Hi. It looks like I haven't provided any updates since the demo release back in March. I'm still doing heavy development on the game, and have been posting development screenshots to my Twitter feed.
Here's an overview of some of the progress I've made since March.
There are no more stages with multiple sub-levels. The flow of that design didn't feel like it fit the game. Instead, many of the levels are now accessible via an overworld map.
I've been adding content, working on new levels and new enemies. It's been a struggle to find the right design for enemies: movement, reacting to stimuli, attacking, and how they work with or against the design of the level. I found that simple patterns tend to be more engaging and interesting than complex path-finding tactics. Those might work well if you want to program an AI bot for a deathmatch type of game, where it benefits the bot to be smart enough to navigate the whole map. But for this game, enemies are part obstacle and part "bot", so to speak. They need to be something that integrates with the level design, rather than something that acts separate from it. Finding that balance takes time, of which I've made good progress.
Another addition is the fire shield. Smokey (the toad) can now acquire a shield that can be used to block fire and energy bursts. This seems to improved the gameplay tenfold, when engaging with enemies. I've had a lot of fun sparring off against enemies, blocking their attacks and firing back. One might think that this would reduce the challenge and make it all too easy to fight enemies, but that hasn't been the case. I found that it gives you a slight advantage, yet it doesn't really make the game any easier. It also allows for me to add more enemies in an area, which can add to the chaos, yet not feel impossibly difficult at the same time. I've been really excited after experiencing how well this works.
That's all the time I have for right now. I'd like to release another demo in August or September. I hope to make enough progress by then to do just that.
Hang in there! :)