In my last update I said that I was aiming to have the first draft of the game finished by the end of September so that I could present it at the next MRGS Demo Night, which was supposed to be tonight. However, due to some scheduling issues the date of the next demo night was pushed to next week, so it looks like I have a bit more time to finish things.
Which is good, because I have been slacking off like nobody’s business.
Since my last update I haven’t finished the game like I’d hoped, but I did get Rick to play through what I did have to see if he had any suggestions for how to continue the story and get me ‘unstuck’ in my development process. It was hard for him to give many notes considering the game wasn’t finished, and while none of his comments actually had to do with how the story was developing, they were very helpful in drawing my attention to the ‘game’ part of my game.
There are a lot of people that wouldn’t necessarily consider interactive fiction the same thing as a video game, and I’m inclined to agree depending on the project. That said, I realized after talking with Rick that I really was just making a choose your own adventure story. Games have rules that the player needs to learn in order to progress and complete the game. However, many of the choices I had the player make, especially at the start of the game, where completely arbitrary and having them lead to ‘bad’ ending and a shorter game experience felt unfair to him.
Somehow, I had never considered this. Which I suppose is why playtesting is so important. As creators, we’ve usually got our noses pressed so close to our precious babies that we never think to consider how people other than us will approach our creations. Rick made me realize that the experience would be more enjoyable, even if multiple playthroughs were intended, if the logic of the ‘game’ was consistent. When I went back to what I had with Rick’s notes in mind I realized that I needed to make the outcomes of certain choices a little more obvious from the outset so that players wouldn’t feel cheated when similar choices led to completely different outcomes depending on where they were in the story.
I also realized that there were still some issues with how certain parts of the story looped back on each other, meaning that certain choices could make players replay parts of the game they’d already dealt with, which was super confusing. So I fixed that up and smoothed of the logic of the game… but I really need to finish the darned thing. Especially since I’m going to be starting a full time job next week. Guess I know what I’ll be up to this weekend. 😉