“Game Feel”: The Impression Of Bounciness

Most games contain objects made of different materials. How can we show those properties without being able to physically touch the object?

What is bouncy?

A material property created by the springy/elastic nature of a material. Elastic materials are able to redirect the velocity of an object they make contact with, while retaining more of the initial speed than a non-elastic object.

How can bounciness be conveyed inside a video game?

The object could/should have:

  • The ability to bend/deform/stretch its shape without breaking or suffer physical damage.
  • The ability to return to its original form without lasting damage or changes.
  • A slowed return to its original shape after deformation, including bending back the opposite direction.

A Unity Implementation:

A bouncy spring pad

A good digital representation of bounciness can be created using a simple animation on the object. Above, I play the animation every time another object lands on the pad. The animation only has 5 key-frames.

When another object hits the bouncy one with force, a ripple pattern similar to a water drop hitting a pond should happen.

The object should deform, condensing in the direction of the hit, and expanding in the directions at right-angles to the hit.

Then the reverse happens: The object expands/stretches in the direction of the hit, and condenses at the right-angles.

The strength of these movements grow weaker over time, depending on the elasticity and bounciness of the material/object.

An Alternative Implementation:

Depending on the circumstances, the bouncy object may not even need to deform itself. The above suggestions lean towards something hitting the bouncy object, but it may be the other way round.

While deforming would still look natural and possibly improve the above example, the primary way of conveying bounciness is the ball’s trait of reflecting its direction when coming into contact with an immovable surface.

Note:Reflecting”, not “reversing”, its direction.



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Vincent Taylor

Vincent Taylor

Unity game developer / C# Programmer / Gamer. Australian (Tasmanian) indie games developer for 10+ years. Currently looking for games industry employment.