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How  Thumper  got its turns on track

How Thumper got its turns on track

November 28, 2016 | By Alex Wawro

November 28, 2016 | By Alex Wawro
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More: Indie, Design

"We wanted to have both of those sensations, of leaning on the side and bracing for impact, and this was the simplest control scheme we could come up with that represented both states."

- Thumper dev Marc Flury speaking to Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

What went through the heads of Thumper devs Brian Gibson and Marc Flury (together known as Drool) as they designed the twists and turns in the "rhythm violence" game's tracks?

That's the subject of a recent Rock, Paper, Shotgun feature, the latest in its "The Mechanic" series of dev interviews focused on a specific feature or system in a game. Like Gamasutra's own Game Design Deep Dives, the whole series is worth reading for game devs, as it helps illuminate the ways their colleagues work through even seemingly simple problems or designs.

For example, at one point in Thumper's roughly seven-year development cycle the pair changed the way players would navigate its turns from a simple "press the button/stick in the appropriate direction" to "press the direction and also hold down a separate button." Flury tells RPS (see quote above) that this made the game "feel" better, more weighty and not "too light."

The addition of that turn button wound up leading them to implement a kind of timing-based "perfect turn" bonus, a reward scheme Gibson was initially against that wound up becoming what he believes is a core component of the final game.

"In the beginning I was pretty down on perfect turns,” says Gibson. “Over time it grew on me and I realised that it does make the game better and definitely now with the perfect turns, making it so you can continue your flight is such an intrinsically cool thing that changes how people play and strategise high scores. It’s a huge part of the game now, for experts at least."

You can read more comments from both devs, as well as further insight into Thumper's development, over on RPS.

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