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The Design of Trippy Hike

Sept. 28, 2020, noon

Trippy Hike is now available for Free on the Apple App Store for iOS 13.0 and up. It features casual gameplay that’s easy to learn, but hard to master. It also supports Game Center achievements and leaderboards. Additionally, an ever growing in-game cosmetics store is available and offers plenty of options for making your character look just how you want. Be sure to check it out today. And if you’d like to know more about the actual development of the game, I discuss some of the particulars below.

The game itself originated from a C++ prototype based on OpenGL for a school project. Here the items, player, and tent were represented as simple colored squares on a single color background. While basic, it established the core ideas behind the gameplay found in Trippy Hike for iOS.

However, in the transition to touchscreen hardware it became clear the classic keyboard and mouse controls would not be ideal in this new environment. Instead, some brainstorming was required to determine a method of movement that would feel native on a touchscreen device. Unsurprisingly, the best method of movement was determined to be a simple tap interaction indicating where the player should go to. This system then evolved further to encompass the tap multiplier system that increases the player’s speed with each tap. In adopting this method, the player was now rewarded for skill and planning a route taking into account speed but would not be punished directly if they chose not to in the earlier levels.

This new method of movement also played a big part in how the items are represented to the player. In the original prototype, each item was a simple colored square that would only reveal if it was required, or had some other effect, if it was hovered by the mouse. This worked fine with a keyboard and mouse but was extremely clunky with a touch screen. To combat this, each item was given its own distinct sprite that allowed them to be identified at a glance. If the game had remained on the keyboard and mouse, this change would have made the game significantly easier. However, with the new touch movement where planning a speedy run becomes necessary as the game progresses, these sprites are right at home since the player has to weight if saving time, collecting an optional item, or even collecting an item they know is bad is the best plan for surviving the day. This becomes particularly apparent when gold comes into play on the level. While gold doesn’t spawn on every level, when it does it often inspires the player to take on the risk of collecting it despite the risks that may be associated with the quickest path to it.

This greed for gold, however, is quite understandable given the existence of the in-game store. This store, and the customization features associated with it, were planned from the start. From a general standpoint, it allowed the game to be released for free. But on a more technical point of view, it adds depth to the game and lets the player feel more at home with their character. This inclusion also allows more places for the humor in the game to be expressed through the variety of wacky items that can be equipped. In the future, these customization options will, at least in the current plan, be expanded further with options to select everything from different background tile sets to sending iMessage stickers using your particular character.

So why not check the game out today. Trippy Hike is currently on the Apple App Store for free, and if you’re feeling generous, why not pickup some gold from the store to help support further development!