Hey! I'm the developer of "Fumiko! The Game" and I want to share a short story about the latest developments in the game.
I just finished working on Chapter 1 out of 4 on the game. This is a monumental milestone for me and means a lot. This was the first smaller release I gave several friends to chew on and give me all their feedback and first impressions. I was so excited!
The first feedback came in and I even got a private let's play from a friend who shared the video to me on his youtube channel. After watching it and receiving feedback from other people I shared the game with, I was so relieved to realize that there was no bigger criticism on the core game and story whatsoever. People had fun playing it! If there is one thing a game developer wants to achieve it's that people are enjoying the content he or she creates.
Of course there were criticisms on different sections and parts of some levels. This was mostly about the second level of the game - the level were people had to solve a puzzle and were on their own. It's interesting to see how people are going their first steps in your own game and how things that are obvious to you as a dev can be a complete disaster for the players.
The level had this part, were you would collect a floating orb (a script) and bring it to the four connectors. Can you see the particle effects on the connectors? Yeah, they are new. This is a screenshot on the reworked version of the level.
What is now only one orb in the center of the platform was three orbs on in the corners of the platform before. Also there was no particle effect on the connectors, making them hard to spot. Most people just expected at least something to start glowing after they collected an orb.
Also the existence of multiple orbs must mean that each orb is connected to a different connector. It was a complete disaster. Ruining the player experience just 5 minutes into the game is not what I wanted to do. So I changed it - better explanations with less text, visual hints and a more streamlined puzzle. A puzzle is not supposed to be hard because it's hard to understand. It should be difficult to solve, not hard to read.
The later levels were much better to understand. Mainly because there weren't any artificial puzzles in the first place, but also because I learned how to make challenges one at a time, where the player is able to understand and try out stuff without being under pressure. Later levels were better because I learned from making previous ones. But now I have to go back and adjust the previous ones to a better quality.
But also later levels had their difficulties. My personal enemy (and favorite level) is the Kronos Bridge.
I didn't know that creating a dark level, where I want the player to be more careful because he can't see too much also appears to be one of the biggest challenges I faced in developing the game. The lesson I learned was that you can't just make a level dark and let the player search their way. You have to create a bright level that just appears very dark.
The screenshot above cannot be the final state of this level. It looks exactly how I wanted it to look like, but it's very hard to see were you're going. The different brightness settings of players displays is absolutely one of the biggest factors here. I adjusted the brightness of the level (ambient lighting, point lights etc.) to suit the displays I am testing the game on. But what if a laptop user has his display dimmed? What if a TV has set "gaming mode" on, where the contrast is on an insane level? You can't blame the player for having a different display than expected.
I'll see how things are going when I added a brightness option to the game to change the settings on the fly. But I have to be prepared for the user to be annoyed because it doesn't look like it's supposed to.
In the end I'm really happy about where things are heading. I've learned a lot by creating a small release for my friends, a release they can play without me as a dev guiding them when they are stuck. A release where they can get mad about a specific part in the game where they spent ages dying before they could move on. A release that reassured me that the game is on the right way, especially if I react to the feedback I got to make things easier to understand and get rid of annoyance.
If you read all this you are my personal hero. I just wanted to share some of my experiences and current thoughts on the state of the game. If you're interested in the game, feel free to follow me on twitter or my youtube channel to get updated!
Looking forward to Chapter 2 now.