Brazen Berry Bonanza

I first released Brazen Berry Bonanza about a year ago, and recently I began working on it again. I have an update for it that is almost ready to go, but before I officially release it I'd like to get some feedback on it here. Here's the change-log:
  • First, and most importantly, this update introduces the Bag System. Previously there were three types of berries that provided special effects when they were collected: blue, pink, and green. Those have been removed, and in their place I've added bags. A bag is a feature on the map, which, when activated, provides some special effect. There are three types of bags, one for each special berry that was removed, and they are the same colors and have the same effects that the removed special berries do. Whenever you pick a ripe berry, you will now carry that berry with you in your basket (in addition to getting a point). You can carry up to 5 berries at a time (if you pick up additional berries, you'll still get a point, but it won't go into your basket). You use the berries in your basket to activate bags. Each bag has a number on it which displays the number of berries it needs to activate. This number starts at 6, and resets to 6 every time you activate the bag. There are always 5 bags, all of which are positioned randomly at the start of the match. There will always be at least 1 of each type, but the other 2 have random types.
  • The growth of evil plants has been slowed by about 30%.
  • The initial delay before an evil plant starts growing is now 6 seconds, instead of 2.
  • There is now a clock showing the time left for the green special effect, similar to the one for the blue special effect.
  • The pink special effect now decreases the level of red plants by 2, instead of 1.
  • The way par changes after a match is now different. Previously, it was updated using this formula: new par = score * 0.5 + old par * 0.5. In other words, par was calculated as the average of your score and the old par. Now, par is calculated differently depending on whether or not you score above par or below it. If you score above par, your par is changed according to the formula new par = score * 0.6 + old par * 0.4, and if you score below par, new par = score * 0.25 + old par * 0.75. In other words, your score increases when you get above par a lot more quickly than it decreases when you get below par. The reason for this is that par changed too slowly when the player was improving quickly (such as when they first start the game) and would lag behind the player's true skill. Now, the system is "biased towards" improvement, so that it will keep up better with players who are advancing quickly.
  • "Par" has been renamed to "Level". The biggest reason for this is that "level" implies that this number is something you want to increase, whereas par implied it was a value that you want to get to. Calling it "par" implied that there was kinda a binary goal, that you were just supposed to "get to par", and so the fact that the game continued after you got to par seemed strange. It was almost as if you should try to end the match as quickly as possible after you got to par, without getting any more points, so that you wouldn't make the next match any harder on yourself. Calling it "level" fixes this problem, because there isn't any implication that "reaching par" has any special significance (because there shouldn't be, really).
  • Level/par is no longer shown to the player during the match. The value of Par/level doesn't actually changes the rules at all, and it's not supposed to be interpreted as a goal for the player to "shoot for" or anything like that, so there isn't really any reason to show it during the match. Displaying it also created a potential for confusion by making players think it was important to the match somehow.
  • In addition to their level, the player is now also given a "Rank". There are 6 ranks: Bronze (level 0-19), Silver (20-39), Gold (40-59), Platinum (60-79), Diamond (80-99), and Master (100+). Whenever you get your level into the range of a new rank, you are permanently raised to that rank, and you don't go back down if your level drops. This is primarily just to give the player a sense of how good it's possible to get at the game, so that they don't wrongly assume they've exhausted all the game's depth before they actually have. But it also serves as a simple extrinsic motivator, since the main menu now displays a little message like "Rank: Bronze. Get to level 20 to rank up!"
  • There is now an arrow displayed around the player character that points in whatever direction you are giving a movement input. This mostly helps on mobile, where it's easy for your finger to slip and accidentally hit the wrong movement button.
  • The tutorial has been updated to explain the new bag system.
There are also a few minor graphical changes. The game shouldn't look much different, but should perform a bit better, hopefully. I'm still going to try to do a bit more optimization before the official release.

As I said, the bag system is the main feature of this update. I think it's a significant improvement over the old special berry system. The special effects can be quite consequential, and so having them be dealt out randomly through the growth of special berries was a mistake. With this new system, the player has a choice over what special effects they want, but also has to work towards them over a relatively long period of time.

Right now I'm just going to post a pre-release version for PC, which you can download here. I've got a few small things left to do before I officially release and official update on, the iOS App Store, and Android Play Store. Mainly I have to update the UI for mobile, do some optimization, and figure out a better mobile control scheme.

Speaking of the mobile control scheme, my current plan is to replace the d-pad-esque thing that I currently have with something more like a joystick. To move in a direction, you'll just press anywhere on the joystick and drag in that direction. If you hold down, you'll continue to move in that direction until you let go or drag in another direction. The main problem with the current system is that it's too easy to accidentally tap in the wrong place, and if you do you often need to look down at the movement controls to fix your finger position. With this new system, you won't have to be nearly as precise with your finger placement, since you just have to be anywhere on the joystick, and you also won't need to look down at the movement controls if your finger slips out of place; you know you just need to swipe in whatever direction you want to move.

Anyways, I'd love to hear people's thoughts on the changes of this update. Thanks for playing!
Downloading right now, these changes sound incredibly well thought out and real meaningful improvement on the game :D

-the bag thing sounds way better and I can't wait to try it
-the evil plant growth reduction and the time it starts sound like really good ideas, I used to lose so quickly in the previous version!
-level instead of par is way better + not showing in game is definitely a good change
-kinda excited for this rank system and gives me a good excuse to play the game loads :D
-thank you for changing the mobile control scheme, super excited for that

Really cool stuff Hopenager
1.2 is now out for Windows, Mac, and Android (iOS version is in review, should be out in a few days)! The windows and mac builds can be found on the page. Also, there is now an html5 version, which is playable directly in the itch page!

Since the pre-release version, there have been a few small changes:
-The rate at which enemy berries spawn has been increased by about 150%. After the changes in this version I found that the game was a bit too easy, and so I made this change to balance it a bit back in the other direction.
-I did a TON of optimization work, so the game should perform a lot better now. This might not be noticeable on desktop, but it definitely is on mobile, and this also allowed me to make an html5 build that wasn't dreadfully slow.
-Fixed a few bugs (including one that I found particularly funny: berries would keep growing while the game was paused)
-Tiles with bags on them are now always walk-able.
-Updated the movement control scheme for mobile. I talked last time about the joystick system, and I tried to implement that, but it didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped. I did come up with another similar system, in which you can merely drag (anywhere on the screen, not just on a joystick or anything) in the direction you want to move. This was quite a bit better than the joystick, but I still personally found it more awkward than the d-pad system. So I decided to include both movement systems. The d-pad system is the default, and if you want to switch to the drag-based system, you can select it in the options. Also, I've significantly increased the size of the movement button in the d-pad system, which alone is a pretty big improvement on the old system.

I hope you guys enjoy it!