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    The ONE thing I would change…

    Posted by (twitter: @ChevyRay)
    August 30th, 2009 11:53 pm

    … If I could re-submit my entry.

    My caverns are full of watching eyes and strange creatures, and the moment you leave the light, the darkness (or what it contains) swallows you up. It worked really well, but in my excitement, I decided to make the last 3 rooms of the game far more difficult than the rest. I wanted to make finishing the game more rewarding for people, because I worked really hard on the ending! But all I ended up doing was causing some players to quit just before they get to the best part of the whole experience.

    Anyways, in some of the rooms there are red crystals. Unlike the blue ones, the light they give off surges, so their luminescent range of safety is growing and shrinking, so you have to time your movements between them. In the very last area of the game, there is one such setup:

    I have to get to that upper red crystal to continue on.

    I have to get to that upper red crystal to continue on.

    This part of this room literally took me several hours of tweaking to get it just right, the amount of time that I would usually take to entirely finish two or three of any of the other room in the game. The problem presented is that the red crystals are glowing opposite of each other, meaning when the lower one is illuminated (as in the screenshot), the upper is dark. When the upper one illuminates, the darker one will fade away. Because of the nature of this last room (which I won’t spoil), it is extremely tempting for the player to want to just jump off that platform to the upper crystal when it illuminates. But that’s not the case, and if it is possible, it’s very difficult to pull off consistently if you fail and have to re-attempt it.

    What you’re supposed to do is illustrated in the following screenshot:

    You will die if you try to jump from the platform through the area marked by the red X.

    You will die if you try to jump from the platform through the area marked by the red "X".

    And you have to do this while the bottom crystal is still illuminated. Once you are up by the blue crystal, you are safe from dying, and have to wait there until the upper red crystal illuminates. Then, you can make the following jump across to it without falling into the darkness.

    That first little landing is just in range of the blue crystal.

    That first little landing is just in range of the blue crystal.

    The problem here is, as you can see, the game is very dark. I didn’t want the game to have clear “boundaries” of where you could and could not move, or for anything to be precise. Which is why, in fact, that all the lights have a slightly extended “grey area” where you are safe but out of their visible range. I wanted the player to play by instinct, to move to wherever they thought would be the safest, to huddle in the faintest light when there was nowhere safe to go. Unfortunately, this particular design is too precise, and forces the player to think technically about what they’re doing, and not instinctively, which is what my base design was with the game. There are a couple other parts that I could get picky about as well and refine, but this part was the worst of them, and at the most crucial of times.

    It was an unwise decision made in the heat of battle, and will be fixed up in the after-compo version of the game. But if I could do it all over, I would definitely fix this, because I already know that this part will (and has!) prevented several players from experiencing the game’s ending which I worked so hard on.

    Alas! Everything else went exceedingly better than I thought it would (I wasn’t even confident I’d come up with an idea, never mind finish one!) so I definitely can’t complain. Let this serve as a guide to those of you who have not yet played my game, and may get stuck at the following part, because it’s worth it to continue on.

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