So I mentioned how I worked through the story line as I put the finishing touches together, and one of the things I mentioned was my ability to recognize the flaws in my story line and where it needed to be fleshed out for a little more depth. While I was working through that, I also began to question how I wanted to put the game together as far as basic enemies and bosses went. I realized that a large part of what I like about my game is the story line – I love how the characters are developed and the story line kind of helps the player feel somewhat integrated into the game. However, I became increasingly nervous as I thought about the game as I realized the kind of monotonous crawler aspect of battling would take away from the quality of the story line. Essentially, I had initially planned the game out so the player would consistently go through hundreds of battles on the way to leveling up, fighting hordes of shadows as they progressed. That was the gist of a number of games I’ve played and enjoyed, and so my initially model was based on that. However, as the story line developed I realized that story line was pretty integral and forcing the player to push their way through hundreds of enemies would push them away. The story line becomes increasingly more enticing as the game wears on; the introduction of Toma and Thorman, the relationship between Emelia and Cez, Lela’s vendetta, the death of Thorman’s daughter and the story of the Shadow War (discovered in bits and pieces as the player progresses) just gets better and better, in my opinion. However, because of the relatively slow start to the game and the somewhat monotonous early levels, I became worried players would grow bored after the first level and decide to simply play something else. This, I think, is a major part of being a designer.
The point of being a designer (to me) is finding the right way to combine a whole number of elements together to make something fun for the player. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do (increases people’s enjoyment of everything), and gaming was something I looked to as a fantastic way to achieve that goal; it also helps that I love analysis and understanding things, figuring out how they work and putting them together efficiently. This grouping, I think, was incredibly important and is a large part of what I’m learning now, as I begin to finish off the last part of my game. I’ve recognized some of the flaws in what I’ve done, and I believe I’ve found places of weakness – places where I could really put stuff together better. I think building the game has allowed me to put the game together better and allowed me to develop this skill. It’s not perfect by any means, but it is integral to a talented designer (something I’m striving to be). Anyway, with that out of the way, I wanted to talk about the choices I’ve made to attempt to rectify this issue.
My plan essentially revolves around reducing the number of battles the player has to go through as they progress through the game. I want to limit it to maybe 10-20 between bosses, as opposed to the 50+ I was shooting for before. To still make the battling important and still maintain the importance of technical skill and the ability to find winning strategies to achieve victory in fights, I’m going to place a much larger emphasis on fighting bosses. I feel like implementing the bosses and kind of major checkpoints keeps the player in tune with the story line as they progress, while still maintaining the goals I had for the battle system as a whole (the ability to find the best ways to defeat a boss using a variety of skills from different characters). This gives the player a better sense of progression, and reduces the monotony of crawling through hundreds of basic enemies over and over and over. Now, of course, I don’t know if this is perfect. I’ve always felt a huge part of design was testing things out to see how they work and attempting to find the thing that works best (something I’ve done my whole life and love to do, regardless of what it might me). I think that this is a better way to approach the game, though, and I think it would probably get a better reception. This is something I’ve been working on for about a year now, so it’s definitely something I want to get right.
So there’s my most recent update. I really like how far I think I’ve come as a designer because I don’t think a lot of the things I’m recognizing now are things I would have recognized a year ago (and things I recognized then I wouldn’t have recognized the year before that). There’s still so much to learn, but progress is good. And I’m proud of the progress I’ve made so far. My next update might be with the completion of my game, so look out for that. I still have the battling system to work on (touched on that with my last update), as well as a few minor things here and there. Generally speaking, though, I think I’m finally into the home stretch. See ya!