Tips for building with smart items
Tips and ideas to help you create truly enjoyable experiences
Artists have always struggled to have their work understood by others—more so when it comes to game design and other forms of interactive experiences. The player might not behave as you expected, moving through your scene in a completely different way to what you intended. If you make a movie or write a book, the viewer or reader might miss the point you wanted to make, but if you build games, the player might not even get to the point where that thing you wanted to say happens.
This is why it’s super important to provide clues on how you want players to interact with your scene. Smart Items bring a lot of tools to help you do this easily.
Here are some tips on how to take advantage of them:
Use arrows to provide hints on what the player should do next. You can easily call an arrow’s ‘show’ or ‘hide’ actions, so that they’re only visible when needed
Write signs and signposts to give more context. Sign and signpost Smart Items let you write any text you want on them
Use message bubbles, scrolls and tablets to include messages that players can open and read. The text might give your scene a backstory and more depth, but since players have to click on these to read them, be mindful there’s a chance some of them won’t
Use the ‘print message’ function of the ‘tools’ item to display text in the player’s UI for a few seconds. You can leave this info on-screen for as many seconds as you like. More important messages might need more screen time to ensure they’re read. You can use this tool to provide more explicit feedback about what a player just did, why they didn’t succeed or where they should go next
Activate Smart Items that produce sound, like a siren, a parrot or a bell to let the player know when something important just happened
Remember, you’re building a multiplayer experience
Even though you experience a scene by yourself in Preview mode, once deployed your scene will be visited by several people at the same time. This is why Smart Items have been built with multiplayer in mind, so every time a player interacts with a Smart Item, its effects will be also visible to other players in the vicinity of the scene. If one player pulls a lever to open a door, other players will also see the door open. If a third player walks into the scene, they will also see the open door. The door will remain open either until someone closes it or until there are no players near the scene and the scene resets to its default state.
Experiences everybody can enjoy
Multiplayer experiences create all kinds of engaging moments which can require collaboration or rivalry between players and make things a lot more fun. However, keep in mind that you need to keep the experience fresh for every new player.
For example, if you’re building an escape room, it might be a good idea to reset the state and position of all items in the room manually, to ensure that the next player experiences the game how you intended it. To do this, you could have the final door call a ‘delay’ action in the ‘tools’ item, so that it waits a few seconds before resetting everything in the scene.
We hope these tips can help you take your scenes to the next level. If you have any questions about the above or want to know more about the Builder, reach out to the team on Discord. Good luck and happy building!