I worked on Jetpack Joyride for 2 and a half years, as the lead design for new and awesome content being added into the game.
Once the original team moved on to making new titles, my team took over to both make the current game flow better than before and to add new and exciting ideas that would keep the game relevant to players and monetizing better. I worked on the game from July 2013 (Version 1.5.1) to September 2015 (Version 1.8.7)
S.A.M - The Strong Arm Machine
When creating S.A.M we wanted to add a daily reward system into the game so we could keep players engaged for longer, while giving them something really fun and completely different from every other game out there.
That result - S.A.M, the Strong Arm Machine, a massive, screen filling robot that is unique to the game. S.A.M changes the gameplay where instead of avoiding everything, you need to hit and reflect back all the missiles coming towards you with your arm. Being a massive machine, it could take more damage than any other vehicle and would collect all coins that would appear on the screen.
To use him you need to collect his special S, A and M tokens as well. S.A.M is only available once a day, as he is so powerful, but was so fun to play that players came back in droves.
By playing as S.A.M you also recieve a Daily Reward, which includes a variety of powerups and coins amounts. The more days in a row you played, the better the reward would be. By day 5 you recieved a present - a unique costume piece that is only available through the Daily Reward.
For S.A.M I created the concept for him, created the system and game loop for the daily reward system, created all new UI screens involved with the daily reward, and created the event and obstacle patterns for the gameplay.
The Sleigh of awesome
For Christmas 2013, alongside S.A.M, we wanted to add a premium vehicle to the game, as well as something to fit the season. So why not a rocket-powered Sleigh pulled by robot Reindeer?
The Sleigh was originally only available during the Christmas season, but was so popular that it is now available year round. I created the original concept for the vehicle and its gameplay.
VEHICLE SKINS & ONE TIME OFFERS
As a way to have quick and consistant updates that players would enjoy, we created a new system for Vehicle Skins. Prior to the update, the only skins were a golden versions.
This update was quite extensive - each new skin was made in LUA scripting. I wrote a lot of the scripting for these, changing the sprite positions, textures and particles to appear at the right times. I also came up with several of the concepts used in the end.
Each of the new skins also came with a One Time Offer - players can get a complimenting costume for a bit of cash. If they don't choose to buy it then, it will go into the S.A.M Daily Challenge. For this I built the UI screens and how they were offered.
One of our most requested featurs for Jetpack was cloud saving. Players who had switched from iOS to Android and vice versa were unable to take their Jetpack Joyride save with them.
We put a substantial amount of effort into making Jetpack Joyride compatible with the new Halfbrick Profile system. I worked on bringing all of the games' customization options and missions system to the cloud, designed how we would upsell players to log in, and build the LUA script for the Cloud Nine Vehicle Skin, which players unlocked instantly by making an account.
Split Testing for player engagement and advertising
Our team built a simple but robust system to do split testing, which we used to help increase player engagement, as well as to find the best use for adding video advertisements into the game.
For player engagement, we did tests where we changed the first 10 missions of the game to be easier and more player facing, had a mission list drop down at the beginning of the game, and even added a simple tutorial into the game. Using our analytics tools, we were able to see how new players were able to engage with these new systems, and which fared better against the original versions.
We also did over 20 differet split tests for adding video advertisements into the game - finding the best points at which players would want to trade a video view for more content. We worked hard to find the best 1:1 ratios of offers to views and finding ways to do it in a fun way which didn't detract from the game exprience.
I created the concepts for the majority of these tests, built the UI screens and CRUD scripting for each of them, as well as built our Social Square visuals, which allows us to upsell items they can use or buy, offer videos for coins, or send them to a link for other promotional items.
Events for the game involved creating new modes, allowing for a new Leaderboard, new unlocks and new ways to play.
Our first event was Bling it On, a simple event which allowed us to build the backend systems to be able to turn events on and off at a whim. When players switched to Bling it On, they would be shown a new logo, a unique costume, and all vehicles would be their golden skins. While turned on, players would now see new coin patterns which included diamonds - a new currency that was worth more than normal coin pickups.
Our second event was Cut & Run - to celebrate Fruit Ninja's 5th anniversary. In this event players only have 60 seconds to collect as much fruit as possible in a frantic and fast paced mode. This was a massive change to the way the game worked, and was built for us to be able to change even more in the future.
In both cases I pitched the concept of both events, designed and created all the UI screens and popups specific to the event, created new XML files which changed the way the game functioned, and worked with our team to make them the most fun modes we could make.
Back To The Future
Previous events were working up this this - an awesome collaboration between Jetpack Joyride and Back To The Future.
JJ:BTTF is a new, temporary event mode where players must collect flux capacitors to extend time, getting hit makes them lose time. Collecting vehicle pickups allows playes to use two new fantastic vehicles - The Delorean Time Machine and the Hoverboard.
While playing the mode, players will also unlock new costumes of Marty, Doc and Biff as they play, adding a new metagame layer to the mode.
I initially pitched the collaboration to the team and higher-ups, as the Back to the Future day was coming up at the end of the year (and really, I wanted a rocket powered skateboard in the game and the hoverboard seemed like a good fit)
I designed how the mode and vehicles were going to work in the game, as well as how we would sell them. Players get to use the vehicles for free during this mode, while if they want to keep them for later, they can purchase a pack and use them in the normal mode.
This was so fun to work on too. Universal were really keen on what we were doing, and Bob Gale, who wrote the BTTF films, was apparently really happy with what we came up with. Got to speak with him too!
While Zappy Bird was developed prior to the Back To The Future event, it was released as the final new mode made for Jetpack Joyride.
From the beginning Jetpack Joyride had the Profit Bird - a vehicle which you tapped in order to flap it's wings. When the sudden mobile hit Flappy Bird rose to infamy, we thought it would be fun to make Zappy Bird - taking on the Profit Bird and the game's Zappers to make a whole new mode.
Compared to the Fruit Ninja and Back To The Future modes, which have obvious crossover potential, Zappy Bird was specific for Jetpack Joyride. In this case we had a Rock Opera Music Video created by Studio Joho focused around the Profit Bird made 6 months prior but without a reason to release it. We decided to make this the reason!
The mode used the catchy tune in the music video for it's own soundtrack, and at the end of a play through it would link players to the music video.