VFX in Defold like King


Hi!, I love Defold!
So, King have used Defold for some of his games (Pet Rescue for ex.) : the games really look great , many effects and animations, etc…
But there is a gap between what they did in terms of effects and what Defold offers.
Indeed ParticlesFx tuning is very limited (compared to unity for instance) and there is no animation timeline. How did King manage to create such games without that ?
So my question is : what kind of magic sauce did King use for the VFX ? Spines and flipbooks only, C++ modules embedded in libraries ? External particle editor ? Any tips ?



There were no special C++ libraries or extensions. In short, it was Spine models, flipbooks and particles. Also the occasional shader tricks happened, for instance on the map selection screen in Blossom Blast Saga.
As far as I know, there weren’t any external particle editors used.

I know @AJirenius and @Jerakin will be able answer this question (or @britzl) in much more detail than me :slight_smile:

Fun note: Here’s an early GDC presentation from @AJirenius presenting how they made Blossom Blast saga (24:40 in the video):



Thank you Mathias for the links.
It’s nice to see that a big studio like King have created big hits with the same tool that we use.

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You can also checkout Family Island (Android, iOS) for a similar polished experience which is also a big hit.



Pet Rescue Patrol Saga used Spine for a lot of animations in the game, and actually not only in-game but also for things such as transitions, menu effects etc.



I think Defold’s Particle editor is rather powerful - allowing to change almost every parameter. I was tinkering with it for a long time and if you need some advices on how to do a certain effect - let me know :wink:

What it is lacking imho are dynamic particles, but that’s like a separate feature and it is rarely used in games like Pet Rescue.

Regarding timeline - there is a normalised timeline for all parameters and it applies not only to particles themselves, but also modifiers (acceleration changed over time, drag only in the end of lifetime, to simulate that the particle stopped movement?) - it allows to do a lot of interesting things

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This spring we will have two students working on their master thesis specifically on this topic “Dynamic Particle System for the Defold Engine” :slight_smile:



Yep, saw it and I am excited about an outcome :smiley:

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Sorry for being late to the party! I worked on Pet Rescue Puzzle Saga as a Technical Artist as well as helping out on Bubble Witch.

I have nothing super insightful to add really. Spine is used for a lot of stuff as Björn said, we used it on characters, special blocks, menu transitions. Basically anytime anything moves with a bit more “life” than “straight line from point A to point B” you can probably assume that that is a spine animation playing. We also used Spine for things that required timing, by firing of events in Spine we can take logical actions in the code based on that. If you go this route be careful as some features of spine can be very resource intensive, mainly skinning with a lot of vertices.

Defolds VFX editor might be simple, but at the hands of an expert it can still deliver awesome results :slight_smile: We did not do anything special or magic to the VFX either.

I guess the TLDR; is what we all know: Pet Rescue Puzzle Saga is a game made by a big studio so compared to most here on the forum the biggest difference is probably the man hours spent (not yours individually but in total), King have big teams (compared to indie studios) on their games that all work full time on them so there is time for some polish. It also helps that King hires people who are really strong in their fields. :slight_smile:

So unfortunately I think that the only broad tip I personally can give is that there is no shortcut to success :thinking: (Mr. Wise Guy over here)



Thank you Jerakin for your reply. For example, when a bonus erases an horizontal line from right to left (see my screenshot), is it a wide-screen spine animation with an alpha channel + particlefx for colored dust + regular animation for score (+160) ?



That image seems to be from Pet Rescue Saga (which I have also worked on) which is using a inhouse engine, Pet Rescue Puzzle Saga is made in Defold. With the engine being different the approch is also different but mainly it also have a vastly different art style, but it’s fairly similar to how it was done in Puzzle. The “line” is a screen wide particle effect and the part of the booster is a animation (in Defold it would be a spine animation), and the text is simply a “factory” spawned text string that is using animation curves to do a basic animation.

Here is an image of how the corresponding booster looked in Puzzle (here the video the screen grab is from). The approch is very similar in both games with the small difference in that if you look at the video you can see that the particle effect is spawned on the effected squares only not over the whole screen.



Thank you for the informations.
By the way, is Pet Rescue Puzzle Saga still on apple and android store ? I can see Pet Rescue Saga, but not the Puzzle one



Unfortunately not. :frowning: It was taken out of service on the 15th of December 2020, I can of course not comment on why (community communication is not my job) and will have to direct people to any offical statement made on the subject :slight_smile:



I hope it’s not because of any Defold problem or security/engine problem ?

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Sunsetting/shutdown of games happen all the time in almost every game company. Check this list of games by King:

Several of the discontinued games are created using the same engine as Candy Crush. The reason a game is discontinued rarely has anything to do with the engine.