Gaming Your Way

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DN8: Post mortem

I've been meaning to write this up for ages, but all my energy has been going into Outpost. Shall we start ? Yes, why not.

What went right:

Procedural baddies:

I think it took a day or two to knock this code up, and it was so worth it. It saved an insane amount of time and additional cost, and it enabled me to make a game on my own. I love working with artists, but sometimes you just need to do all your own thing.
My only worry was that it's fairly standard to have specific looking baddies that behave in set ways, ah there's the blue-ish metal guy, he shoots in a diagonal pattern, and I was concerned that would be lost, but no one seemed to mind ( And I didn't either to be honest ).
I think they're random nature tied in nicely with the whole...

Evolution:

This was a double edged sword. Balancing it was a mare, as a combination had to work without breaking any level by being too powerful. I opted to have the top path more aggressive with the bottom geared more towards defense. The rational being that it would almost work like a difficulty setting, plus it was the only way to keep my sanity whilst doing it.

Whoring it early / beta testing:

The beta testing some of you guys did was pure gold and helped so much, even to the point of it adding features such as the grazing. Also I put the game up for sale on FGL before it was finished, which helped in a roundabout way that is going to make me sound very cynical, but stick with me.
The bidding wasn't going as great as I hoped ( Does it ever ? ) which made me re-evaluate how much content was going in the game. The original evolution tree looked like this,

dn8_grab2.png

Look at that! It would have killed me to come up with that many power-ups. Once I realised that it wasn't going to make me a millionaire then it made sense to lower my expectations.

It meant I could focus on what was left a lot better, and make it tighter. No one screamed about being short changed, so it worked out well. As a final note with this, it wasn't an easy decision, I didn't want to let my baby be less than it could be, and I didn't want money getting in the way, but with hindsight it was the common sense thing to do and saved so much work.

Music:

It sounds great and using random loops to mix things up worked better than I could ever have hoped. It creates the impression there's a lot more music in the game than there actually is, and we've not killed the filesize with it.
A happy experiment that actually worked. Nice.

Challenges:

Not as detailed as I would have liked ( Outpost will more than make up for that ) but they were a fairly painless way to reward the player, plus we also had the advantage of going with Newgrounds for the sponsorship ( Which was a joy ) and could use their achievements API, so we could have both challenges and 'cheevos.


What went wrong:

Keyboard controls:

This is an odd one. I still don't think it needs them, or would be better with them ( In fact I think it would be worse ) but so many people commented about it that it was obviously an issue.
For me the learning point is how to cater for situations like that so we can offer keyboard support in games that don't really need it, and how we can coax the player into using the control method of choice.

RedRum, RedRum!:

One thing I'm annoyed about is the Redrum indicator. I should have removed it after the player had used it as it was dead space, and in an area players seemed to like controlling their ship in. I didn't notice it as I didn't leave my ship there. Sloppy UX design on my behalf, not the end of the world, but something to take away from this game.

Background effects:

I ran out of ideas. As simple as that. As usual I didn't really plan the game, and just thought I'd stumble along and get inspiration before I got to that stage. I didn't. It means some of those effects were a bit cheap and poor. Also the plasma effect and RGB tunnel were a little too CPU heavy for comfort.

dn8_grab8.jpg


That "Bug":

There is a boss that if you position yourself just right you can graze the hell out of it's bullets and really rack up the lives. I noticed this, and kinda liked it. If figured it would take some balls to try it, and I like games where the player can twist the rules to their advantage ( A lot of classic arcade games have glitches like this, Centipede being a great example, although these weren't on purpose ).
I think for everyone who was pleased with themselves for discovering it, 5 more just saw it as a bug. I'd like to do something like that again, if I stumble across it, but I don't think it's worth the negative comments.

Bullet patterns:

Not too many people moaned about this, I think it's just me being annoyed with myself. They should have been better, I just ran out of steam with the project ( Which tied in with the point above about the bidding affecting the overall depth of the game ).


Overall I'm pleased with it, it's a nice little shooter. It's not going to set the world on fire, but it was never meant to, it was just a huge break after both Knights Quest and Championsheep, a self indulgent project, which are always the best kind.
It did much better than I could ever have hoped for on Newgrounds, and with one or two exceptions the feedback was fantastic. Less so on Kong, but I'd expect that as it's not an RPG about zombies. When it came to selling it, we finally got to work with people we'd wanted to for a long time, all of whom were really excellent.

If you fancy playing it after reading all this, clicking this link will make all your DN8 dreams come true.

Squize.

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