion. Eyes, ears, and hands all play a part in communicating intent and emotions.
We eventually switched from sprite sheet facial expressions to a rigged 3D object with many blend shapes that trigger different functions. As a result, there are many more facial expressions and multiple combinations that we hadn’t considered when we began the journey of making the Inco more responsive.
We took a lot of inspiration from WALL-e, the little robot from Pixar, and ended up combining it with some of our own artistic vision. BOB is still evolving, and so is our expertise with animation and understanding of the limits we are breaking on a weekly basis.
You will be able to try out BOB soon, we are excited about the new direction we are taking Incos, and if you want to add to the evolution, come by our Discord to chat!
In the meantime, drop by the App Store and give Floorcraft: Arena a whirl!
— Charlie, Merlin and Damir