Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Prototype 1 - Ninja-San: The Tea Party is over!!!

Okay, so let's type critically about things.

First things first: The first prototype I made after getting GameMaker was Ninja-San: etc, etc. Play it here.

What it's all about:
You're a ninja, you can only leap to get around, and you can stick to walls and ceilings. You have to get from the start location to the end point as quickly and safely as possible.

How it came about:
The phrase has been in my head for as long as I can remember. I like the idea of taking something stupid, or something that doesn't immediately lend itself to being a game and then making a game from it. If possible, that would be the entire point of every game I make. I also like ninjas and tea parties.

What works:
The gameplay itself worked pretty much as intended and I (at least) enjoyed how it worked. Controls needed some refinement but the idea was there. I'm pretty sure this kind of gameplay works well for mobile devices. It was also what I did while learning GameMaker, so at least I learnt something. Fuck yeah ninjas.

What doesn't:
Gameplay is super simplistic and there's not a great deal there (not actually adding in any other gameplay elements didn't help, of course). Ninjas are kind of over-saturated and not everyone likes them (spoiler: those people are crazy because ninjas are great). The core gameplay mechanic is also pretty weak; There's not much in the way of risk/reward and there's really only one skill component to the game. Lastly, because I started this while learning GameMaker, I've done some pretty stupid things just solely because I didn't realise there was a better way. Also while thinking about the game I tended to go a little nuts with the scope when I really should've been trying to keep it as simple as possible.

What's missing/what can fix it:
All the art, possibly with different tilesets for variety's sake. A better skill mechanic around the jumping (which would be increased speed/power for jumping within a short timeframe after landing, not the other control options). Other level mechanics/obstacles, such as: Fake/trick walls, guards, pits, moving platforms, switches, etc. Maybe a secondary mechanic for scoring, like collectables. Many additional levels. Menus and progression screens. Monetization options (maybe). Bug fixing.

What's bad:
Level layouts are fine but take a lot of time and testing. Additional tilesets may also require a fair amount of time. I'm not sure it really works outside of mobile games, but maybe could as a web-based game (side note: I need to get out of the mentality that I should only be making mobile games).Monetization could be tricky, but not being free to play could limit reach. I wasn't considering monetization during the initial design phase so the core gameplay exists seperate to any intended pay points. Maybe I could do a demo/unlock model (first act is free, everything else is paid), but that does mean having to cram more hook into the first act... and having enough of a distinction between acts.

I'm pretty confident I can make this a game I'd want to play, but realistically there's a lot of work there. Pretty sure I can do it in 12 months, and pretty sure a ninja/anime styled game would get attention at AVCon.

So, there we go. Have I missed anything? Am I lying to myself about anything? Am I not being critical or harsh enough? Let me know!

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