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Game Design - Timing for Jumps

By Cyangmou
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Considerations which have to be made if you have jumps in your game

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Comments25
anonymous's avatar
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Hergman's avatar
i had previously heard of that post-platform jump.
from what i know, all SNES platformers use it
varkarrus's avatar
varkarrusHobbyist Digital Artist

I hear it's called Coyote Time!

Hergman's avatar
good name
Chaosian01's avatar
Good stuff. It's strange to see people disagree with post-platform jumping - nearly every modern platformer has it to some degree.
As an alternative to post-platform jumping though, developers in modern games can set the collision for their characters to be capsule-shaped or spherical. Players will still have to time their jumps properly, but the rounded edge of the capsule will mean that instead of a falling directly off the platform, there's some greater leeway so they can still probably make the landing. That does come with other considerations though, like slipping off ledges instead of being able to hang over them
Cyangmou's avatar
CyangmouProfessional Digital Artist
Most people prefer "fair" games.
However totally fair and upfront games are usually not fun, because people are really bad at estimating things realistically.
Game Designers try to simply bridge the gap between reality and how something should feel to end up with something more fun and rewarding.

I think oval hiboxes are rather uncommon in platformers, and there instead would be kind of a magnet build in which pulls you on top of a platform, if you touch just some of the top corner pixels of a platform.
MilesTraveler's avatar
MilesTravelerHobbyist Digital Artist
I completely disagree with letting players jump after the ledge. If they fail the jump, the frustration is a buildup to the reward of mastering the skill of doing it right. Games are all about rewarding effort, that is what makes humans feel accomplished and therefore good. You can have momentary fun by making things ez breezy, but it will grow dull fast and leave them wondering why they feel unfulfilled. Failure is the buildup for success, remove failure and effort, and the reward feels pointless and not earned. 
Cyangmou's avatar
CyangmouProfessional Digital Artist
And still so many games let you jump just after the platform.
Some are considered even as quite hard, like Donkey Kong Country for example and the game let's you jump mid air after walking or rolling off the platform.
Challenge in games can be added in multiple different ways,
Most games go a greater length to simply make you feel good and achieved, while they skew both, numbers and physics in the players favour and one still can get the feeling of mastery out of them.
Goodlyay's avatar
GoodlyayHobbyist Digital Artist
I also disagree with allowing people to do an air jump after they already left the platform. It seems like a pointless extra step that only further trains more players to do jumps wrong and will screw them over when playing games without such a feature.
Cyangmou's avatar
CyangmouProfessional Digital Artist
Exact Implementation and timing matters of course.
If you have a slow game and the jump is very powerful and you can do it a second after falling from the platform, that the jump saves you it's done badly because it removes stakes.
If you have a timeframe of 180-220ms after the hitbox left the platform i'd argue that most people don't even realize that you can do it that way.
If you have a frantic game with high momentum where you can't exactly say where you jumped, most people don't realize it if they jump just in the fall.
Like always it's not about the tools, but about how they get used.
Seothen's avatar
SeothenProfessional Digital Artist
Okay, but consider the other side - if playtesting indicates the number of times players are dying while attempting to make a certain jump makes it less fun for the player, designers will just be instructed to make the jump easier by doing things like decreasing the jump distance and increasing the platform length.  May as well just give them that extra pointless step, right?  :)
Goodlyay's avatar
GoodlyayHobbyist Digital Artist
No, if players are dying too much there, the jump distance should be made longer, or the gap smaller, so the jump is more lenient. Being able to jump after you fall off the ledge only makes the game's rules feel fuzzy -- "why was I even allowed to do that?" and is completely unnecessary. Making the collision box of the player a bit wider to be lenient I'm fine with though.
Seothen's avatar
SeothenProfessional Digital Artist
But isn't that, besides the feeling of fuzziness, different routes to the same outcome?  I understand the feeling you get from it is true for you and others, but I think it should be recognized as well that the "jump after fall" mechanic is perfectly fine for some players.  Maybe adds a bit of excitement for them.
Goodlyay's avatar
GoodlyayHobbyist Digital Artist
Furthermore, if the player does realize they're allowed to jump after leaving the ledge, whatever issue they originally had with jumping too late will manifest itself again after they've shifted the "acceptable time to jump" in their mind.
Cyangmou's avatar
CyangmouProfessional Digital Artist
Don't forget that hardware input delay (pressing keyboard/controller keys) and some delay in code/animation can exist.
it can take a couple up to dozens of milliseconds between pressing the jump button and when the game actually registers and performs the jump.

