12th International Mobile Gaming Awards – Guilty Pleasure – Nominee
What is Fishy Meal?
The iOS game Fishy Meal is a play on the standard platformer obstacle of the piranha jumping out of the water between two platforms, where the player has to time his jump to cross. In Fishy Meal you tap the screen, to make the piranha swim and jump out of the water – but you have to time your jumps correctly.
How & why?
I tried to create a game that offers a quick gaming experience (for short play times), but that could get quite addictive, driving players to try again and again to better their score. With Game Center connected, the player is also taunted with the scores of their friends, which are always fun to beat. There are also loads of achievements to accomplish – sum that require persistance, and some, that require skill.
Well, every game has to have coins nowadays. But there is no in-app purchase to purchase coins? You can only earn them by eating their enemies, who lose their gold when they’re munched upon. And also, by being a regular player, a random reward appears every now and then, that can boost your wallet.
But why coins?
Well, sometimes you’re doing well, on your way to a new high score, but a tiny amount of lost focus, makes you time your taps wrong. Not to worry, with your hard-earned coins, you can have a chance to continue the game… as if that mistake has never happened.
– What makes your game unique?
Fishy Meal is a game that sprouted from a tweet with a simple idea – “you’re a piranha, waiting for protagonists to jump over a gap between 2 platforms to leap out of the water and devour them.” The twist on the classic obstacle from almost every platformer game. I liked the idea so much that I spent close to a year working in my free time (alongside my more-than-fulltime job) trying to build, design and polish the game to be fun and addictive to play.
It just called for a really simple mechanic – while building it, I played around with more complicated motivations for nomming on protagonists (decreasing health/food level, using energy for swimming, etc… ) but everything was too complex. In the end I chose a simple solution – tap the screen to “wiggle” the tail and don’t let anything cross – be the evil minion doing your job.
It’s definitely not the only or the first game that’s driven with a single input – but it’s different from the rest. It requires rhythm and concentration – which is part of the fun – a slight lapse in concentration means the next jump will miss the protagonist and you (as the piranha) will fail your job.
The whole game also has a nice visual style, with pixel graphic art combined with dynamically rendered water and environment – all in a crisp pixel style, to bring back the nostalgic feeling and make players remember the games that served as reference and inspiration (mostly the original Prehistorik).
It was also a completely one man project – I did everything myself (game design, code, art and graphics, “sound”), which made the development time longer and there might be some aspects of it that don’t look like they are finished. But I am still working on it, and have exciting things still planned.
– Why do you think you will win the Grand Prix this year?
I think Fishy Meal is a perfect game. It’s simple enough, so that anybody can figure it out and play it, but challenging enough, to require some dedication and practice. It’s accessible to anyone and doesn’t dictate how much time you have to spend playing it – it’s up to the player. It can be enjoyed in quick bursts, or, if one is really into it, for hours on end. It provides enough challenge to not just be something the player mindlessly taps, so it does help gain a skill… a very odd skill, but a skill nonetheless. The visual style of the game is simple and to the point – reminiscing of the games it’s taking inspiration from. The dynamically generated water, sky and shadows also give the game a bit more character. Every bit of the game, from design to implementation, has been polished and tweaked for best experience – but it’s not trying to be more than it is – a simple game, with a low barrier to entry, that everyone can enjoy and obsess over beating their Game Center friends’ scores.