Therapy Quest Gameplay Loop

Therapy Quest is designed to engage a 9-year-old boy, and needs to be sticky. Here’s the basic flow:

  • Open the App, see your position on the Questmap.
  • Press ‘Quest’ – your avatar walks down the road to a new location
  • Enemies attack! Fight them off via leg exercises
  • Collect winnings (gold and XP) from the combat session
  • Repeat the attacks until all exercises are finished
  • Lock the app so it can’t be played again until tomorrow
Left: the quest map. Currently blocks to represent villages. Middle the 'combat' - just a representation of the current exercise and an enemy. Right: coin collection screen. Coins fall from the top, bounce once and are collected when tapped.
Left: the quest map. Currently blocks to represent villages. Middle the ‘combat’ – just a representation of the current exercise and an enemy. Right: coin collection screen. Coins fall from the top, bounce once and are collected when tapped.

Quest Map

For the quest map I am taking a leaf from Candy Crush Saga and Jolly Jam – provide a visual representation of progress so far, while also showing progress yet to come. Both games feature a linear path through different gameplay zones.

Left: Jolly Jam. Right: Candy Crush Saga
Left: Jolly Jam. Right: Candy Crush Saga

I like the format because its clear, offers extra gameplay stuff like finding objects on the route or hidden in trees and is a great landing page for when you come back to the app.

Right now the plan is for the player to advance one location per day. This might not feel like enough progression, but certainly saves on content – the hope is that Jack plays this game daily for months if not years!

Combat Screen

The ‘egg timer’ portion of the game, showing the current exercise. Later the timer will be displayed as a countdown clock with some dramatic music near the end of the count-down. Most exercises last 30 seconds, one session per leg.

Currently the player always wins but this doesn’t provide much challenge obviously. Is the game purely an egg-timer or is there some interactive part to it? Would that be distracting from the exercises themselves? Only experimentation will tell.

Before I saw videos of the exercises I was excited about the idea of attaching the phone to Jacks leg and measuring movements via the sensors, allowing some actual interaction during the game. Many of the actual exercises feature only small movements and some are static, taking that idea off the table.

End Of Round Screen

This is an important screen where the player is congratulated for winning the battle. Usually XP bars grow, money counters spin and fireworks go off. The rule of thumb is that you should spend at least as much time on your EoR screen as the rest of the game combined, it’s a place to go nuts with particle effects and ‘stinger’ animations. The coin drop/collection aspect is there as personally I like some interaction with the reward to ‘claim’ it.

I’m toying with the idea of enemy ‘collections’ – beat 10 Fire Swamp Warriors to complete the Fire Swamp Warrior set sort of thing. Tokens for that would drop on this screen.

End Of Session

So, the exercises are complete and all enemies are defeated. Jack now has a pile of cash and XP, maybe levelled up some. His hips are well exercised and the blood is flowing. Internally one hopes.

The game returns to the Quest Map but no further progress can be made that day (again – don’t want to over-do the exercises or burn through the content) This seems super abrupt so I plan some extra activities here – maybe eating food collected on the EoR screen (extra 3.0% xp for every enemy defeated), polishing collected pieces of armour and visiting the shop. Have to spend all that newly earned money somewhere after all…

This seems like a pretty simple, tight loop so I’ll try hard not to over-complicate it later. It’s a nice straight-forward linear progression through screens, looping back to the start point.

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Therapy Quest Gameplay Loop

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