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Muffin Mayhem (Part II)

The Golden Muffin was a weekend game jam game, but I didn't quite get in everything that I really wanted to. Now that the contest is over, I've taken some time to add to the game, improve it, and re-release a version that I'm happy with. I started with bug fixes (I forgot to reset the score timer between rounds), but the two big things I tackled were adding A* and revamping the shop UI.

A* Pathfinding is a great external asset that I've written about was a real lifesaver in Alien Cow Farm and I was eager to try out a much simpler 2D implementation here. A simple grid graph was all it took to get my player character to stay within the designated bounds, path around the booths rather than bump into them, and most importantly, add a little randomness to their movement instead of the previous straight-line traversal. In the most basic implementation of A*, you just add the correct components to the scene and add code which updates the unit's destination property...I was already doing this for my rigidbody movement, so it only took me about an hour to add this improvement and tweak it to my liking.

I also considered adding NPC units to the fray, other bakers wandering around the floor and perhaps even blocking your access to booths, just to make the game a little more interesting. I ultimately decided against this, mostly for fear of another visual problem: With my meager art skills, I didn't want the player character to get lost in a sea of identical chef's hats. That may have added another cool layer of gameplay, as well as stretched A*'s RVO muscles, but it would have taken a great deal more effort to accomplish...too much for something that I wasn't even sure was a good idea.

The really big change was to my shop's UI layout. Multiple people who played my game complained that they didn't know which muffins in the trade were what the seller was offering, and which were what they wanted in return. In every other game with a shop mechanic, that distinction is obvious because you're working with goods and currency. I was using muffins for each, and worse, trades which involved multiple muffins could have them on either side of the equation. I tried a few different ways to improve my layout, and the one I settled on organized each trade into a single column, with the muffins for sale above a thick black line, and the ones asked for in return listed below. By putting the "for sale" muffins as the column "headings", it became much more clear which was which. Unfortunately, this meant I had to both hardcode the layouts and rethink the way my master trade list was organized, because of the horizontal space available for the headings. I could do a 1-3-1 layout and a 2-1-2 one, for instance, but a 3-3-3 definitely wouldn't fit, so I needed to make sure that distribution never happened in a booth. That took some doing, but I can't argue with the final product:

The Golden Muffin is available to play now, here. And that puts a wrap on this project, but the next Undersea Odyssey update is just a few days away, and there are even more future games in the works already!


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