Thursday 28 January 2010

Further Grumbling

It seems like a lot of what I post on here is grumbling about various things. This isn't because I'm a particularly negative person, it's more because I don't post very much, and often what inspires me to do so is being in a bad mood and having something I want to moan about.

- My computer's broken.
- The courier who was supposed to pick it up today for repair didn't show up before the time I'd specified (when I had to leave to catch a train.. to go to a tutorial to which five students turned up, meaning my presence was hardly necessary, given there were three other tutors.. anyway) so I'll have to call them to arrange another time for pickup, which probably won't be until next week. So goodness knows when it'll be fixed.
- Also, I'm feeling a little down about Vertex Dispenser in general, largely because of some feedback from a few people I showed it to recently. I've spent way longer on this game than necessary, trying to make it accessible to people who aren't `maths people'. But maybe that's not possible, maybe it is just a niche game for people weird like me, and inevitably too hard for normal people to bother with.
- The time of year doesn't help. Winter in Britain always gets me a bit depressed. The snow was quite pretty, which made up for the cold, but now that's melted it's just stupid cold and rain and dark all the time when I should be at the beach in the sun.

When my computer's back in action, I'll continue working on the difficulty of the levels. There are two main problems to deal with:
1) I'm really good at my own game, so I'm completely unable to evaluate how hard a given level is. Playtest data is helping here.
2) The game itself has an inherent difficulty that can't be diminished without destroying what makes it (in my opinion) great. While I can make levels easier in fairly continuous ways by giving the player more territory, the enemy less territory, making the AI react more slowly, etc., the difficulty of the vertex-colouring 'puzzle' is fixed, and that's something players are just going to have to deal with. So I'm trying to help players deal with it, to explain things more clearly and provide explicit tutorials, but even with that it still has to be up to them to use it in the game, and that's going to be quite hard for most people. This isn't strictly a bad thing, I think it's a satisfying experience for those willing to put in the effort (which is also why I've tried to arrange things so that there's a possibility of working things out for yourself before getting to the tutorial; this is most satisfying).

I'm really feeling like this game just needs to be finished, it's been going on for far too long. It'll be worth it when I release it and some people love it.. I'm not 100% looking forward to that though, because there will inevitably be negative comments - from people who don't get it or didn't like it or think any price whatsoever is too much for an indie game (a topic of much discussion in comment threads for the reasonably priced games VVVVVV and Solium Infernum recently, and earlier Braid; no doubt others as well that I have not been following).. also there'll no doubt be some bugs left in that I'll need frantically to fix. I have other games I want to make, but I'm refusing to get into another big project before this one's finished (and tiny 3-hour toys don't satisfy me the same). But it's just not quite done yet - there are bugs to fix and I can definitely improve on the campaign difficulty - so I'll just have to keep slogging away at it once I get my computer fixed (I'll feel much better about it then too, because I'll play some Vertex Dispenser and remember that it really is worth the effort).

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