Vlambeer Scale: Weighing Fish


Game feel is a general term for the techniques, tips, and tweaks developers use to enhance engagement with interactive systems. It includes everything from how mechanics are calibrated, to  controls, to sound effects, to visual flare. Game feel comprises the details that make players take notice and pay attention. It’s a bit of science, basic art technique, and a chunk of style. Who doesn’t want their games to be interesting to play, watch, and listen to? This is the goal that all designers strive for. And all designers do it a different way, which is exactly why talking about game feel is so difficult.

Now we can use the Vlambeer Scale of Quality as a tool to find some answers. Perhaps there are no two better games to draw a comparison between than Ridiculous Fishing and the game many consider to be a copycat, Ninja Fishing. Ridiculous Fishing was made by Vlambeer while Ninja Fishing was made by Gamenauts (co-developed by Menara Games). Both games have identical gameplay structures featuring dropping fishing lines into the water, avoiding fish on the way down, snagging fish on the way up, and destroying the haul as it’s flung into the air. Yes, the games look the same, but they do not feel the same. Using the Vlambeer Scale of Quality and a quick game design break down, let’s uncover the truth.

See for yourself in this video side-by-side. Which game looks more interesting to you? Which game do you think scored higher on the Vlambeer Scale of Quality? How big do you think the score difference is?

Here’s a breakdown of the Vlambeer Scale of Quality.

Ridiculous Fishing Ninja Fishing Ridiculous Fishing Ninja Fishing
Basic Sound and Animation Yes Yes Camera Position Yes Yes
Lower Enemy HP Yes Yes Screen Shake Yes No
More Enemies Yes Yes Sleep Yes No
Muzzle Flash Yes No More Bass Yes No
Faster Bullets Yes Yes Super Machine Gun Yes No
Less Accuracy Yes No Faster Enemies Yes Yes
Impact Effects Yes Yes More Enemies Yes Yes
Enemy Knockback Yes Yes Higher Rate of Fire Yes No
Permanence Yes Yes Meaning Yes Yes
More Permanece Yes Yes Camera Kick No No
Camera Lerp Yes No Total 20 12

Here are the questions we’re still thinking about:

  • Does the genre and visual style necessitate the use of specific game feel techniques? Does choosing pixel art push a developer towards also developing Vlabeerian game feel?
  • Is a touch screen interface its own kind of game feel where the sense of touch and audio feedback gives the necessary feedback?
  • Does game feel matter most to gameplay-oriented players because the techniques give feedback critical to making gameplay decisions? Is there a different set of game feel tips for interactive experiences that are less action-based and less skill-based?
  • Does Vlambeer’s game feel highlight the quality design of Ridiculous Fishing’s gameplay and other features? In other words, is game feel all style or does it hint at and highlight substance?
  • How do players and critics interpret good game feel? Is it mostly conveyed in the tone of their response? The look on their faces? Or is it reflected in how a game’s other features are described?

I don’t doubt that the game feel of Ridiculous Fishing makes a difference, but the question is to whom and how much of a difference does it make? For the record, Ridiculous Fishing looks like a much more enjoyable game to me.

To close, I’ll leave you with some quotes with tone words bolded.

“Playing Ninja Fishing and Ridiculous Fishing in quick succession illustrates what a difference it makes to care about your audience. The concept may be similar, but Ridiculous Fishing outclasses its would-be competitor in every way.” JC Fletch engaget

“As you master the precision tilt controls, you’ll go from snagging a fish accidentally almost right away, to weaving in and out of a living minefield. The dense but logical organization of fish makes the learning curve satisfying every step of the way, and embodies the ultimate iOS commandment: make the player feel like they’re doing a hundred epic things while only asking them to do one or two.” Eli Cymet Gamezebo

It is, in fact, a ridiculous way to fish. And, thanks to the tilt controls of the fishing line, you look ridiculous playing it! Regardless of its appropriateness as a bus pastime, the tilt controls are natural, responsive, and extremely quick – unlike, say, Ninja Fishing, which has a noticeable, irritating delay on every tilt. JC Fletcher engadget

It’s been a long and frustrating journey for Vlambeer to bring Ridiculous Fishing to the market, but for gamers it’s certainly been well worth the wait. John Bedford modojo

And the moral of the story? A great game design can always be ripped off, sadly, but talent will out in the end. You can’t cut-and-paste the artistry and attitude that Vlambeer has brought to this extravagant bit of disposable nonsense. You can’t copy a true original – even before it’s out. Oli Welsh Eurogamer