Why Not Games




City: Personal Information

Written: 2015-12-29

The goal of this sprint was to develop out the person that you play as in the game. This was to help with the cadence issues of the game by making it less predictable while adding depth to the simulation. This was unsuccessful.

The features added need to be fleshed out with content before I can determine whether on not they add enough to the game to be worth keeping. Right now, the fact that all of the content is very placeholder makes it impossible to really know.

This sprint ended up being more focused on programming than design. A lot of it went into streamlining features so that they tie into each other better and a lot more went into making the information accessible to the player. There's still more to do on that front, many of the secondary effects of pieces are not obvious, especially the transformations that can happen and there is just a lot of information for a player to deal with, but it is a lot easier to track the flow of the game now. This actually resulted in some major code restructuring.

The Person

Focus System

The biggest feature to come from this sprint was the focus system. The idea here is that keeping different towers (which map to daily activities) up requires focus from the person and some activities require more focus than others. Trying to do too much results in you being less efficient in all of your activities.

The idea is that the game becomes less of a traditional tower defense and now has the player changing between different groups of towers as the situation requires. Personally, I feel that a tower defense needs to have a couple of wrinkles to sustain interest and this feels like it might be the intensity that I'm looking for. I find myself unable to be sure however as the lack of content keeps me from being able to determine the game flow correctly. The game just needs to do more than it is right now.

Times of Day

Similarly, I broke the day up into different periods. This feature I know to be a failure even without content to back it up. The idea here is that different activities are easier during different parts of the day, but the implementation is finicky and dense.

Currently, the time of day makes an activity more or less efficient. This strengthens the simulation, but requires too much work from the player for too little reward. This is a case of the simulation fighting against the fun of the game and I tend toward letting the fun win.

The simplest solution is to just disallow certain towers during certain parts of the day. The cost here lies in making things like working all day harder to represent. That's a little unfortunate as I feel that it is very meaningful to represent, but there are workarounds such as making working from home and working at an office two separate towers. The hope is that it forces the player to use different parts of the map over the course of a day and makes the day feel less homogenous. Again though, I need better content to really determine if that is true.

Goals

I updated the goals to be generated by towers and to support having daily goals. This one feels promising. It both tells stories and adds texture to the game. Making the day less predicatable makes the decision making more interesting. As with the rest, it needs more content and I have some extensions to it that I want to try, but the feature is definitely on the right path.

Information

The other major piece of this sprint revolved around making the data of the game easier for a player to track. The person has a group of numbers attached to him or her that represent various attributes like happiness, anger and even work done on that day. The game now keeps better track of which actions result in which currency gains and shows the player this information. I feel that this doesn't really do that much to change the decision making process, but it makes the player feel much more in control, which is very important.

Additionally, the game now does a much better job of showing you which creeps are going to be part of the next wave. This is just necessary for a good tower defense game. Also, the act of placing towers and paths is now easier. Streamlining basic game actions does a tremendous amount to make a game playable.

Next Steps

It seems clear that I have to spend some time writing out content. The skeletal nature of the current content keeps the prototype from being representative of the final game. I'm going to use my previous job as the test scenario for this and see where that takes me. It's quite possible that this sprint will result in something playable, if graphically unappealing.

- @murthynikhil

< City: Tower Life Article Notes 2015-12-31 >

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Written for Why Not Games.