Project Impulse: Polish
For this iteration, we've finally decided to scrap the warrior and mage classes.
In terms of guidance, we've modified the tutorial a little bit to (again) hopefully make the objective of the game more clear. We've also added more elements that make the goal of the game clear (namely, to sacrifice corpses to altars so the bosses get stronger).
We've done away with the boss altars as capture points; there are now two altars on each side. This will be the area that players lure corpses to make their bosses stronger.
Interacting with the corpse itself should also be a little less frustrating that in the last iteration. Much of our feedback centered around how difficult it was for players to actually control the corpses. The blue orb was slow moving (even when charged), and the reanimated corpses were slow and unresponsive. Based on this feedback, we've made both the orb and corpse faster.
We've also added some juice effects here and there to make gameplay more satisfying.
And finally, a proper credits page.
While we really enjoyed making the warrior and mage classes, the classes were getting too difficult to balance. Why spend so much time on new mechanics for those classes? Are the payoffs necessarily worth it? Are we getting a ton of novelty / offering the player interesting decisions by having different team compositions? If we had more time (and a lot more playtesting sessions), we probably could have made the other classes as satisfying to play as the ranger, but in the end, coding for the other two classes was simply dragging us down. Focusing primarily on the ranger (which seems to be the most skill-based, interactive class), and polishing it to its maximum potential, will give us an easier time and ultimately be more rewarding (hopefully).
As for player guidance, we noticed in the last playtesting session that it was simply not good enough. We weren't able to get very good player feedback about the core game itself, because everyone was confused about the tutorial! Thus, we're making things as clear as possible regarding the tutorial. Getting rid of the other two classes helps this, as the archer is a pretty intuitive class (based on player feedback). There's no more busy class select screen. Our tutorial itself should hopefully be vastly improved.
In terms of getting rid of the altars, that game mechanic worked better when the objective was solely to kill each other. Now that we've introduce undead sacrifices to the game, the altars as capture points make less sense. We've repurposed them as the locations where players should sacrifice to the bosses. It sort of makes sense - at the altar, one offers a sacrifice to appease the gods (so to speak).
Our tweaks to the game mechanics should hopefully make the gameplay experience better. From the small amount of feedback we got regarding the game (to those blessed few who managed to understand the mechanics), generally the feedback was that corpses were too hard to interact with. The mechanic is pretty novel (in our opinion) so we'd like to keep it rather than scrap it for yet another idea. Thus, we've made improvements to them, and hopefully players will enjoy this iteration of the mechanic more.
Direction and Future
The next iteration will be the one that we release to the public and the showcase, so we'll focus primarily on bugfixes / responding to player feedback. At this stage of the game, it's likely too late to be thinking about new theming ideas / drastic gameplay changes. However, there's still room to improve, and we'll be taking player feedback and noting their reactions to certain gameplay elements (tutorial, game, game mechanics, etc.).