I have made a couple games in the past few years, but since my first game project for my current game-based course was due today, I wanted to reflect a bit on that.
I have loosely titled the game The Floor is Void, as a reference to the childhood game “The Floor is Lava,” since it has some similar aspects. However, I have decided The Dark Souls of Roll a Ball is a more accurate title. Now, if you have worked in Unity3D before or if you’ve taken a class that used it, you’ve probably at least seen the Roll a Ball tutorials. Imagine that, but with the difficulty of Dark Souls. If you are somehow unaware of what that means, allow me to quote a PSX2016 attendee I met at while boothing: “That means it’s hard as shit."
Since it was the first game, and there is extra credit if you turned it in early, I wanted to create something simple but fun. I didn’t want to go with a 2D game, mainly because I have more experience with using Unity for 3D games. At first, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. The prompt for the game just listed some basic features that had to be incorporated (end state, a restart button, other featured for extra credit). Just to get used to Unity again, I started playing with the Standard Assets and Sample Scenes to try to figure something out. After spending days working on getting a player to go around a loop, I decided it was taking too long and making no progress. So, I switched gears. There was an obstacle prefab that I thought would make a cool game, but I didn’t like the way it looked. I decided to just make my own obstacle course.
I went through many iterations and many different ideas for extra features before deciding simple was better. I wanted to include an AI that you went against in a race to get the most coins, and then I wanted to include a time limit so that the pressure was added on the player, and then I wanted to make it multiplayer with a split screen with a countdown screen, and then… It was when my professor said that we should really be focusing on refining one mechanic that I threw out most of the extra features. I even threw out the collecting coins mechanic after reading about how it wouldn’t add anything to the game. In hindsight, it could have been the driving feature of my game. Since it did end up remaining difficult for most players, I could have had it to where each playthrough your goal is to obtain all the coins. Each time you "loose” you would be presented with a high score. It would take on a more Flappybird type feel to it then. Regardless, I decided to go with a simple obstacle course game that got increasingly difficult as the player progressed.
What I did not account for was how hard it was for the player. When I finally was able to get people to playtest, I realized it was actually incredibly difficult. The acceleration was too slow, and there was no friction to slow down the player, giving a slippery feel to it. At first, I thought I would just keep it. However, the more people played it the more they commented on it being what made it difficult. I decided to change it, not realizing physics materials would have solved the problem and instead manipulating the velocity to change it. Still, I didn’t want it to be a super easy game to beat. So, I focused on making the obstacles harder. I took away the floor so that death was immediate. I also decided not to include checkpoints, both due to time constraints and my fear of it being too easy. By the time that I got other people to play it, I had already decided it was done. I wanted to make a good game, but for a quick thing I didn’t want to spend too much more time on it.
All in all, I’m satisfied. I do believe that it could be so much better. I now know about features that I had not used ever before but will be incredibly useful. I do not think I will ever come back to revise this game specifically; it was more of a throwaway practice than anything. However, if I did, I would change the player’s physics and some of the update times to make it more responsive, and I would add checkpoints so the player would feel they were actually making progress or maybe stick with a “High Score” system. For now, onto the next game!