More Trucks was born during one intense brainstorming session fueled by the consumption of more mochi than any three people should reasonably eat. We were discussing the exciting interactive possibilities that our newly integrated physics engine afforded us when we came up with the idea for the Monster Trucks Scene. We were really interested in the idea of programmatically generating terrain, and what could be more fun to drive over programmatically generated terrain than monster trucks! As per our usual, we stumbled out of our sugar-induced haze with far more ideas than could ever be squeezed into one development cycle, so the most challenging part was figuring out what not to build.
Drive, Roll and Bounce
The physics engine allowed us to incorporate a kind of interactivity and dynamism that we didn’t have available to us in the first Trucks app. For example, objects in More Trucks have mass and are subject to friction, obstacles in the Monster Trucks Scene are outlined so cars drive over them the way they would in the real world, and things bounce, roll and scatter in a way they haven’t in past Duck Duck Moose apps.
One of the most exciting things we did in More Trucks is to programmatically generate the hills in the monster truck scene. The graphics were segmented into 3 parts to allow for a parallax scrolling effect and then the hill graphics were generated with variable color and height. The outline of the dynamically generated hills define the physics properties of the ground and thus, how a monster truck will move over it.
We try and keep our design process very open and fluid which allows a lot of room for last minute creativity and revisions based on kid testing. In typical fashion, details like the Godzilla leg (used to crush stacks of cars in the junk yard scene) and the egg-laying pterodactyl were added during the final weeks.
More Trucks is the sequel to Trucks so we wanted the app to feel stylistically similar. The artists created all the vector artwork and then hand painted the scenes with a suite of custom Photoshop brushes to give the artwork texture and depth. A few of the original Trucks characters (the shark and the monkey) make a cameo appearance, but there are also lots of newcomers like Scraps the junk yard dog.
All the music for More Trucks was composed in house, however we brought in multiple musicians and ensembles to lend their sensibilities to classic tunes like “Do your ears hang low”, “The Wheels on the bus”, Hurry, Hurry Drive the Firetruck” and “Farmer in the Dell”. (We even snuck in a jazzy version of the Brandenburg Concerto by Bach.)
More Trucks also broke some new ground for us musically with the introduction of genre-specific based compositions designed just for our audience. (And by audience, I mean, keeping kids entertained while not driving parents insane. :) There are surf, blues, latin, and jazz pieces in the app which we feel is a healthy introduction for kids to the wide world of music and hopefully will expose them to something that they may not normally hear.
The voice in the app is 12 year old Shane Turner, a local pianist, who brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the production.
More Trucks was tested by a bevy of enthusiastic kids throughout the design process. Some of the bigger revisions to come out of testing had to do with speed of gameplay and introduction of new audio prompts. We took for granted that our younger users would have already been introduced to the game of Tic Tac Toe, but after testing with 5 or 6 kids we went back to the drawing table to redesign the interaction in order to make it enjoyable for younger players as well.
Our favorite kid testing quote came from a 4.5 year old boy who exclaimed, “This is better than Angry Birds!”