In Honor of St Patrick's day, its...


Snakes on an Island


I decided to make a small little arcade-y game that was somehow related to St Patrick's day. Everybody knows the story of how St Patrick allegedly drove all the snakes out of Ireland. This story is allegorical however, and it's really about him introducing christianity and getting rid of all the pagans. Because of this I originally I didn't really want to do a game about it, but after having trouble coming up with something interesting about St Gertrude (the patron saint of cats), I decided that I'd rather stick with this because I had the game idea in my head and it was much easier to find a wiggling snake than a fully animated cat or mouse.

Click here to play Snakes on an Island



The Good

The core game mechanic of tapping snakes to ward them away was so simple I gave myself more time to work on the art than usual, so I managed to find a pretty neat little snake animation, sound effects, and even a weird allegedly Irish drum rhythm to put in there so this game despite still being pretty simplistic, actually looks better than many of my previous week games. This one turned out pretty well and doesn't really need much more. It's nice to hit on a game that is so simple that I don't even have to care about scope.

One big change I made near the end of the project that worked well was changing the score system. Instead of making it how many seconds the player survives, I made it so the score ticks up for each snake the player taps. The reason this was such a good change is that I could then tune the difficulty based on the score, rather than the time, and when new spawners turn on to put more snakes in the game, there is a far lower chance of two snakes overlapping each other.

Another problem I caught and fixed had to do with collision. At first I had circle or box colliders on everything but that didn't work because then the game would lose even though it didn't look like the snake was anywhere near the island. So then I tried polygon colliders which looked great but made the snakes hard to tap. So then I made the tapping of the snakes, and the snake's collision with the island be separate colliders. This felt great but I noticed sometimes I'd tap the snake and it wouldn't turn around. I realized it was because the snake collision was overlapping the tap collision, so I simply made the snakes be on the Ignore Raycast physics layer.

The Bad

This game would almost certainly play better on a touchscreen as opposed to a mouse and keyboard game. It should have a developer account and put this on the app store. Nothing is stopping me from buying an apple developer account, I just thus far have not. If I end up getting one, it'll be too bad that St Patrick's day will be old news and this game will be irrelevant by then.

I did almost no game tuning even with my self so the game's difficulty ramps up considerably once the player's score reaches 50. I would have liked to watch a couple people playtest this game in order to made that curve more fluid and interesting.

One last thing: Snakes on an Island is the best Snakes on a Plane reference I could come up with, which is rather pathetic.

The Lesson

I didn't know about polygon and edge collisions inside of Unity, so I learned about those. This was a godsend and will undoubtedly help me with annoying shapes that need precise colliders in the future.