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DevLog #1 - On Speed and Pacing. "It's Hard to Slow Down in the Fast-Paced World of Dolphin Island 2" -indiegames.com article title by Joel Couture. James and I were thinking for a while about the possible issues Dolphin Island 2 had after we released it; Joel from indiegames.com pretty much nailed it down in a single sentence with it's title

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DevLog #1 - On Speed and Pacing

"It's Hard to Slow Down in the Fast-Paced World of Dolphin Island 2"
-indiegames.com article title by Joel Couture

James and I were thinking for a while about the possible issues Dolphin Island 2 had after we released it; the amount of feedback we had during development was pretty limited, but most of the issues players talked to us about after release pointed to a particular 'feeling' we felt the game had. Joel from indiegames.com pretty much nailed it down in a single sentence with it's title: "It's hard to slow down on Dolphin Island 2"

As soon as I read the article everything clicked for me. Instead of feeling like a fast and smooth experience or a slow and steady one, Di2 felt like short bursts of speed that always came to a stop before bursting again. There's this conflict on the game being too fast on some features and too slow on some others: Aisha is frail and agile, and the levels and monsters are tough and make you stop.

When we saw other people play, we noticed a pattern of everyone trying combat on the first 5 mobs before ultimately deciding to just skip combat entirely. The reason being movement is speedy and agile, it feels fast; but when you get to the combat you get bogged down by it, it slows you down: Monsters take too long to kill, you need to stop and wait for the mages to shoot so you can jump over the bullets. Add to this the fact that you can only take one hit before dying and the game feels like it should be fast-paced and fluid, but then it asks for you to slow down. People would tend to just wait out for the shield to regen after every hit, which made waiting the "best" strategy for clearing the level. Some similar offenders were the icicles, which you could bump into and take a hit from (or die) if you were going too fast, while also demanding you to stop and wait for them to fall so you wouldn't take damage.

This lead us to think about what direction should we take the game in: should we make Aisha tougher to compensate for the tough monsters or make battles end quicker so Aisha can do combat without slowing down the overall pace? There's also a factor in that I want the game to be explorable instead of just going from one stage to the other; hence why we added a Metroidvania-like powerup in the end: it was meant to be used in different previously locked paths for players to revisit rather than just be a one-off to access the end cutscene.

Settle down:
-Remove one-hit shield, either making it multihit or just plain adding hp.
-Exploration is intrinsically slow, so this would play in it's favor.
-Make movement slower.

Go fast:
-Make fights shorter and more rewarding. Remove the apparent need for players to skip combat.
-Keep one-hit shield.
-Exploration could slow things down, being fragile and dying while having to backtrack could be bothersome.

We talked about the pros and cons of both, and ultimately decided to keep the Sanic (fast) route. Some of the planned changes are:
-Reducing the health of all regular enemies to only one hit (which feels kinda fair considering that's how many hits you can take)
-Increasing the invulnerability frames a bit since we were a bit too harsh on the current duration.
-Icicles will be reworked into something else that doesn't stop players on it's track, but that they can rather just see and evade more 'on-the-go'.
-Making health/shield a resource that you earn in combat instead of relying on time and having to 'wait it out'.

This should make exploring easier on the player and allow us to have better dynamics during boss fights, which should make for a better experience :)

I have been busy these last few weeks, but development is not dead and will be resumed soon!
Until next time!

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