Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Game 05 - Rising Deep (Sinking Ship Game): Post Mortem

I've worked really hard on this game. I even gave myself temporary repetitive strain injury due to programming so much. I think I've spent somewhere in the region of 150 hours on the game +- 20 hours or so. It's difficult to be exact.

Honestly the making of the levels probably only took about 10% of the total time. If you include testing in that you could probably ramp that up to about 20%. The tutorial alone probably took about 12.5% of the total time. It took me about 30 minutes per block of text + planning, tweaking and removing things.

A lot of time was spent recoding the movement. Twice.

But probably not as much time was spent on fixing bugs.

I haven't stopped thinking about this game for the last 2 months.

I'd quite like to see the game with alternative (not minimalist) graphics (especially for color-blind people). But I think that keeping the art so simple has helped me to focus on the gameplay more, which is, obviously more important (being that I'm a ludologist and all).

Although I love the game, there are a lot of things I would change for the 'expanded?' version. First off, the tutorial would be spread over multiple short levels (similar to the one explaining how to carry people with the climber). They would introduce characters and their respective mechanics one by one before introducing the player to many of the secondary mechanics found in the game. 

Talking of characters, I have lots of ideas for new characters too, which would be introduced later on in the game (all of which will require new ways of thinking) . I plan to have different sections of the ship with different hazards and characters and music. Basically just like different 'worlds'.

Thomas Was Alone:
I see a lot of similarities between 'Rising Deep' (by myself) and 'Thomas Was Alone' by (Mike Bithell) although it wasn't an inspiration to the game initially (atleast not consciously). That's great though because Thomas Was Alone is awesome. 

One thing I didn't include in the game was a narrative. I would quite like to include one in the expanded version if I ever make it.  Originally I had planned to have a kind of relationship thing going on between the swimmer and climber where if either died, the other one would 'move slower'. The engineer who's a bit jealous of the swimmer would 'move faster'  if the swimmer died. The character deaths would carry over as well and the ending you got would depend on which characters you got all the way to the end. I decided that this idea was pretty stupid though. The movement increase thing is fairly pointless and over complicated and the amount of limitations this would introduce to the level designs is huge. 
Another idea I had was to have short skip-able cut-scenes/visual novels between each level explaining the characters pasts before they ended up in this situation. I cut that too simply for the shear time it would take to make all that stuff for how little it would actually improve the game. Nevertheless, it's something I might consider for an expanded version.

Although I've finished this game, I can't stop thinking about it.  It's still a very interesting idea to me and I know it has a lot more interesting things unexplored.

If I ever get the opportunity to spend large amounts of time on a project again I'd love to spend it exploring the unexplored.

If I did, I would remake the game from scratch. One reason being that my current build has loads of unused code and assets from failed attempts at solving bugs/ recoded things. The main reason though is because this game was never intended to be a FULL game. It was planned to be just a prototype but I got a bit ahead of myself. Nevertheless, the way the game is programmed is very non-general. What I mean by this is that every time I add a new character or mechanic, the amount of programming I need to do to make it work increases exponentially. I have to program each characters interaction with every other character and back again separately as well as each characters interaction with everything else in the game. What I want to do in an expanded version would be to make it so I could just code something like 'if a character is here, do this' in a script and then call that script in all characters. Then just program specific things for specific characters.
Basically, my organization has been pretty sloppy =P
I think it's worth practicing these organizational skills and how to use scripts and stuff anyways =]

I had the idea of translating the game to a top-down perspective. I suppose you could can it a sequel. A 'shopping-center/large building with lots of floors'  is on fire, you must get all of the characters to the safety of a stairwell and every move you make, the fire spreads, blocking off exits which were once free. Different characters would have different abilities, such as rewiring doors =P, different 'movement speeds', the ability to set up barricades, etc etc. I'm sure more ideas will show themselves to me as they did with Rising Deep.

PS. I've actually been working on some super secret BONUS rooms for Rising Deep. They are all single screened (no scrolling up or down) and the water doesn't rise. They focus on the puzzle solving of the characters alone and not how efficiently you can solve them. As a result, the puzzles are all vary condensed and VERY difficult. These bonus puzzles may actually be MORE fun than the rest of the game but it's hard to speak without bias. I'll update the blog soon with version 1.1 =]

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