Just got some more feedback and fresh eyes on my game at Simon Fraser’s Game Developers Club Merry Old Game (wow that’s a long name) and my to-do list just got a little longer. On one hand it’s a little disheartening because it makes that goal of having the game finished inch further away (not to mention increasing my stress levels), but on the other hand each iteration is making the game a better game with clear improvements. Thank you to everyone at the Merry Old Game Jam, the feedback was both valuable and insightful.
What started off as a simple quest to make the different block types more transparent to the user has resulted in a lot of visual changes to the game that I’m really enjoying. At first, I added little symbols to each block type, then I changed the ‘destroy block’ from a slightly transparent white box to a missile. Before I knew it, I was making changes to other parts of the game so that it would all match up visually. I may have gone a little overboard with it.
Here’s what it looked like before:
Twenty-four hours and 8 committed changes later:
Not apparent in the pictures are the little visual cues I added to the block types when activated. My goal was to make the functionality of each block type more obvious than simply being a different colour. The crumble block now not only has cracks in it, but it also lights up briefly before falling apart. The magnetic block has the magnet pop out and fade when activated. Sound effects for each will be added soon as well.
I was born and raised in Winnipeg MB and later moved out to Vancouver BC for University. I never realized how big of an indie game community Winnipeg had until recently. It’s actually really exciting and home to a lot of creative talent. They have the Winnitron 1000 which is an indie game arcade cabinet that travels around Winnipeg. It’ll debut the 2-player version of Canabalt which I played competitively with fellow co-workers while I was at Radical Entertainment. I’m definitely going to try and check it out when I’m back in Winnipeg during the holidays.
Another cool thing coming out of Winnipeg is Indie Game: The Movie. The filmmakers are from Winnipeg and they do these really great little videos about “video games, their creators and the craft”. Here’s an example of one they recently released:
I really love the way it’s shot and how well it captures the spirit of being indie. Makes me proud of what I’m doing and reassured that I made the right choice going indie.
Every once in awhile I like to go check out the latest indie games that are released. I’ll download several trials all at once and try them out one by one, analyzing each of them. It’s a really fun way to spend an afternoon. One particular game I came across and purchased is Sketchy Tower Defense. I’m definitely not new to the tower defense genre, games I’ve played or own include: Defense Grid: The Awakening, Ninja Town and Plants VS Zombies. However, even as an indie game, Sketchy Tower Defense still manages to feel fresh and unique with some small but innovative additions to the genre that I haven’t seen before.
It’s a little rough around the edges in terms of performance, UI and controls, but it definitely makes up for it in terms of gameplay and fun. It has an appealing art style and allows you to build towers anywhere, which lead to some very creative tower placements. The two things I think Sketchy Tower Defense does very well that add to the genre are it’s PVP and Co-op modes.
In PVP, each player gets their own land and faces off against the same waves of enemies. The goal is simply to live longer than you opponent. It’s an amazingly addictive mode as you get to see and compare how your opponent thinks, the tower choices they make and the placement of their towers. It’ll keep you coming back for more as you adjust your strategy each round or try new things to see who can out live the other. I personally paid 800MSP for Defense Grid and it didn’t have a mode like this. Ninja Town has a PVP mode but it’s hard to find other people with another copy of the game. Plants VS Zombies has as a PVP mode which has one player controlling the Plants and the other controlling the Zombies but it currently retails at 1200MSP on XBLA. Sketchy Tower Defense on the other hand is 80MSP (roughly a dollar). It’s worth it simply for the PVP.
The co-op experience is also handled really well. One particular aspect I enjoyed was that money collected is split evenly between both players regardless of who collected it, which is unlike Plants VS Zombies where the player who collects the sunlight keeps it to themselves. Additionally because towers can be placed anywhere, it adds a deeper level of co-operation between players as you both try to design and converge paths for the various waves of enemies.
These past few days have been pretty crazy for me. I created more puzzle content, got more feedback and made some very difficult design decisions concerning gameplay. I’m still craving more feedback though. It’s been incredibly helpful getting some fresh eyes on the game. I don’t have a specific timeline of when I’ll get this game done, but I do know that the gameplay changes will cost me 1-2 weeks. However, I think it will be for the better.
Additionally I’ve been working on the Sound Manager for my game lately. I just recently realized how difficult it is to find that ‘right’ sound effect to go with my currently non-existent background music. It’s tough, and I’ve been stressing about it for awhile now. Nothing I put into the game seems to sound right. Maybe I’m just too picky. However, my current observation is that the acoustic guitar seems to best fit in with the ‘sketchy’ look of my game.