Arcade Thang Retrospective 2

screenshot of a discord stream of my friend Jill playing this game

this is basically a devlog at this point but playtest 2 is done! im really feeling that playtest 3 will be the release canditate lol

this process has been really nice. its made me realise how much of a back and forth games like this require

i'm going to keep going until it's Steam-able but i've already got a lot of big takeaways from this project:

1 - balancing is really really hard. for example, this game has a "merchant" upgrade, where enemies have a chance to drop an extra coin. enemies drop coins on death. one common game feel tip is to increase the amount of enemies but decrease their health. however, if i increase the amount of enemies but decrease their health, this makes the "merchant" upgrade soo much stronger, because its strength implicitly scales with how frequently an enemy death occurs. balancing one thing can throw something else out of balance. i kinda understand why balacing games are a constant effort years after a game's launch

and 2... im never ready for how much time polishing takes. i made this game in 3 days and i estimate it's going to take more 3 months to get it to the level of polish i want. that's not even adding more features or making more content, just tuning what's already there

i now understand that if you're making a systems-y game, it's just so unlikely that the first draft will be good. it'll probably go through many huge sweeping iterations. these iterations could touch every single facet of your game, so the more surface area your game has, it'll require exponentally more iterations

in my case, taking on feedback and iterating on my game required so many changes, that the second pass of the game took way more effort than the first prototype

i think this has put into perspective how impossible my other projects would be if i tried to continue them

screenshot of my experimental game 'Autoficer' and of my bunny factorio game

some of my previous first-iteration prototypes took months to make, e.g. Autoficer (left). and knowing what i know now, i can't imagine how long the timeline would be if i chose to complete it

doing stupid probably-not-real math, if a 3 day prototype ends up taking 3 months to finish (1:~30 ratio), then a 2 months prototype would take ~5 years to finish. which actually sounds like it could be an accurate timeline for a game like this lol. that's not even accounting for the fact that Autoficer is a game with not many similar examples to pull from. i'd have spent a very very long time climbing over design walls

since life is getting busier (which is a v good thing), i really dont want to keep spending months on something im going to throw away. this is fine if you're learning, but eventually you have to cash in what you've learned and actually make stuff, right? from now on im quite happy making things that are tiny

so ya.. balancing is hard. polishing is hard. quality games take much, much longer than youd think

i guess these ideas are obvious in retrospect, everyone says this, but in practice and planning, id never given them enough attention or took them seriously

i will from now on!!! im going to make smaller experiences that are better and actually give them to wayyy more friends. my friends have definitely been the most helpful thing to happen to my game dev hobby. thats what its all about right! making something exciting for the girlies

excited to keep working on this, i feel like i can see a finish line lol. all that's next is more upgrades, 2 small bosses and a nice art pass!! tysm

kaito vocaloid cheering
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