Toca Hair Salon 3 Presented Fun Challenges for Programmers

Go behind the scenes to find out how the programming team worked together to get the hair and sounds just right.

Lars-Erik Ronnheden
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Lars-Erik Ronnheden, Programmer
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Hair and everything around a Toca Hair Salon app is a really fun concept to work with. With Toca Hair Salon 3, it has been an interesting challenge to level up the play experience from its predecessors, as they already were so well-functioning and thought-out in detail. When looking at the finished result today, I really think our team managed to pull off something quite unique and amazing.

About the tech

Our characters in the app have quite some background, if we look at how they are put together. First the characters are modeled and rigged for animation, where after we have a system which applies different animation personalities, voice personalities, hair and apparel styles. This required some new tools to be invented, to keep a good level of workflow throughout the development. We made:

  • a hair generator which populates hair strands along curves
  • an animation system to assemble and output all our personality varieties
  • a hairstyle saving and loading mechanism to generate our characters visually

These were really fun challenges for us programmers, as they all were so very visual and hands-on!

We developed a hair creation tool specifically for Toca Hair Salon 3 to generate hair roots for all our characters.We developed a hair creation tool specifically for Toca Hair Salon 3 to generate hair roots for all our characters.

One of our main goals was to give our characters plenty more hair to play with, along with more dynamic motions. This required some very specific solutions to open up for better performance. As most of the phones and tablets today have several processor cores, we made it so that whenever you interact with the hair, by combing, coloring or cutting it, those calculations can make use of more processor cores where available. We have also created a specific shader for our hairs to optimize the rendering even further.

As there are thousands of calculations at times needed to be made each frame for our hair, these solutions gave us a way to triple the amount of hair strands from what can be seen in Toca Hair Salon 2.

One of our main goals was to give our characters plenty more hair to play with, along with more dynamic motions.

About the sounds

HS3_radioSound should always be seen as important as the visuals, where well put together they can make all the difference for the experience. We worked together with the sound design studio Red Pipe to create unique sounds to all our tool and GUI animations. The ambition for Toca Hair Salon 3 was to give the user an intuitive audio experience, where every interaction has a clear, snappy and interesting audio response. If you, for example, have a visual impairment, it is even more so important that the sound effects are fun and give good feedback to what is happening on screen. Try playing the app with headphones to enjoy the extra effort we put into the stereo effects!

We also have an amazing soundtrack created by Håkan Lidbo, where if you tap the radio in the salon you can switch between the songs. If you have played any other Toca Hair Salon app you might hear some familiar tunes baked into the music.

 Try playing the app with headphones to enjoy the extra effort we put into the stereo effects!

Watch the Toca Hair Salon 3 trailer to hear music from the app’s soundtrack:

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