Devlog #2 Garden & Puzzle Design Paradox

This month felt like it went past really quick for some reason, so many things happened around us. UK has left the EU, England football team has been kicked out off the Euro Cup (good luck Iceland!), Roses died along with the young king under the seven pointed star, and Dragons are finally crossing the sea…but most importantly we have finished the design of one of the most complicated levels (so far).
 

The Garden

This new level includes three different locations which all applied with the dual character game play system. This means not only the artwork load has been tripled, but more beloved bugs are on the way (deep breath). As this dynamic dual feature is one of the thing most people are looking forward to after trying out the demo, so we are trying our best to make sure it's fun to play and easy to understand. 

However the typical paradox of any puzzle game is always :

“How to balance the difficulty of the puzzles between player’s ability and expectation?” 

If we made the puzzle too difficult, it might discourage the players to carry on. If we reduce the difficulty too much, it might lose some of its originality and the wow factor. On top of that, not to mention how hard/easy is a puzzle to the everyone? Simply this question do not have a straight forward answer.

So during making a hard level like this, we have to decide, are we more likely to favor the hardcord puzzle challenge, or more leaning towards easier puzzles with a smoother gameplay experience? After analyzing all the feedback from different groups of testers (gamers, game designers, friends and family), we agreed that to deliver a good game experience is more important than how clever or hard can the puzzles be. This means, based on what we have done so far, we need to reduce some of the difficulty of the puzzles even more than we thought. 

Instead of hoping players think their brain off to solve the puzzle, we will now provide some clues within the game (different from hint system). All the while making sure that it is not very obvious to the player to notice at the first place, however if you observe carefully, you will find it in the environment. In the same time, we’ll also pump up the" Mission Complete” rewarding sensation with more animation, effect and music. 

Therefore, due to the complicated puzzles in this level, during the next month we are expecting a lot of time will be needed to spend on the gameplay test. We have known this issue since the beginning of the development, but while making this level, we are really starting to face these challenges more than ever before. Programming and art has its set progress speed, 40 hours / week work load has been consistent since the ending of the KS campaign. However, the gameplay test is actually THE MOST time consuming part of the game development.

Okay, hope you don’t find that bit too boring to read. Now, brace yourself, without giving away too much, here are some new design and animation tease for this level. 

                                                                       Some concept art, level mock up and sketchs

                                                                       Some concept art, level mock up and sketchs

                            This level requires a lot of new character animations, this is one of them

                            This level requires a lot of new character animations, this is one of them