Sunday 27 March 2016

Still working on Imbroglio! This is maybe the most technically complex game I've made? Not sure, Vertex Dispenser's somewhat-broken online multiplayer was a whole lot of mess, but here all the complications are just in the central game itself. There's a whole bunch of cards that can interact in different ways, triggering each other and modifying each other's effects. Just on the programming side it's been heaps of work making all the effects actually work but then on top of that is the design complexity; figuring how all the combinations ought to work, keeping in mind all the different interactions that might conflict with each other. I'll be out somewhere and suddenly realise "hey you can get infinite hit points" and then have to work out whether that's okay.

Its big weakness is still what I was talking about before, a lack of clarity in the risk/reward structure. It doesn't do a great job of generating counterfactuals, letting you reflect back on your failure and see "if I'd done Y instead of X then Z would have happened instead..". Adam calls this "unpacking" in this talk and cites 868-HACK as a positive example. Maybe my problem is trying to not make the exact same thing again so deliberately not reusing the things that worked well before? 868-HACK had super clear risk/reward, directly tying enemy generation to acquisition, if you lost it's probably because you took a deliberate risk. Imbroglio loss-reasons are not obvious at all, enemies just keep coming on their own schedule so maybe it's because you spent some turns inefficiently and now your power level hasn't kept up with the opposition, maybe you made the wrong choice what to level up fifty turns ago, things like that.

But also it has deck construction so even though it can be hard to figure out tactical errors you can also just think about trying a different deck. And honestly this is kind of a problem Magic has too? It's easy to change your deck (maybe buy some more rare cards lol) but it's pretty hard to tell when you lost through subtly inefficient resource management over several turns. So maybe i'm not doing too badly if my game's biggest weakness is also present in the most successful game of its genre?

Anyway yeah I don't think this is a fatal weakness? I will just make the game and let it be what it is, I shouldn't be worrying about whether it's a less good game than something else I made or whatever.

Been making good progress this week. Took me a long time to figure out what to do for sound effects but I've got the right idea now and that's coming together well. Turns out being in a bit of a daze while recovering from having a wisdom tooth out is a good state for just sitting down and churning out lots of samples. Fingers crossed they still sound good when I'm back to normal. Also I keep getting sidetracked trying out weird new card ideas, I'm supposed to be working on essential stuff so I can release the game not making it bigger. I tell myself it is to some extent useful to plan out the ways I might want to expand it later so I can architect things to allow for them. Anyway it has room to grow.