Mini Mammoth's adventure into the Arcade Idle genre through Ocean Harvest!
Hi everyone, I am a developer and project manager with Mini Mammoth Games.If you didn’t already know, Mini Mammoth creates games for the Hyper Casual Space, and we love to explore new genres and ideas. Our current focus is Ocean Harvest, an arcade idle starring Big Oss, a loveable fellow pondering about in the depths looking for renewable resources to ship home to the surface. Ocean Harvest is a fun game where the player explores the depths of the ocean, unlocking new places with the resources they harvest. Everywhere in Ocean Harvest is unique and handcrafted, with an eye towards making each space surprising and fun.
Ocean Harvest is built in conjunction with Homa Games, a French based publisher. We developed the idea during their Homa Jam, an arcade idle focused game jam they ran in the middle of 2021. We were excited to put together something ocean themed with lots of fun colours and ideas thrown about. Our first pass on Ocean Harvest was completed in about a week. Hexagon tiles, farming robots and domed farms were everywhere. Oss was able to stagger about on a coral strewn, sandy sea floor sowing and harvesting kelp, fish, salvage and minerals. With our first pass completed it was clear we had stumbled onto something special when Homa announced Ocean Harvest as their developer favourite in their Jam Awards.
After that announcement, we had to focus down on the core of Ocean Harvest. Analytics for our product showed that people were interested in the ideas of Ocean Harvest, but that its current implementation was driving them away after 6 about 6 minutes of play. We audited the game and development process, and came back to the project fresh with a better understanding of the core loop. The audit process involves repeated play sessions and feedback sessions on the current build, followed by group sessions where we discussed the implementation. It’s a more focused post mortem that takes place over a week rather than one meeting.
When we finished our audit it was clear that Ocean Harvest is all about exploration. Everything in the product has to lean back into that moment of discovery. New tiles come with new opportunities to find new resources, upgrades and buffs. The environment is focused on being different every hex you discover. Our second pass dramatically improved on these aspects and we started to hone in on key problems. Performance became a priority as well as level design and interaction loops. The process of iteration accelerated and we started planning month sprints around this new version of our loveable game. We ran a first pass on the harvesting and environment in our first sprint, pulling out pre bought assets, changing the layout and path process for tiles and updating a lot of the initial mechanics around buying hexes. We even got a first pass completed on a mini map, though it was far from perfect. Our next sprint continued to focus on performance. We ripped out even more pre bought assets, switched camera angles and switched our target fps. Suddenly, Ocean Harvest stopped making phones so hot you couldn’t hold them, and it looked better as well. More work continued in updating how SUCCs (our automated robot assistants) engaged with the player and their work, giving them emotes and interactions with the player. We even have a first pass on a tutorial completed, so that new players get walked through the game by a gorgeous little octopus nicknamed Plop. That’s where you find us.
We have just wrapped up our second sprint, and the changes that are coming to Ocean Harvest are so dramatic that the game is barely recognisable. Everything from performance to the basic interactions has had a dramatic upgrade. Mini games abound, lootable chests can be found everywhere and you have a direct role in cleaning the ocean and creating a more sustainable future for the seabed. We hope to see you all in our newest update, and that you love it!