Lucien's Portfolio V5.0.0

A Small Game About Juiceboxes

September 2020

🕹️ Play Here!

My first solo game project made using Godot Engine! Developed over three months in quarantine, the focus of this project was to experiment with game "juice" (hence the name) and familiarize myself with the process of developing a game from start to finish.

A sidescrolling "bullet-heck", the game involves maneuvering a juicebox around the stage while dodging pink obstacles. To discourage camping in a corner, each juicebox can activate an ability to either dodge, shield, or otherwise defend itself at the cost of a juice resource, which can be refilled by picking up powerups that spawn near the outskirts of the stage. As the game progresses, the obstacles increase in frequency, intensity, and speed. Alongside that, new and tougher patterns are added to the mix.

Screenshot of early gameplay, showing a grape juicebox evading multiple pink bullets

From the start, I focused heavily on having the character movement feel good. Using a juicebox as a player object meant not having a lot of ways to convey movement through gestures, so I relied a lot on particle effects, both real and "fake" (using animated sprites instead of the engine's particle features). Making sure the jump arc felt good (and had a variable height) was also important, since the game required very precise movement at times. Other small touches, like having the pointer react to clicks in a clear way, menu items jostle when selected, and generous use of screen shake were implemented to ensure the game felt as responsive to the player's actions as possible.

The game also featured a multiplayer mode. Last the longest to gain a point, whereupon the stage shuffles and the difficulty increases until one player hits 10. It supports up to four players, using either keyboard & mouse or gamepad. It was difficult to manage the inputs and bind controllers to players, and even more difficult to test, but I'm proud of how it came out -- learning more about how to make good party games is a particular goal of mine, so I took a lot away from developing this feature of the game especially.

Compared to other projects I've worked on where the sound design had to strictly adhere to a theme, the more abstract "setting" of this game let me experiment more with making sounds that fit the vibe of the gameplay in various ways. I still have a long way to go as a composer, but I enjoyed having that freedom when making the background music tracks. One particular challenge was making them varied enough such that they don't get old -- especially since the game isn't easy, I didn't want players getting frustrated by experiencing a short loop over and over. For the sound effects, I generally tried to make them sound "juicy" and used the same synthesizer instruments to create them so they meshed together. One way I united the music and sound effects is by making the effects that play when the most common obstacles spawn vary around a C minor chord, the same chord the background tracks center around. This added a sort of a non-obtrusive randomized mini-melody to reflect the random distribution of obstacles during gameplay. Additional information on the soundtrack is written up here!

One of the last features I worked on was an achievement system for the game, letting players unlock skins and stages as they play. Since ability types are tied to juicebox skin, I made sure the player starts with one of each unlocked, and by placing stage unlocks behind the more straightforward achievements, I tried to make most of the content as accessible as possible. Figuring out ways to let the game track unlock conditions efficiently (and especially letting the player know in real-time when they meet one) was a cool challenge to tackle.

Overall, I'm really happy with how this game came out. It was tough molding it into a finished product without a clear goal at the outset, but the game feel touches and decent content scope made it end up feeling undeniably juicy.

More information / downloads at this page!

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