Featured image of post Bark Park! – Multiplayer Mobile Game

Bark Park! – Multiplayer Mobile Game

Pee on trees to capture territory in an epic, free-for-all multiplayer battle for the park.

Worked on the game as the lead developer. Wearing a lot of different hats.

  • Implemented multiplayer features with Photon, and a ton of net debugging
  • Refactored the UI system and implemented many new screens
  • Added particles, by mixing and combining existing ones from the Asset Store
  • Made shaders in ShaderGraph for special visual effects
  • Optimized memory usage by loading and unloading assets on-demand with the Addressable System
  • Implemented AI with behavior trees
  • Added mobile features: IAP, Ads, Notifications, Analytics, Localization, CMS
  • Published to iOS and Android stores

It was a fun project to work on as it involved a lot of different kinds of tasks. The result was a beautiful-looking game, which unfortunately did not do great, mostly due to its fundamental game design.

Lacking Design

It’s a multiplayer game, and it’s made for the younger audience. It made sense to keep the mechanics simple. But I feel we often confuse simple with dull. Dull games have nothing interesting to do and can be summarized in a phrase: “What you see is all there is”. On the other hand simple games are approachable and easy to understand, but manage to create depth by combining existing mechanics. I guess you could say: “Easy to learn, hard to master”.

I think players are smarter than we usually assume, and in most cases, it’s better to have a complex game than a dull one.

If I were to improve the design of the game I would start by focusing on two things: Playfulness and System Dynamics.

Multiplayer games are playful when players can express themselves with different play styles. Playing aggressive, defensive, going for risky moves, and playing mind-games are just a few examples of it. Being able to anticipate what the other player is trying to do, and to be surprised by what they actually did is part of the fun.

More concretely playful situations are created through the mechanics. The mechanics have to be great in number to keep things interesting, but too many mechanics make the game overly complex. So instead of adding new mechanics focus on the system dynamics. What are the reactions when different mechanics interact? And in what ways can the reactions be used to constrain the player?


  • [Risky Play] You can drink over the limit of your bladder, but you have to release it within a timer, otherwise, you explode.
  • [Aggressive] Drinking dirty water from puddles over the limit and exploding on purpose near enemies infects them.
  • [Alternative Playstyle] Digging the ground to find fountain pipes that you can drink from directly, stopping the supply to the main fountain.
  • [Defensive Combination] Digging a trench from a dirty puddle towards your tree, making it dirty and hard to re-capture.
  • [Mind Games] Digging so much that you go underground, be able to move, and pop out of anywhere.


Of course, it’s easy to reason about games in hindsight. But if I could draw a lesson from it would be this:

Make sure your prototype is fun to play, don’t hope it gets better. You’re likely to spend most of the time on the technical aspects. The longer you work on the game, the harder it gets to change the fundamental design.



Last updated on Mar 09, 2021 15:00 UTC
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