Making a game is tough. Obvious, right?
We recently posted on /r/gamedev on Reddit for Feedback Friday two Fridays in a row. It has been a long time since we have let anybody outside of friends and family play the game, so we were understandably nervous. It’s always tough to finally start revealing something you have been working on for over a year and a half to people, hoping they don’t just slam your work. Thankfully, that did not really happen. We got some good feedback, some very good negative criticism, and some nice comments on the game being fun.
The constructive criticism helped reveal some problems with the game. It is very hard to see the overall picture of the game when you are always mired in and working on it, so it helps when someone just asks “Uhhh, why is the game this way? It doesn’t make a lot of sense….” First reaction for us to receive that is obviously “Of course it makes sense, you just don’t see it!” But then when we took a step back and really evaluated it, we realized, “Damn, they are right; it doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
That really made us stop and consider the concepts of making the game fun versus making the game according to our original vision. We initially implemented some things that were in our original vision, not stopping to think that maybe they weren’t the right choices, or that they weren’t the best ways of doing things. These have led to some changes that we wanted to share that we feel will make the game a ton better.
So, one of the biggest criticisms we received was that Runers didn’t make a whole lot of sense to limit the player to only 4 spells (7 once all the extra storage slots were unlocked). One of the big hooks of the game is that there are all these spells that you can discover and use, and then we were severely limiting the player on what they could actually use, and even worse, punishing them for trying to discover the spells! To combine two or three runes, you needed to use a combiner. What if you discovered a spell that did not work for your current build? Well, you had that spell unlocked in the Runedex, but that combiner and those runes were gone, and having the spell unlocked in the Runedex just made so you knew what that rune combo was. To help fix this issue, we had to make a couple changes to the controls and some gameplay tweaks.
Instead of using Space bar (or whatever you had it bound to) to switch between your 4 active spells, you now have two active spells for your mouse which function using a hold down mechanic (holding down left click or right click). You also have 4 other active spells slots, defaulted to the first four number keys (1 2 3 4), which function on a press mechanic (making so you can’t just hold them down) that are unlocked as you beat bosses, starting you with only two. Besides these active slots, you can earn two extra storage slots after beating 3 bosses. We feel that this will really help with strategy: allowing you to use more spells at once, giving you more spells in general, and letting you safely store upgraded spells while you tinker with new combinations.
The next big change we made is to the Runedex. Now, after having discovered a spell, it no longer takes a combiner to create that spell in your current and future runs. This means that if you make it far in one run and discover a couple triples, you can use those triples as soon as you get the runes for them in future runs. We feel that this will add a sense of cohesion and permanence to the game, and not punish discovery. To counteract you being able to use more advanced spells early, we are going to have to make some changes to the difficulty to make the game generally harder, but this will give the player more satisfaction on getting more powerful spells, making so you can get further with each playthrough.
One of the other criticisms that we got was that enemies in general were a little tough to see, and the game just felt like things fighting other things. To help combat this, we have increased the camera zoom by around 20%.
Where we goin’?
So, where are going from here? We still have a lot of work to do, and there are a lot of tweaks to be made. The biggest thing on our radar right now is enemy AI. We feel that it is…lacking in some respects, and need we to make them a bit smarter. We also need more diverse enemies, and to give enemy packs a bit more cohesion. Right now, you enter a room and can fight anything and everything. By giving the rooms a bit more cohesion, rooms will more often than not have a certain challenge to them. One room may be dominated by mages and you will need to fight in a certain way, and in the next room you may have a few big beasts, and your previous strategy will not work.
Of course, there is still a lot of content to work on too!
We had wanted to have a public demo by January, but we just aren’t going to hit that goal. There is still some art that we want to get in place first, and some more changes to make the game have the best experience we can for the demo.
That’s all for now!