I love the ‘Juice It Or Lose It’ paradigm.
It’s a powerful way to make even the simplest game design feel immersive and ‘weighty’.
I mean, just look at this:
cinematic platformer pic.twitter.com/Ux2gxPeKOn— Stuffed Wombat (@wombatstuff) July 15, 2019
It’s adorable. It’s so simple almost anyone could have made it.
How can you not relate to that little character? And it doesn’t even have a face! A masterpiece of simplicity.
It’s like a distillation of Canabalt into its fundamental components. But without the cinematic flourishes it would just be a dull 1-bit platformer with an unappealing protagonist. That’s the power of ‘juice’
Occasionally I find a nice addition to the standard ‘Juice It’ bag-of-tricks. I’m collecting them here as I find more.
‘Juice It’ was originally demonstrated on sprite-based games: 2D platformers & breakout. But the next demo shows that it can be used to add polish to any genre - even a fluid simulation:
using directional blur to make swiping more impactful 😮 pic.twitter.com/A7YtftAMVR— Pavel Dobryakov (@PavelDoGreat) July 8, 2019
Fluid sims can become very dull after the initial novelty of the swirly whorls wears off. This little bit of added Juice keeps resetting the visuals prevent your eyes from getting too accustomed.
And the dramatic effect raises the stakes. It makes you feel like the whole system could become unstable. Which makes the physics much more interesting 1.
Juice also applies to non-game applications. TEXTREME is a juicy text editor:
But there are more conventional examples of ‘juicy’ applications, like the animated UI effects in mobile apps.
In these UI examples, it’s perhaps much easier to notice how gratuitous some ‘Juice’ can be.
Which leads me to the next point:
Before I list the original set of ‘Juice It’ videos, I want to share a contrarian perspective.
Folmer Kelly addressed the Juice It paradigm, warning desingers to not add Juice It-style polish for its own sake, and instead focusing on immersion, context, and believability.
He covers several standard examples where ‘Juice It’-style polish is overused to the detriment of game feel:
- platformers kicking up dust
- tweening hard elements, like rocks
- gradients and dynamic lighting in pixel art / limited palette games
- shadows in the sky, mis-aligned “dropped” shadows
- juice for the sake of juice
The original Juice It videos:
It’s interesting to me that the industry spent decades figuring out how to simulate stable fluids (in real-time). But the thing that makes this particular bit of Juice work is that it hints at the possibility of destabilized fluids. I.e., forces so great they chain react and ‘break’ the simulation. As with traditional storytelling, that conflict is what makes the whole thing better. ↩