Is it then the player's fault, the hardware's fault or the games fault?
Usually the game is blamed.
Which leads to techniques which can be implemented to craft an overall more enjoyable experience.
Goodlyay's avatar
GoodlyayHobbyist Digital Artist
If hardware input delay is causing players to fail a jump, the jump required too precise timing to begin with and should be adjusted.

Animation delay causing the player to fail a jump is a different story.
If the game is intentionally slow with slow animations, I would say it's the player's fault for not being able to time their animations. (Think of a slow move in a fighting game, does it make sense to blame the game if you do the move too late and the opponent dodges it?)

If the designer didn't intend jump to be slow but the animation is making it slow, the animation should be redone.
Or some kind of system can be added to guarantee that the jump is completed as long as the animation was started when the player was touching a platform.
Thystyn's avatar
ThystynHobbyist General Artist
I disagree with allowing players to jump while completely off the edge of the platform.  If game play is supposed to mimic real world physics, then they would already be falling.  Partially off the edge is no probs though, although still a stretch.
Cyangmou's avatar
CyangmouProfessional Digital Artist
Most games with a jump don't mirror real physics at all.
Goodlyay's avatar
GoodlyayHobbyist Digital Artist
I agree games don't and shouldn't have to mirror real world physics.

But I do think when games have rules they should be consistent for clarity and fairness.

If your game has 2 rules:
• You fall when not standing on ground
• You can only jump when on ground

How is it fair or consistent to allow an air jump after leaving the platform? If your players keep dying because they are jumping too late, either they need to fix their timing (it's possible for the player to just be bad), or the gap should be made smaller so that precise timing isn't necessary.
Goodlyay's avatar
GoodlyayHobbyist Digital Artist
To me the air jump is basically like allowing the player's health bar to go BELOW 0 before you die -- yes it makes it easier, but what is the purpose of this? If you need to make the game easier, increase the player's health or decrease the damage they take.
Cyangmou's avatar
CyangmouProfessional Digital Artist
Goodly, I think in your head an oversimplified model of a jump exists, which is not considering that the player can already have movement and any input delay of the controller.
Most people are bad at judging exact speeds and space at certain speeds (this fact causes a lot of car crashes)
And the delay of the hardware is there, making absolute precise timing simply not possible, especially since this input delay can vary depending on the setup.

Goodlyay's avatar
GoodlyayHobbyist Digital Artist
"Goodly, I think in your head an oversimplified model of a jump exists"

Perhaps

"which is not considering that the player can already have movement and any input delay of the controller.
Most people are bad at judging exact speeds and space at certain speeds (this fact causes a lot of car crashes)"

I understand these facts

"And the delay of the hardware is there, making absolute precise timing simply not possible, especially since this input delay can vary depending on the setup."

I am not advocating that precise timing should be necessary at all. This is what I'm saying:



Notice that both examples have the same window available to jump and succeed.

My issue with the air jump is mostly a visual one, I think it makes no intuitive sense to be able to jump after you leave the platform.
Cyangmou's avatar
CyangmouProfessional Digital Artist
And I am not saying that things have to be done that way, but potentially can be done.
What's better for a specific game always depends on the specifics for that game and there is not one jump which is in every case better than others.
But you got tools to work with.
Goodlyay's avatar
GoodlyayHobbyist Digital Artist
That's reasonable. I'm not convinced that it should ever be done that way, but maybe that's just up to my taste.

P.S.
Despite my argument here, I really like this series. Thank you for posting them :D
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Unknow0059's avatar
Unknow0059Hobbyist General Artist
Well, he did say they're considerations, not rules.
I'm one for tight hitboxes, so i agree with you.
anonymous's avatar
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