Postal Worker (PW) is a game of endurance for the iPhone. It is tuned so that a playthrough for a newbie would take around 30 seconds, and that an experienced player would consider a 5-minute game a long one. It has awesome audio, great music and a pleasing, colourful art style.
You grasp your iPhone, swipe through your apps, and tap the icon for Postal Worker: a blood-splattered envelope. The RocketHands logo appears, in landscape mode (so you know to flip your phone sideways), and fades out to reveal the menu screen. As this happens, a funky beat starts playing, and a gruff aussie voice says “righto, let’s get cracking”.
If music was already being played, it would continue playing, and the funky beats wouldn’t kick in.
The menu screen shows a silhouette of a gruff Australia Post worker carrying a mailbag and toting a shotgun.
Postal Worker is the first game in our “disgruntled worker” franchise. All these games concern the exploits of Bruce Yobbo, the difficulty which he has of keeping a steady job, and his fear of his nagging mum. “Gone, get a job ya mug”.
One unique feature of these games is the humorous voice acting.
Starting a Game
You tap “Play”, and a a title screen fades in, revealing the text “Monday”, kinda like Paperboy. This fades to a top-down view of a conveyer. There’s some HUD stuff at the top of the screen (nothing at the bottom, because your fingers would obscure it). There is some animation and sound to indicate that it’s moving at a certain speed. A shuffle of paper is heard and an envelope flops down onto the belt from the left side of the screen. It slowly starts moving to the right. It is obvious that moving all the way to the right would be a bad thing. There is an obvious receptacle for the envelope at the top of the screen. If left untouched, a sound effect would play when the envelope gets close to the right of the screen. If this happens before the player has touched anything this game session, the game pauses, and some on-screen text gives a clue: “drag *this* over *there*”, followed by a “face-palm” button.
The player drags the envelope into the receptacle. When this happens, there’s an audio sting, and a big +1 animates out of the receptacle. More envelopes appear, and the belt starts speeding up. The player finds that they can fling envelopes back towards the left of the screen, and can move more than one at a time with multi-touch. Everything feels juicy. The music playing is a mechanical, rhythmic drone. The kind you imagine factory work being performed to.
Inevitably, an envelope drops off the right of the belt, or the player puts it into the wrong receptacle. There’s an audio sting, a big FAIL animation, and a RAGE METER grows in size. The gruff postal worker moans “Grrrrrrngh”. It is obvious that three fails would max out the rage meter. When this eventually happens, the music ducks, the postal worker exclaims “I can’t take it any more”, and the sound of a shotgun being cocked is played. The display smoothly morphs into a side-on view of the conveyor belts.
This mode is accompanied by a hectic thrash-metal soundtrack. It is a side-on view of conveyer belts, with objects sitting on them, moving left and right across the screen. Again, HUD elements are at the top. The player must unleash their fury, destroying postal items for points. Points are given for combos, and certain objects may give multipliers. As with the previous mode, audio stings and animation accompany all point-scoring activity. And there’s lots of flying paper particles and awesome gunfire sound effects.While the player is shooting, the gruff voice just screams “aaaaargh”. Between bouts of gunfire, it breaths heavily.
At random moments, a co-worker will pop up behind the belts, moving erratically and pleading “no, no, no”. Shooting the co-worker will end the game: the screen will fade to B&W, and gruff says “wha… what have I done?”, with YOU’RE FIRED displayed in big letters, before a return to the top menu. Otherwise, the rage meter will slowly burn down as ammo is unleashed. When it’s empty, the music fades out, gruff sighs “aaaaahhhh”, and stats are displayed (hit rate, score, whatever).
When we return to the belt mode (after seeing the “Tuesday” title card), the belt is initially strewn with debris (which give no points). This time boxes start appearing with the envelopes, so the player needs to sort things into two different receptacles. This pattern repeats throughout the levels, with four, or perhaps even six different object types appearing. It should be possible to devise different strategies about how best to handle different objects.
After the first week, if the player sorts a prime number of items before they RAGE QUIT, then their co-worker (in the belt mode) will be shooting back at them. Getting hit also leads to game over (YOU’RE EXPIRED!), with different audio (“oh my baybee”), and a fade to red rather than to B&W.
The game thus cycles through these two modes. Players have fun discovering the best strategy, and playing one mode to reward themselves in the next (the more they sort, the more there’ll be to shoot).
The player can select a profile, which is nothing more than their nickname. They can also enter the nicknames of their friends. A local high score table is tracked, and the game posts to a global scores server. The player can view top scores among their friends, top scores “nearby”, and the global top scores. They know where they rank (e.g. 2373645th in the world). When a player gets a new personal best, they are prompted to tweet it.
Brief instructions are displayed, along with credits and a list of other games (RocketFuse, SpaceCrash).
(Oh, and thanks heaps to Pazu for the mockups).