I've just gotten Temporality published on the Google Play Store and wanted to make a post about it. This is going to be more of a dev diary rather than a promotional post telling you why you should buy the game. But, if you want to get the game, I'll post a link to it on the next line.
One of the factors that propelled me to make the game in the first place was the state of the android market. Almost every game was either riddled with ads or p2w mechanics, even for a non-trivial amount of paid games where the upfront cost was just small, but it turns out you have to spend 15 bucks on one character in it. I wanted to make a game where players could just pay once and then have a good experience.
Temporality first started out (conceptually, at least) as a tower defense game where enemies just went down lanes and you had to place down towers to destroy them, but eventually I realized that that had been down a thousand times - the only thing I would be able to bring to the table was having mechanics that didn't try to drain your wallet and weren't too frustrating. RTS games also had issues because trying to control an entire army when most of the time you have a maximum of two fingers on a screen just felt clunky. I eventually stumbled upon an old game I had played - The Space Game. It's an old flash game that was inspired by yet another indie game (Harvest: Massive Encounter) that tried to combine the two genres. Essentially, you build mining units to harvest material from asteroids or lumps of rock and use those material to build energy producing stations, defensive towers or more mining stations.
I actually enjoyed both of those games, but I had to figure out how to make the concept approachable on a mobile device while addressing both of the games' main problem - a lack of depth; since they all were based on the player getting rushed by hordes, all games ended the same way: you getting overwhelmed by a large amount of enemy forces.
Let's deal with the approachability problem first. Placing down towers wasn't a huge issue to tackle - just drag and drop. It's much easier to move a finger across a 5 inch screen than to move a cursor along a 27 inch one, so adding a shortcut to build multiple towers just felt more like an inconvenience than an actual help. Upgrading towers on the other hand - None of these games had an "upgrade all" button if I could remember, mostly because they were on PC and the platform probably didn't require that help. Mobile phones on the other hand, definitely could. I had two options here - only make the button work if the player had enough resources to upgrade all of their towers (of the same type), or try upgrading the one they were selecting and go down the line. I decided to go with the latter, just so you didn't have to wait there as you mined resources.
The depth problem, then. I took the most obvious solution and implemented bosses and mini-bosses. One of those mini-bosses is shown above. This also gave another dimension to the resource management problem - you could build more expensive towers that dealt damage in bursts, essentially giving these large enemies no chance to wreak havoc on your base, or you could build less expensive towers that dealt constant damage - you'd get more damage output per second, but the boss might be able to get close to you and destroy some (or all) of your towers. On the other hand, if your burst towers were recharging and another boss spawns, now you'd just be a sitting duck waiting for your towers to recharge. In playtesting, the situation isn't that black and white - it really depends on the situation altogether for what you should use.
That brings me to the last gameplay related problem - guided experiences vs unguided experiences. The game as designed so far has been for those who like to get dropped in an area and told to survive - people who enjoyed unguided experiences. That was the weak point of the two predecessors of this "category" of games, but they both had things to unlock to give the player a sense of progression. Personally, I'm not a fan of having content locked behind progression. If the player wants to experience a certain part of the game, they shouldn't have to make themselves not enjoy the game for a while to get there. Eventually, I decided on this - a survival mode where most of the depth of the game lies, a wave mode for people to experience most of the game in the shortest time, and a campaign mode for people who just want a casual experience having their hand held. Then, I added a toggle that makes the game way harder but triples your survival mode score, just because after a couple months of playtesting the game I was surviving for 30 minutes every time I played.
I'll just end this off by referring to the start of the post - the game itself costs under two bucks and there are no microtransactions or advertisements whatsoever in the game. I'm sure that a free model with in app purchases and ads and stuff would probably get me more money, especially considering the fact that app discoverability on the play store is virtually non-existent for apps without a lot of downloads - which just leads to a chicken and egg problem with premium games, especially for someone like me without a marketing budget, but the entire premise was to make a good game that wasn't frustrating, both in terms of the gameplay experience and the user experience in the app (also it gave me an excuse to be lazy and not add ads and stuff).