Hi, I'm Blake. My first game was '89 Doors', a rage game where you escape mazes whilst being pursued by an insatiable creature of hunger, and now I'm working on a tower defence game called 'Forgive Me My Henchman', where you play as a typical head 'bad guy', deploying henchman and sabotaging a building in an effort to stop a one man army action hero.
After 8 and a half hours, and 1133 deaths, I have finally finished Spelunky:
Only a person that has climbed Mt. Everest can know how I feel:
I wanted to write about what changes I have made in each area, why I made them, and what effect I think it will have on my game overall.
1) Improving the HUD
It is important to get the balance right between too many and too few items on the HUD.
On one hand, in a tower defence game, a busy HUD distracts from the action on screen. On the other hand, it is essential to ensure that the player always has the necessary information and button shortcuts available so that the player can make the right decisions and execute commands quickly - a HUD is often the best way to do that.
Since the game I am designing is for mobile devices, I have also placed all the clickable buttons on either the left hand or right hand extreme of the screen.
Why I did that is because of how people hold their mobile devices: I noticed that when I had my clickable buttons on top of the screen, my hand would partially cover the screen whenever my hand reached across the screen to tap on them – distracting from the action.
Keeping clickable buttons on the extreme left and extreme right on the screen has made the game easier to use, and also means that you don’t have to block your eyes from the action in order to execute commands.
*I think this is the reason that in Plants vs Zombies 2 they decided to have the plant buttons on the left extreme of the screen, instead of the top of the screen like they did in the original.
2) Scaling back on the use of randomness
Although this was fun to watch, it wasn’t fun to play because the random and unpredictable outcomes of each NPC interaction made the player feel as if they had a lack of control over the outcome.
This doesn’t work well in a tower defence game, in which a player should always feel that the outcome is within their control.
What I have therefore done is make the damage rate constant between different fight animations, but kept the fight animations set to random. What that means is that the battles between NPCs are still really fun to watch, but the outcome of an NPC fight is predictable, making players focus on strategy instead of relying on chance.
Through these constant revisions, the game keeps on getting better and better. Soon I think it will be good enough to showcase :)
Have a great week everybody!
This is the second time I have tried to design a tutorial for my game.
I knew I needed to correct these issues during my second attempt at developing a tutorial. That is why I started doing research and playing many different games, attempting to find out what made a tutorial effective. What I discovered is that - amongst other things - the best tutorials are engaging, and embrace ‘teaching without teaching’.
Thanks to both Extra Credits and Game Maker's Toolkit, both of whom have made great videos on how to design a good tutorial. The Extra Credits video can be found by clicking here, and the Game Maker's Toolkit video can be found by clicking here.
K, I better get back to work
What helped me to start designing these levels is that I changed my approach towards level design:
every level now tests something specific, and therefore has a solution which is apparent if the player has developed the correct understanding.
This is an approach inspired by Jonathan Blow (I blogged about his approach three weeks ago), who said that
What I am enjoying about this approach is that it is also making me consider every aspect of my game – no design aspect is being left to chance. This makes level design a much more time consuming process, but because of the challenge involved I am actually able to have fun with it.
Progress is slow, but worthwhile.
Assuming that the game keeps on progressing as it is, soon I might be able to start showcasing it.
Have a great week everybody