CrossQuestion: Why do we use auto jump in CrossCode?

jump_discuss_1

Let’s do something different this week! Instead of a weekly update (which we will now provide every second week), we want to discuss some game design aspects of CrossCode with you. This week, we’ll discuss a more controversial design decision of CrossCode: the automatic jumping.

Ever since we published the TechDemo, we’ve often gotten the feedback to add a jump button for more precise jump control. Up to this point, we still don’t plan to integrate this button. And in this post we want to give some insight into that decision. In the following we will provide 3 reasons why we have auto jump in CrossCode:

CrossCode is about height – not about jumping

Pretty early on we decided to make CrossCode three-dimensional so that the player can walk on layers of different heights. Having height is always a great thing to make the design of areas more interesting and dynamic. It is also a great tool to design more challenging puzzles. Even boss fights taking height into account are a possibility.

However, while height is definitely an important part of CrossCode, jumping is not. We obviously need jumping to move between different heights, but if we look at puzzles or battles there is no reason to do precise jumping here. This is also because the jump height in CrossCode is fairly low. It’s not even high enough to jump on top of most enemies.
So it all boils down to 3 things we do with jumping:

  1. Jump up on a higher platform
  2. Jump down on a lower platform
  3. Jump over gaps

There are two ways a jump button would provide more control:

  1. You can decide exactly when to jump
  2. You can decide how long you’ll jump by pressing the button for a longer time

Timing is important for jumping over gaps, but for this aspect, auto jump already does a perfect job: it jumps at the last possible moment in front of the gap.
As for the duration of the jump: since jumps in CrossCode don’t go very high there isn’t much to adjust in the first place. In addition, you can change your movement speed during the jump to adjust the distance which works pretty well for shorter jumps.
There is one situation however, where auto jump can be slightly annoying: sometimes you don’t want to ‘jump’ down a platform, but simply fall. There is actually a way to achieve this in CrossCode: you need to approach the slope more slowly. But this is still harder than simply ‘not pressing a button’. There is a workaround, where you can simply use ‘dash’ on the slope, but this has its own problems.

All together: we think the additional control of a jump button isn’t really all that important for CrossCode. But maybe we’re missing some use cases here?

We want to keep the ball throwing action mostly 2D

Free jumping also means that you can jump during battles – and throw balls while jumping (in the known jump’n’shoot fashion). While this works perfectly fine in 2D, here is what happens in 3D:

jump_discuss_2

Can you guess the exact position of these 3 balls? Here is the solution:

jump_discuss_3

Kinda unexpected? This is a general downside of 3D: it’s often hard to see the actual position of entities. It’s especially difficult for pseudo 3D without perspective distortion (things far away don’t get smaller).

When we add free jumping to CrossCode it’s likely we’ll have more balls at different heights at the same time. Since CrossCode will be a fairly fast paced game, this added complexity will most likely result in confusion in the heat of the action.
Of course, we already have problems to some extend since we added platforms of different heights. However, with a limited number of platforms, the player can at least be sure that two ball-throwing entities on the same platform will hit each other as expected. In contrast to free jumping, you only have a limited selection of heights you can move on, reducing the complexity.

Auto jump worked before

Finally, we want to refer a popular video game series that already successfully makes use of auto jump since quite some time: The Legend of Zelda.
Auto jump has been added in Ocarina of Time and remained in the series ever since, even in more 2D-ish titles such as Phantom Hourglass.

All together, we think that auto jump is a better choice for CrossCode compared to free jumping. So much for our opinion. What do you think? Is there any advantage to free jumping that we missed? We’d love to hear your opinion on this topic!

7 Comments

  • The major point of free jumping I expect to be is simply, that Lea actually CAN jump but the player can’t make her to.
    It’s no game-mechanic-point (I really don’t consider free jumping useful nor miss it), but of course when I myself am Lea in a Role-Play-Game, I also want to have full access to her abilities.

    So I don’t think CrossCode would win by free jumping, but felt empathy to Lea would possibly increase.

    • Well… If we go along that road: there is a lot of stuff that Lea could do that you have no control over. Stretching, turning her head, pointing into a direction, sitting down, laying on the ground, doing a cartwheel… So jumping is just one of many things.

      • I consider jumping a different thing since she actually does it in the game, only without concrete order.
        And while turning her head probably wouldn’t be part of the gameplay even if she did – while jumping is – the lack of control would not be as significant as in the case of jumping.

        But this thoughts might by bullshit, eiter.

  • That… makes sense. DARN IT FOILED AGAIN-

  • Perfectly fine reasoning! ;-)

    But since you mentioned it yourself: The complexity of the different height levels for platforms is already too high in some levels (of the tech demo), specifically the one where the boxes of three different levels are all aligned on a vertical line (remember the level?). The satisfaction of mastering that level arose — in my case — primarily of the fact that I managed to grasp the 3D model of the level, rather than solving the problem in that model… ;-)

    So… Maybe you could work with more distinct colors of the environment on different heights. Or you should keep the complexity in the y-direction as low as possible, while having more freedom in the x-direction.

    • Yeah, we’re aware of these height problems. I guess (or hope) you are referring to the puzzle stuff after the credits. That level was pushing the whole 3D situation a bit too much.

      We’ll do exactly as you suggest. For future environment we’ll use different colors to mark the heights more explicitly.

  • Actually, for me the biggest argument for free jumping is… it’s fun.

    In Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, your maximum speed was very low, and jumping didn’t do a very good job of preserving your momentum. It wouldn’t have been that much fun to just hop hop hop around.

    But Lea is quite fast, and her jumps seem to hit at pretty much the same speed she’s moving at the time she jumps, so actually even a “visual” hop without an actual height change has a very satisfying feel to it!

    Though really, I’m more concerned about invincibility frames instead of free jumping at this point.

Post a Reply to Topp Cancel reply

Your email is kept private. Required fields are marked *