So, after some contemplating and counseling with my teachers, I decided that I’ll be going to Computer Science major after I graduate from highschool.
In truth, I’ve always been fascinated by storytelling ever since I discover the aniblogsphere. As lovely as it is for me to become a writer, after talking with my teacher, he said that my skill are more suitable on “technical” side of things. Plus I’m afraid I’m not familiar enough with both Indonese and English literature (especially the former) in order to produce prose’s susceptible by literacy standard (as is the case with my earlier posts). And I’ve been hearing things about how being a writer aren’t exactly the most…….profitable job.
So in the end, I decided to explore more on interactive storytelling. So after I graduate from my university, I decided to become a somewhat game director/designer/whatever job that allows me to make video game for living.
Video game with their interactive nature, allows for storytelling angle that wasn’t possible in any other media (be it books, movie, anime etc.) whether through gameplay or game mechanic. They can have the player be the participant of the narrative and immerse themselves inside a story rather than just watching or reading things unfold.
So, instead of just letting storytelling being just a personal interest, I decided to combine it my own ability and skill on programming. Its win-win isn’t it? (or at least I hope so 😉 )
Anyway, to hone my game design skill, once a while, I’ve decided to pick apart interesting things I found inside a game in this blog. So I decided to start with a mobile-game that any anime fan should be familiar with.
If you haven’t know by the title already, its Love Live School Idol Festival.
And with that, enough with real life rambling and lets get on with those moe idols 🙂
Love Live School Idol Festival is a free-to-play mobile rhythm game available in Android/IOS mobile devices based on the highly popular anime series “Love Live! School Idol Project”.
Rhythm games are quite popular in the mobile games market due to the fact the controls are easy and intuitive for touch screen. The popularity of LLSIF to a degree are quite an intrigue for me. While the cute girls, the catchy song, the cute girls, the popularity of the anime itself and the absurdly cute girls are most definitely few of the major factor, the amount of popularity the game itself receive are still quite puzzling. So perhaps, the design of the game itself maybe contribute to it. So, I decided to do some analysis on it.
While there are quite a few things to talk about design wise in the game (the love gem and scouting, the team management mechanic etc.), this time I’ll just focus on the main gameplay. The Live Show.
Lets start with the song selection screen. As you see in the image above, in here you can pick a song and choose what difficulty you want to play it in. You unlock more song as you complete a main story chapter (which mostly consist of slice-of-life event between the anime main protagonists). Higher difficulty means higher reward (exp, bonds point etc.), but it also cost you bigger LP point (point’s that determined how much can you play the game, a slight equivalent change since this is a free-to-play game). Notice that each song themselves have their own difficulty setting in the form of “stage level” gauge. The stage level themselves only determine how much rhythm icon that’ll appear during the live show, while the difficulty setting determined the speed and tempo of those icon appearance’s, and the bar of the grade.
Now, the reason why each song themselves have their own “stage level” (with each new unlocked song have higher stage level) was to raise the challenge bar as players gain exp point and raise their rank. And as the player raise their rank, they unlock more story chapters, which in return unlock higher stage level song.
Next you pick the team of idols you want to play the song with and get other players to help you boost the score.
So, we arrived at the gameplay section. The gameplay of LLSIF themselves are pretty standard rhythm game fare. The objective is to get as much point as possible by tapping the rhythm icon on the correct moment (i.e. the moment the icon are on top of the team member icon). The top bar above determined what grade you’ll get as you gain score. You can get higher score by having a member with a higher attribute. μ’s member being the main protagonists, are obviously the one with the highest attribute and also they’re the one that has special abilities. If you miss an icon or tapping them at the wrong moment, you’ll lose health points. You lose if the health bar’s depleted.
First off, one of the few things I notice that stand out for me when I look at screen is how the team members are positioned. The number of members you have to bring in to the live show are obviously to match the number of the main protagonists, but take look at the v-layout. The way the girls positioned took almost every side of the screen, making most of them, which allows a flexibility for the rhythm icon “shooting direction”. This provides players more challenges because players will have to keep an eye out on every side of the screen for an incoming icons as opposed to just look at the determined icon path that mostly common in a rhythm game. One thing I’m somewhat mixed about however is the special abilities activation. When the special abilities are activated, the girls image flash through the screen. While I do get the fact they need to visualize the abilities activation somehow, at times it can get in your way when you’re focusing to tap the icon. (Edit: I’ve been informed that you can actually the idol pop ups in the setting)
Secondly, the way combos “scored”. You can only get the combo up when you hit “Great” and “Perfect”. When you hit “Good” and below, the combo drop to zero. This was intended so that not only to incentivize players to tap more accurately, but also due to the fact by the end of the song, you were graded separately. Both on how much score you got and how high is your combo (with their own in-game reward of course). This also adds an extra replayability.
Finally, the retry mechanic. When you lose during the live show, you’re given a chance to “revive” yourself into full health by paying a love gem. Love Gems are gained through login bonus, completing side missions or paying real life money. The last part is how the game is going to earned profit, because when you suddenly ran out of health during the middle of a song and you run out of love gem, chance’s are quite high you’re going to pay some money just to keep yourself going. It should also be noted that Love Gems are a requirement to scout a μ’s member. Another way the game earned money and to give a dilemma for the player to which one should they prioritize. Are they going just use one to continue the song or keep it just in case they have a chance to get their best girl?
All right, that’s probably all I could say about Love Live School Idol Festival: Live Show game design. Let me know if you’re interested more in me talking about game design in the future posts.
See you then 🙂
-Slight complaint. For some reason, LLSIF often didn’t responded to my tapping during The Live Show. Don’t know if its because I played it in my phone or the game is buggy. Anybody can help?