Development Notes: Freeze Pop Frenzy

Sep 21

Concept Sketches
The idea for Freeze Pop Frenzy came to me while riding the subway one day. I wanted to create a summer-themed game, and I thought it would be fun to make a Tapper-style game with you as the ice cream man, having to drop ice cream on the kids as they climb the side of your truck.

It took me a while to nail down the gameplay model for Freeze Pop Frenzy. The game would be too easy if you simply had to drop ice cream on the kids, as I initially envisioned. I decided that there should be some distance aiming involved, but that didn’t make sense with dropping stuff out of a truck, so I changed it to be a top-down view of a park with you tossing the pops out to the kids running across the grass.

I still felt that it was missing something, so I added the two flavors. This adds another level of difficulty, because if you give a kid the wrong flavor, he gets mad and starts running faster. It also forces you to decide if you should run across the screen to grab strawberry for the kid that is far away, but running fast, or keep chocolate to give the slower, closer kid.

Making the artwork for this game was really fun. This is the first time I’ve used 3D graphics in one of my games.

Ice Cream Van
I found a SketchUp model of a step van online, took some still shots of it and decorated it to look like an ice cream van.

Pop Animation Frames
I wanted the ice cream pops to be flipping in the air as they got lobbed out to the kids, so I bought a model of a popsicle on TurboSquid and saved out a sequence of frames for the popsicle animation.

Sketches for Kids
Making the kids was the most challenging part. I found it really difficult to make a top-down view of a kid that looked like anything other than a little blob. Once I finally came up with something I liked, I created a bunch of different options for hair, skin color, and clothing that could be randomized to make a bunch of different kids.

I did a bunch of research on ice cream truck music for this project. I wanted something that had that authentic clink-clink sound. Of course the Mister Softee song is copyrighted (and, curiously, it has lyrics), but I was able to find some midi transcriptions of an old tune called Redwing that often gets used as ice cream truck music.

Unfortunately, the midi sounded too clean and computery to my ears. I brought the song into GarageBand and changed the instrumentation a little. I really juiced up the bells to give it that nice distorted clinking sound.

The original name that I came up with for the game was Popsicle Panic. After doing some research I discovered that Popsicle (or should I say ‘Popsicle™’) is a registered trademark. Not wanting to get into any trouble with a major corporation, I decided to change the name to Freeze Pop Frenzy.

Freeze Pop Frenzy has been my least popular game to date. I think this is for two main reasons: First, the game is really hard. It is pretty difficult to time your throws just right to hit the kids, and on top of that you have to make sure you are throwing the right color.
Second, I think the game is too similar to some of my other games. The click/press and hold to set throw/jump distance is a great mechanic, but I need to make sure I don’t overuse it.