Game 2 Prototype & Postmortem
You play as a planet. Inside you, a great evil has been sealed. Marauders are trying to free it, attacking across three quadrants simultaneously. The player controls the spirit of the planet, using magic to set up barriers, attack the marauders directly, and temporarily summon a guardian to collect items to refill its magic supply. The goal: Keep the marauders from reaching the core.
(This arcade/god game hybrid won out over a reverse Lemmings auto-platformer and a level building game that saw players gaining experience to unlock new building blocks by having other players play their levels. Both cute, but ultimately just waiting games. We also shot down ideas that were too similar to Spike: A Love Story and Grave Robbers.)
This incomplete prototype is where we stood at about 52 hours into our 72 hour crunch. It’s missing animations. It has programmer graphics (if you squint you might recognize the background graphics origin). The guardian is not time limited. Magic points aren’t implemented. Only one quadrant has a path to the core. Marauder siege behavior logic is completely random. There is no hud to indicate which quadrant(s) are at risk.
Spirit of the Level controls:
A Elemental attack
X Create Guardian
C Change quadrant
Arrows Move left/right
C Change quadrant
So what was wrong? Basically everything.
The design was the bad kind of complicated. In game design, good complexity emerges from the interaction of simple rules. Our original design was convoluted at the rule level.
There is no win condition. You are under siege. You struggle until you fail. Game over. Not our idea of a good time.
Switching between the guardian’s platforming controls to the spirit’s tile-based cursor is really unsatisfying. We tried more platform like controls for the spirit but it felt too debug-y.
At hour 52 we decided to gut the ideas that weren’t working. The platforming felt right, so that stayed. Spirit cursor? Out. Quandrant switching? Out. Digging into the core? Out. The marauder recoil felt good, but what if you could juggle them? In. Since there was no win state the game was always going to be about score. Juggling became combos which allows you to score extra points. I built a high score server (which was actually less time consuming than the “enter your name” bit it required).
We lost a lot of the thematic ties but, in the end, producing a game that is fun to play is paramount.
So what’s next? Better combo detection. A simpler magic system. Better, more varied marauder behavior. Elemental barriers? Healing? Bonuses for dispatching all the marauders? Re-imagined levels? Feed the level (yourself) by juggling invaders into mouths lining the walls? Other crazy ideas we haven’t thought of yet?
Our schedule for End of Line was relentless—it was more like a continuous 25 day crunch than our original intentions. Game 2 will be a little looser. We start the polishing period tomorrow February 19th (we took a week to recover, not just from Game 2’s crunch but from End of Line’s non-stop sprint as well), and are tentatively scheduled to release the complete version around March 22th.