Posted On: 2019-05-31
This post contains design notes about my latest prototype, Magic Training Prototype.
If you haven't played it yet, you may want to do so before reading this, as it may influence how you experience the game.
This past week (more specifically, weekend) I sought feedback regarding the Magic Training Protoype and received many insightful and valuable responses. The feedback covered a broad range of topics, from which I was able to isolate three main topics that I was able to focus on completing in a week. The remainder of the post will detail those changes, but if you want to try them out for yourself, you can download the latest version.
In the rest of the post I will go into the details of the changes and the design goals behind them, but for those that are in a hurry:
The biggest issue the prototype has faced, across all its iterations, is the fundamental conflict between slow, deliberate combat, and quick, responsive platforming. Perhaps most specifically, the speed at which the combat plays out is largely incompatible with any kind of platforming - when a missed attack leaves a character open for a half-second, dialing back the movement speed to match would leave the entire game feeling like it is in slow-motion (while that could be interesting, that is not the intended experience for this game.) Last week's feedback made it very clear that it was still missing the mark regarding balancing movement and combat speed. Today's update features a couple significant changes to timing and movement speed, as well a plethora of small tweaks to reflect how those changes alter the overall feel of the game.
Additionally, today's update makes use of the cost of magic: this is a mechanic that is implemented in earlier versions, but the cost has been so low that it was completely irrelevant to players (even if they were actively looking for it.) I am optimistic that the new cost will positively impact combat, but I'm eager to hear others' perspectives on it.
Some players reported missing the actual "Story" part of Story Mode, while some others simply didn't say anything about the story at all (which I infer may mean they missed it as well.) While this did come up during previous playtests, it only occurred with one playtester, so I didn't give it the attention it deserved. Thanks to last week's feedback, the game now gives the player the choice of whether or not to exit the conversation at the end of the tutorial. This may sound like a simple change, but it was harder than it might seem (the cadence of the tutorial pushes the characters towards ending the conversation.) I am optimistic that the efforts will be worthwhile, though - if a player who is looking for the story missed out just because I didn't telegraph it clearly enough then that is a loss for both the player and the game as a whole.
The dialogue system is something I've been refining across multiple prototypes, with the intention of continuing to improve upon it over time. Last week's feedback included requests for little conveniences like having a way to speed up the text and keeping the text box size consistent even when the content wraps. Fortunately, I had already spent time working on both of those in the past, so this past week I was able to complete those changes. The dialogue box in today's update should be even more comfortable to use.
This past week has improved my prototype far more than anything I could have anticipated. I am immensely grateful to everyone who gave their time both by trying the game out and giving feedback. I plan to do another round of gathering feedback this weekend. Although I haven't yet been able to act on all the feedback I have received, even just reading it has been a huge help, so I am looking forward to doing it again.