It’s been a while since the last devlog – I’ve gone on vacation, came back, made a lot of progress on this game. There were good days where everything worked out perfectly and better days where I would take a step back and judge what I had so far to be a pile of directionless garbage.
All of this targeting the biggest game developer event in Portugal – Game Dev Camp (aka GDC PT).
I wanted to have a prototype that showed what some of the final mechanics would look like but a week before the event it was clear that wasn’t going to happen. As it was, I had elements of the game I wanted to make, but they either didn’t work very well yet or didn’t work together to create the kind of experience I was going for.
For example - influencing the state of the world by creating trees than in turn enrich the game’s ecosystem is probably going to be a fundamental part of the game. But in the GDC build that was poorly communicated and, more importantly, it wasn’t something the player would intrinsically want to do.
Interacting with the NPCs also had mixed reactions. Some players didn’t mind them much whilst others – usually ones that created more trees – interacted with them and got some richer reactions, like being relentlessly teased into a game of tag, or having them “help” the player by fetching energy for them, often causing some chain reactions that prevented the player from doing what they were trying to do, leaving the player in a state between frustration and amusement.
Nevertheless, people seem to have enjoyed it. Ultimately this prototype was the best so far in terms of quality, but not the most interesting one – there was a main thing to do (expanding the playable area) and it just wasn’t that interesting by itself. In other words – the prototype was a success, but not in the way I was hoping for.
Here’s a playthrough of it:
The biggest shortcoming of the last prototype was that there was little to no emotional experience. Whether people were playful or curious rested heavily on chance and was secondary to the goal of the prototype. So the focus is going to shift from implementing mechanics to using what I’ve built so far to hit the kind of experience I’m going for.
That means experimenting with AI and relationships. That’s at the heart of the game, although funnily enough, about 90% of the AI was built in the eve of the event. I’ll also be looking into the spatial relations in the game. I liked the focused aspect of the GDC prototype but it might not be the right approach and it’s been a piece of feedback I had for a while.
I’m not sure if I’ll keep the weekly nature of these devlogs. I stopped doing it during my vacation since I’d rather have a decent one than releasing one just because it was time for it. And the weeks leading up to the event, when there was plenty to show and tell, I refrained from doing so, wanting people to see it first during the event. Having people already know the possibility space of the prototype would impoverish the quality of the feedback I was looking for.