This week, we focused simply on addressing issues noticed by playtesters and polishing the game for presentation. In particular, we improved the visibility of the game by zooming in the split-screen cameras (zooming in slightly more for 2-players) and by brightening the ambient lighting. We also improved the visibility of crossbow bolts by adding a glow to them (and increased their damage). Other visibility concerns were addressed by significantly brightening the glow around weapons and the exits to better guide players to them, and adjusting the colors of the reticles. We adjusted the escape pod mechanics to decrease frustration by slightly increasing the escape time, preventing players from moving and attacking while trying to escape, and making the escape pod glow while a player is escaping. We slightly improved the guidance for player controls by adding a sprite to indicate a minion/decoy being summoned, emphasizing the controls on the main menu, and indicating passive abilities in the description. Trap mechanics were improved based on feedback so that traps do damage to enemies and more clearly indicate when triggered.
Other minor polishing improvements were made, such as adding the title to the menu (and fixing some fading), making the game restart to the menu, adding “waiting” text to players’ screens before the final level starts, displaying the winner’s sprite on the endgame screen, and some minor bug fixes.
What’s the motivation?
The primary motivation for these changes was to address the final playtester complaints before the full release of the game. The visibility improvements addressed complaints about the game being difficult to play on smaller screens or about the crossbow feeling unsatisfying to shoot; the increased glow was intended to fix issues of player guidance observed in playtesting. The escape pod mechanics were adjusted to address complaints of anticlimactic endings by making it both slightly harder to escape and much more visible. Much discussion was had about improving the guidance of abilities, but we felt that significant additional control guidance would overburden new players with information and chose to make only subtle changes to emphasize the already-existing control guidance. Other changes were primarily made in direct response to playtester suggestions (e.g. players unsure what was going on when waiting for the final level to start, traps being unclear).
If we were to continue developing the game, we would likely begin expanding the available game content. This could potentially involve adding explosive weapons, adding a more complex power-up system (rather than the simple randomized options currently used), more player abilities, and more interesting enemy types. We would continue adjusting the balance of character abilities to ensure that all abilities are relevant in both phases of the game, and would continue adjusting the balance of weapons to ensure a satisfying play experience in both phases of the game for all players as well as a variety of viable play styles.